Saturday, December 29, 2012

About Last Thursday ...

For those at the practice on Thursday night, you may have been a bit concerned by Tim & I`s coaching disagreement (see the next blog post).  However, after the practice, Bubble Boy Kenny took it upon himself to right the Downtown Nordic coaching ship by getting Tim and I to Smittys for a late night talk.

He was able to calm Tim down with some beer and wings.  And simply by putting any edible food in front of me, got me to stop crying.  We resolved our issues and are ready to move forward from this difficult time.

The Fourth Point

Last Thursday, we went through the New double-pole technique.  Double-pole technique has been revolutionized in the last few years to take advantage of larger muscle groups & gravity (and avoid using smaller muscle groups).  The result has been that in some of the big world loppet classic races (the 70km Marcialonga in Italy and the 90km Vassaloppet in Sweden) they have been won by skiers who have double-poled the entire race ... including big hills!  So learning the new double-pole technique can be very useful for your skiing success.

Supercoach Tim went through 3 key points of double-poling:
1) Hips forward so that your center of gravity is forward and will maximize the use of your body weight on your ski poles

2) shoulders rolled forward so the poling motion rotates around the shoulder (so Tim`s small triceps are taken out of the poling equation) and start the motion with a short & quick ab crunch.

3) stop your hands at your hips.

There are a few more points to the new double-pole technique, but Tim wanted to keep it simple for now.

I wanted to add an additional point (the now infamous `fourth point`), but Tim was adamant that we not go past 3 points.  At this point in the instruction, things got very testy and I ran away in tears (more or less).

After the session, people were left pondering what the fourth point was.  In fact, the next day, some club members on their way out of town to ski e-mailed me pleading me to tell them the fourth point.

The importance of the fourth point should not be undersestimated.  Many have called the fourth point the holy grail of the new double-poling technique.

However, the fourth point must not be spoken.  It is something that comes to you when you are ready.

All I can say is, to paraphrase Star Wars, May the Fourth Point Be With You.

Skier of the Week

This week`s Downtown Nordic Skier-of-the-Week is Gyula Gergely!


Gyula, who is a veteran of the club (i.e. in his second season), really nailed the new double-pole technique that we went through Thursday night.  Toques off to Gyula!

Training & Stuff - week of Dec. 31st

Training this week:
Tuesday - intervals at 7PM (first fairway)

Thursday - technique at 7:30PM - downhill training! (skate or classic - your choice)

Thursday will be Tim's last day of coaching ... you won't want to miss this one!

We are closing the club to new members after January 3rd -- please sign up by then.

I can't believe I'm writing that ... but our growth and the fact that Supercoach Tim is leaving for a few months means we have to. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays from Downtown Nordic


Road Trip!

Last Friday, a few of us headed west to the ski trails of Birch.  Tim, Cory, Bubble Boy (new nickname for Ken), and myself were looking for some hills to ski so we set out on a road trip.

Tim loading up the Downtown Nordic team Volvo:

We're almost there:

Tim gets a little rambunctious sitting in a car, so it was nice to finally let him out:

Tim changing into his ski clothes.  This was just before the photo shoot for the "Men of Downtown Nordic" 2013 Calendar.  (The calendars make great last-minute Christmas gifts!)

The grooming was in progress when we got there:

Tim and Cory stopping at the top of the big hill out of the valley.  I was waiting for them all day :)

Descending into the valley:

Tim now telemarking his way down:

This was the last photo before I smashed into him:

This was the view from the ambulance on the way home :)

Skier of the Week

This week's Downtown Nordic Skier-of-the-Week is Lesley Ball!

Lesley is bestowed this presitigous honor for her efforts in the "Escape from Alcatraz" drill during the interval training workout last Tuesday.  The drill required Tim & Paul to catch all of the other skiers before the completion of the interval ... Lesley was the only one to hold off the two chasers.  By doing so, she helped keep the other club members from serving a "sentence" of push-ups.  Toques off to Lesley!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Bomb

Well, the good news is the world has not ended.  The bad news, if you haven't heard by now, is that Coach Tim dropped a bomb on Downtown Nordic by announcing he is leaving town for the next few months.

Tim is headed to La Ronge, Saskatchewan to work as a coach for Ski Fit North which promotes and develops cross-country skiing in northern Saskatchewan.  He'll be leaving in early January.

At Thursday's practice, Tim's announcement brought many club members to tears.  Like this fellow:

Tim reacted this way:


Tears aside, this is an incredible opportunity for Tim and we wish him all the best.  And as long as they have "beer and wings" in La Ronge, Tim will do just fine.

Oh, and with the world not ending, well, that means, we still have a world to dominate.  Let's get on with it!

Training for the week of Dec. 24th

Training this week will be:

Wednesday, Dec. 26th at 2PM - Intensity training - different spot than usual ... we'll be on the long loop near where the blue and green courses separate

Thursday, Dec. 27th at 7:30PM - Technique training - classic technique

Monday, December 17, 2012

Canmore World Cup!

Oh my gosh!  Just got back from Canmore where I got to ski for a couple of days and watch the latest round of the Cross Country Ski World Cup.  They had exceptional conditions and watching the best cross country skiers in the world (aside from Downtown Nordic, of course) is breathtaking.

If you aren't aware, Canmore hosted the cross-country ski events at the 1988 Winter Olympics.  It's a incredible place to ski and also it's very spectator-friendly for watching races. 

My first two days in Canmore were for skiing, which just happened to include skiing with world cup skiers!

The trails were loaded with top skiers:

Here are a couple of Russian skiers:

When I skied past them, you could just sense the awe and admiration in their voices.  By the way, Downtown Nordic sounds the same in Russian as it does in English.

Here are a couple of Canadian skiers getting some last-minute coaching advice.  It seemed to work as skier 14, Jesse Cockney, went on to qualify second in the Saturday sprints and finish 9th overall.

Here are some of the wax technicians testing skis.  These guys worked for about 6 hours out on the snow the day before the race ... plus all of the work they would have done in the wax trailers!

For anyone thinking we do too many drills in our technique sessions, well there were tons of world cup skiers doing drills when I was there.  Here's a German skier doing classic drills.  The German's absolutely dominated the next day's classic race.

So, basically what I'm saying is that Tim's technique drills are preparing us to dominate the world of skiing!

Oh, I wasn't there just to take pictures ... or maybe that's another world cup skier:

Here's what you get to ski on at Canmore:

Now on to the Classic mass start race (10km for women & 15 km for men) ...
The stadium on race day:

One of the Swedish women's skiers warming up:

The first climb of the women's race:

And the winner of the women's race, Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk, double-poling to the finish line: 

Warming up for the men's race ... here's Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey.  Devon was second and Alex sixth in the overall World Cup last year:

Here's the men's field on the second lap.  It's amazing how close you can get to the athletes as well as get to different parts of the course during the race.

One last thing.  In the chalet at Canmore, Chandra Crawford has her 2006 Torino Olympic Gold Medal on display with a note that it's "Canmore's medal".  This is just one more reason that Chandra is a class act.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Training and stuff

Thursday training will be classic technique led by Tim.  Meet at 7:30 at Windsor Park.

Last night, we had our first intensity training session of the season with 25 DN athletes making it out.  We're slowly working throught he growing pains of so many people doing intervals in a small area, but it appeared most people were "happy" with the workout ... particularly the fact that I brought chocolate milk for everyone as a post-workout recovery drink.

As an aside, over many years of training and racing, I've found that a large amount of chocolate milk is NOT a good PRE-workout drink.

I'm typing this from Canmore right now where the latest round of the Cross-Country World Cup is being held.  I'm skiing a bit today and tomorrow, and then on Thursday watching the 15km classic race.

The race course was open today and I got to ski with a number of national teams.  Photos and stories coming soon.

Gotta run, Team Sweden needs some help with their technique.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Skier of the Week

This week's Downtown Nordic Skier-of-the-Week award goes to Ruth Horne!


Ruth was the deserving winner because she decided to jump right into her first ever ski race this week at the Windsor Park Wednesday night race.  And it was quite an epic race ... icy tracks, gale force winds, and then it started to rain!  Congratulations Ruth!

However, on a sad note, this does mean that my 104 consecutive-week reign as Downtown Nordic Skier-of-the-Week has come to an end.

Annual General Meeting & Elections

We had our annual general meeting on Thursday night.

The meeting went something like this:

7:16PM Tim nervously calls meeting to order

7:17PM Tim and Steve bicker over details of the meeting

7:18PM Steve presents the 2012 club financial statements; club members loudly applaud

7:21PM Elections are held for the 2012-2013 term
                  Tim is elected President by a vote of 23 for and 1 against
                  Steve is elected Treasurer by a unanimous vote
                  There was a call for volunteers to run for position of Secretary:
                     Esther briefly scratched her cheek and was immediately voted in as Secretary.

7:25PM Cory motioned that we go for a ski ... so we went skiing

Here is your club executive for the next season:

President Tim:

Secretary Esther:

Treasurer Steve:


We start intensity training this week - ON MONDAY

This week we start intensity training.  But, as you'll see below ... for the first couple of sessions, it will be set up so everyone in the club can participate

Also, on technique nights, you pick whatever technique you want ... we make it work for all techniques and speeds.

This week, for this week only, we will  be doing intensity training on Monday night.  We'll generally do this on Tuesday nights for the rest of the season.

The plan for our first two intensity sessions is to break things ito three groups.  You get to choose which group you want to be in.  If you are unsure, don't hesitate to ask my advice on which group to be in.

1) Technique group -- the people that aren't ready to jump into intensity training and who may also want to take a look at what we do on intensity nights.  Also, if you haven't been skiing regularly, you should probably be in this group.

2) Fitness group -- participate in the first half of the intensity training session

3) Racing group -- do the full intensity session

Insensity training will involve a variety of intervals that I will set out at the start of the night.  Warm-up starts at 7PM; intervals start at 7:20PM and go for about 30 to 40 minutes.

We will be skiing on the first fairway at Windsor Park -- when you come out of the clubhouse, you go left.

The intensity sessions will progress gradually over the course of the season.  If you want to get real fit this winter, you won't want to miss these sessions.  See you MONDAY.

(Did I mention this week's intenstiy session is on MONDAY?)


Thursday, December 6, 2012

World Cup Skiing in Quebec


On Friday (team sprint) and Saturday (individual sprint), there will be some sweet World Cup cross-counry skiing in the historic part of Quebec City.  Apparently, it will be on CBC ... 1 to 3 PM on Friday and noon to 2PM on Saturday.

As you can see in the picture above, what's truly amazing is how the snow that fell in Quebec actually only fell in the place they are going to be skiing :)

After the races in Quebec, the World Cup moves to Canmore next week for 3 more races.

Monday, December 3, 2012

DN Training -- week of Dec. 3rd:

Tuesday, Dec. 4th @ 7PM - technique drills - skate

Thursday, Dec. 6th @ 7:30PM - technique drills - classic (we are changing this to skate due course conditions)

also a reminder for the following week ... on MONDAY, Dec. 10th we'll be doing intensity training
(MONDAY is for that one week only because I will be out of town in Canmore on the Tuesday)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Spreading the word ...

As part of Dowtown Nordic's efforts to show that our geographical reach is not limited by our club name ... we "sent" member Jean to the (very) Northwest Territories.  She reports back that she had her first ski in Norman Wells on Saturday.

Beautiful 11AM sunrise (and sundogs) ...

Home-made ski tracks ...

And this is what -33 celsius does to you ...

NOTHING stops Downtown Nordic from spreading the word!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Well that was crazy.  As in crazy good.  At one point last night we had 30 people out on the training grid for Tuesday night training.  Not sure if it was due to the full moon last night ... or if the moon just wanted to be part of Downtown Nordic.

November and December is THE time to work on technique drills.  Every time you go out, spend 10 or 15 minutes doing the drills to help really dial in the technique.

We've had a few issues with keeping our e-mail list up-to-date, so going forward, I'll put all of the training info on the blog so you can come here for all Downtown Nordic information.

Here's our plan for he next couple of weeks or so:

Thursday, Nov. 30th - skate technique at 7:30

Tuesday, Dec. 4th - technique training - specifice technique TBA

Thursday, Dec. 6th - technique training - specific technique TBA

Monday, Dec. 10th - we start intensity training (note that we'll have training on this Monday only ... the following week we'll revert back to Tuesdays)

Intensity training is generally for those skiing twice a week or more.

Also, if you are looking for a goal this winter, consider a race or two.  A couple of excellent races in January are:
   Skate --> Jan. 20th Birch Open (at the Birch trails west of Carman) - 10km
   Classic --> Jan. 27th Manitoba Loppet in Pinawa - 15km and 30 km options

The entire Manitoba race schedule can be found here:

See you Thursday!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Downtown Nordic Manifesto

Here is the plan for Downtown Nordic for the upcoming season:

Tuesday night - Intensity training ("fun" interval training) - led by drill sargeant Steve
     start at 7PM
     technique: whatever you prefer (no one is left behind!)

Thursday night - Technique training - led by coach Tim
     start at 7:30 PM
     technique: Tim sends an e-mail on the week's technique

All training takes place at the Windsor Park Nordic Centre.

For the first few weeks, until early/mid December, both Tuesday and Thursday training will be on technique and getting the body ready for skiing.

There is no commitment required for the club.  You can come to any practices you want.  However, the Tuesday intensity sessions will get progressively more ... intense ... as the season progresses.  So it doesn't "hurt" to be a regular!

Club Fees: $40 (includes an award-winning toque!)

If you want, you can come try out our practices to see if it's for you.  No obligation.  No salesman will call.

We are a fitness-oriented ski club. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where to ski? Trail Report Downtown-Nordic Style

A few options for skiing that I've heard about:

Wildwood golf course - skied-in classic tracks

Birds Hill Park - skied-in classic tracks ... particularly good on the Chickadee loop

Windsor Park golf course -- not officially open for skiing yet, but I have "heard" it is modestly packed and decent for skate-skiing and a skied-in classic track. 

I found these random pictures on the inter-networks.  They might be of Windsor Park.  I don't even know the people in the photos :)

Download Winnipeg-20121112-00361.jpg (1018.4 KB)

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Tonight we'll be skiing at Wildwood golf course for a classic ski.  See map below:

View My Saved Places in a larger map

Sunday, November 11, 2012

First Snow!

First snow of the year and we got lots of it.  The transition from roller skiing to real skiing in Winnipeg can be a rather tortuous affair most years -- usually dragging on for weeks (or months like last year).  But this year is as good as it gets.  On Friday, I roller-skied and today I real-skied.  Perfect.

I got in an hour classic ski at Wildwood golf course on my 1988 waxless indestructible Kahru's.  It was a very deep skied-in track, but it was real skiing. 

The sun even came out :)

It was just on Friday I was roller-skiing.  Someone got this photo of me:

(The above photos may or may not have been slightly embellished)

I'm not sure yet where our Tuesday night training will be this week.  I will let everyone know via e-mail by Tuesday afternoon.  But one thing for sure ... we will be on snow!