Welcome! My name is Michael Gilday and I am a Short Track Speedskater from Yellowknife, NWT, Canada. I currently train at the National Training Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I've created this blog primarily to let family and friends know about competitions and travel. I also hope to educate a bit about short track and maybe even entertain. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Now posting at mgilday.wordpress.com

Hello Everyone,

I have decided to switch over to Wordpress for my blogging needs. So, from now on, I will no longer be updating here. Take swing by mgilday.wordpress.com, take a read and leave a comment. Also, feel free to let me know if you like the new set-up or if there is anything you'd like to see appear at mgilday.wordpress.com!

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Experience Pays

As some of you reading this may know, we had a World Cup last weekend on home soil and I managed to put together a nice result with my teammates in the 1000m. I finished second while Charles Hamelin won and Olivier Jean finished third to complete the first Canadian sweep of a World Cup podium since 1994. I'm sorry for spoiling the story for anyone who was planning on watching the race here, or the entire CBC broadcast of the weekend here, but it has been a week, soooo....

Anyways, on to an update of the weekend that was the World Cup in Saguenay. I think the best way I can describe the weekend is that experience pays. In fact the weekend felt like deja vu of the 2008 World Cup in Vancouver.

Flashback to 2008. After failing to qualify for the final rounds in my 1500, I have a near breakdown in between races and end of having a long, long conversation with my Mum about all sorts of things, skating related and not. Following that conversation, I manage to cobble together a decent set of races in the afternoon to qualify to the final rounds in the 1000m. On Saturday I don't make it through the repechage, but gain a lot of confidence in my skating setting me up for a good day on Sunday and my first World Cup medal, a silver in the 1000m.

Flash forward to last weekend. After a stupid mistake costs me a spot in the final rounds in the 1500 (I toed in with one to go) I am shaken a bit but manage to put together a couple good, but nervous, races and qualify for the 1000m final rounds on Sunday. On Saturday morning, I feel that I should easily qualify though the repechage and into the finals that afternoon. But I don't. Instantly in an awful mood, I storm out of the arena and go for a walk by myself. While walking, I realize the parallels between the two world cups. I realized that this years world cup was shaping up almost exactly like the one in Vancouver in 2008 and that I would be capable of good result if I could get my head back in the game. Sure enough, Sunday came around, and because I was able to draw upon my experiences from the past, I ended up with a very similar result, a silver in the 1000m.

The World Cup in Saguenay turned out to be a resounding success. Canada did very well, winning 11 out of 26 possible medals. The crowd support was absolutely phenomenal. I have never been at a speed skating competition where they had a huge screen on a flatbed in the parking lot for people to watch the races on. Inside the arena, the noise was deafening, and I know each and every one of the skaters, Canadian or not, appreciated the noise of an educated and enthusiastic crowd.

Lastly, I have to give a huge shout out to the organizing committee and all of the volunteers that made this event happen. The event was not only a weekend of racing, but a week long celebration of Short Track. The bar has been set very high and I would like to say thanks for the great weekend Saguenay!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Update Time!

With one World Cup under my belt this season, I figured it was time for an update. I'm writing this from my hotel room in Chicoutimi, Quebec, which seems like a different universe than where we were last week, Salt Lake City.

With the first two World Cups being in North America, I think most of the team was expecting, and hoping, that the travel to and from wouldn't be too long or hard. Well we figured wrong. As we found out, Salt Lake and Chicoutimi are not the easiest places to travel between. But more on that in a bit.

Travel to Salt Lake from Montreal was relatively easy though, and despite a 3:30am wake up call, we all arrived in Salt Lake ready for our first World Cup of the season. For me, the week of training leading in the competition went pretty well. As per usual I had some problems in the first few days with the altitude (Salt Lake is around 1300m, Montreal close to sea level). But other than that I was enjoying late season summer weather (seriously do clouds exist in Salt Lake??) and feeling ready to race. I was planning on racing a 1500m and a 1000m, but due to a small registration snafu, I ended doing a 500m instead of a 1000m. Not a big deal since I need practice at 500m anyways.

Friday's qualification rounds went alright, I managed to qualify easily in the 1500, but had to wait and see if my time was good enough in the 500. Luckily it was and I was qualified straight to the rounds in both of my distances.

On Saturday we had the finals of the 1500 and for me it went pretty well. While I didn't end up on the podium (I finished 5th), I am still satisfied with my race as I was well positioned the entire time and I was aggressive from start to finish, something I have been working on.

Sunday brought the 500m finals, and it didn't go quite so well. I was penalized in the quarter finals which meant my day was over individually. Luckily though, we still had to the relay to go. It was one of the more chaotic races I have ever been involved in as there were five teams and I got us off to a bad start by losing the start badly - oops!. Anyways, we managed to make some timely passes and get some good exchanges in while staying on our feet, and eeked out a solid win to finish the weekend.

With that, we wrapped up the first World Cup and got ready to head to Chicoutimi for stop #2. This is where the part about travel comes in. Turns out that traveling between Salt Lake and Chicoutimi is not easy. Actually its probably easier and cheaper to fly to Europe from any major city in Canada than travel between Salt Lake and Chicoutimi. Monday, our travel day, started off with bus to the airport at 6:30am and finished at 12:45am that night. In between that we had a flight to Montreal via Minneapolis, a fight with line ups in customs and traffic jams in Montreal and a five and a half hour bus ride from Montreal to Chicoutimi. An 18 hour travel day, but we made it!

So that brings us to this week. Chicoutimi is a shock from warm and sunny Salt Lake (its about 3 degrees and rainy here), but we are excited for our home World Cup. For those who want to watch, CBC is showing the world cup this weekend all across the country. I'm not sure of the exact times, but I'll try to post the times on my twitter page once I know!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Video Tuesday

Today for Video Tuesday, I'm going to share another of my favorite all time videos: the mens relay from the 2010 Olympics. Most of the readership knows who won this race. If you don't I won't spoil it for you. This race, and the whole Olympics in fact, were bittersweet for me, since I had missed qualifying for the team by so little. But there is a reason why I have posted relay videos two weeks in a row. They are unbelievably exciting and definitely the best part of Short Track. This race was the definition of execution by my teammates and I was screaming at my TV while watching it. Enjoy.

P.S This is the video of the entire event and includes the B final as well as post race stuff. The actual A final itself starts at 19:00 so you can just skip to there if you like.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Video Tuesday

And the new content onslaught continues!

Its another new series! Starting this Tuesday, and hopefully continuing every Tuesday, I am going to post a video that is a favorite of mine. Most of the time the videos will be skating or skating related. Enjoy.

This week, since its the first week, I'm going to put up two videos. The first video is the Men's 5000m Relay A final from the 2011 World Cup #4 in Shanghai China. This race is one of my favorites for a number of reasons. First of all, this relay was the first time that I was skating in the anchor position. It is also the first World Cup relay final for my teammate Liam Mcfarlane. Lastly, this race is a great example of how exciting a relay can be. The race features many, many lead changes, a bunch of contact, some great passes and a great battle in the last two laps between yours truly and one of the best relay anchors in the business, Ho-Suk Lee of Korea.

In the second video, two of my former teammates, Gilmore Junio (behind the camera) and Tyler Derraugh (mainly in front of the camera) teach everybody about teamwork.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Industry Sunday

Industry Sunday is a new series here at mgilday.blogspot.com. Each week (or post that comes out on Sunday - I'm not making any guarantees here!), I will address a topic specific to the sport of Short Track Speed Skating with the goal of informing, educating, starting discussion and/or editorializing. 

This week, in the first installment of Industry Sunday, the topic will be my take on the new passing rule one year since it has taken effect. As you may or may not know, the International Skating Union introduced new rules last year in order to increase passing in the sport. There are many different opinions on the new rule, and although I don't have any hard figures, I would guess that in general passing during races is up. Is that a good or a bad thing? And what are some of the consequences?

First of all, we should look at exactly what the new rule is. In previous years, the rule applied by the referees was that a skater that was leading, or more specifically, a skater that was being passed, had the right of way. In this scenario, if skater A is leading, in order for skater B to complete a successful pass, skater B would have to be sure that he executed his pass fully without interfering or impeding with skater A. Under the new rule, the skater that has the right of way, or who is in a sense protected against interference or impeding, has changed. Now, the skater with the right of way is whichever skater is in front going into the corner. This is measured at the shoulders. So going back to our scenario, Skater A is leading, and Skater B is passing. Now, if Skater B can get just his shoulders in front of Skater A, the onus shifts to Skater A to not cause any contact as he is now behind. If contact is caused by Skater A, he can be penalized since he was effectively "behind". This is applied the same way for outside and inside passes.

Confused? Well you aren't the only one. In the the first few months of last season, there was a lot of confusion amongst the skaters, coaches and even the officials. There was a learning curve for everyone. It took time for skaters and coaches to change from their old tactics and learn the proper way to skate defensively and offensively under the new rule. Officials had a similar learning curve as they had to learn to look for different things than they had in the past. As everyone learned how to function best under the new rule, changes as to how races were raced and officiated emerged.

Athletes quickly realized that they could get away with what may have been, in the past, bad passes. There was an increase of skaters trying to squeeze their shoulders ahead of another skater at the last second before the entrance into a corner. "Suicide passes" or passes where one skater hurls himself from the back of the pack to the front without an actual space to fit into increased as well. This subsequently lead to more multi-skater crashes, or whole pack pile ups. There were also changes in the way races were officiated. Due to the fact that all it took was to have ones shoulders ahead of the other skater, something that is very hard to tell with the naked eye at 40+km/h, the need to use video replay increased substantially. This subsequently slowed the pace at which a day of racing rolled, as there were longer delays between races.

So has the new rule improved the sport? In my opinion as a skater, I'm not sure. Yes there are now more opportunities to pass. On the flip though this means its easier to be passed. I think that more passing in the sport is generally a good thing, as it will only serve to increase the excitement of the sport which, ideally, will increase the overall viewership and popularity of Short Track, promoting the growth of the sport. But is there a cost? With the increase of big crashes are we likely to see more injuries? Although big crashes are unfortunately what this sport is known for (Stephen Bradbury 2002 Olympics anyone?) having more of that isn't the way to sell the sport. Especially if the top skaters, the ones that the sport relies on as headliners, role models and spokespeople, start to get seriously injured more often. In addition, there will need to be a way to mitigate the length of time it takes for video replay. Obviously we all want fair calls to be made by the officials, but in todays on-demand world, where people's attention spans are shorter than ever and TV audiences demand non stop action, we can't have big delays in between races either. Ultimately, I think its going to take at least another year to really see whether the changes are in fact good for the growth and development of the sport.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Update time!

Oufffff. Well, I'm well overdue for an update here at ol' mgilday.blogspot.com. Since my last post about our camp in Font-Romeu, not a ton has happened. First thing on the agenda after getting back from France was to get moved into our apartment here in Montreal. Moving isn't easy, but lucky for us, everyone who moves in Montreal moves on July 1st, so we were able to poach some nice furniture that people had left on the side of the road.

Following moving in, we received the fantastic news that our normal training centre, the Maurice Richard Arena, was out of commission for a least a month. I say this with a massive amount of sarcasm. Unfortunately, there aren't any Olympic sized arenas situated on the island of Montreal, so the whole group got to enjoy the joys of commuting more than an hour each day out to a brand new arena in Chateauguay. Driving an hour each way also let me get a taste of what driving in Montreal in the summer means. From what I have been able to find out there is some sort of rule that says all major roads in Montreal, including major bridges, must either be under construction, or have a lane closed off by hundreds and hundreds of orange cones during the summer months. Needless to say, this wasn't the highlight of the summer.

Lucky for us, August rolled around and with it came the good news that Maurice Richard would be opening! From a training perspective this was the point were I started to turn around my summer. Prior to this, I had been getting pummeled day in and day out at training as I worked to adapt to a new training environment and style. As we moved towards the end of August and the start of September, it was really nice to feel like myself again on the ice, even if the feeling was at times fleeting.

All of a sudden, we found ourselves in the middle of September and face to face with a Short Track skaters annual end of summer routine, the Fall World Cup Trials. I was really not sure what to expect from myself as my summer of training had been so hit and miss. One thing I was sure of though was that I had put in as much work as I could. This was one goal I set for myself this summer, under the knowledge that there would be an adaptation period in my new training locale.

Well, a summer of suffering seemed to pay off. After an up and down weekend that featured some good skating, bad skating, early season jitters and a healthy dose of good fortune, I managed to snag 3rd overall and a guaranteed spot to all four stops on the World Cup circuit this fall. I definitely left the weekend feeling unsatisfied though and I realized that I have a lot of hard work in front of me so that I can continue to progress here in Canada and on the World Cup scene. Luckily, I also finished the trials weekend off motivated to get the required work done, so I'm looking forward to suffering some more before we leave for the first World Cup in a few weeks from now.

This is a video of the 1500m final that I won. I'm helmet cover #21. I actually finish 2nd at the line, but Olivier Jean was disqualified for an earlier pass.