Fresh off of marrying his new wife Kristin Størmer Steira in northern Norway, Devon Kershaw drove to Oslo and then jetted off for a training camp with his Canadian teammates and buddies, Jesse Cockney and Alex Harvey.
“After the wedding we stayed up in Lofoten for some days together with friends and family before driving the long drive back to Oslo (20+ hours) and then we had two nights there before I flew to the Italian Alps,” Kershaw wrote in an email explaining how he ended up spending the traditional honeymoon period with male teammates. “We will do a ‘honeymoon’ in the autumn – either Italy or Copenhagen or something, but since Kristin was injured and I was really sick we took a pre-honeymoon to the Seychelles in March together which was amazing.”
With some of his teammates already in Europe for the wedding, it made sense to try to put together a training camp. So they headed to Livigno, Italy, to do some dryland training at elevation. Kershaw answered a few questions over email on his way from Oslo to Aure, Norway, after the camp.
He’s the lone Canadian competing in the Toppidrettsvecka festival there, where he finished 16th in the uphill running race on Thursday morning.
FasterSkier: Italy hasn’t been a staple of your summer schedule in the past, if I remember right – what was the motivation to go there?
FS: What was the goal of the training block?
DK: For me the goal was to continue to get back to a“normal” training load. After being sick for almost three months I’ve had to be a lot more patient than any other season in my career thus far. In May I hadn’t done any training in over 8 weeks, and was still not 100%, so I started the year conservatively (lower hours, no intensity whatsoever) and have been building slowly from there. I didn’t do any harder (level 4) training until July, and even in July with my wedding it was only two sessions (the other interval sessions were still only level 3), so I am behind where I normally would be at the moment.
In Livigno the goal was to do a couple 25hr (roughly) weeks and the two main focuses were longer days of training (4-5hr) and secondly to have some great quality interval sessions with Alex and Jess. It’s good to be pushed and see where I am compared to those guys at this time of year and how I am recovering from the big illnesses (I had both whooping cough and pneumonia in the spring (which is why I didn’t compete in any races in February or March of 2015)).
FS: Any favorite highlights or trips from Italy?
DK: For sure the highlights in Italy were roller skiing the Stelvio – those famous 48 switchbacks are amazing. Also, we did a tough skate interval session up the Mortirolo which some professional road cyclists have dubbed “the hardest pass in Italy to race up” – and I can attest it was VERY steep and difficult! Those were the two rollerski highlights, and running we had some great highlights running some stellar passes and gorgeous trails. All in all – a great camp!
FS: Is the whole men’s team in Norway for the races this week, or is this something you’re doing on your own thanks to Norway connections?
DK: I am the lone Canadian competing this weekend in Norway. Alex and Jess went home and Graeme, Lenny and Ivan are all in Canmore where they have been all summer. With our decimated budget the Livigno camp was a “pay to play” deal, and Alex and Jess have been in Europe since July 20th, so they headed home. As I am based more in Oslo now, this was a good opportunity to do some rollerski competitions – something I have never really done other than the two in the Blink festival in the South-West of Norway last year – so it’s just a fun way to do some hard sessions after a taxing altitude camp. The Americans are here though, as are a lot of the best skiers in the world – so it will be a tough but exciting three days of competitions.
FS: How is training and the body feeling so far this summer?
DK: As I mentioned above, it’s been a very different summer so far of training… I am usually in quite good shape in the summer over the last years (Babs, Harv and Lenny even gave me the nickname “summer Kersh” because I am usually quite strong in time trials and intervals throughout the summer), but this year is different. I don’t have that high-end fitness right now. I’ve had to be careful and I am stuck to my plan to come back properly so that I can be 100% ready come winter.
I have done a lot less level 4 work and my first “race-pace” effort since Rybinsk in January will be tomorrow here in Aure, NOR. That’s not normal. That said, I do feel as though I am getting stronger and better week by week which is encouraging. The motivation is still there and very high and I am really happy with the work and feelings coming out of the altitude camp in Livigno. Still, I’m down in hours for the year (I’m just over 300hr so far), I have more longer level 3 sessions, and less max or level 4 sessions. If it keeps trending up like this I am happy!
FS:When are you heading back to Canada next?
DK: I will be in Canada on September 11th for a week before our team goes for our altitude camp in Park City, UT (which runs from Sept 19 – Oct 9th) which will be nice to check in on the house in Canmore and see some friends before I head out until March and the Canada Tour!
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Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.