By Jan Plavec
Here is the report about my ski racing experience in Alberta. My resolution was to participate at least in one ski race so I could get some hot test before the Birkie. Actually, I wanted to check just my classic skills, but after all, only pursuit race of the Alberta Cup was an option so I said what the heck, and signed up for both skate and classic parts. Alberta looks like pretty ideal country for skiing as there are good winters here. But international rules for skiing don’t count on such good winters and they allow to ski just above minus 20 degrees (Hey should we ski in June or what!). Forecast for the race day said minus 23 so they postponed the race to the 29th and 30th January. Temperatures were high, close to zero all week before the race, but than for the race day the forecast said minus 23 again. Nobody wanted to cancel the event and so volunteers were breathing hard on the commissioner’s thermometer and the Saturday free style part could go on.
I really enjoyed this race as the trails were awesome (thanks to Emily’s uncle and other volunteers) and the snow condition ideal (fast but not icy). Less enjoyable was fact that the guy who was with me in Masters 1 category passed me after 2 minutes (he started 30s behind me) so I could calculate that in the next 40 minutes of the race he would gather at least 10 minutes (which actually was the final result). But I didn’t let this fact to change my strategy and I focused on defense of second place (smart move as there were only two of us in the category). However, my deep focus was bothered by some juniors and junior boys passing me too. That was too much for my dignity and I pushed hard to keep up with some bored teenager and finally on a flat non-technical part I managed to get in front of him. Unfortunately, on Esso hill he took advantage of his light weight, left me behind and went into the finish while I had to go for another lap of shame. I have to say that this all was disappointing and surprising to me because only my team had the word “RACE” in the name, so I considered others participants to be a bunch of recreational jokers. However this slightly humiliating experience was forgotten once I was called to the podium and got the silver medal which I will be showing everybody back in the Czech Republic telling stories how just one Canadian was faster than me.
Sunday should have been my big day with classic technique. I saw the leader shivering from fear as he knew that five minutes is nothing if I am behind him. But the weather was merciful to him and it didn’t give me the chance to fight. Breathing on thermometer didn’t work and the race was canceled definitely.
Sorry for this long report about nothing but there is not much to report in winter, so hopefully no harm. May be I should write more about a real racer – Emily who took the second place in the elite category, where there were more than two people and the first girl was a national level competitor. Also thanks Emily for all your help, advice, and company during these freezing days. Skol!