Thank You Thunder Bay

Finishing my competitive skiing career with races at home was too perfect.  

This past month I flew home for the first time since July.  Flying over the Nor’westers and landing in Thunder Bay felt good.  Skiing on the Lappe trails for the first time this winter felt even better.  My race schedule while home went as follows: American Birkenbeiner 50km, Sleeping Giant 50km, National Championships.

The Birkie was a fun, hard race with a really strong field of competitors.  My body was feeling pretty good on race day and I was stoked to get the race started.  Unfortunately I made the mistake of fumbling and dropping my second gel while trying to eat it around 30km into the race.  I didn’t have extras with me and in the final kms when my muscles starting cramping up I was really missing that extra bit of energy.  Good or bad, the Birkie is an amazing experience!

Leading out the Birkie off the start.

A week later was the Sleeping Giant Loppet.  Despite the Sleeping Giant 50km being my big hometown race, I had never won it.  Last year was the first time I even raced it and I was beat out in the finishing sprint.  This year, I adjusted my tactics and took the win after a good battle with Brian Gregg.  I learned my lesson with the gels too, bringing 3 and eating all of them to ensure I wouldn't cramp in the final kms.  It sure felt good to tick that box off my skiing bucket list.

2018 Sleeping Giant Loppet Champion!  Yasssss!

Finally, the National Championships.  What can I say?  Lappe is my favourite place to race!  The courses were awesome, the conditions and grooming were perfect, and the hometown support was INCREDIBLE.  Finishing my career with a gold and silver medal and 3rdaggregate in Senior Men for the week of racing was great.  It was also awesome to see my Lappe buddies, Andy and Evan, skiing really fast. Skiing into the finish of the sprint A-Final and watching them lunge with each other for 2nd and 3rd place, while I came in behind them for 4th was sweet! I can’t remember ever seeing a club go 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in a National level race before. Then Evan capped off the week with a huge win in the 50km!  It reminded me of 2015 when I was able to win the 50km at home.  Lappe is in good hands for the future with Andy and Evan leading the charge.

Shout out to Katherine Hall and my bae Britt, for making the team sprint final!

Exciting finish to the pursuit race, narrowly beating out Evan in a photo finish and clocking the fastest time of the day.

Crossing the line in 4th place after watching my Lappe teammates, Evan and Andy, sprint each other for 2nd place.  Unreal sprint day for us Lappe boys, going 2nd, 3rd, 4th in Senior Men.

Fun battle in the 50km classic on a tough course.

Yeah Evan!  Stoked to see this guy take the big W in the 50km.  Can't wait to see what he's gunna do next winter!

Thank you Thunder Bay for taking on the challenge of hosting the National Championships once again.  It’s a ton of work for the organizing committee and requires a commitment from many volunteers.  They say it takes a community to raise an Olympian.  Thunder Bay is that community.  The ski community is second to none in Canada and I am lucky to have been a part of it growing up.