Saturday 6 February 2016


Yesterday I went to the pet store to stock up on food as Marvin and Maggie were out.  

I made small talk with the girl working there regarding the big blue parrot which seems eerily intelligent and has very long lifespan, then secondly the dogs and cats.   

The dogs and cats are sourced from rescue shelters these days.  I asked how long they stay before getting adopted - the answer was most are very fast.  Except that little cat has been there for like 5 months and we don't understand because he's all heart and just loves everyone who plays with him but nobody takes him home. 

I played with him a bit, little guy from Red Deer.  His hip has fur regrowing as he was bit and stitched up when found, probably a dog attack.  

So we went back today and adopted him. He is all heart. First thing he did in the play area was sit down on Brit in her chair. We moved him back then he just went and snuggled her again.  

Family is now bigger with Milo.  He purrs like a tractor and wants to cuddle.  This cartoon tells it all.  After 5 hours at home he's exuberant with love. They know when their lives have taken a turn. 

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Grands Montets, Geneva

I woke up to rain and despite wanting to have another day at Les Contamines that I like the feel of, I was advised to head higher for snow vs rain.  At least our race timing worked out perfectly.  

Grand Montets is up the valley from Chamonix.  It was snowing even on the road and parking lot, which was promising.  

I purchased only a 4h ticket as the lady said only the telepherique lognan and two lifts, marmotons and tabe were open.  I did one run off each. 

Here's the view from boarding the cable car. 

Here's the view from the top of marmotons.  I think that's a good run behind me. 

This is the top of marmotons.  

I wasn't going to improve my skiing today nor see a view.  All I could do was stay between blue sticks and do the same leg motion and hope that made it through the snow ok. The snow felt nice, but where it clumped and grabbed your skis it was pretty dangerous as you didn't see anything. Basically it was skiing on hope. 

The internet tells me this is what it looks like on a clear day. 

I drove to Geneva, then checked out those who have a good life on the lake. 

I visited this but got there at close. Napoleons brother owned it at one point, now it's a Swiss museum. 

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Les Contamines - Classic

There's nothing easy about telemark skiing, let alone racing, and the classic just amplifies everything a notch.

It's a longer course: essentially 4 sets of gates, with two jumps and one skating section dividing them, then the loom and a longer skate finish.  

Legs turn to rubber and lungs burn with blood, and that's before the finish line unfortunately.  I have this distinct memory of hitting supra max heart rate and not being even near the finish.  

When I finished, I handed back my bib and didn't want to lie down, maybe I didn't want to symbolically give in.  I went to the lift to go get my jacket and other skis at the top.  It was the most terrifying lift ride I've had in ages.  I was convinced I was on the edge of blacking out.  Not only did my lungs burn and taste like blood, I'd cough and my entire torso just ached. I was so stressed that I'd pass out and fall,  and every 30 seconds that passed I just felt worse.  I'm reasonably used to mega lactic overdose, but seems like when you create a bunch with all your large leg muscles then proceed to maximally overuse every bit of your upper body as well it creates a whole incremental level of hurt. 

Getting off the lift and just coasting to the start felt mildly better. Note for next time I will just go sit down a bit ; )

First, no opening ceremony or podium is conducted in the Alps without vin chaud. It's treated as crucial, and why not?

Here's a representative podium photo in town, although there were both junior world champs for yesterday's and today's, men's and women's and senior all done today.  This is the junior sprint world championships podium.  I was in hotels all week with the Slovenians, and Jure Ales won this and the Classic junior world championships.  When is saw Jure free ski it's immediately apparent he's carving tele turns like few on the planet.  It looks magical. And he makes virtually the same turns in gates, which is all the more amazing.  Not to mention Slovene ski jumpers finished 1-2-3 in Sapporo. Their whole team has heart, and the race referee lady is Slovene too.  To watch anyone's success up close is amazing, but to see what it means to them is probably more moving.  

I had my best result of the trip today at 35th.  In my world that's good.  I've come a long way, and I've been able to watch those with more talent and more basis for exploiting that talent up close.  

Being a World Cup contender or champion takes things I don't have.  Talent, time, more focus to a singular arrangement of life around that goal, etc. But I have some ingredients in spades - love of the sport and an unlimited willingness to try hard. 

Tele turns

This photo is a bit like looking in the mirror to me.  One of the (endless list) of kind, enthusiastic and helpful French organizers/telemark fans sent it to me post race.  

I've said this before, and I see no reason to modify it.  Nothing about telemark racing is easy.  Carving tele turns in gates, launching a jump 25+m, landing tele and going into gates again, carrying speed into, and hopefully out of the big loom when your legs feel like rubber, then XC skate sprinting for a finish challenges a lot of skills and is just plain hard.  

The best guys make it look easy.  I watched one of Phil Lau's runs, who's the World Cup leader at this point, and it just looked easy.  Like why is everyone else straining themselves? The other top guys too - it's an art form. 

He carves more singular and better lines around steep icy gates than I can on a freshly groomed blue run. It's amazing to see.  

I see in this picture a guy who found by chance (or did it find him?) a fantastic sport filled with fantastic people.  He tries to listen to input from everyone and translate it through to fast turns downs course.  It's easier said than done. I quote often that I feel I'm winning, but that isn't the case as a World Cup racer.  

Skiing is about angles. I've been working on generating more angle. I can't tell from the picture what part of the course I was at, but I see a guy looking down the course, with an outside edge at an appreciable angle and a flexed ski, and an inside knee just a few inches off the snow.  I am not winning, but that's a tele skier that's given'er his current best.  I'm proud that I've learned to carve tele turns at this level.  It's a magical feeling really.  It's a feeling my life would be less complete without. 

I wholeheartedly thank the Telemark Ski Canada people, our Helly Hansen and Auclair sponsors, the French hosts who both love and currently rule this sport, and these beautiful little towns in the alps for having us. 

Aiguille du Midi

I had wanted to go to this all week. This morning the weather seemed to line up and the web site showed it was open.  As I paid for my ticket I wondered if it was just a tourist cash grab.  When I left I thought nothing of the sort, it's amazing that this exists.  Whomever was at a bar and was convincing enough when he said "hey, let's build a team right up to the top of that thing" and everyone actually agreed, is amazing.  

It's both audacious and amazing.  The wind gusts and high ledges are terrifying at times.  

From midway station.  You start travelling almost horizontally.  You can see the needle right on top. 

Entering top, car moves nearly vertically. When it enters the tram house, it still wobbles around in the wind. 

Entry tunnel. 

Bridge across is very windy and very far down. 

This is where you enter from, tram goes into back of that mountain. 

I came over through that tunnel to a viewing area. 

Amazing view. 

Down to Chamonix.  The heights and exposure are disconcerting. 

Cold up top!

Path down to the ski run that's 20+km to town. You need guides and ropes to get to it. 

Elevator is the easy way to gain vertical.  

From top top. 

Chamonix valley panorama from top. 

The bowl you can see panorama. 

Needle from the terrace a few floors above the tram entry. 

Monday 1 February 2016

Junior Sprint day

So I hit up my favourite lunch spot again. It's hard to resist.  Commute to lunch doesn't get old. 

Big and bright ski area.  Dying of brightness. 

Lunch line. 

The Mont Blanc genepi beer in the Mont Blanc glass avec the real Mont Blanc. 

As I take a few bites, a bratty British kid throws a snowball at the black cat.  The big dog that wanders around at a sloth like pace does two quick trots, stops directly in between the boy and the cat, his face is like 4 feet from the boy's,and gives one big bark.  The dogs face is the same height as the dog. Boy freezes then cries.  Dog watches, walks away.  Cat watches, walks away.  Animals are smart.  

Jure Ales of Slovenia won the junior sprint. His skiing has looked killer all week and his last run was crisp and clean.  He accelerated through the jump and cut clean corners after.  It looked fantastic just from sidelines.