One Athlete's Mind
I apologize for the tardiness of this post, but ever since I returned to Canada on the 16th it feels like everything's just been GO GO GO! I have finally found some down time this evening, and decided it was now or never for this recap of my AMAZING training camp overseas.
On Sept. 26th, myself, 5 teammates and my Head Coach departed Thunder Bay en route for Toronto, and then Munich, GER. The original plan was that we would fly into Munich, and then drive to Schladming AUT where we would spend 3 weeks skiing on the Dachstein Glacier. A few days before we left however, we learned that there was almost no snow on the Dachstein, so it was closed. With our flights booked and bags packed, there was no turning back now, so my coach, Eric, did some super speedy research and planning, and the day before we left I received an email from him saying "WE ARE GOING TO ITALY!"
After reading this, I learned that apparently I have always wanted to go to Italy, as upon reading his email, I became tremendously excited. So once we were on the ground in Munich, we loaded up a van and drove down through Germany and Austria, and into the beautiful regions of Northern Italy. Our first week was spent on a glacier in Val Senales, and I can't even begin to tell you how amazing this place was (I'll do my best though). From location to accommodations to snow quality to food, this place was perfect for what we were there to do. The walk, yes WALK, from our hotel to the gondola that took us up to the glacier was a total of about 10 seconds, which made it awesome for getting on snow early, as well as being able to start our recovery as soon as we finished skiing (and not having to drive home). The conditions were super nice as well, and the trails were really good for working on your high speed cornering.
And then of course, there was the food. I don't even know where to begin. Every meal had us saying "I think this is the best meal so far!" And that is saying something, seeing as the first night's dinner included a spinach pasta that we all agreed was the best pasta we had ever eaten. I could go on about the food all day, but I'll sum up the food in Val Senales with this: I ate pasta twice a day for 7 days, and was never anything less than thrilled with every dish.
After a great week in Val Senales, we packed up the van and headed for Passo de Stelvio. If we ever thought we were at a high altitude in Senales, we were quickly proven wrong when we saw the road that would bring us up to our hotel for the next week. We drove from probably around 500m in altitude, all the way up about 45 minutes of 180 degree turn switchbacks before finally reaching our hotel, whose altitude was over 2700m!!! And that was just the hotel! For anyone who has never experienced the effects of altitude before, it makes breathing significantly harder. For example, after running up 3 flights of stairs to get to my room, I then proceeded to collapse onto my bed, gasping for breath. As someone who thinks himself to be in pretty good shape, failing to stay upright after 3 flights of stairs was a bit of a surprise.
Once we started getting the hang of the altitude though, we were able to see just how lucky we were to be in another beautiful location. Every morning we would take the two gondola, one T-bar trip up to the glacier, and ski on some beautiful trails at a whopping 3300m! We had another great week of training in Stelvio, and while the food wasn't quite as good as Val Senales, it was still amazing. Following another incredible week of training in the Italian/Swiss Alps, we piled back into the van and headed for Schladming, Austria for our last week of training. Lucky for us, the Dachstein received 40cm of snow the day before we were hoping to go there, so by the time we arrived and were ready to ski, they had received nearly 80cm of fresh snow and were open for business.
This last week was quite the different experience. On both glacier in Italy, we were pretty much the only cross country skiers there, and therefore had the trails to ourselves. On the Dachstein however, it quickly became apparent that this is a much more common training venue than our last two glaciers. Due to the incredible fog, high winds and rain/snow, I was unable to see anything the first day I went up to ski. But the second day I couldn't believe my eyes. On the 3 to 4km loop, there must have been at least 200 people. And not just random people skiing, everyone on this glacier was wearing the colors of their respective countries. Over the 5 days that I was training on the Dachstein, I saw skiers from Austria, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Spain, Finland, Poland, France, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech, Japan, even the US! (I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but you get the point). And among those athletes were the occasional big world cup names like Lukas Bauer, Maxim Vylegzhanin and Petr Sedov. We had an amazing week of skiing up there with all those other skiers, and finished our last ski on Oct. 15th. From there we headed to Munich for our last night in Europe before heading back to Canada the following day.
Oct. 16th I arrived back in Toronto, and was greeted by my girlfriend, Jacquelyn, and good friend Jeremy. Being the great guy Jeremy is, he brought Jacquelyn and I back to Guelph, where I'd be spending my next few days with her. I had a great visit in Guelph, getting to see Jacquelyn's new place and meet her roommates. I was also able to meet up with some old friends for a a great night of catching up, so that was a huge plus. Oct. 21st, my parents came down and picked up Jacquelyn and I and we headed to Brampton where I FINALLY met my Aunt Michelle, my new cousins Eamon (terrible sorry if I spelled that wrong) and Nolan, and of course, my Uncle Ken. We had a very nice visit, during which I blew my cousin Eamon's mind by spinning one of his coins on its edge, before heading back to Penetang for a visit with my parents. Despite not doing a lot of relaxing, I had a really nice few days back home, which was concluded with a presentation at the Penetanguishene Town Council Meeting. I was given 10 minutes to speak to the council about financial support in my skiing endeavours, during which I think I've been told I did a very good job of pleading my case (though I was so nervous I could hardly remember what I had said). For anyone who is interested, it will be broadcasted on Monday by Rogers.
I am now back in Thunder Bay for a few days of hard training, before heading to Lusten on Wednesday for our last training camp of the season. Race season is only 6 weeks away, WOOHOO!!!
Until next time,
Jordan Cascagnette, Student-Athlete, Ski Coach