U23 World Championships in Lahti, Finland got rolling on Jan. 21 with a classic sprint. In our quest to check in with some of the North American athletes in Finland, with emailed a list of quick-hit questions to touch base. Graham Ritchie trains with Thunder Bay NTDC and represented Canada at Junior Worlds at Soldier Hollow in 2017 and Goms, Switzerland, in 2018. Ritchie is from Parry Sound, Ontario, best known as the birthplace of Bobby Orr.
What is the first difference you noticed between Finland and Norway? All I’d say about that is, I thought I was back in TBay when we landed in Helsinki.
What are you reading? I’m not an avid reader so unfortunately I don’t have anything to give you here, haha! I’m currently in enrolled in a general business program at the college in Thunder Bay though so that keeps me busy!
How are you approaching this Worlds differently than those in the past? This is my second Worlds trip, my first was last year as a junior. This year I am a first year U23, so I went into the competition knowing it was going to be a lot of grinding. I approached this worlds with my main focus on the sprint. I knew that if I raced the way that I could, I would be happy with my performance. In the end, I was stoked with my performance, mostly in the qualifier!
What are some “performance goals” going into the races you are focusing on? My performance goal going into the championships was to qualify for the sprint heats. I did achieve this goal and I was super happy to have qualified 19th. After that, my goal was the qualify for semi-finals, but it didn’t work out. I learned about some tactics I need to work on to help my performance for the next two years to come!
What are the races you are focusing on? The race I was focusing on was the sprint. As there are only 4 U23 men on the trip, I participated in all the events and definitely learned some new things by racing against some of the best in the world.
Who best supports you when a race doesn’t go the way you envisioned? When a race doesn’t go the way you planned, it’s no fun. It’s awesome to have such great supportive teammates and coaches. As well as of course my family back home who are always happy with how I am doing!
Who is the first person you call/text/email…etc. when the race goes well? The first people I talk to after a race other than teammates and coaches on the race site, are my parents. They are usually the first ones to text me after a race!
How do you best deal with external pressure to perform? I’m not the type of person who gets really stressed out from external pressure. I just know that I’ll race to my best ability, and I know that when I need to perform well I can do it.
How do you best deal with internal pressure to perform? Similar to the previous question, I am able to keep myself calm and not get too overwhelmed by what is going on. I know what I need to focus on and that is what I do!
What type of “fun” are you looking to have outside of skiing in Lahti? Outside of skiing in Lahti, there’s not a whole lot to do as there isn’t really anything around where we are staying. It will definitely be fun to let go a little bit and celebrate after the races are over!