Nominated Athlete Example: 14 year old Callum

Alex Almoukov and I up to some kind of mischief ca. 2003

Hello, my name is Callum and I am 14 year’s old and I started competing in the sport of Cross Country Skiing 5 years ago. There is no denying that my buddy (Alex Almoukov) and I may be trouble makers at times, but we also train hard and have big goals to progress as athletes. I believe that I would benefit greatly from the mentor program as I could really learn a thing or two from the advice on offer. I am motivated and will continue to strive for my goals in the sport as I continue to train with Alex and other friends. Who knows, maybe we will go to the Olympics together…..

Hanging with BK; Sochi 2014

Ski Tour Canada Wrap Up

The first days here in Canmore were particularly tough on my body. I was completely wrecked from the 16km skate race in Quebec and to add to that fatigue was a long travel day straight afterwards. I think it was the altitude which really made things dramatically worse! Successful racing at altitude requires good preparation leading into the event. The adaptation from being at altitude several weeks earlier can still have big effects on how well your body handles the low levels of Oxygen. Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t allow for any time at altitude since I was back home in Australia in September! It was safe to say, I felt the full effects…

For the race prep day just before the Classic sprint, I felt horrible! Low energy, irritated lungs and generally lethargic from the altitude. The next day was slightly better in terms of feeling, however still not anywhere close to the way I had been feeling in Quebec. With this also being my first classic sprint of the season, I was certainly worried about the 20% cut-off rule. I won’t for a second try and say that the result was anything great, but I made it through the sprint stage placing 79 and not really losing many seconds to the guys around me.

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The 30km skiathlon is an event which I have seen my best results in the past. Less than 4 weeks ago I had a solid result in Lahti in the skiathlon and wasn’t close to being lapped off on the 3.75km lap. With the conditions being so warm in Canmore this week, it really effects how much the field stretches out. I actually had really good energy, good skis and a solid race, however it just wasn’t quite enough. It’s pretty frustrating really, mostly because it could easily have been avoided if they had of just used the 5km loop! The result was actually good and that’s what I should stay positive about. I placed 63rd, and improved me rank in the overall, however due to the field stretching out so far, it wasn’t enough. Along with 11 other athletes I was lapped off and as a result, my tour ended there.

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It’s a tough one, especially when I know that I had good form and a good feeling returning back to my body, however that’s just ski racing! The results have been a step up and I need to really be proud to have achieved those results! For anyone that was out there watching, they would have know I gave absolutely everything I had out there!

Stage 2 – Montreal 17.5km

Stage 2 was a very tough day, right from the very start. After a bit of drama on the first lap getting pushed wide by another skier I found myself right at the back of the pack. Turns out, on a course like this where there were several bottlenecks, it was a huge disadvantage with the concertina effect. On the steep section of the course, I found myself waiting for a good 15s just until the skiers in front of were able to start moving again! Noah Hoffman, who was in a similar position to me in terms of start rank found that he lost 45s in just the first half lap – not because we were skiing slow, but just because the field strung out so far and there was no-where to move!

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I then settled into a good rhythm by the 3rd lap and was reeling in a lot of places, working with Russel Kennedy from Canada. There was a big pack, with some big name skiers all in a pack just 25s or so in front that we were working on catching back onto to. On the 4th lap, disaster struck when I broke a pole in a stumble. It was fortunate in one way that I received a pole after just having to ski one hill will one pole but unfortunately it was far too long. It must have been for a giant like Len Valjas or someone because it honestly felt a good 15cm too tall! I then received another pole after the next hill but to my frustration, it felt no smaller! After half a lap of skiing like an unbalanced fool, I finally got the right size pole from Petr who is working with us this tour.

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The issues continued, because of the imbalance, the chest cramping that I was getting from the lung puncture last year came back with a vengeance! I had felt nothing before the broken pole and nothing all season, but this at the time felt like a real deal breaker. It was to the point where I was feeling light headed because I couldn’t expand my lungs properly. After a long downhill section, I managed to release it by forcing my fingers up under my rib cage and after that I was good to go!  With only 1 lap to go there was minimal distance left to make up for the time loss but I managed to catch back onto Russel and another Canadian Skier which is basically where I fell off. The frustrating fact is that my body was feeling really good and I knew that I would have been able to catch that bigger group and pulled out a really good result if luck hadn’t have completed evaded me!

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Looking forward is all positive though. I know I am in good shape and I have a lot to prove and intend to really put that into action in these next stages. Today is a much needed rest day here in Quebec city where we are staying in a rockn hotel overlooking this massive castle. Just behind that castle is where the race loop will be so I’m looking forward to getting out there for a light session later to check it all out!

Ski Tour Canada Opening

Yesterday we moved into World Cup Accommodation and despite the food being rather sub-par, the rooms are right up there!

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Last night, the World Cup’s Ski Tour Canada was officially opened. We were the first nation called onto stage and the warm greeting was quite an experience!

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Today was the first day that we were allowed to train on the first stage’s course – a 1.7km sprint loop. Finally this tour is kicking off and I’m feeling well and truly ready for it! The course is actually reasonably hilly for a city sprint and with minimal rest, this is going to be one killer of a sprint! Luckily, the vibe in City sprints is really sweet with lost of people usually coming to watch so that will certainly help get us through. I’m excited to try and find some of my better sprint form like what I had in Estonia about 1 month back.

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Canada!

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View coming in to land in Iceland

The trip from Finland to Ottawa, Canada was unfortunately far from smooth but I suppose looking back at our travel histories, what can you really expect? Upon arrival in Ottawa (which was the equivalent of 5am Finnish time) I was dealt with a lost ski bag courtesy of the airlines along with no transport to my accommodation… The lack of car came about because the car hire company didn’t even have a desk at the airport. They never actually tell you that and they are suppose to be there for when your flight arrives to drive you to their depot directly. When no-one is there to do so, their cunning, shady operation quickly falls apart, particularly when their ’24hr phone number’ goes straight to message bank every time! After a $60 taxi ride, I was not a happy customer. With a free upgrade to this beast, along with free insurance for the duration of the rent, I suppose it makes up for the inconvenience somewhat.

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After badgering Air Canada for 3 days straight, I finally received my ski bag. So training for those first few days with a mixed array of equipment was certainly not ideal, but with great skiing conditions here in Canada it was hard to be too upset.

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I really knew I couldn’t be too upset with my situation when 3 days after I arrived, Phil had only just made it in…. He got caught in the unstable weather and managed to get an unlucky sequence of cancelled, delayed and almost crash landing flights for those 3 days straight! After all safely arriving, training and preparation for the Tour went really well and it was a great time staying with our generous hosts, the Allain family.

Enchiladas

Mexican Cuisine has always been a bit of a favourite of mine, however when traveling, it is often hard to find! Here is Enchiladas cooked my way – just slightly different to what you may have previously experienced, but I’m going to be arrogant here and claim that it’s an absolute winner! Despite what you may be thinking, it’s quite healthy too!

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Here’s what you need:

  • 500g Chicken Breat
  • 2 red Capsicums (diced)
  • 2 brown onions (finely diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 large eggplant (chopped into larger squares)
  • 2 large handfuls of button mushrooms (quartered)
  • Taco seasoning
  • Thai red curry seasoning
  • Hot Chilli sauce
  • 400g of salsa
  • 3 tablespoons of light sour cream
  • Cheese (for topping)
  • 12 medium size Tortilla wraps

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Method:

  • Fry the brown onions and garlic in a pan until golden brown, then set aside
  • Fry the chicken breast until almost fully cooked through
  • Add the onions/garlic, along with the capsicum and taco seasoning. Add 1/2 a cup of water (more if too dry) and cook for 7 minutes)
  • Add the mushrooms along with the eggplant, Thai red curry seasoning and Hot Chilli Sauce – amounts depend on how much of a spicy kick you are after! Cook for a further 10mins
  • Carefully wrap each of the 12 enchiladas. Best approach I have found is to set the filling in a line, folding in the short sides, then wrap and roll from the larger edges. Place all compactly in a baking tray
  • Mix the Salsa and Light sour cream in a bowl, then evenly pour over the enchiladas
  • Top with grated cheese and back at 180 degrees C for 25 minutes.

ENJOY!

Travel Day Nightmare

If you ever want to know just how well you can mess up a travel day, you’ve come to the right place. Jackson, Phil and I have all had pretty good experience when it comes to traveling, however don’t let this fool you into thinking that we have it dialed. Sweden and Estonia are right next to one another, but even still we found a way to mess it up!

So there is usually a part of any trip that is considered smooth sailing. This just didn’t exist! First up was the air ticket blunder. A few days ago I suggested that it would be a good idea to have the one person book the tickets so that we could all be on the same flight. So when it came to booking the flights, both Phil and Jacko were looking for the best deals and found a good one. I wasn’t there so Jacko booked a ticket for me. Next day, Phil says in a sigh of relief something along the lines of ‘well I’m glad I’m finally getting my life sorted, it’s good that you got those tickets booked yesterday Jacko’. Jacko, then responds with, ‘ah didn’t you book your own ticket in the end though?’ After a quick rush back to the website, and undoubtedly a bit of cursing as they discovered the flight was full, and Phil found himself having to fly via Moscow. He had to leave 3 hrs earlier and should have arrived 20mins later than us – pretty indirect to say the least.

When we left yesterday morning on the train to Stockholm, Phil sends a message saying that he only just made his flight because the tracks were knackered after Uppsalla. This cost him $80 for a 20min taxi ride but gladly just got him there. We therefore were on the same line but had fortunately left just a little more time than he had done. So we risked it, waited for the next train on a different line and only just made it in time as well.

Then it came to the flying part. Now I’ve done a lot of flying during my ski career and have only ever been scared on a plane a couple of times in my life. This was something else though! As we were landing, the plane was now only dropping suddenly and wing tipping, but also getting blown sideways. This is all fine when we were higher off the ground but when it only got worse and we were just 10min above the runway, that burger I had eaten just before we took off was about ready to be tasted a second time over. With an almighty thud, bounce, thud, we managed to land, mostly sideways, but thankfully we made. How the wheels didn’t get torn off is beyond me!

After going to the connecting gate in Riga and back onto the next flight, I recognized the flight attendant as we were boarding. As I was the asking Jacko if he thought it was the same plane, the flight attendant unenthusiastically says in a thick, Russian accent ‘It’s the same plane’. She was obviously about as pleased with going out there again in the same plane as we were! Turns out after the Pilot has started to fire up the engines, there was a ‘technical problem’ and we would have to be put on a different plane. Essentially, something had broken in that crazy landing!

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1hr later, we were on the next flight and arrived safely in Tallinn only to discover Phil (who had kindly waited for us) only had a plastic bag! We had all packed lightly to avoid having a checked in bag and his skis had already been taken to Estonia. After discovering he had a free check in bag anyway, he came up with the awesome idea of checking in his carry on – I completely understand it, it’s dead miles to be carrying around that extra weight through the airport. So the plan fell apart when this bag got lost…. He had nothing except the clothes he was wearing! Not ideal when you are going to a ski race. The latest update is that his bag has gone to Beijing, China!

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After all this, we had missed the final bus to Tartu and would have to spend the night in Tallinn. So in a positive light to finish, at least we got to see the old city of Tallinn. Quite a nice sight really

Finally, a Win!

Even though the Matsboloppet isn’t the biggest of ski events around, I am still satisfied to be able to say that today I had my first win here in Sweden. It’s a good thing that this guy wasn’t here today, otherwise then I could have been in trouble!!

The Headline translates as 'Sweden's Fastest Aussie' - Full article can be read on: http://www.sydsvenskan.se/malmo/halla-vastra-malmo/han-ar-sveriges-snabbaste-aussie/

The Headline translates as ‘Sweden’s Fastest Aussie’ – Full article can be read on: http://www.sydsvenskan.se/malmo/halla-vastra-malmo/han-ar-sveriges-snabbaste-aussie/

No, but in all seriousness, good luck to Henry and his preparations for the Vasa Loppet. His results have been impressive and therefore the positive exposure is definitely not unjustified however put him against someone like Philpot Bellingham in a sprint and I think I could safely back my team mate in for the win.

Anyway back to today! The 11km classic event was held on a pretty flat 2.2km loop and my initial intention was to use grip wax to try and concentrate on the technical changes that I have made in the striding technique. It just wasn’t worth it in the end, I was there to win and choosing to go with an option that I knew would have surely been slower was just not doing it for me. It was a good decision in the end because I had to fight for the lead the whole race!

After the first lap, I was slightly ahead according to the splits, then after the second lap Måns Sunesson (http://m-sunesson.se) and I were even. This made me really try and find another gear on that 3rd lap, which gained me 10 seconds, however really sent me into what we commonly refer to as ‘the Hurt Box’. I then red-lined and had to fight hard to stay powerful and aggressive but lost 5 second in the 4th lap. The 5th was therefore torture, I left everything I had out there and managed to grab the win by just 1.3 second. Congrats to Måns, and fellow DSA member Gilberto Panisi (http://gilbertopanisi.weebly.com/)from Italy who placed 3rd. Team mate Jackson Bursill also skied a strong race finishing 4th!

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No one was really ready for the photo, but that’s the best I’ve got!

These were the skis of the day – all part of the new pairs I was given this year. The new narrow tip and tail may look strange, but I’ve got to say that I love the way they feel! Thanks again Atomic Nordic.

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Mattias said that I should go for the win as you get this ‘sweet trophy’ at the end of it. Not sure what happened to that end of the deal, but I’m probably even happier to receive these bed sheets as a prize! Exactly 1 week ago in Stockholm, Teresa and I  were wanting to buy ones exactly like these for the apartment, but we weren’t stoked on the prize tag! So despite what it may look like, bed sheets were a sweet reward

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This afternoon was back to the gym for Strength and a short 40min run. Quite a hard schedule to follow after 2 days of tough races but soon I will be tapering for the bigger races that I have been waiting all season for!

Faff, Followed by a 2hr Classic with Speeds

So the Faff part – today the boys were hopeless! I went to pick Jacko, Philpot and Dakota up from close to where they are staying and seems like it must have just been one of those days for all of them. Jacko had forgotten his sunglasses (pretty painful when eye balls freeze over on the downs at -21), but then I look at Philpot’s set up. Classic boots and skate skis… Nice mate! Whilst everyone is having a laugh at Philpot, Dakota then starts searching in his bag to discover he forgot his boots entirely! After a bit of a cursing, laughing and running around town, all was resolved, well almost… Phil still forgot his sunglasses…..

Anyway I can’t complain or laugh too hard because I’m usually the one that is the worst of the lot! I like to think I’m on the improve 🙂

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Once we were finally skiing it was amazing! Yeah, we had to re-wax a couple of times because the cold aggressive snow was ripping all the wax from our skis in less than 10kms but even still,  the perfectly prepared courses here in Falun just make training that much better! Always nice to have Teresa out there also enjoying the conditions with me – not a bad day to get off work 🙂

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Today was just 2hr classic with 10X20s speeds to try and get the body activated and working efficiently at speed ahead of this weekend’s races. Just small, fun, local races with tomorrow’s 9km skate in Avesta and a 10km classic in Hedemora. Good short races to really trial higher pace setting ahead of some pretty serious racing coming up!