No, I'm not going to the Olympics.

Yes, I am on the National Ski Team.  Juxtaposition much?  Maybe I should extend my title; I am on the National Development Ski Team, commonly referred to as the B-Team.  I race mostly on Canada’s domestic circuit and have had some opportunities to race internationally including several World Cup starts.  I did have a chance to qualify for the Canadian 2014 Olympic Team at recent Trials races, however by no means was I a shoe in with only 2 available spots and all of Canada’s best domestic skiers vying to fill them.

It took me some time to sit down and write this because I needed some perspective after racing below my personal expectations and missing out on qualifying for the Games.  I’ve heard others say it’s the journey that counts and makes it all worthwhile.  I agree, the journey is where the vast majority of your time is spent when you’re trying to reach a goal as big as representing your country on the World’s biggest sporting stage.  But no matter how good the journey is, no one is going to complain when they reach the end of their journey to find ice cream with a cherry on top.  And no matter how good the journey is, it doesn’t make it any less disappointing to reach the end only to find nothing there.

For me though, the story line is a little different.  My journey doesn’t end here.  I am still a developing, improving skier who has yet to reach the peak of his athletic career.  At 25 years old I am only just beginning to enter my best years as a ski racer.  The real disappointment for me is not that I am not headed to Sochi, it’s that I did not perform to the best of my current abilities.  My body has not been responding as well as I know it can in races.  As a full-time athlete whose sole focus is to make sure my body is at it’s best when I hit the start line, it is incredibly frustrating to perform below my best.

It wasn’t all bad.  There were good moments to take away from the Trials races.  I had one of the better sprint qualifiers of my skiing career and had some great feelings in my heats.  I was able to focus on myself and execute my race plan to a tee in the classic race.  I felt exceptionally relaxed skiing the classic portion of the pursuit race and had a really strong finishing kick at the end of the race to claim 3rd place and step onto the podium for the first time this season.  I finished the week with a 5th place, 8th place and 3rd place, decent for Canadian Olympic Trials races.  But I’m not doing this to have decent races.  I’m doing this to have exceptional races and I expect nothing less from myself.  I know I am capable of better performances and that is precisely what I will be aiming for the rest of the season.  I’ve analyzed my training to date, pursued advice, and worked with my coach to tweak my training plan and try to find my top form for the next set of races.

As a friend and fellow skier recently said to me, “the low points and struggle this sport provides only make the high points more rewarding”.

Pursuit Podium (l-r): Jesse Cockney, Graeme Killick, Me, Chris Hamilton.
(Photo Cred. Russell Kennedy)
Start of the 30km Pursuit.  I was lucky enough to start at the front of the chevron with bib #1 and be the front skier for this awesome photo taken by Pav!  (Photo Cred. Pavlina Sudrich)
Leading the group up a hill during the skate portion of the pursuit.
(Photo Cred. David Greer)
Going head to head with teammate Jesse Cockney in the finishing stretch.
(Photo Cred. David Greer)