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!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Home and Family

One of the tough things about moving away to pursue Olympic dreams is having to move away from your family and friends. This is something that everyone that is part of our team in Calgary knows. None of us are from Calgary. We all made the choice at some point (most of us after high school) to move away from all things familiar to train full time. Its something that is tough to do. For most of the year we don’t really notice how much we miss home. All of our friends are also away at school or spread around the country (or world!) doing their own thing, not unlike what we ourselves are doing. But at times like Christmas we really notice the things we miss about home. Around the middle to end of December, most of our friends from school start to trickle home for Christmas. They will get to attend various Christmas parties and go out and see people that they haven’t seen for months or even a year or more. For most of the group in Calgary though, we miss out on these activities. Training keeps us in Calgary until right before Christmas and has us racing back right after. The Europeans that train with us don’t even get to go home and see their families due to the sheer length and cost of travel halfway around the world. The funny thing is though, if you ask any of us if we regret the decision to miss out on stuff like this I’m willing to bet just about everyone will say “no way”! They almost certainly have some part saying they wish that they could go home for two weeks or more, but everyone realizes the sacrifices that must be made in order to become a world class athlete. Sure everyone misses their family and friends but thats where we have some luck with our team. We are a very close group and we are not unlike a family. We unite around what we have in common and by the time we all retire, we will have spent more time together than we will spend with our immediate family over the period of time we are in Calgary. So while it may be tough to be away from immediate family, how many people can say that they are able to go hang out with their other family the rest of time? Pretty cool I say.

Our Calgary "family"


Also, if you would like to check out an amazing piece of music, check out the video below. The artist is John Butler of the John Butler Trio playing the song Ocean. He rarely plays this piece the same way twice but it always sounds amazing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ouf...

Oops. So I let my blogging slip lately. The good thing is that I think that this is the first time that this has happened since I started blogging and I will try not to make it a regular occurrence. Alright so last two weeks not a lot has happened really which is probably the main reason for the lack of blogging. The biggest event that has happened since then was a weekend trip to Canmore for some snowshoe training in the spray valley area. The idea was to finish up a recovery week with a fun activity that would provide some aerobic activity and what better way to do this that to trudge through knee deep snow (we got a 20 cm dump the night before we went out!!!) in snowshoes up the side of a mountain. The only hitch was that the temperature dropped to between -25C and -30C the night before and stayed there the whole weekend. But since our team kicks a$$, this didn’t stop us. We bundled up and headed out on a three hour snowshoe up and back to Chester Lake. We stayed the night in Canmore and spent some much enjoyed time in the hot tub and sauna. The next day we headed out again in chilly temps but with less wind and bluebird skies. The second day we were at Mt. Shark. Things started out with Liam and I and a couple others leading us straight into a trail that slowly diminished in to no trail. So we made our own trail! Later in the day we were lucky to see two moose, a mum and a baby. This was a highlight, but we would get lucky one more time as a lone moose was waiting for us back in the parking lot. He was enjoying licking slat off the tires of the cars. Three moose in one day is pretty cool!

Liam and Harolds from Latvia on the way up to Chester Lakes.

End of the first day with Commonwealth Peak in the background.

The Spray Valley. Mount Nestor is the peak just left of center.

Whats happening??

Last week was all about physio and doing as much training as possible. I felt like I spent half the week doing physio alone but my back is now starting to really get ready to go hard so that is a good point. We will take a couple days off for Christmas, as most of the group, except the Euros, will head home for Christmas. I am hoping to get out to the cabin at home and enjoy some more winter. Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Asia Recap

The Canadian Short Track team returned from a two week two in Asia last night. This was a very successful trip for the team, especially the men’s side who finished off with a big victory against the Koreans in the relay. For me, the second half of the trip took on a different focus. Normally the second weekend of a world cup trip is a good chance to build on some things that you may have learned, or correct a few things that you may have done wrong the previous weekend. Unfortunately for me, I was still nursing the injury to my back and didn’t get the chance to build on the 1500m A final I had in Beijing or try and redeem my performance in the A final of the relay (my first one!) where I skated well but botched my last exchange (that combined with a botched exchange a lap later cost us the win). Obviously sitting on the sidelines can be a bit depressing but I think that I handled it well knowing that I was doing the right thing for my back. I also took solace in the fact that I skated well the weekend before while in quite a bit of pain and I looked forward to how well I will skate once I am 100%. So with that in mind I looked to try and take advantage of my situation and learn as much as I could from watching the best in the world. I was able to take a bunch of points on everything from track patterns, to strategy and the way the best skaters act and the vibe they give off during warm-ups and races. This is all stuff that is right there and obvious but I always miss it when I am competing as I am absorbed in my own race prep.

The highlight of the weekend was definitely our win in the relay. We have been close to winning at every World Cup but have come up short three times. It was nice to be on the top of the podium even though I didn’t actually get to be on the podium because I didn’t skate. Another highlight of the trip was our dinner on the last night. We went out to this very small family owned Japanese restaurant. Everyone say around knee high tables with grills in the middle while plates of food are brought out to grill. They bring everything from veggies to meat to seafood and you just grill it up and enjoy. Everything was delicious and the meal was topped off with sake shots all around. We all headed over to a karaoke bar after. Check out the video below. Martin (the women’s coach is playing the air piano and drums while the Jess’s and Annick sing)


video

The restaurant we went to the last night...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This wasn't supposed to go up here...

But I do whatever I want so here it is for you viewing pleasure...
video

Sorry Jess...

No skating for me

The title pretty much says it all. After three days of rest my back is still not healed enough that we can say I should skate. I have seen some improvement for sure, and am getting back to normal bit by bit, but I just didn’t have enough time. Today I was able to do some exerices in order to help activate some of my deep core muscles that aren’t working and putting the extra strain on my back. But this still doesn’t change the fact that I won’t skate this weekend. Although a World Cup is important, it isn’t as important as say World Championships Trials, which are in 5 weeks. I could push through the pain this week and maybe put up some good results and then spend another week off when we get back, or I can do the smart thing and rest it fully over this weekend and hopefully be close to 100% and ready to train once we get back to Calgary on Monday and be in top shape come January. I obviously chose the latter with the support of my coach, our physiotherapist and doctor. It just doesn’t make sense to risk further injury. Needless to say I am pretty disappointed to not be racing but that’s the way it goes sometimes and the best thing for me is to rest. As an athlete we are used to pushing through pain. But there is good pain and bad pain and this is bad pain. Athletes have to do the right things for their bodies as well and in this case I will gain the most by doing nothing (well not nothing, I still have to do my physio exercises religiously!) It sucks for sure but it is what it is.

But this isn’t stopping me from all activity. Today our physio, Rebecca, suggested that I try some swimming so that I can at least keep active and try to help with a bit more stimulation of my core muscles. Now, I don’t swim very often (more like close to never) so I knew this would be an adventure. Lets just say I was not even as good as Michael Phelps at age 2. Under Reb’s watchful eye though I did improve a bit over the hour or so I was in the water, but was still getting killed by Rebecca at the end and she was only using her legs! So my swimming needs some improvement but as long as I don’t have any pain from it I will try to go back a couple more times this weekend.

Racing starts tomorrow for everyone else. I will be in the stands trying to keep my boredom levels to a minimum (you can only watch so many races when you know you should be in them). I’ll try to film a couple races and throw them up here after racing is over for the day.

Sayonara!!

This one is for CVD. He requested a picture of a beer vending machine. There is one right outside of our hotel room by the elevator. Beer in the vending machine costs $4.75 Canadian

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Japan!

Konichiwa from Japan! The trip here was actually pretty long. The day started at 4:45am. We were at the airport by 6:30 and on to a 4 hour flight to Tokyo. Once in Tokyo, we had a 6 hour bus trip to look forward to. All in all it was a pretty long day. We had practice the next morning, but this practice was going to have to happen without me. The past few weeks I’ve had some back pain building up. Unfortunately I probably didn’t deal with it fast enough and this compounded the problem. After training and racing through pain last week, and combined with the long day of travel, my back decided it had had enough of suffering. I had been doing a lot of physio, but after seeing the doctor I was told that I should take at least 48 hours rest and see how it was after that. He also said it was unlikely that I will race this weekend. I was definitely a little bummed out, but I was in quite a bit of pain so I agreed. We will see how it improves each day and make a decision right before the races on Friday. After one day of rest I am seeing some improvement but not a ton. It sucks for sure but I have to be positive and hey, I am in Japan which is pretty cool…

View from my hotel room in late afternoon

Nagano is a very nice city. Almost 400 000 people live here but you would never know it. Everything is very neat and tidy. There are a lot of small houses and everyone seems very friendly. Nagano is also surrounded by mountains and the sunset every night is gorgeous. Today, we visited the Zenkoji temple that houses the oldest statue of Buddha in Japan. Very cool. The thing that struck me most about our first real foray into the city was how clean everything is. There isn’t any garbage anywhere and everything is in its place. And this is everywhere, not just on the tourist streets but even in the back alleys that we cut through to get back to the hotel. Now you might expect that the reason that there isn’t any garbage is because there a garbage can on every corner but this is not the case. Its almost impossible to find a trash bin. After buying some gelato, I had to walk almost ten minutes without seeing a garbage can and finally gave up and went in a store to throw out my trash. I found it amazing that there can be no garbage cans and no garbage. If only it could be like this is North America.


At the Zenkoji Temple

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Today was the World Cup rounds for the 500s and 1500s. It was another good day for the Canadian men. Charles Hamelin and Francois-Louis Tremblay finished 1-2 in the 500m and showed that we are the dominate force in this distance. In the 1500m Olivier Jean was second by .005 after leading from 6 to go. I was last in the A final for 6th place. Today this was a disappointment, but only a month a go this would have been a big accomplishment for me. Now that I have made A finals, I am no longer satisfied with just being in the A final. I know that I can medal and medaling is now the expected result. Today is the last day of racing in China. I will be doing the 500m (it is raced twice this weekend). It should be fun. We are also in the final for the relay and will be looking to get some revenge on the Americans and Koreans from beating us in the first two stops.

Next post will either be from Japan or on the trip to Japan!

Below is the video of the 1500m A final

Result:
1. Sung Si-Bak Korea
2. Olivier Jean Canada
3. Park Jin-Hwan Korea
4. Lee Jung-Su Korea
5. Sui Boaku China
6. Michael Gilday Canada


video

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Good Day

Fridays qualification rounds went well for the majority of the team. All of the men went through to the World Cup rounds with the exception of Francois Hamelin in the 1000m. He was Dqed. On the girls side, Jessica Hewitt was Dqed in her 1500m heat while Val Lambert and Annik Plamondon will have to skate the repechage in the 500m. For me it was a good day and I will try to build on that today with the semis and finals of the 1500m. Both mens and womens relay teams also passed through to the next round with wins in their heats.

Below is about half of my 1500m Quarter final from yesterday.

video

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ni Hao from Beijing

We’ve been in Beijing for three full days now and everything is going well. We have practiced each day. The ice here is really nice. Its quite fast and has a lot of grip too which is nice. The arena is the same facility that was used for Volleyball at the Olympics. The rink was covered with a floor during the games. Because of the Oympics, the building has been renovated and is in nice condition complete with an upgraded gym that we have used for weights. Apparently it wasn’t always this nice so we are lucky. Today (Thursday) is our last day of training before the competition starts.

We have also had the chance to get out and experience Beijing a bit as well over the last couple of days. Tuesday, we headed over to the silk market to do some shopping for knock off designer goods. In the ever exciting world of the marketplace, you have to bargain with over zealous vendors who will grab, pull, hit and yell at you in order to get you to come to there booth. Everyone is selling almost the same thing and there are more English speaking Chinese people at the markets than anywhere else is China I’m sure. They see a tourist and immediately try to grab your attention and get a huge mark up out of you. The best way to get your price is to make them think you are interested and then walk away. This alone often brings the price down by about 100 yuan (20 cdn). If you ever find yourself in Beijing and at the market, the rule of thumb is to never pay more than half of the initial offer and 90% of the time you should play less than that.

Tuesday night we went out for dinner to a local hot pot restaurant. A hot pot is a basically a cauldron with fire in it surrounded by a ring of boiling water. You are brought big plates of uncooked meat and greens that you submerge in the boiling water until cooked and then remove them, dip them in a dipping sauce and enjoy. It was actually really good although the sauces were a bit weird. Our waitress was also hilarious. She was really concerned that we do it the proper way and found it hilarious every time a group of hungry athletes would throw a ton of meat in and then devour it in seconds.

the hot pot


mmmmm shrimp

Wednesday we had a the last practice time of the day (7pm) so we took advantage of the chance to go over to the Birds Nest and the Water Cube. After seeing these impressive structures on TV this summer, it was really cool to see them in person. They are truly spectacular up close. We were able to go in and walk on the field and see the enormity of the stadium from the middle. It is surprising how personal a stadium with 91000 seats can feel given the right architecture. The water cube was pretty neat too although we were told it is way cooler at night when they have a light show with the walls.


Usain Bolt's view during the Olympics

This thing is huge!!

It was nice to get to experience some touristy things while we were here. To often we travel into a country, compete and then leave. Even though what we did was very like any typical tourist it is still nice to experience what we can. But after a couple days of that, its back to competition mode. World Cup #3 starts tomorrow. I will be skating a 500m and a 1500m. I haven’t skated a 500m on the world cup since 2006 so I am happy to be doing one. I will try to do a summary of racing after each day. I have also posted a bunch more photos in addition to the ones here in my picasa account which can be accessed by the link on the right hand bar.

Lastly, good luck to everyone racing in Calgary this weekend.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Travel day to Asia Timeline

The following is a loose timeline of our travel day to Beijing. I wrote random things down at random times so you can see how it goes. All times in Mountain (calgary) time.

6:44am: Aisle seat!! Checked in and got an aisle set for trans-pacific flight. Good start to the day!
8:53am: Board flight to Vancouver.
8:54am: Giggling and annoying noises coming from two rows in front of me (the Jesses). One person changes seats immediately.
9:57am: Shoei discovers that EPO was discovered in 50 BC while watching the Asterix movie. (EPO=Elixir Pro Olympics)
11:49am: Hewitt shows off a picture of J Gregg picking her nose on the plane
11:54am: Blake and Jess G pick over Hewitts scalp for grey hairs. They find MANY. Jess G says that she thinks Hewitt is still growing browns thankfully for her.
12:46pm: Reid sends a "special message" to everyone via Skype video. 
1:09pm: Olivier Jean "I hope the seat beside me is either empty or has a beautiful Chinese woman in it"
1:14pm: Boarded flight to Beijing. Estimated flight time 11 hours 2 minutes.
1:49pm: 6.5 hours since I walked out my front door this morning.
1:50pm: Takeoff to Beijing!
2:14pm: First movie: Tropical Thunder
4:16pm: Sleep time. Two gravol and "the chicken" later and I'm out for a couple hours.
6:37pm: Wake Up. Dang, only slept 2.5 hours. Might not be a bad thing though since it will be easier to get a full nights sleep in China.
6:47pm: Second movie: The Dark Knight. I told Liam I wouldn't see it but here I am...
7:03pm: "Anybody want to see a magic trick? I'll make this pencil disappear" Sweet line by the Joker.
9:20pm: Jesses come to visit. They want to know "are you excited??"
11:31pm: Walking around the cabin again. Doing some streches and up-downs to keep the blood flowing. Should be only another 1.5 hours or so. 
12:02am: Pilot announces descent in 25 mins and on the ground in 58 mins, 15 hours since leaving my front door.
12:59am: Touch down in Beijing! 11 hour 9 min flight. Good prediction by the pilot.
1:15am: Waiting in Customs line. New international terminal in Beijing is INSANE.
1:24am: Through customs and waiting for the monorail train.
1:55am: Waiting for bus to hotel.
2am: Hewitt and Gregg fight over the picture of Gregg picking her nose. Will it end up on Facebook?
2:11am: Picture deleted after the battle. Jess G booed for deleting.
2:13am: Bus driver yells at Hewitt for having her feet up on the seats. A national disgrace.
2:15 am: Hewitt warned a second time for putting her feet up on the seat.
2:49am: Roll into the hotel. Day ends at just over a 19 hour travel day. 
Two pictures from the day. The first is the smog descending into Beijing. The second is the Jesses fighting over Hewitts bad which contains the camera with the picture of Jess G picking her nose.



Friday, November 21, 2008

Off to Asia

We are off to Asia tomorrow for the second set of World Cups. Tomorrow we will travel from Calgary to Vancouver and then on to Beijing for the first week of racing. Then its off to Nagano, Japan for the second weekend and back home after that. Our Calgary group has five members traveling. The Jess's (Hewitt and Gregg), Richard Shoebridge, myself and our coach Jon Cavar will represent with the rest of the team being made up of Montreal based skaters. They are Charles Hamelin, Olivier Jean, Francois Hamelin and Francois-Louis Tremblay for men and Kalyna Roberge (coming back from an injury), Anne Maltais, Annick Plamondon and Valerie Lambert on the womens side. We will all be looking to build on strong performances from the first two world cups and step up on to the podium a few times. I will try to blog as much as possible this time, but it may be tough due to some of the internet policies in China. We will see but hopefully I will be able to get some sweet updates with pics up.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A website to check out

One of my teammates, Richard Shoebridge has created a site for our team. The address is http://homepages.ucalgary.ca/~rpshoebr/. He made the site for a project at school, but plans to keep updating the site with new news of our team. You can find short profiles of each skater in our team as well as some photos from competitions and practices.


L to R: Liam Mcfarlane, Jessica Gregg, Richard Shoebridge, Jessica Hewitt,Michael Gilday

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Testing and an Interesting Interview...

On Wednesday we did some testing to see where we are physically. But first of all let me set this up a bit. The testing we do is done on the bike. We do this because doing the test on the bike is closer in terms of muscles and systems used to skating than the other way of doing the tests we did, which is running on a treadmill. We haven’t been on the bike much lately, obviously because we have been on ice training and competing, and I wouldn’t say we do a lot of biking except for at the beginning of the season, but we do a lot more biking than running. It’s obviously not a perfect situation, but as long as we do the same thing each time, we should get accurate results.

The tests that we did were an incremental bike test and a maximum aerobic power (MAP) test. The incremental bike test works like this. You jump on the bike (no ordinary bike, this is a teched out exercise bike called the velotron) and start spinning. Before any resistance is put on, your finger is pricked and your blood lactate levels are checked. As long as your blood lactate is under 2mmol, you are ready to go. A load is then dropped on (resistance). For myself, I start this test at 200 watts. Each three minutes, the resistance is increased by 25 watts and blood lactates are checked. When your blood lactate level reaches 6mmol, the test is over. This normally takes about 20 minutes give or take a couple minutes depending on the person.

The MAP test works as follows. On the same bike you start spinning. A load is put on. The difference here is that the load goes up 25W each minute instead of each three minutes. After about 8 minutes of this your are hurting really badly. This is where you try to push through. The test is done when you can’t finish a minute at a load. So for example if you start at 200W after 8 minutes you will have completed the 375W stage. The wattage is then upped to 400, and if you can’t complete a minute at this load, your test is over and you will have finished at 375W.

These tests have various applications to our training and the results are analyzed by our coach and our strength coach. They are then able to make inferences about our target heart rates for different aspects of training such as recovery and the development of our aerobic systems.

This round of tests was done at a time when we were in a fairly hard training block and as such we would have expected our results to be down a bit. But some people increased and most were similar to previous testing results. This is a good sign for everyone and shows that we are doing the right things even though the training we have been doing lately isn’t specific to the method in which the tests were performed (biking).

After finishing that hard training block yesterday, we are now heading in to a recovery week before we head off to the next set of World Cups in Asia a week from today. I will have more on that later this week, but I know that everyone is looking forward to competing again.

On a completely unrelated note, I watch an interview on the news the other day with Melissa Fung, a CBC journalist who was held captive in Afghanistan for three weeks. As I watched this interview, I was really amazed with the way Fung answered all of the questions. Despite the fact that she had been held in a hole in the ground for three weeks, she didn’t ever speak badly of her captors. She was calm and composed the whole time and answered all the questions in a very introspective way. The way she spoke about knowing she would survive and the mental fortitude she had really blew me away. It was an amazing interview and if you have the time I suggest you check it out. You can find it here. If the link doesn’t work, you should be able to find it on the CBC website.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Gear Day!

Well its been a bit since I’ve had a new update. This past week has been pretty regular, hence the lack of blog updates. We have just been doing a lot of training and subsequently recovering from the tough training. Yesterday though was one day that I know all of the National Team members look forward to, even if some might not admit it! It was the day that we received our new suitcase full of HBC outer, training and casual wear. Everyone knows its coming and when a whole bunch of boxes show up on the track at the Oval everyone gets excited to check out what the new clothing will look like. This sometimes involves clothing being tried on right on the track and packaging getting spread everywhere while comments fly about the fit or colour or style. The highlight of this year seems to be the white sweater that is extremely comfortable.

Its like Christmas in November!!!


We are very lucky in Canadian speedskating to have number of great sponsors. Bell, ING, Cheerios, LinkIT, HBC, Timex and USANA have all been excellent supporters of speedskating in Canada over the years and we are grateful to have them on our team. If you have a choice of which company to use when buying in any of these companies product ranges, pick a company that supports speedskating and reward them for their support!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

World Cup Short Track on CBC

This Saturday, November 1st, CBC will be airing a highlights show of the Vancouver World Cup. It will be on a 3pm EST, So 1pm for all of you in Alberta and NWT. Make sure to check it out. We need to watch these shows so that the CBC sees that amateur sport is worth supporting and can draw good ratings. If you can't be at a TV they will also be streaming it on their website.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back from World Cups

Everyone is now back from the first two World Cups. The Vancouver stop was a very successful one for Canada. We got our first world cup win of the season courtesy of Charles Hamelin and his amazing pass in the first 1000m. Frank Hamelin was also third in that race. Sunday was another big day. We had 4 athletes in finals and came away with 4 medals. Francois-Louis Tremblay showed his consistency as one of the best 500m skaters and had a silver, Marianne St-Gelais was second in the womens 500 for her first World Cup medal and myself and Remi Beaulieu finished 2-3 in the other 1000m for our first world cup medals in our first World Cup Final. The mens relay had what we would consider a disappointing second to the US and the girls put in a consistent third. I think overall it was a good weekend for Canadian skaters.

After the competition it was time to unwind a bit. A banquet was hosted by the organizing committee at a restaurant near to the hotel. The girls all decided to pay tribute to the greatest moustache in speed skating (owned and worn proudly by Canada’s Remi Beaulieu) by wearing fake moustaches all night.

We are now back in Calgary and will begin preparing for the next set of World Cups at the end of November. There is a lot to be refined and learned before then. Many of the members of this World Cup team are new to the international circuit and these World Cups served as a good learning experience for all of us. In fact there were 7 rookies or relative rookies on this World Cup team. Even though we may not have a lot of experience on the World Cups, we do have experience internationally and this is thanks in large part to Doug Smith of Conematic Heating Systems. Last year Doug organized a series of competitions that took place here in Calgary and also in Harbin, China. The idea was to gain valuable international experience so that when we did get to the World Cup, it wasn’t a huge shock. Seven of this fall’s World Cup team participated in some or all of those Conematic competitions and all came away from these World Cups with either individual or relay medals. It is clear that Doug’s initiative worked and I’m sure it can work again in the future. Thanks to Doug and Conematic Heating for supporting and developing Short Track in Canada and around the World.

Remi and I on the Podium


Early in the Final


I am trying to get a video of the final up. In the mean time you can check out one video of the race that Pate Neumann posted on his blog.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Best DQ I`ve ever had (in a sense)

Sorry for the lack of updates about racing the last few days. We have had really long days (12 plus hours at the rink!!!!!!) that don`t leave a lot of time for blog updates. Yesterday we had the qualifying rounds. All of the guys skated really well and into the first round. For me, it was really an up and down day. After doing alot of media type activities outside of training this week, I felt really tired. This combined with a 6 am wake up made me feel quite tired on race day. This showed in my first race the 1500m heat. I raced a strong tactical race, leading right to the end, but didn`t have the legs to do the lap times I needed towards the end. I was passed twice in the last lap and had to go to the repechage. The 1000 went better, I was still a little shaky but managed to pull it together and get through to the quarters which will go tomorrow.

Today was another early morning to skate the repechage. I skated smoothly and won each of my three races to advance to the World Cup rounds. Skating the repechage isn`t the best thing for the legs, but its kind of fun to do since all of the guys are having fun it seems. The atmosphere is quite a bit more relaxed than when there are alot of people watching and the pressure is on. In my semi I was up against six guys that hadn`t had the luxury (not!) of skating three rounds in the morning. I had set a race plan that I normally wouldn`t do, but was the best for the situation. I followed it to a T and was very close to advancing to the final. Unfortunately, my last pass that would have put me in a qualifying position wasn`t clean and I was DQed. Now this is why I call it the best DQ I have ever had. It wasn`t that I was dqed that made me happy, it was that I was able to follow a race plan that put me outside my comfort level and do almost all the right things. This is really a positive step for me.

As a mens team today we had some tough luck today, but Charles Hamelin topped the day off with superb win in the 1000m. What an amazing race and great for the home crowd. Frank Hamelin also managed to slide in for third so it was a positive day all things said.

Tomorrow is the 500`s and 1000 (2). We will be hunting for A finals and medals all day! Both Canadian teams are also in the A final for the relay.

Rock n Roll

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ready to Rock and Roll in Vancouver

World Cup 2 starts tomorrow with qualifying. We`ve all had a busy, but good week of training. There has been a lot of media to do and hype around the rink which is a huge difference from normal, but it has been exactly the experience we will all need when the Olympics roll around. We are being warned that what we are going to see this weekend is only a fraction of what we will see at the Olympics. As for whos skating what this weekend, this is what I think it looks like for men.

Charles Hamelin: 1000,1000
Francois-Louis Tremblay: 500,1000
Remi Beaulieu: 1500, 1000
Olivier Jean: 500,1500
Francois Hamelin: 500, 1000
Michael Gilday: 1500, 1000

I am not sure who is racing what on the womens side. With all the hype this week staying relaxed will be key. We have our own change room that lets us get away from it all and hopefully this will give us the chilled out atmosphere we need to take on the world this weekend! Again results will be streaming live at www.isu.org.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The thing about sport...

Sport is a funny thing. There are millions of people who do different sports all over the world. Some people are really good , others are really bad. But no one is perfect. I think that is what makes sport so popular. There is always an aspect that can be improved. This is the lesson that I am taking from this past weekend. In my 1500m semi final on Sunday, I raced what I thought was a seemless race for 13 laps of the 13.5 lap race. The passes I made were efficient and quick, I was well postitioned in the pack and hadn`t made any glaring errors. But with half a lap to go, I just sort of shut down, went to tight to the blocks and didn`t pay attention to what was going on around me. This allowed the American skater to get back in the race and out shoot me at the line by only 2 hundreths of a second and send me to the B final instead of the A final and a shot at the medals. I was very disappointed after the race, but after I had cooled off, I realized that this was why I like speedskating and sport in general. You can always find something to improve on. It never gets boring.

That basically sums up my weekend. Some good racing, some not so good but lots learned. This weekend we are in Vancouver for stop 2 on the World Cup circuit. We are at home here and there are lots of media requests to fill. Its all good publicity for the sport in Canada and hopefully it brings out a few more people this weekend. If you are reading this and plan on coming out this weekend, know this: When a Canadian steps on the ice and is introduced, listen for the slow-clap to start. When you hear it join in. The more noise the better and it will get all of us pumped up even more!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A disapointing 8th

Racing continued yesterday with the World Cup rounds in Salt Lake. I had a good quarter final in which I executed my race plan exactly how I needed to. Getting to the semis though I came up against two Koreans and for some reason changed the way I saw the race. Instead of the agressive style I had raced in earlier rounds I became preoccupied with trying to beat one of the Koreans and it cost me. I ended up in the B final where I crashed out trying to outside pass up to the front. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but Frank and I both went down pretty hard but are lucky to not be hurt.



On the mens side, I think that there was some disappointment for sure. We only had one person in the A final (Charles Hamelin) and I'm pretty sure we were expecting more than that. Remi was also in the B final and Olivier was DQed in his semi. Definitely not the best day but today will be better I'm sure.

Sorry for the short post, but hopefully I'll have something better to say tomorrow.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

World Cup Qualification

Day one is now in the books. Overall it was a solid day for Team Canada. We really showed that we are a strong team and will be one to look for during the finals today and tomorrow. On the mens side everyone qualified straight to the final rounds tonight in each of their distances except for Francois-Louis Tremblay who had a tough heat and was disqualified. In the relay, Olivier Jean, Remi Beaulieu, Francois Hamelin and myself represented and looked to be qualifying easily when Francois stepped on a stray puck and went down with three to go. Luckily though we were able to still finish second and qualify for the semis tonight.

On the womens side it was also a successful day with the majority of the girls qualifying directly through to the evening sessions. Jess Hewitt had a couple tough races in her first world cup and will have to do the repechage to advance to the finals in both of her distances. Marianne St-Gelais also had a tough heat in the 500m and will have to go through the repechage. The women also qualified for the semis in the relay behind the Italians.

Yesterday was a marathon at the rink. We were there for almost 12 hours. Luckily though, we can rest all day today as we don't compete until 6pm. It should be a really good show tonight. They are expecting a sold out crowd. Yesterday the rink was about half full, which is awesome for a work day and the crowd is quite loud. In my 1000m heat, I had one of the Americans with me and every move he made was loudly cheered. The crowd is also right at ice level and are very close to the skaters so you really feel the energy. I think everyone is really looking forward to tonight as it will be broadcast on NBC. I don't think it will be live, but its awesome that short track is getting the exposure and that people are coming out to watch. I know our whole team is really hoping that we have amazing crowds next weekend in Vancouver. It is great to have people come and watch and when the crowd is cheering for you as the home team its even better!

As I put in the last post, results are being posted in real time along with lap times on the ISU site. The link to that is below.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who is Racing What

World Cup 1 gets underway tomorrow with the qualifying heats in all distances. This weekend the 1500 is repeated, so the distances that are skated are 500m, 1000m, 1500x2 and relays for men and women. These are the lists of the distances that each athlete is skating.

Men:
Charles Hamelin: 500m 1500m
Olivier Jean: 1500m, 1500m
Francois Hamelin: 500m,1000m
Francois Louis Tremblay: 500m,1000m
Michael Gilday: 1000m,1500m
Remi Beaulieu: 1500m,1500m

Women:
Jessica Gregg: 500m,1000m
Anne Maltais: 500m,1000m
Jessica Hewitt: 1000m,1500m
Marie Andree Mendes-Campeau: 1500m,1500m
Marianne St-Gelais: 500m,1500m
Valerie Maltais: 1500m,1500m

Hopefully there will be results posted live, or close to live on the ISU site. You can get to that link here. Also check for daily updates on this blog and at ohnozone.net.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Salt Lake #1

Hello from Salt Lake City, USA.

We arrived in Salt Lake Sunday night after a seemless short trip from Calgary. It feels great to not have to travel for a day or two to get to a competition. So far everything is going really well. We have been on ice each day and the ice is fast. Now I know most of you are reading from Calgary and you are like oh ya can it really be faster than our ice there. Well it can and it is. Today we did a 7 lapper with the opening lap at 8.4. But heres the thing, we didn't finish on 10.5, we finished on 9.1. So its fast. The main reason for the extremely quick ice is that the altitude here is quite high (around 1400m or more i'm not sure). We definitely felt it the first two days as your lungs feel constricted and also burn while skating. Today was better though and I think everyone is adjusting well.

Obviously though, we are not skating all day everyday. So after we get all the recovery activities out of the way, ie eating, napping, massage, physio etc, we have some time to check out the city and the surrounding area. We are lucky that Speedskating Canada rented us a couple vans so we can get around without walking and wasting energy. Yesterday we went on a quick drive around downtown and into the mountains surround the city. On the way through downtown though, we had to stop for a minute so I could run through a fountain. It was a bet and I made 50 bucks for running half naked through some random fountain at a downtown office building. I had to spend the next hour or so in soaking jeans (it wasn't warm out either) but I think it was worth it. There was lots of video taken so look for a video of it up on Jon's blog or on facebook. We also took a quick trip out to Park City in the late afternoon to check out some deals at the outlet shops.

Back to skating, we aren't sure yet which distances we will be skating but I post about that when we know for sure. Also, I'm sorry I can't post any photos, but I don't have a computer here.

Here is a math question for you to think about

Jess Hewitt+Ipod cranked+forklift backing up=

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Onward to Salt Lake

We are heading out to Salt Lake City today for the first World Cup of the season. After two days of racing on Friday and Saturday here in Calgary, it is good to get on the road again. I did the 1500 and 500 this weekend at Octoberfest as a tune up for the World Cups and it was alright. The only really bad thing was that I broke one of my blades yesterday in a kind of fluke crash. Obviously its not optimal to go on to new blades the week before a world cup but I’m confident that we’ll be able to dial a new pair in before Friday. I already have all of the specs on paper so its just a matter of putting the right rocker and bend in. For those of you that don’t know what that is, in short track we have a fairly round rocker (not as round as a hockey skate but with the same principal of adding a better ability to turn and be agile) and the blade is also bent so that we can make a 180 degree turn at speeds of up to 50km/h without hitting the boards. Each skater has a rocker or bend that he/she prefers and each is a little bit different depending on the skater. Some like more turning ability and thus more agility so they might have a rounder and more bent blade. Someone else might prefer to be able to glide more and carry speed more efficiently and thus they would have a flatter rocker with less bend. Ideally though, you want the combination that gives you the best of both worlds and that plays to your strengths.


Look for updates regularly this week and next about the WCups, results and potential replays of the intense euchre action that normally materializes on trips. Unfortunately my euchre team mate Liam will not be there to lay the smack down on the Jesses but I’m sure I’ll find someone that can help me beat them. I mean its not that hard to beat them anyways…

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

OTP Press Conference

Today I did a press conference at Canada Olympic Park for Own the Podium. All of the winter sports were there with athletes available to give interviews about the upcoming competition season, which happens to be the last competitive season before the Olympic year. This season gets underway for us next week and in the near future for other sports (including Alpine which starts its season in three weeks and is on glaciers for the first few events - kinda cool I thought but sad as well because there is no snow in Europe in November…)

Showing off the Speedskating Canada Booth


Being a paparazzi and spying on an interview

Each sport had a little both to chill in

The press conference was pretty cool with a really good turnout of media. Except for the power going out a couple times due to a freak hailstorm that rolled through, it seemed like a success. I also got to chat with Clara Hughes and watch her handle to media super professionally (she also knows everyone too now that she has been media and athlete).




Saturday, October 4, 2008

Babes for Breasts and the Beginning

Yesterday I had the chance to go and see Babes for Breasts, a group of female singer-song writers that are touring around Canada to raise funds in support of Breast Cancer Research (not in support of Breast Cancer itself as they had to make clear haha). There are quite a few Babes involved, but performing last night were founder Ana Miura, Amanda Rheaume, Tara Holloway, Leela Gilday and Ann Vriend. Each is very talented and they are great live performers. The Babes each rotate through playing a song and also engage in the normal banter and humour between songs. If you are in Calgary and you are interested in checking them out and supporting a great cause as well, they are playing at the Ironwood Stage and Grill tonight. They are also playing in Edmonton tomorrow and continue across the country during the month of October. You can check out babesforbreasts.com to see if they might be making a stop near you soon or for information on any of the performers, the cause, news etc…

As for skating, well we are gearing up for the competition season to really get underway. The meat of the season starts next weekend and I know people are getting excited. Around this time of year, we have been training for a long time (as I talked about in the last post), we’ve done thousands of laps and a bunch of different simulation races in order to practice new passes, track patterns and such. But all of this still doesn’t come close to being the same as racing. I might be wrong on this, but I’m going to guess that most of the skaters I know and train with on a daily basis put themselves through all this suffering so they can race well, not simply because they like hurting themselves, although you may have to be a bit masochistic in order to excel at any sport.

So starting next weekend we will start the more fun part of the season (I say this because training has to be fun and enjoyable or you wouldn’t make it to competition season in shape without quitting). The first competition of the season for most in Western Canada is Octoberfest in Calgary. Those of us from my group going to World Cups, as well as the group of Europeans/New Zealanders that train with us will use the first two days of this competition as a tune-up for the World Cups season which gets under way in two weeks in Salt Lake City. Everyone else (or at least those in the Oval program) are looking to get some fast times so that they can qualify for the National Qualifier (I know I know qualifying to qualify seems weird but that how it is in Canada) which will take place at the end of November and determine the 16th to 32nd seeds at the Canadian Championships in January.

I’m definitely getting antsy to compete again and I can’t wait for Friday. Also, I’ve noticed that the blog has been getting a few hits from people in BC. If you are interested in checking out the World Cup that will be in your backyard in three weeks you can get tickets at ticketmaster.ca. It would be awesome to fill the bottom bowl of the Pacific Coliseum (8000 people!!!)


Booya!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I missed the memo...

As we hit the first day of fall last week, the trees had started turning to orange and yellow and leaves were falling. Riding to the Oval in the morning is cold too but it’s the afternoons that are really different. It’s supposed to be 25 today, it was 24 yesterday. That’s downright summer weather. They are even watering the lawns at the university again (which I personally think is pointless because this weather could just as quickly turn to full winter). But the crazy weather isn’t the main subject of this post. The main topic is that I think I missed the memo that told everyone that Short Track speed skating is now a summer sport. I know short track is in the winter Olympics and all but I’m having a bit of trouble believing that lately. So far this season we have already been on ice for 5 and a bit months and have competed once. All of this has been in the summer (or spring). Normally we don’t start on ice until July, which still makes for a long summer ice season, but because of when World Cup trials are, and Olympic trials are next year, we have to start earlier in order to be in top shape by the time trials roll around in September. Normally competition season doesn’t get rolling until October and by then you normally feel like its fall and the season should be getting under way. But this year has thrown everything upside down. During the trials in Vancouver the temperature hit 30 one day. I was thinking to myself that I was used to walking out of the rink to -30 and blizzards in Chicoutimi and not heat and humidity when I compete. I also caught myself saying “didn’t you do that back in the fall?” to one of my team mates the other day as we were discussing some testing that was done in June. My body had been tricked into thinking that it was already mid season even though we are just getting underway competition-wise.

I guess that is just the reality that we face now with sport. There is no such thing as winter and summer based sports anymore. Every season is training season and even sometimes competition season. To be the best you have to commit to a full year of training.

Anyways, if you want to see some sweet photos of another winter sport training during the summer check out the latest post at pateneumann.blogspot.com. He is a cross country skier that lives and trains in Whistler and man am I jealous of the training group there. You wouldn’t ever need motivation to get out of bed and train if that was your backyard.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A bet, World Cups and our team

So, Welcome to my first blog post. First off, I’ll tell you how this blog came to be. My friend Thomsen asked me when I was going to start a blog. Well I had kind of thought of it for a while but never really got around to it. So we had a bet that if I qualified for World Cups this fall I would start one. So here we are.

World Cup trials took place last week in Vancouver at what will be the Olympic venue in 2010. For me, the trials didn’t go as well as I would have liked, but I still managed to skate well enough to get selected to the fall World Cups tours. There are two tours this fall. The first is during the last two weeks of October and we will compete at World Cups in Salt Lake City, Utah and Vancouver, BC. Competing at a World Cup in Canada is awesome and hopefully lots of people will come out to watch in Vancouver and cheer loudly for Canada. It will be the first and only International competition (I think) to be held in Vancouver prior to the Olympics next year. The second tour is the Asian World Cups. They will take place at the end of November and early December in Beijing, China and Nagano, Japan.

The best part about the trials last week wasn’t that I qualified, but that our team had three others that also qualified for World Cups. Jessica Hewitt and Jessica Gregg also qualified for all four stops on the women’s side. J Gregg has done a bunch of World Cups before, but these will be the first ones for J Hewitt. On the men’s side, Richard Shoebridge qualified for the Asian tour. These will be his first World Cups as well. The reason that I say this is the best part is because our team is a fairly small one that is competing in a sport that is dominated by Quebec skaters in Canada. This is the first time in a while that so many western based skaters have been on a World Cup team. With our coach Jon, we have worked hard over the past seasons to slowly improve our rankings and get the experience we need to crack the World Cup circuit on a regular basis. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going until 2010!