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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.

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Summer of 2012

It’s been a busy summer hence the lack of updates.  With so much to talk about I’m going to do my best to paraphrase my recap and stick to the highlights.  First off, if you don’t know by now I’m part of a new team this season, the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) based out of Canmore, AB.  Yep, that means not only a new team, but a new town in the west too.  One thing is constant from last year, I am still a member of the National Senior Development Team (2nd year now).  The season begins May 1st so I’m going to start off my recap thereabouts.

Bend, Oregon
After dragging the body out of lazy April and back to an athlete’s reality with a few runs, bikes and visits to the gym, I flew to Calgary to meet up with the AWCA team before driving to Bend, Oregon for some early season skiing.  I have never skied in May before and to be honest I wasn’t sure I was ready to strap the boards back on so soon.  The sight of snow changed that quickly.  A mix of warm spring skiing and fresh snow, mid-winter conditions were well received by us athletes during our stay in Bend.  Aside from skiing some highlights from the trip include an incredible run in Smith Rock State Park and a team baseball game that managed to draw a few spectators.

Smith Rock State Park (I didn't have my camera with me so I had to steal these photos off the internet.  We started our run along the river below the cliffs, not too shabby!)  Below is a picture of the rock formation "Monkey Face".  When we ran by below it there were people slack lining from the cliff across the void to the mouth.  Craziness!

Jess excited about the fresh white stuff at Mt Bachleor
Skiing in May!
Thunder Bay, ON
Home again home again.  After an epic amount of travel (13.5 hour drive from Bend to Canmore followed by flying out of Calgary to TBay) I made it home to pack up my life, play a few rounds of golf and visit friends and family.  The day came, June 6th, when I planned to start the drive west in my new Matrix*…surprise surprise, I wasn’t done packing.  Those who know me well probably would have foreseen this.  On June 7th, out I stepped into a foggy warm morning.  With the matrix loaded down, Britt and I hit the TransCanada to start our Canmore bound road trip.  It was a long drive.  The gale force winds and driving rain through the prairies were not of assistance.  Eventually, we rolled into (cue the harmonious soundtrack) the town of Canmore.

*Exerpt [I bought a used Toyota Matrix in Ottawa this spring – first vehicle with my name on the ownership!]
The Matrix riding low
Canmore, Alberta
My new home.  I’m living downtown with roommates/teammates Russell and Chris.   We have a small fenced in backyard backing onto a shallow river with a dirt trail along its bank.  Our place is one of the Mountainview Estates townhouses located across the street from Safeway, perfect for hungry athletes.  We even have a single car garage to store our hoards of outdoor gear.  All in all, it’s a great setup for us.   A few trips to Ikea in Calgary and the local thrift store and the place was more or less furnished.

Nelson, BC
Not long after settling into Canmore life I was on the road with AWCA for a training camp in Nelson.  This small BC town impressed me with a great main street strip, scenic views of Kootenay Lake and a good Mexican restaurant to top it off.  We only stayed a few days, however we did complete two epic workouts.  The first was a striding workout up a mountain involving 2 long zone 3 efforts with some short hard efforts inbetween.  Try as we might the mountain conquered, we never reached the end of the trail or any sort of summit.  The next day I celebrated my 24th birthday with the longest road ride of my life.  I completed the Silver Triangle, a 216km loop including two mountain passes, in 6 hours and 40 minutes with an average speed of 32.32km/h.  When I rolled into the parking lot at our motel one of my teammates joked, “Somppi you’re looking rough” and indeed I was.  Completely spent, covered in sweat, grease, spilled coke and sticky power gel I smiled.  A birthday I will remember for the rest of my life.

Heart of the Summer
I spent all of July training hard in Canmore.  We did two stints up on the Haig Glacier to put in some high altitude volume on-snow training.  The first trip up with the National Ski Team was something of a rock star style camp if that’s possible in cross-country skiing.  We took a chopper up to the glacier, as opposed to the normal 2+hour run in, and crust skied under blue skies and a bright sun.  The perfect weather held out for the entire 3 days and we finished the camp being photographed by journalists before boarding the chopper and flying out.  It felt too good to be real.

Beauty days up at the Haig Glacier with our friendly mountain goat
The Canadian Men's National Ski Team (I'm on the far right)
I must have pinched myself too hard because the next trip up was a reality check.  Day one we hiked in during the afternoon, the groomer broke down in the evening.  Day two we skied on partially groomed tracks, it was ok.  Day three we skied on ungroomed tracks in sluggish conditions.  With no possibility of the groomer being repaired, we ran out a day early.  We finished up the big training block with a mini-Tour style testing weekend before taking a week off from the daily schedule.  Cresting the top of Spray Lakes road in the 7.5km uphill running race felt like a real achievement and was a great way to cap off the training period.

Golden, BC
The highlight of my rest week was a weekend getaway to Golden, BC.  On our way to Golden, Britt and I did a day hike around Lake O’hara, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  In the amphitheater there’s a 360 degree mountainside view…I’m not going to attempt to describe it and pictures don’t do it justice, but trust me, it’s good.  The only downer was I stared at the cakes in the store before starting the hike and when we arrived back at the store they were all gone…bummer.  Anyway, on to Golden we went.  If you end up in Golden sometime I recommend the milkshakes and salmon at Apostoles Greek Restaurant.  I had them, they were delicious.

Britt running the Alpine Circuit above Lake O'hara
The next day I did a 3 hour mountain bike ride on the Moonraker trails and down the CBT Line to town.  The best parts: a fast windy descent on the “Moonraker” and stumbling onto the Canyon Creek trail to stop short of a gigantic canyon.  The bad parts: getting lost twice, once attempting and failing to find an alternate route back from the Canyon Creek trail involving less climbing and once taking a wrong turn off the CBT Line to end up at the river bank in the wrong spot, again involving more climbing to get back on track.  After a much needed lunch from Overweighty Foods, Britt and I drove up to Cedar Lake to check out the rumored rope swing.  I had watched some YouTube footage of the swing in action and decided I had to go off this thing, however seeing it in person was a little more daunting than in the video.  Britt and I were contemplating which knot to hold on to when some presumably local dudes showed up and gave us the inside scoop.  After watching a few of them go flying off the swing unharmed I climbed up the steep hillside, up onto the platform and gave it a go.  I let go of the rope and felt myself climbing higher into the air still.  My jaw was wide open as I seemed to hang in mid air for a moment before plummeting to the lake’s surface and promptly smacking my jaw shut from the impact.  Aside from the initial scare that I had chipped my tooth, it was awesome! I did one more adrenaline pumping swing before calling it a day.

Whitefish, Montana
The AWCA descended on Whitefish in August in search of a new training oasis and I would say it was an indisputable success.  The average day involved morning and afternoon training, each time jumping into Whitefish Lake afterwards to cool off from the 30 degree sunny weather.  The paved climb up Big Mountain provided an awesome spot for rollerski interval sessions.  Training highlights include a rollerski up the breathtaking Road to the Sun followed by a mountain trail run down from Logan Pass (a continental divide) and a 10km road running race where PBs were had all around.  Highlights from life outside training?  Renting a kick ass boat and doing some wake surfing/wake boarding while pumping beats, the Piggyback BBQ’s amazing smoked ribs, Loula’s famous huckleberry pie, and the local ice cream shop where a split single scoop (actually 2+ scoops of ice cream) in a fresh waffle cone cost $3.50.  Of course there were some serious games of Catan to be had as well.

Trail run with the AWCA boys with the "Road to the Sun" below us.


A view of Whitefish Lake from the balcony of our accommodation
Thunder Bay, ON
To cap off the summer I took a trip home to visit friends and family while doing a few regular TBay summer activities.  I spent some time on Lake Superior at Britt’s camp – lots of saunas, swimming, bridge jumps and tennis, went fishing with my Pops, utilizing his refined setup (check out the picture below), fit in a round of golf with good friends at FWCC, caught up with old friends (shout out to the Five Mile boys!) and took a walk around the newly constructed Marina.  It was great to fit in an interval session at Ouimet Canyon with the TBay centre crew too!
My Dad and I caught our limit of walleye in 1.5hours at an undisclosed location near TBay
Down at the Marina in front of TBay's Sleeping Giant 
Now it’s on to Autumn with the last hoorahs of summer waning.  The NFL season is upon us and my fantasy football team is gearing up for domination.  With the ski season approaching it’s time to double down the focus and get ready for an exciting year of ski racing!

If you managed to make it this far, thanks for reading!

Michael

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a pretty good summer all around! Good luck with the fall training.