Of Big Sky and White Fish

On Thursday two weeks ago we (the Alberta World Cup Academy) embarked on what has become an annual event for the Academy: Whitefish. For those not in the know, Whitefish is our fourth training camp of the year and our final training camp to take place during the part of the training season that focuses on volume training (see “Volume” blog post). Coincidentally, Whitefish is held in Whitefish Montana, on the shores of the picturesque Whitefish lake, at the foot of Big Mountain (creative name eh?). With many hours to complete, easy access to a lake, a big mountain and ice cream the scene was set for some top-notch training! 
In honour of our ten days of solid training I have uploaded and captioned 10 of my favourite pictures from the camp for your viewing pleasure! Enjoy.

Whitefish Lake:

Water was one of the themes of our trip; starting with a jump into the Bow River right between the end of a 3.5hr rollerski from Canmore up towards Lake Louis and a 5hr van ride to our lodgings in Whitefish “Big Sky Country”. Many a gainer (running back flip) was attempted off the end of this dock after a workout.

Top of Big Mountain:

In the afternoon of day 2 we climbed Big Mountain, following a sweet gym workout in the morning. It’s Big Sky Country for a reason.


“I don’t usually take pictures of food, but when I do it usually tends to be almost all gone.” I roomed with Mike and Chris for the camp and, I gotta say, we ate pretty well! Here you see a salad with one of the tastiest dressings I’ve ever had, potato wedges and hamburgers (all curtsy of Chris), set to the backdrop of Whitefish Lake, and Mike’s right hand.

Cross Country Canada Truck:

You know you’re going places when the support vehicle for you workout says “CANADA” on it!! Sweeet!

Elevation change:

On Monday the 19th we ran up the mountain again as a recovery workout in the afternoon. Both times we climbed Big Mountain we took the gondola down and promptly drove back to our condos on the lake–a total vertical drop of over 1km! I didn’t open my waterbottles until I got back to the Condo and I found them looking slightly more squiggly than I remembered them to look.

800 meters:

Tuesday was a zone3 day! As mentioned above, Big Mountain afforded us some sweet vertical. We took advantage of this fact by doing a rollerski workout on the road up to the base of the ski resort. After 5 8min reps of Z3 Yannick’s watch read just over 800m. I was so stoked I set this nice looking number to the backdrop of some dead trees at the top of Big Mountain.

Hungry Horse Dam and Swix Stars:

Wednesday’s workout was a dam good time! 4hrs of skate and classic beside the reservoir of the tallest dam I’ve ever seen. To my excitement the road traversed the top of the damn and then along the reservoir to the right, through the burnt out forests.

Whitefish Fun Run race shirt:

As we neared the end of the camp the day dawned that everyone had been waiting for. A day much anticipated for the legendary event which it held. The one, the only, The Whitefish Friends and Family Fun Run. Known for its spectacularly flat terrain and cotton participation shirts, I was particularly excited for this event because it was too be my first 10km running race! After psyching myself up with the help of Viking Death March by Billy Talent, and working through a solid 50ish min warm up, I was ready. Goals for the day? Stick with my team-mates as long as possible and don’t get beat by a coach–Stef and Chris J. were both racing!
The starter raised her revolver into the air (seriously, it was a legit 6 shot cowboy pistol) and… bang! We were off!
To put a lot of pain into just a few words:
Jess lead off the start with 3min/km pace, which led to me getting dropped by my teammates a fair bit faster than I’d hoped. Just over a half hour after I fell off the pace I crossed the finish line in a sprint–narrowly accomplishing my other goal of not being beat by one of the coaches!
I don’t think my legs have ever hurt that much in a ski race.

Glacier National Park and Yours Truly:

Having completed a 10km running race on the previous day, one would think that running would be off the schedule for our final day of the camp. Well, one would be wrong.
To finish our awesome camp off in epic style we made our way up the Road to The Sun in Glacier National Park. I had heard from my teammates that Glacier Park was a solid setting for epic workouts, and after our annual rollerski up The Road to The Sun (which would have taken the place of the Hungry Horse Dam rollerski) was canceled due to the Girls being told off for rollerskiing there a day or two beforehand, I was really looking forward to getting a taste of the Park before our return to Canada.
The trail that we ran climbed about 700m vertical over the course of our 3hr run so that we finished up at just over 2000m altitude, and it took us through some of the most spectacular terrain that I’ve had a chance to run through, yielding many good opportunities to stare off majestically into the distance (see above). The only drawback of the trail was the number of other people on it! Every 500m or so I would call out another “hello!” or “thanks!” or “good day to you fine gentlemen!” to hikers who moved over to their side of the single track to let us by.

Back in Canmore:

With our drive back home ending at the Nordic Centre, Mike gave Kevin and I a lift back to our houses. Yep, all that stuff belongs solely to Kevin, Mike and I. Nope, thankfully the back of the truck did not look like that for the 5hr ride home from the States.

Bonus Pictures:

Burnt out trees in Glacier National Park

Ground Squirrel shoe inspection in Glacier National Park. My Salomons past the test (duh)

Hey, it’s the Great Wall of China! We did an out and back on this tourist boardwalk thing to finish off the 3hrs in Glacier Park. It was even busier than the other trail. Can you spot Alex running by the tourists?

Well, I’m heading back east to visit my family tomorrow so I gotta get my sleep now! Until next time,

Dream Big, People!

Update from Montana + A Point Of Interest

Dear blog readers,
Unfortunately I will not be posting the awesome blog full of pictures today about my camp in Whitefish Montana, which I promised two weeks ago.


Because I’m only half way through my training camp in Whitefish, the intra-web here sucks, and I’ll be putting up an even-more awesome blog post next week–full of pictures–about the entire camp!! Stay tuned.

Before I get back to enjoying the many hours of training I’ve gotta do here in Big Sky Country, I have a point of interest to share!

Me, my teammate Seb Townsend and Quebec training center skier Dominique Moncion-Groulx are holding a fundraiser running race at Camp Fortune ski hill in Chelsea Quebec on September 7th!!! The proceeds from the race will help support the three of us in our continued pursuit of skiing excellence, but, most importantly, we want to have an event to help encourage younger skiers coming up through the system in our home region. To this end we plan to:
– lead the Juvenile/Midget age skiers in a warm up before the race
– do a talk after the race about what it’s like training at a high level/at a training center in Canada.
– establish this race as an annual event to raise funds in the future for other local, highlevel Under-23 age skiers who don’t have federal sport carding
– give out cool draw prizes after the race!

If you are in the area on September 7th and you’d like to race check out our Facebook Page for details and register on Zone4!

If you can’t race but you think you’d like to help out with Volunteering contact me at zeke2will@yahoo.ca

Anyway, check back next week for an awesome blog update about my adventures in the US of A!

Dream Big, People! 


With recovery being the theme of the past week for me, I don’t have any cool training stories/pictures to regale you guys with this time round, instead I meander my way through my recovery philosophy and the challenges of applying it to real life.

As my old coach Mike Vieira says: “Wolverine would be the perfect athlete; his body regenerates instantly so he could load on tough workouts indefinitely and he would just keep getting fitter and fitter! He would be the best xc skier ever!!” *Also, Wolverine has sweet claws and sideburns.

Unfortunately, not all of us have super regenerative powers, sweet claws or sideburns (I do happen to possess one of these traits though… can ya guess which?).
Because of these shortcomings, getting solid rest is absolutely 100% as important for us mortals as throwing down during workouts–indeed, if you don’t get good rest when you’re supposed to you won’t be able to “throw down” during workouts at all! When you’re out there pounding the pavement (no matter what surface your “pavement” happens to be) during your favourite workout you are damaging your body. When you’re lying down for a nap, your water bottle half full (that’s right, half full) beside you, that’s when your body is actually becoming stronger. That’s when your muscles are repairing themselves from your solid gym workout or from your sweet interval set.

So be patient young padawan; treat your time between workouts as sacred and the nordic-skiing-force will become strong in you!

Me, recovering HARD.

For me, time between workouts has been plentiful these last few days as I happened to be on a rest week! Rest weeks always provide a bit of a conundrum for me because on one side I feel like I should be following all of my above recovery related advice to a T, but on the other side I really want to stray a bit from my usual “what is the best possible activity I can do at this moment in time to ensure ‘great success’ come Winter?” I mean, getting solid physical recovery is all well and good but you do need some time to distract your mind from the rigours of ski training so that when you get back to it you can feel physically and mentally refreshed. So that’s the rest week kicker for me: how to best balance the mental and the physical sides of the recovery equation. I guess you just gotta play around with it for yourself and see what gets you to the start of your next big training block feeling like you’re ready to take on the world.

Whatever the case is, this rest week has been a good time, but, as they say, “all good things must give way to better things” (that is the saying, right?). And this good rest week is giving way to another 3 week block of better-than-ever training!

Dream Big, People!

P.S. I’m off to Whitefish Montana for a training camp this month so look for a sweet blog write up, with pics, in the next blog post!