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!

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.


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.

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

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!!!)