One Athlete's Mind
This trip has been one adventure after another so far, and the first two days of racing continued to keep things interesting. The conditions here had been fairly steady up to that point, and the weather for the first day of racing turned out to be perfect! Blue skies, above the smog here in Almaty so the air was clear, and a fairly hard packed track made for a great day for racing.
Monday saw our first race here in Almaty, with the individual start classic event (men 10km, women 5km). Having known the format of all the races here since the summer, I knew this race would be one of best shots at having a strong result, being a bit more confident and comfortable with my classic technique than my skate these days. The start list had me as the third starter, chasing down a Norwegian starting 30 seconds ahead of me, and an American 1 minute ahead. My game plan was to start out quite hard, trying to put some time into those guys, and then stay strong and fluid once the pain really started to settle in. So I went for it off the start, and to my surprise managed to catch both the Norwegian and the American before the 2km marker, dropping the American right away, and pulling the Norwegian along behind me for a couple kilometers before he cracked just after the 5km mark. It was a lonely race for me after that being at the front of the race, but I managed to keep the pressure on and come in to the finish with a strong final kick. And a perk to having such an early start along with a strong race, I was even at the top of the leader board for a few minutes!
I was on TV!
At the end of the day after all the racers had come through, I ended up finishing 49th. While it would have been nice to be a little higher up in the results, that was my best ever result in an international distance race, and being the top Canadian man on the day made it that much better!
The next day came the 10km Skate Pursuit. I knew from the time I got to the race site that morning that I was not feeling like I had been the day before, and despite getting a good warm up and doing my best to wake myself up and stay positive, it was just not my day. I tried to hang on to the guys who went by me during the race, but with my fatigue coupled with the super soft conditions, I was not skiing well enough to match their speeds.
Fortunately I have a day off racing here to try to recover and get ready for the individual classic sprint event coming up tomorrow (Thursday). I'm very happy to be switching back to classic for the rest of these Games, and I'm looking forward to putting myself into a world of pain and speed in the hopes of qualifying for the heats tomorrow. Over the next few days following that race there will be a couple of relay type races which the coaches will decide who will get to compete. So I'll do another post following tomorrow's race and hopefully by then I'll find out whether or not I'll be racing in the relays!
Sorry about the monotone read today, apparently my writing skills take a bit of a hit when I'm this wiped...
Until next time,
What a rush! This trip hasn’t slowed down since it began… 3 days ago? 4 days ago? Ah who knows, it’s all a blur when you’re playing with time zones.
After a smooth and exhausting 30 hours or so of traveling, we made it to the Athletes Village here in Almaty Kazakhstan. The highlight of the journey was definitely our 7 hour layover in Amsterdam (not being sarcastic). Shelby (Nipissing), Gavin (Lakehead) and I hopped on a train from the airport which took us into Amsterdam Centraal (that’s what is was called, no idea if it was actually the main city center) where we got to take in the AMAZING city of Amsterdam! After wandering around for a while, dodging glass bottles and pigeons in the red light district, and sampling a mighty fine chocolate croissant (the simple things), we decided to rent some commuter bikes and we joined in the CRAZY amount of bike traffic in that city and finished off our tourist-ing in style.
Loving life on my rental commuter bike
The next flight went by pretty quickly, finally getting a few hours of sleep, and we landed in Almaty around 4am local time. The Universiade volunteers did an amazing job of welcoming us at the airport and guiding us to the event shuttles, where we convoyed with other athletes and a police escort for the 40 minute drive to the Athletes Village.
I won’t try to describe the impressiveness that is this Athletes Village, I’ll do my best to post photos to capture the coolest parts (likely in a massive album on Facebook following the trip). But suffice it to say that this has been possibly the coolest experience of my athletic career. With the Olympics always having been my dream, this is absolutely feeling like an mini-Olympic experience for me, so I am loving every minute of it!
The Opening Ceremonies took place last night, and the city of Almaty held nothing back in giving us an experience of a lifetime. I may have been in an extremely jetlagged state, but it didn’t take away from the impressiveness of the show and the amazing feeling watching them raise the FISU flag and light the flame for the Games. And not to mention in the hour or so waiting to be called in, I kinda cleaned up in the pin trading department :p (Games goal: get as many international pins on my accreditation lanyard as I can before Closing Ceremonies).
Today will mark day one of competition for me with the 10km Classic Individual Start race. I’ve been looking forward to this race for many months now, so with my start time in just under 6 hours now, it’s safe to say I’m getting pretty excited! The race venue here is absolutely gorgeous, with the trails in great shape and what looks to be a very fast course.
I could go on and on with everything that’s been going on but I’ll wrap it up here. There is very little down time so far so I’m not sure when my next update will be, but feel free to follow along my social media as I’ll be posting pictures whenever I can!
Jordan Cascagnette, Student-Athlete, Ski Coach