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, December 29, 2010

Big Cheques are Fun!!

My annual trip home for Christmas has come and gone, much to quickly as usual. While I was at home in Yellowknife though, I attended a small ceremony to hand over a cheque on behalf on Intact Insurance to the Yellowknife Speed Skating Club. As I have mentioned before, Intact has introduced a new program this season where for each individual podium achieved by a Canadian athlete on the World Cup circuit, $1000 will be donated to a grassroots club in Canada. As a bonus, the first podium by any athlete will see that $1000 donated to their home club. So as I was on the podium for the first time this season in Montreal, our club was one of the first to receive support from this great program! Speed skating in Canada is really lucky to have Intact as a sponsor, not only at the National Team level, but through all levels of the sport in Canada. They are a true example of corporate philanthropy. Thank you Intact!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

20 Thoughts from the last month

To be honest, the idea of writing the same good ol' blog update blah blah about how things are going isn't inspiring me to write anything. So I'm going to try something different today. Here are 20 random thoughts from the last month(ish)

1. Skating is a funny thing. You can be good one day and bad the next. Good one week and bad the next. Cycles are good though. Leaves you wanting more. And makes you work for it.

2. World Cups and exams always seem to coincide. That makes for a crazy week returning from a trip. I had two exams upon returning from Quebec and China. Fun week...

3. But the best way to come down from a hectic post world cup/mid-term week is to go to Canmore for some altitude/volume/mental recovery training.

4. I'm trying some new blades. Got on them just over a month ago. They are called EVOs. Men's National team coach Derrick Campbell is involved with the company and let me try some. So far, so good.

5. Trying them made me realize that its good to be able to adapt quickly to equipment. You never know when something could break and you will have to go to something you aren't necessarily comfortable with.

6. Airline upgrade certificates really do work! Got to use my first one (after having them for several years and never being able to use them) on the way to China. A 11 hour flight is a good time to be in first class.

7. You can still smoke in arenas in China. In Changchun, even the security guards were smoking in the stands despite the announcers asking people not too. Its hard to race hard when all you see when looking across the rink is a haze of smoke.

8. Speaking of China, I have to say China scares me. Not physically being there, but realizing the shear size of the population and how fast they are developing. With the increased wealth and growth, the amount of raw materials needed in the future will be ridiculous. China will surely control much of the world in the next 20 years.

9. The suburbs of Shanghai are a nice place though. All brand new. One of the neatest places I have skated for sure.

10. The Koreans are in great shape. Most would consider this a no brainer, but I guess selecting a team only on time trials doesn't compromise racing skills.

11. I thought I gave Ho-Suk Lee a pretty good run for his money at the end of the relay in Shanghai though.

12. Unfortunately that was my best skating in the Chinese world cups. Individually I made too many mistakes. Tactical mostly.

13. I'm hoping to get another 20 questions up soon. Probably with one of my teammates who did their first world cups in China.

14. It was awesome to have 5 athletes all from Calgary on the World Cup team.

15. One cool question we got was from a lady after getting off the plane in Beijing enroute to Changchun. "You guys are the Canadian Short Track team? Aren't you supposed to be francophone?"

16. That being said, I really enjoy my time on the World Cup circuit with my teammates from Montreal. We have a lot of fun. And my french always improves after two weeks on the road with them.

17. Jet lag sucks. Why can't we just jump half-way across the world and have it just be like nothing happened.

18. I once again realized how spoiled we are to have such an amazing facility here at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. The rink in Changchun was FREEZING. Shanghai's rink was slightly warmer. At least in Shanghai we could warm-up in our shorts outside in +18 degree weather.

19. It was great to have Dustin Miller and Gabby Waddell's families in Shanghai. We had our own personal cheering section!

20. I am constantly blown away by the support I receive from Yellowknifer's. I'm looking forward to coming home for Christmas big time.

We won gold in the relay in Changchun.

Teammates from Calgary. I kind of missed the cue that we were taking a pic. Liam didn't though.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Montreal World Cup Wrap-Up

Yesterday evening we finished of the first world cup stop of the season here in Montreal. Overall the weekend went really well for the team, especially Sunday. Sunday Team Canada managed to pick up another 7 medals, including 4 gold (mens/womens 500m, mens 1500, mens 5000m relay). For me, I had a solid weekend as well, winning a silver in the 1000m and taking part in our winning relay team.

Obviously without the Koreans here, the races took a slightly different shape than normal, as everyone normally expects the Koreans to be in a fight for podiums at every turn. Despite that though, I don't think you can take to much away from our team. Both the men's and women's teams skated well and this was a good point to start off on as we begin a new Olympic cycle.

A second change this weekend was the introduction of several new rules. In order to create more passing the ISU decided to tweak how impeding was called. Previously, the onus was on the skater that was passing on the inside to make a clean pass (i.e no contact) as they moved up. Any contact with the skater being passed that caused that skater to lose position would have resulted in the skater executing the pass being disqualified. This year, the onus to keep the race contact free changes over to the skater being passed once the passing skater draws even with the lead skater. Because this was the first competition where we have seen this new rule being enforced, there was a bit of confusion on the part of athletes, coaches and officials, but as the weekend wore on, everyone got more and more used to how the rule would play out. It will still take time to iron out exactly how to take of advantage of the new rule from an athletes perspective, and also how to defend against it, but hopefully everything will lead in a positive direction for the sport.

Lastly, I want to extend a huge thanks and shout-out to one of our teams sponsors, Intact Insurance. Intact has been with our team for a long time and this year, has announced a new initiative that will help develop grass-roots skating in Canada. For each Canadian that steps on to a world cup podium this season, Intact will donate $1000 to a speedskating club in Canada. I can't even begin to explain how fantastic an initiative this is. Huge thanks goes out to Intact and if you have a chance to support this company, please do!

So thats all from Montreal, we head up the St-Lawrence this afternoon to Quebec City for the second World Cup of the year next weekend.

Photo by Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu

Photo by Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu

Photo by Peter Doucet - Speedskateworld.com

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Montreal World Cup

The 2010-11 World Cup season starts off tomorrow morning here in Montreal. Tomorrow will see all of the qualifying heats go in each of the four distances being skated this weekend (500m, 1000m, 1500m, 1500m, 3000m Relay (women), 5000m Relay (Men)). I personally will be skating in the 500 and 1000 meter events as well as the relay. Despite the 500m maybe not being my strongest distance, I have chosen to compete it a few extra times this year so that I can hopefully be just as strong in it as other distances.

If you are interested in tuning in to coverage of the competition, there are lots of options for you! First of all, for those who live in the Montreal area, come out and watch LIVE! It should be a great show Saturday and Sunday afternoons when the finals go. Info on scheduling and tickets can be found at coupedumonde2010.ca.

For those that aren't in Montreal, there are the following options:

1. Live Stream at cbc.ca/sports. The stream will be live both Saturday and Sunday beginning, I believe at 3pm ET, which is 1Pm for those of you in Calgary and Yellowknife.

2. CBC television will be showing an hour of coverage at 3pm EST on Saturday.

3. Tony Chung of ShorttrackHD.com should be twittering all day long for all three days of competition. You can find him at twitter.com/shorttrackHD.

4. The ISU site normally has live results on their website. Find it here. Click on the yellow LIVE button on the top to reach the live results.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nascar Nutrition

One question I often get asked when the subject of skating comes up is "do you follow a specific diet?". The answer I give is normally quite simple. No, I'm not on a diet, but I do eat a certain way in order to help myself recover the best I can from workout to workout and from day to day.

The way I eat is actual a bit more complicated than that simple response. The key in my response is that I am not on a "diet". To me, a diet means that one is eating in a specific way in order to achieve certain changes in ones body shape. This is not something I am normally trying to do, although as an athlete I will occasionally try to achieve a certain body weight that is optimal for me just prior to major competitions. For me, eating is about two things. The "what" and the "when". Everyone today knows all about the benefits of eating in a healthy and balanced way. This part makes up the "what". The "what" is very important, but I have learned from experience that to get the most out of the "what" part, it is important to pay attention to the "when".

By this I mean paying attention to the timing of your meals. For example, picture your body like the gas tank of a car. Before you go on a long or difficult journey, you would fill the gas tank to full. If you don't start full, you may run out of gas before you reach your destination. For me, filling up before leaving means breakfast and the long journey means the hardest workout of the day, which normally occurs in the morning. Running out of gas means I bonk in the middle of the workout and don't get the full benefit of the work I am doing.

Once you get back from a long journey, you need to fill up your car with gas again, so you don't run out of gas later when you head out to do some errands. Also need to do general maintenance to repair the wear and tear the long journey has put on the engine. For me, general maintenance comes in the form of a protein shake immediately after the hardest workout of the day. Following that, I will eat my biggest meal of the day (i.e dinner, but at lunch time). Think of this as the refilling the gas tank at the end of the journey so that I can be prepared for shorter journeys later on. Think of these shorter journeys as errands, or in my case my second workout of the day which is normally a bit easier than the morning one.

But running errands also takes gas and the tank the gas needle will slip farther away from F and closer to E. You know that you have another long journey the next morning, so you take the time to top off the tank and do some more general maintenance to help the car be ready for the next time you need to use it. So in my case, general maintenance again occurs right after the second workout, and then following that I will top of my tank with my second biggest workout of the day (i.e lunch for dinner).

By repeating this process day in and day out, your car will never run out of gas (or energy in your body's case). Also, by filling the tank the fullest before and after the longest journey, you are never carrying more gas than you need, which is inefficient as it is just extra weight. The same can be said about food. I always try to eat to most (by volume) when my body needs it the most (after the longest/hardest workout) and eat less when I haven't drained my own personal gas tank as far.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2 Year Anniversary Post

While I was writing yesterdays post, I realized that today (sept 26) was the day two years ago that I started blogging. So in honour of two years of blogging, I thought I would look through my blogs statistics and throw out a few numbers.

In two years:

total # of views: 23067
average # views per month: 923
highest # of views in 1 month: 2851 (Aug 2009)
lowest # of views in 1 month: 188 (June 2010)
total # posts: 88
average # of posts per month: 3.67

Visits from people living in Canada, United States, Great Britain, Germany, Poland, France, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, Belarus, Australia, Russia, Namibia and others.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

World Cup Trials recap

For my first real update about my own personal skating this year I present a post about the Fall World Cup Trials that were held last weekend here in Calgary.

This season, like many before it was set to tee off with a trials. And as usual, the trials came early (actually a little later than normal but early none the less). This year, being a post-olympic one, would see a little bit of a different qualifying format being used. We skated all three distances (1500, 500, 1000m) twice. In order to determine final ranking, your best two combined distances would count (i.e counting 2x1500 and 2x500 and not 1x1500 1x500, 1x500 1x 1000). From these rankings the top three overall skaters would automatically selected to compete at all 4 fall world cups stops. The remaining three spots on the team would be decided by the discretion of Speedskating Canada's (SSC) High Performance Committee. The reason for this is that at the start of a new Olympic quadrennial, it is important to give experience to younger and less experienced skaters who may be integral parts of future Olympic and World Championship teams.

Anyways, enough with the technical blah blah and on to the competition. For me personally, the trials went quite well. As you may have seen in the press release I posted on sunday night, you can see that I finished 2nd overall behind Charles Hamelin and qualified for all four stops. I was quite happy to have qualified automatically and decide my own fate, instead of waiting for the committee's decision. After not competing on the World Cup circuit since March 2009, it will be good to get back to racing at the highest level.

Another positive that came from last weekend was that a number of my teammates also performed well, and as such will have the opportunity to test themselves on the World Cup circuit for the first time. As I mentioned before, one of SSC's goals for this season is to introduce younger and less experienced skaters on to the world cup circuit. This meant that Dustin Miller, Liam McFarlane and Gabby Waddell, all of who train in Calgary will be traveling with the team to the 3rd and 4th World Cups.

I guess I should also mention where the Fall World Cups are being held. The season will kick off in Montreal Oct. 22-24 followed by a stop in Quebec City Oct 29-31. After a month long break, things will continue with two stops in China, the first in Changchun Dec 3-5, followed by a stop in Shanghai Dec 10-12. So if you live in or near any other those cities (im guessing more readers will be close to Quebec haha) come out and watch. We always appreciate spectators!

For those that are interested, the following are the men that will be competing at each of the 4 World Cups (I apologize for not having the women's team, I can't remember t exactly and don't want to put false info.)

Montreal: Charles Hamelin, Michael Gilday, Francois-Louis Tremblay, Francois Hamelin, Remi Beaulieu, Guillaume Bastille.
Quebec: Charles Hamelin, Michael Gilday, Francois-Louis Tremblay, Francois Hamelin, Guillaume Bastille, Maxime Fortin.
Changchun and Shanghai: Charles Hamelin, Michael Gilday, Olivier Jean, Remi Beaulieu, Liam McFarlane, Dustin Miller.

Lastly, here are a couple pics from the weekend courtesy of Tracy Hillis.

Leading Francois Hamelin and Gabriel Chiasson-Poirier in a 1000m quarter (I think)

Start of my heat in 500 #1
Leading 1500m #2 A final, which I eventually won.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Press Release from this weekend...

from Speed Skating Canada, here

Six Short Track Skaters Qualify for Fall World Cups
Date posted: 09/19/2010

Victories in today’s 500m and 1000m events at the short track selections at the Calgary Olympic Oval helped Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC), Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) secure their spots on Canada’s team for the Fall World Cups. Thanks to solid performances through the weekend, they, along with Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC), Marie-Ève Drolet (Latterière, QC) and Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) will represent Canada for the Montréal and Québec World Cups on October 22-24 and 29-31, as well as for the two Asian stops of the circuit, scheduled for early December.

The day started off with the 500m, won by Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) in 44.050. She was never threatened in the final, easily cruising to the finish line, with Andréa Do-Duc (Montréal, QC) behind her in 44.144. Maltais took the third position in 44.194 and Drolet, who fell in the last corner, was fourth.

On to the 1000m, all girls wanted good races as it would determine who would make the team. St-Gelais started out front, but Lambert passed her outside in the first lap. St-Gelais was quick to get back out front, with an inside pass, and she managed to create a gap with the other skaters, crossing the finish line in 1:31.339. With six laps to go, Gabrielle Waddell tried an outside pass but collided with Lambert and fell. Lambert was later disqualified and Waddell, after getting back up, finished third. Marie-Ève Drolet was the other skater in the final, and she took the second position in 1:32.945.

Meanwhile, in the B final, Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC), Maltais and Do-Duc went all out, and all three skated under the old Canadian record held by Kalyna Roberge (1:29.870). Mendes-Campeau’s name will now be in the records book as she crossed the finish line in 1:29.132.

St-Gelais finished on top of the women’s combined ranking, thanks to three victories over four races (she sat out the 500m events due to an injury suffered earlier this week). Maltais took the second place with two second places (1500m), one first and one third (500m). Drolet takes the third spot on the World Cup team thanks to two second places in the 1000m, a third and a sixth in the 1500m.

On the men side, Charles Hamelin took the honours in the 500m. François-Louis Tremblay (Boucherville, QC) actually led most of the race, but Hamelin, who was just behind, overtook him at the finish line in 41.470. Tremblay had to settle for second place in 41.480. Allyn Gagnon was in third place all along, finishing in 41.849 and François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) took the fourth position in 42.113. Liam McFarlane (Medicine Hat, AB) fell mid-race and had to settle for fifth place.

In the 1000m, Olivier Jean knew he needed to pull off a victory in order to make the World Cup team, and he did just that. It was a tight race to the finish between him and Gilday, but Jean took the lead with five laps to go with an inside pass and managed to win in 1:24.793. Gilday crossed the finish close behind in 1:24.844, and Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) was third (1:24.968). Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) and Dustin Miller were the last two skaters in the final and they finished fourth and fifth respectively (1:25.800 and 1:26.252).

Overall, Charles Hamelin takes the first position on the World Cup team, thanks to a first and second place in the 500m and a first and third in the 1500m. While he won the first 1000m race, he sat out the second because of a small injury. Michael Gilday is second overall with a fist and third place in the 1500m, and a second and third place in the 1000m. Olivier Jean’s victory in the 1000m, combined to a fifth place in that distance yesterday, as well as a second and fourth place in the 1500m, secured the third spot. Jean is however not planning on racing the first World Cup events this Fall, as he now wants to remain in Calgary and take part in the Long Track Fall World Cup Selections next month.

Speed Skating Canada’s High Performance Short Track Committee will meet in the next week to select the other three women and four men who will have the chance to represent Canada at the four stops of the World Cup Circuit taking place this fall.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Competitiveness in Short Track Speedskating

Recently, I was reading a few articles that were posted on TSN.ca about women’s hockey, and the lack of competition that exists within this sport. As some may know, the sport is dominated by two countries, Canada and the USA. Together they have won every World Championship since they began holding the world championships in 1990. At the recent World Hockey Summit, the basic debate surrounding women’s hockey is how to increase the competitiveness of women’s hockey in more countries around the world so the same two teams are not the only ones winning major championships and Olympic Games.

Anyways, this got me thinking about Short Track. Now obviously, Short track is not dominated by only two countries as women’s hockey is, right? Well as much as I’d like to say it isn’t, if you look at some numbers from past Olympics its easy to see that the sport is predominantly dominated by two countries on the men’s side, South Korea and Canada, and two countries on the women’s side, China and South Korea. Of the 120 medals that have been handed out at the Olympics (both genders) since Short Track became an Olympic event, Korea has won 37 or 31%, Canada has won 25 or 21% and China has won 24 or 21%. Add that up and you have three countries winning 72% of Olympic medals. The rest of the medals are scattered across a number of countries with a major (18 or 15%) going to the USA.

So these numbers beg the question, does short track have a similar problem to that of women’s hockey where a small number of countries dominate the podiums? My simple answer is no. Why? Well there are several reasons.

First of all, our sport has three (and more recently four) “superpowers”. These of course being South Korea, Canada and China, with the USA following closely behind and quickly catching up. Compare this to women’s hockey, which only has two “superpowers”.

Secondly, the sport is still quite young as Olympic sports go (although the same could be argued for women’s hockey as it joined the Olympics in 1998) and continues to grow, especially in Europe, a continent that is traditionally a winter sports mecca. Not surprisingly, those countries that have a history of short track since the beginning are strongest. But the sport continues to grow. On the world cup circuit we increasingly see skaters from non-traditional short track countries getting into A- finals and threatening podiums. We have also witnessed coaches from traditional short track powers move to countries with newer short track programs and bring the level of those countries skaters up to a higher level. Primarily we have seen this with South Korean coaches such as Jae-Su Chun who is coaching the American team, as well as his brother Kevin recently joined the Great Britain team and others who coach in France and at various clubs across the USA. Coaches from Canada and China have also ventured overseas to spread their knowledge. Eric Bedard spent the last two seasons as the head coach of the German team and Li Yan coached in the US before heading back to China. Australian and Polish teams have also employed Chinese coaches at one time or another. This spread of knowledge across borders can only help the sport as it brings the level of less skilled skaters up and forces those at the top to continue to innovate if they wish to continue winning. Better results from non-traditional short track countries also increases interest in the sport, theoretically increasing growth as well.

Thirdly, Short Track is not over-shadowed by a bigger, more popular sibling, as is the case with women’s hockey. The NHL and men’s professional leagues are big business in North America and Europe and command a huge portion of attention away from the women’s game. Some might argue that short track may have in fact experience this syndrome from Long Track, but the reality is that Short and Long Track skating share very little other than two skates and some ice, whereas men’s and women’s hockey are simply separated by gender. There are also no professional leagues in speed skating, with the exception of the Netherlands, which has several professional Long Track teams. Despite this, neither short or long track receive lopsided media attention when compared to the other, as in men’s vs. women’s hockey, which puts the two on even ground for growth in interest and exposure, even if both sport are starting out with levels of exposure that are very low compared to mainstream sports (exception again being Long Track in the Netherlands.)

So that’s my take. Obviously my analysis is a little narrow, as it does not account for the fact that hockey is a team sport, while short track is not. There are probably several other problems with this analysis, but I think overall, it is fair to say that short track is not experiencing the problems that women’s hockey is, at least not to the same extent.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave a comment and add to the discussion or let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why not relive?

At a video session this week, we stumbled across this Youtube channel while looking for a specific race from the Olympics. It has the majority (if not all) of the events from the games in full without commercials. I watched a few, and thought it would be worth sharing. February was a pretty amazing month for Canada and its worth looking back and reliving some of the moments that made the whole country so proud.

First post in a while. Check back for more, hopefully soon enough.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jessica Gregg

Congrats to my teammate Jess on her 4th (ya I know...she'll probably be the first one to tell you that 4th isn't ideal) last night in the 500m at the Olympics. But she did race very well and we are all happy for her!

If anyone wants to know more about Jess, check out this video I shot of her back in the fall.

P.S If anyone who reads this blog is from Old Dutch, hook Jess up!

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Article- No more Hero Worship

I came across this article today. It was written by American x-c skier Kris Freeman on the Fasterskier website. Kris has an interesting message, and one that I think can be applied to short track. I doubt there is any skater out there who has not compared what they do and how they do it to Korean skaters. It is important to learn from the best, but also important to realize that Canadians don't need to do exactly what the Koreans do to win. We can learn from them, analyze and be better!

Take a read:

"I check fasterskier regularly because I love this sport and there are frequently informative updates and news on the website. Over the past few years it has become a legitimate, unbiased site that has moved away from worshiping Norway, Finland or whatever other country was having dominate results at the time.

As the most popular xc skiing site in North America I think this is very important. Developing athletes should know what is going on in the skiing world without the mythical context that used to plague much of North America’s xc ski journalism.

When I was coming up as a junior I heard rumors that American skiers couldn’t ski Bjorn Daehlie’s 10k pace for 100 meters. I heard that US skiers could never again achieve what Bill Koch did in 1976. I heard about incredible training plans that the Scandanavians followed, 1200 hours with level four intervals everyday etc. These rumors made believing that a US skier could be a red group skier let alone a world or Olympic medalist difficult to believe.

At my first Olympics in Utah what I learned about international ski racing is that all of my competitors are just men. They train, they race, some win, some lose but they are all just men.

This realization was very important to my subsequent racing career. I was able to ignore over-blown hype about mythical Norseman and German “ski-gods.” I could focus on real training plans and focus my energy on succeeding at the highest level.

Over the past decade I have seen the xc-skiing climate in America change as more and more racers have seen through the fog of hype that has surrounded international racing. Clear focus has enabled the US Ski Team to post stronger and stronger results. There is no more excitement around simply scoring world cup points. The excitement is gone from a top 20 finish. A top 10 is met with congratulations but only a medal is met with true jubilation as it was for Kikkan last year in Liberec. This is the way it should be.

XC skiing in America holds itself to higher standing than it has in several decades. It could be seen this past weekend in Canmore when the nations group wasn’t here to gawk or spectate but to put there heads down and race. I saw a focus and confidence from our skiers that I have not seen in my nine years with the ski team. I hope every skier in the US will have this kind of focus soon. There is no more time for hero worship, its time to become heroes ourselves."