Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome! My name is Michael Somppi and I'm a competitive cross-country skier. I developed this blog so sponsors, family, friends and fans can keep up to date with my life as a full-time athlete. You can expect regular blog posts about racing, training, and life in general. Check out other sections of my blog by clicking on the tabs above.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Fresh Air Experience Half Marathon

On October 25th, Kamview Ski Centre held the annual Fresh Air Experience Half Marathon running race. The race is entirely run on the trails and participants have the option of doing it solo or as a team of three. As you may have guessed, the course is roughly 7km so three laps are required. Participants were plentiful this year with 51 solo runners and 138 relay runners.

Last year Harry Seaton and myself ran it solo, however this year coach Eric wanted the team to do a shorter hard effort so we made a few teams. Chris Hamilton, Harry Seaton, and myself were the Dream Team aiming to take the men’s team win. Luke Viljakainen, Christina Groulx, and Leif Lennie were set to go head to head with Scott Sullivan, Erin Tribe, and Ghislain deLaplante (aka King Radio Shack) for the mixed team win in what was sure to be a battle of epic proportions. Unfortunately, Erin was unable to race due to sickness and one of the new Lakehead University skiers, Owen Grey, graciously volunteered to fill the gap. This of course put the team into the men's category where they would face off with the Dream Team. Can you guess the results? Was our mixed team able to take the victory in their category? Did the Dream Team crush the opposition, or were they unable to live up to their rep?

Give the RESULTS a clickety click to check them out.


The Dream Team's lead out man, Chris, tearing the trails up.


The Dream Team's middle man, Harry, making it look easy.


The Mixed Team vying hard for the victory with their middle woman, Giggles.


The King himself running the final leg for the opposing men's team.


Leif can smell the scent of Mixed Team glory.


Me bringing it home for the Dream Team.

All pictures are courtesy of Eric Bailey.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Austrian Adventure

Wattup world? It’s been a while, but since I’ve had the fortune of contracting the swine flu virus I’ve got a little extra time on my hands to get this blog back up to date. The latest and greatest adventure our team has been on is an Austrian training camp, so I’ll start there.

As it turns out, the date we had planned to arrive in Schladming, Austria just happened to be the same weekend as the final World Cup of the season for downhill, cross-country, and 4x biking. Lucky eh? Needless to say, we did a little dryland training during the weekend to get rid of jetlag and watched the races. The women’s cross-country race was really exciting for us to watch because two Canadians, Catherine Pendrel and Marie-Helene Premont were in the mix for medals. After a tough battle for 2nd, Catherine finished 3rd and Marie-Helene finished 5th. I think from the spectator point of view, Canada was number 1. All those crazy Euros didn’t stand a chance as our whole team wore red, Harry and Luke even had Canada bike jerseys on, I was waving a Canada flag, and Eric, too used to his coach role, was giving splits to Catherine and Marie.


Catherine Pendrel pedaling hard up the final climb before the descent into the finish/lap area


Looking down on the small town of Schladming

In the men’s race, Julien Absalon took the lead for the first few laps until he flatted on lap 5 and eventually dropped out. The Spanish National Champion, Jose Antonio Hermida, took over the lead and rode to a commanding victory. Geoff Kabush was the top Canadian in 23rd place.


Julien Absalon, a dominant figure on the men's mountain bike world cup scene


Jose Antonio Hermida celebrating his victory

The 4x was exciting to watch with tons of crashes on a pretty gnarly course. After the first two corners, passing was tough so the riders were forced to make risky maneuvers. Let’s just say some of them didn’t work out so well.


A 4x heat riding hard under the lights. The race was held during the evening.

A few us of ran into the legendary downhiller and 2009 World Champion Steve Peat the day before the race. It was awesome to meet a guy who’s been at the top for so long. The downhill race itself was insane to watch. My eyes could barely process what I was witnessing. These guys look like they’re on the boarder line of crashing at any given moment. The technical sections in the trees on the Planai Mountain were full of roots, little drops, and tight corners with deep ruts and they just fly through only tapping the brakes. Sam Hill of Australia won the race and also was the 2009 overall World Cup winner.


Brendan Fairclough finished 5th.

Needless to say, watching the World Cup races was a great time and an awesome way to kick off our training camp. A typical day during our training camp in Austria was something like this:
6:40am – wake up and eat a buffet style breakfast at Haus Katarina
7:40am – depart for the Dachstein Glacier gondola
8:10am – gondola to the glacier
8:30am – ski on the glacier anywhere from 1.25 hours to 3.5 hours
Arrive back at Haus Katarina in Schladming between 12pm and 2pm
1 hour nap
4:00pm – afternoon dryland training (strength, plyometrics, rollerskiing, striding)
6:00pm – dinner at the Wintergarten restaurant
7:30pm – hang out and relax
9:30pm – hit bed to rest up for another training day

We spent 3 weeks in Austria and I was able to get in 12 good days of skiing. Unfortunately the gondola was closed for repairs for two of the days we meant to ski, but we were able to do some good dryland workouts in Ramsau instead. Although the snow was not as plentiful as last year and crevasses were very apparent the glacier was still packed with skiers. Lots of European National teams were there including big names such as, Marcus Hellner, Pietro Piller Cottrer, Lukas Bauer, Andrus Veerpalu, Charlotte Kalla, Marianna Longa, Petra Majdic, and Anna Dahlberg. Still, I think between our team, the CNEPH team, the Canadian biathletes, and the Canadian Para-Nordic Team there were more Canadians skiing on the Dachstein Glacier than any other country. It’s kind of humourous how that happened.


The little shack beside the trails on the Dachstein Glacier.


Doing it up on the Dachstein. Photo credit goes to Eric Bailey.


Photo credit to Eric Bailey.

Amongst all our hard training, we had one elusive rest day which we took full advantage of and drove to Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and one of the best preserved city centres north of the Alps. The old part of town is truly amazing to see. If you ever get a chance to chill in Salzburg for a day or two, I recommend you do so.


Along the river in Salzburg.


The castle overlook the old town of Salzburg.


I took a picture of a poster to show everyone back home how impressive the old downtown of Salzburg really is.


Erin and Christina having a first time experience riding a unicorn.

After 3 weeks of focused training in Austria our whole team was exhausted and ready to fly over the pond back to Canada for some time off.


Anthropologist Chris scouring the alps.


On top of the world. Photo credit to Chris Hamilton.

And that concludes our Austrian adventure.