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.
Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt ended last season on a high note: Canada’s 2015 World Championships team member won the sprint qualifier and placed second in the final at Canadian National Championships. The 24-year-old member of Cross Country Canada’s U25 Team had to take a pause this summer, however, after suffering a stress fracture in her foot.
“I first felt pain in my feet three years ago, and was diagnosed with sesamoiditis (which is just a fancy word for inflammation of the sesamoid bone),” Bouffard-Nesbitt explained in an email. “I was told at the time and again over the three years that followed that the only thing I could do about it was try and manage the pain and avoid things that really hurt it, so I stopped running. It kept getting worse until last winter when at times I couldn’t put any weight on it.
“Then I sought the help of a specialist who told me I had stress reactions,” she continued. “The stress reactions are what made my healing time so long. According to X-rays, the bone is completely healed from the stress fracture in my right sesamoid, but I’m still dealing with pain. I’ve been told that what I have to watch out for is acheyness post-skiing. If I can limit that, then I won’t be further damaging my foot. It’s dry much up and down, but I’m really trying to keep the acheing to a minimum. And I’m just skiing through any pain or soreness I have when skiing.”
Bouffard-Nesbitt returned to rollerskiing this fall and has already raced in Canmore, finishing second in both the Frozen Thunder skate sprint qualifier and the Alberta Cup 6.3 k interval-start classic race.
1. Biggest change in your life in the last five or so months since the ski season ended?
The disbanding of the Bad Panda Love Shack, BPLS, i.e. losing two of my roomies to Saskatchewan and Halifax, and then having to move houses.
2. Biggest change in your training?
I was on crutches this summer and it really affected my training. I didn’t do any weight bearing training for 3 months (just swimming, spinning, and upper body strength.) It’s maybe the longest I’ve ever gone without being on snow (end of March until October) or doing anything ski specific for that matter.
3. Major areas of improvement you’ve seen so far?
Upper body strength! There are always gains to be made in times of adversity and positives to come out of otherwise crappy situations. I’ve always wanted to get stronger, and the swimming really helped towards achieving my summer goal of getting “jacked” shoulders.
4. Whom you’ve been working closest with this offseason (coaches or training partners)?
Because of my injury I hardly spent any time around my team. I would definitely say I worked closest with my support team who played an important role in my healing — my strength coach Shelley, massage therapists Jodi and Scott, my osteo Shayne and my physio Sarah. I’m really grateful for how much they helped me through the summer.
5. Best trip in the last five months (and why)?
I recently came back from spending a week in Halifax visiting my boyfriend at The University of King’s College! It was the best. We watched a Halifax Mooseheads game (You just can’t stop the Moose!).
6. Favorite cross-training?
Running/ hiking up mountains, for sure.
7. Favorite non-athletic activity or pastime this summer?
Brainstorming sessions and talking big ideas with the big boss, Peter [Collins, CEO at Buff Canada/Green Extreme Outdoor]. We’ve had lots of meetings discussing things like the biggest problems we think our country is facing in terms of consumerism and sustainability. All centred around preserving the environment. All of these sessions also had the goal of coming up with some new business ideas that woulc hopefully provide some solutions to the problems.
8. Song that was your jam this summer?
September by Earth Wind and Fire. It was actually the first song I danced to after I finally got rid of my crutches (which was right at the end of August). It was fitting, and I love that song so much. It was one of the best solo kitchen boogie down’s ever.
9. All-time favorite race moment?
There are a few that share the top spot, but I’ll go with – the utter chaos that was the first 3 km of the Montreal Ski Tour Canada mass start race. The combination of the snow conditions, the crashes and pile ups and the downhills…I was just dodging people left and right, having the time of my life. I live for that!
10. First thing you pack in your bag when you leave for Europe?
My race day essentials, starting with my race suit.
11. Venue/event you’re most excited to visit this season?
My race schedule is not set in stone, so I’m not totally sure where I’ll be heading. For starters, I’m looking forward to racing in Soldier Hollow – also know as the venue where Canadian LEGEND Beckie Scott won Canada’s first ever xc Olympic medal. I should probably ask her for some tips before I leave.
12. Who will win the World Cup title this year?
No one can know such things. I’d love to see some North Americans in the top spots in both the men’s and women’s competitions. If you want to know which Norwegian I’m rooting for (other than Marit), it’s Heidi Weng. I’d very much like to be friends with her.
13. Biggest sacrifice you feel you’ve made choosing this career path?
Everyday I’m grateful that I am living every ski bum’s dream.
14. If you could change one thing about your sport, what would it be?
I would raise the minimum permissible race temperature from -20C to -15C to better protect athletes’ lungs from unnecessary damage. And, to add to what’s already been said by many fellow racers, I would place a really strong moral compass in every athlete to keep them from doping or cheating.
15. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Oatmeal, red fife (shout out to Vigilante Rising) and a smoothie.
16. In 5 years, I’ll be ____?
At the top of my game. People will be speculating if I’ll retire as the greatest, most famous, most winningest female skier that Morin-Heights, QC has ever produced.
17. In 50 years, I’ll be ____?
In search of snow, probably back to wearing therapeutic shoes again because my feet will be so achey for so many reasons.