Welcome to “17 Questions for 2017″, where we are catching up with American and Canadian national-team members before the beginning of the winter season.
Julien Locke had an unusual distinction last year: he was the only athlete to podium at both Canadian and U.S. national championships, taking third in the skate sprints at both events.
The British Columbian also snagged NorAm wins and a 16th-place performance in the U23 World Championships sprint. Locke, now 23 years old, was named to Canada’s national team for the first time in May and has since relocated to Canmore, Alberta.
1. Biggest change in your life in the last five or so months since the ski season ended?
This season is my first year on the Canadian National Ski Team. After 9 years skiing with the Black Jack Ski Team in Rossland, BC, I am now living in Canmore, AB.
2. Biggest change in your training?
Training this year has been quite consistent with what I’ve done previously with some small differences. There was a bit more travel this year with a NST camp in Quebec in late June. With World Cup sprint opportunities on the line on November 1/3, the training season has been adjusted in order to be in race shape a good month earlier than usual. Aside from that, not much has changed.
3. Major areas of improvement you’ve seen so far?
I am happy with where how my double pole has been this year. Last year I double poled nearly half of the classic races on the calendar and I feel quite solid as we get close to the upcoming season.
4. Whom you’ve been working closest with this offseason (coaches or training partners)?
I’ve been training a lot this year with the Canmore NST group of Len Valjas, Jess Cockney, Graeme Killick and Knute Johnsgaard.
5. Best trip in the last five months (and why)?
I just returned from a fantastic training camp in Park City. The NST guys all stayed up in Deer Valley at 2600m. Great roads for roller skiing, wonderful fall colours and nice weather (plus a few snowy days!) for training.
6. Favorite cross-training?
I’m a big fan of everything we do for training: roller skiing, trail running, paddling and cycling.
7. Favorite non-athletic activity or pastime this summer?
I had a busy and productive summer with work (I am a web developer) and have recently launched a couple new sites. Check out the new Sovereign Lake Nordic website: www.sovereignlake.com
8. Song that was your jam this summer?
Josh Ritter’s Hello Starling album.
9. All time favorite race moment?
That is a difficult question! The highlight of last season was racing the Keski (Gatineau Loppet) and competing against Alex and Lenny in the Canadian Nationals sprint.
10. First thing you pack in your bag when you leave for Europe?
Race boots are the first priority when I am traveling. Everything else can be borrowed if needed, but it’s difficult to ski if you don’t have boots that fit. I always travel with either both my skate and classic, or just pursuit boots in my carry-on.
11. Venue/event you’re most excited to visit this season?
My main focus for the winter is the World Championships in Lahti, Finland. The pre-Olympic World Cups in Pyeongchang are the second priority.
12. Who will win the men’s and women’s World Cup titles this year?
Well… given the recent news from Norway, the start lists may look a bit different this year. I would bet on Sundby for the mens overall with Alex Harvey up there as well. For the women, Heidi Weng.
13. Biggest sacrifice you feel you’ve made choosing this career path?
I don’t feel that I have to make sacrifices in order to ski. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to train and compete full time.
14. If you could change one thing about your sport, what would it be?
It would be amazing for our sport in North America if we could bring skiing to the masses. Cross country skiing is such a great sport for all ages and the more excitement we can generate for young skiers, new recruits and the general public, the more we can grow our sport. It was fantastic to see the atmosphere at the Tour de Ski city sprints in Quebec last year and hopefully we can continue to have similar events in North America. Additionally, bring back the 50km Individual!
15. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Bowl of oatmeal with yoghurt, fruit and honey and 2 poached eggs.
16. In 5 years, I’ll be ____?
… training hard at altitude for the last fall camp before the 2021/22 Olympic season begins.
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.