My arms are skinny (…for a skier!) but my legs are stronger than ever. I’ve ridden my bike more in the last 8 months than I ever thought I would, and I’m loving it!
I grew up playing as many sports as I possibly could. On a very average weekend as a kid I would start my day by piling into the car at 7am with my brothers, tupperware of oatmeal in hand, and we’d drive to Grouse Mountain to ski train all morning. I would say bye to my ski coaches and teammates half way through the training day, my father would bring his entire work day to a halt and come and pick me up at Grouse. A switch in the athletic wardrobe in the car, another tupperware bite to eat of some sort and we’d be off to a soccer game. After the soccer game might be a softball practice followed by dinner at home, some homework and finally, bed time.
You get the point. I was busy as a kid and I lived to play sports. A few years ago, I realized how hard I work in the off season as a winter athlete and I thought to myself why don’t I apply all this effort into a summer sport. I was putting the work and hours in anyway. It was an easy decision for me, so I have made it happen.
I did a few camps last summer with the Canadian Track Sprinting development program. After two camps with the sprinters it was evident endurance cycling was for me. My Ski Cross season came to an abrupt end last season when I shattered my wrist at World Championships at the end of February of 2015. As soon as I was able to hop on a bike, I started my Summer Olympic journey. I had plates and screws in a severely broken wrist. I couldn’t ski but I could ride a bike so I started training within a week of surgery. I had literally no time to waste.
Being involved in sport at the highest level now for over 10 years as a winter athlete, I have gained so many skills and resources personally that are now innate in me both mentally and physically. It’s these tools that I have applied to this challenge, a challenge that has become a passion. I have fallen in love with this sport.
When I started training for cycling, I quickly realized how much support I had as a skier with the National Team from the little, and big things, the National Team supported me with. It gave me perspective. If I wanted to make this happen in cycling, I was going to have to figure out how to get a lot of things done on my own. This journey has strengthened me in so many ways. Diligence, commitment, and an unwavering attitude to overcome challenges are a few of the many feelings I faced. My path wasn’t going to be easy.
I was an absolute nobody in this sport. How was I going to make the Canadian Track Endurance Team in an upcoming Olympic year of all years, a team that is expected to bring back it’s country a medal? People thought I was crazy. It started with seeking support from a new community I was foreign to. I wasn’t going to be able to do this on my own. I further established a partnership I already had with a bike shop in Vancouver, La Bicicletta, and a local distributor of the Canadian company, Cervelo. I created a connection with a mentor who has coached many national teams, including the Canadian Team Pursuit women’s team to their bronze medal placing in the London 2012 Games, and a local coach who offered me guidance. And so my journey began. I had my big goal set, that was clear, but there was no chance whatsoever I was going to achieve it unless I focused intently on the process. Each day I told myself I had to learn something. It didn’t need to be big. But every day I would learn something whether it was how to do a warm up for a specific work out on the track, getting more comfortable riding six inches behind the bike in front of me on the track or the road, or what kind of socks were cool to wear in this new sport… fake it till you make it, right?
After what has honestly been some of the toughest months of training I’ve ever put myself through, based off my performance at the Canadian Track Nationals in early Oct, I was named to the “Next Gen” development team. I did my first track camp with Cycling Canada a month ago in Milton, Ontario. After two weeks with the Next Gen group learning the ins and outs of Team Pursuiting, the event I am training for, I was given the opportunity to train for one week on a trial basis with the Elite women’s team. This is what I had worked for for these last 8 months. I had chosen to miss the entire spring, summer and fall training for Ski Cross for this opportunity. I was so stoked. And so nervous.
The week was intense. I was thrown into a team dynamic of 6 girls, most of whom have been teammates for years. I stayed focused on my vision and reminded myself I had earned this opportunity. I tried so hard to be the most absorbent sponge I could possibly be and learn from some of the best cyclists in the world. I was grateful to be immersed into this group, as stressful as it was. It felt like every pedal stroke I did was being evaluated. And it most definitely was. I made mistakes, as we all do at any level, but training with these girls my flaws felt extremely magnified. I was with the best, and at the top of the game, the mistakes are small (so don’t make them!)
My week trial period with the Canadian Track Endurance Team ended, and has turned into a full time position! Throughout the week, when the eyes making the decisions of my future were watching me, I did what I needed to do. I am now fully integrated into the program, and will be continuing to train all season with the team. I am so excited for this opportunity to continue to learn, and do everything I possibly can to be a positive addition to this dynamic.
I already miss skiing, but Ski Cross is not going anywhere. I will be back racing on my skis. I cannot wait to cheer on my winter teammates this season and watch them raise their skis over head standing on the top of the podium, which they already have done!!!
The Women’s Team Pursuit team just finished their second world cup of the season where they placed 2nd, a mere five 100th of a second away from the top step. I come from a sport where every 100th of a second counts. I hope to continue to learn, grow, and to make this team go as fast as it possibly can.
Next up pour moi: a road camp in two days with the devo squad in San Diego. Bring on the 6hr hill climb rides!
I could not have achieved this without the support of so many individuals. I won’t name you all but it is honestly because of you that I am able to do what I do as a Canadian athlete, represent this country, and inspire the next generation of ski racers and bike riders! Thank you for the support.