Moving, Injury & Chasing My Dreams

April and last year’s race season feel like distant, far off memories with everything I’ve crammed into the past few months.  To make it official, I am racing one more season in pursuit of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.  It’s a little scary to think this is my last chance to fulfill a childhood dream I have chased for years, however, my journey in skiing has been absolutely incredible and qualifying to represent Canada would only be a cherry on top.  I have grown and matured through sport, learned to live an active and healthy lifestyle, travelled all over North America and Europe, and developed lasting friendships.  I even met my amazing partner of 11 years through skiing!  I feel lucky to be so engrained in the Canadian cross-country skiing community.  It’s full of good people who support each other and share a real passion for skiing.  All that said, I’m hungry to compete!

I spent April and May in Thunder Bay, keeping it low key and beginning the training season with consistency.  No fancy trips, no mountain crust skiing adventures, just a simple gradual build into offseason training routines.  I worked for LPL Painters whenever the weather and my schedule permitted.  There were a couple busy weeks in May balancing training and work.  Britt and I moved out of the Marler/Martel home and back into my parent’s home.  Thank you to the Marler/Martel family for the opportunity to house sit!  It was the perfect scenario for us this past year.

Coffee break at Metropolitan Moose with the boys midway through a 157km road ride.
A new aspect for me this season is I’m going for it solo.  After 10 years of life as a training center athlete (7 years NTDC Thunder Bay + 3 years AWCA) I feel I am qualified to be the captain of my own ship.  As such, I spent a good amount of time this spring planning and organizing my season ahead.  Part of my reasoning for taking this path is due to another big change… I moved to Kelowna, BC!

Britt graduated from Thunder Bay’s Northern Ontario Medical School this spring and begins her 5-year residency in Emergency Medicine in July through UBCO and the Kelowna General Hospital.  So proud!!!  We made the move on June 19th, taking 4 days to complete the drive and enjoyed a few stops at our favourite bakeries and hiking spots along the way.

Dr. Britt Bailey!
Our favourite bakery in Revelstoke.  Definitely worth checking out if you're in the neighbourhood!
We love Lake O'hara!  Cold temps, hail and snow won't stop us!  We ran 11km into Lake O'hara and post-holed through the snow to Shaffer Lake.  Will have to go back when the snow has melted to make it to Lake McArthur.
Let’s rewind for a minute.  The title of this blog post reads, “Moving, Injury & Chasing My Dreams”.  We’ve covered moving and chasing my dreams… so…what’s the injury part?  Ok, let me give you a quick recap to build the emotion into it because amateur sport is a passionate pursuit.

In April I focused on recovery and maintaining fitness by easing into offseason training.  In May I followed my training plan to a T; building the hours, strength training, and amount of intensity up gradually.  I was happy with how my fitness felt and confident in my plan.  I joined NTDC Thunder Bay for two of the normal testing workouts to gauge my fitness.  I ran a solid time in the 3km uphill running time trial and beat my previous year’s May time by 10 seconds in the 13.5km skate rollerski time trial in spite of strong head winds.  Confirmation: my shape was good.  I felt ready to build on a quality month of May.

Chatting with Andy (Shields) in my cool down from the rollerski time trial I caught a rock in my ski’s wheel and it stopped dead.  Maybe my reaction speed was slower because of fatigue.  Maybe I made the wrong decision trying to hop on my right ski while I was fully weight transferred in hopes the rock would dislodge and my wheel would roll freely when I landed.  I hit the pavement heavy on my left hand and right elbow.  I began to pull myself up and immediately looked at my left hand. My stomach turned as I saw my thumb was clearly out of place, and I said to Andy, “I think I broke my thumb”.

My ogre hand before my thumb was put back in place.
The long and short of it is I dislocated my thumb at the MCP joint.  I received a full cast at the outset because the emergency doctor said there was a chance I tore ligaments badly enough to require surgery.  I saw a specialist a few days later and was extremely relieved to hear I would not need surgery.  I had the cast removed and switched to a brace at the Hand & Limb Clinic.  After spending June wearing a brace and doing modified training, I’m itching to get back to using my left arm for rollerskiing.  If my legs had a voice, they’d be screaming at my thumb to heal faster after many hours of single pole skate skiing and running.

Now that we have the injury story out of the way, let’s look ahead.  After a sneak peak of living in Kelowna, I flew back to Thunder Bay yesterday for a good friend’s wedding, further assessment and therapy for my injured thumb, and the alignment training camp (all 3 of Canada’s training center teams converging in Thunder Bay for the first time to do a 2-week training camp! ‘Bout time!).

July 12th I will travel back to Kelowna, hopefully with a more functional thumb, and really begin my BC life!  I’m looking forward to joining up with the Telemark Ski Team and AWCA for some awesome training!  I already had the opportunity to join the Telemark crew for a 1000m climb on rollerskis to the Telemark Ski area.  What an incredible training location in Kelowna’s backyard!

Thanks for reading!  I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to chase my dreams and have so much support in my athletic pursuits!

Exploring Kelowna's trails on a 31km run with my new roomie, Greg Kilroy!


Fiona said…
We are all extremely proud of you and your dedication and sharing the sport. Best wishes in your preparation for this ski season and a new life out West.
Michael Somppi said…
Thanks Fiona! Lappe has been an important pillar in my life and I'm excited to race National Champs there this year! I'm looking forward to future opportunities when my racing days are behind me to give back to the community that has supported me so well.