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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, 12 August 2011

Summer in Canmore: Episode II

Wow! It has been a long stretch in Canmore this summer. My flight out West on June 28th feels like a century ago. I finally flew home to the hot sun in TBay on August 8th. I’ve done a ton of training and I am looking forward to good times on Lake Superior at my girlfriend’s camp relaxing, kayaking, cliff jumping and attempting some windsurf sessions. I’m also looking forward to saunas, swimming and BBQs at a camp my mom rented on West Loon Lake. These have been my carrots at the end of a 6-week heavy training load that I have worked hard to earn.

The first episode of “Summer in Canmore” left off at the end of the NST training camp so I’ll start there. I spent a few days post-camp hanging out at the Killick household, recovering and doing some “light” training. I put light in quotations because 4 days after the camp I was already doing running intervals with D. Kershaw. I was fortunate to be able to join up with Devon, Ivan, Graeme and Brent for some quality training before the NDC TBay crew came out. A highlight was a long run on the Alpine Circuit Trail around Lake O’hara with Devon. The scenery O’hara offers is simply breathtaking. It’s definitely worth a visit. A big thanks to the Killick family for providing me with a place to stay! Thanks to Phil Wood too for letting me borrow his Specialized Epic so I could rip up the Highline Trail.

My mom came out for a short visit and we moved into a room at the Grande Rockies. We drove into Calgary to hit up the self proclaimed “Greatest Show on Earth”, the Calgary Stampede. It’s pricey but they do have a decent spread of carnival rides and I will say this, the evening show was entertaining. From carts recklessly drifting around a dirt track behind purebred horses in the chuck wagon races to the music, dancing, flames and fireworks of the show, there was a lot going on. Another fun adventure was an afternoon hike up Hai Ling (Chinaman’s) Peak. I can definitely see why the short route with a great view of Canmore and the surrounding area is so popular now.

Some pretty exciting stuff those chuck wagon races.

Lots going on in the evening show!

My mom sitting on the ridge over looking Canmore.

The NDC Thunder Bay crew rolled into town on July 20th eager to begin a new training camp. I definitely was not feeling fresh, but the team’s energy and drive motivated me to push through it and keep working hard. We pounded out a few days of dryland training with one hard intensity and one adventure hike around Mount Yamnuska before heading up to the Haig Glacier on the 25th. Since the weekend we were on the Haig was the August long weekend we were fortunate to have one extra day at the Glacier and didn’t run out until August 2nd.

Hiking ain't no game. Here's Harry scaling the cliffside barehanded on a steel chain.

Okay, that image may have been slightly skewed. But it was a solid 40+ft drop from where we shimmied across the cliffside. Here you can see Jimmy in the centre crossing a narrow section.

Chris planking on the summit of Mount Yamnuska. One minute later lightning struck close by and we were on our hands and knees crawling off the summit. Sketchy...

With 7 full days of training at the Haig Glacier we had plenty of time to put in good quality hours on the skinny skis, compete in many Frisbee golf matches, and of course continue with our nightly dessert competition. No surprise this year, the winning dessert was sugar pie crafted from scratch by Harry and yours truly. Also, a big thanks to Rob Rupf from the Canadian Sports Centre Ontario for joining us on the Haig and providing top notch monitoring!

Putting in some kms on the Haig Glacier (photo credit: Eric Bailey)

Harry slaying some strength on the glacier. This was our ghetto version of a cable machine: rope over the chin-up bar attached to a plastic carton with rocks in it. Solid!

Post-glacier our team had two important intensity workouts to make the most of our increased red blood cells. We all pushed ourselves hard and depleted the energy stores and it felt great to finish that second intensity knowing the hard stuff was done for a little while and it was time to rest and recover. The day before we flew out of Canmore most of the team borrowed or rented mountain bikes and ripped up some serious single-track. Big thanks to our guide for the day, Mallory Deyne. She took us on an awesome route that was full of fun twisty downhill sections, some sweet ladders and a few jumps/drops. She even helped me solve the issue of getting the cleat from my bike shoe out of my pedal when the screws came loose. What a gal!

The sky is blue and it’s time for me to pack up for a weekend on the beach at Neys Provincial Park.

Over and Out


Friday, 5 August 2011

Summer in Canmore: Episode I

Canada’s World Cup Team united with the Senior Development Team for the first time this season on June 30th. The camp consisted of some long distance training at higher altitude as well as lower altitude intensity sessions and strength workouts. Originally the plan was to ski on the Haig Glacier for two higher altitude stints, however weather (too much SNOW if that makes any sense…) forced us to cancel any glacier plans for the first altitude stint.

So on the 30th we met early in the morning for a long classic rollerski & run up to Sunshine Village. The comment of the day was “Wow this is a big group!” The women’s team was a little short-handed in comparison, as the men’s team of 12 athletes rolled out in the morning. It’s a group filled with talent and I felt privileged to be a part of it.

Canada Day celebrations were limited to BBQs and watching Canmore’s fireworks (very impressive this year!) before crashing in bed. It’s a good thing I slept too because the pace of the next day’s zone 1 skate rollerski around Minewanka and back to Canmore was pretty quick. We covered the same distance as we did the previous day only in 2/3 the time. We were really cruising coming down the bike path to Canmore with coach J. Wads pushing the pace on his first rollerski of the year. Our first distance block finished with a classic/skate rollerski up Highwood Pass. And just because summiting the pass once seemed easy, we bombed down the other side of the pass and then summited it again.

After a lighter training day we mixed it up with some classic rollerskiing intervals and hit the gym in the afternoon. Time to rest and recover right? Well…for one day, then on to the second half. Fortunately we were able to go up to the Haig Glacier for the second altitude stint.

In the Heli on the way up

Flying onto the glacier in a helicopter was a highlight of the camp. In five minutes I went from standing in Ranger Creek to crust skiing on the Haig. Not a bad turn around time! The weather was sunny and HOT (heat wave?) so it wasn’t long before the crust softened and we were stuck on the groomed trail. I’m not complaining though, being on skis was great! On our 3rd day up at the glacier the hot sun was hidden behind grey clouds… stormy conditions meant no helicopter was coming to pick us up. Bummer. Running out was plan B. The good news? There wasn’t too much post-holing through deep snow; the previous couple day’s high temps must have melted a significant amount of snow on the trail.

The NST guys crust skiing on a sunny day

What would the Haig Glacier be without Peelix?

Another light training day, a rollerski intensity session up Silver Tip in the AM and a strength workout in the PM on July 10th and the camp had come to an end. Having the whole National Team together to do some good quality training was really positive and I’m looking forward to doing it again in Whistler later this year. For now, I’m chilling out in Canmore and resting up in anticipation of my next training camp with the Thunder Bay crew beginning July 21st.

Till next time,