A riveting exhalation has brought the last breaths to the season. As I look back it's hard to believe where the time has gone. Our team has just completed the final races before Nationals and now the pressure of the last competition of the year dawns upon myself. Nationals are an opportunity to shine through and leave your mark on the season whether good or bad up to this point. It's important to remember that the season has not come to a close yet and one of the most important race events is still to be endured. I tend to find myself challenged in focusing my energy on racing as the warmer weather begins to show itself and the relief of some time away from the ski scene is so close. Luckily being with a training centre and living with highly motivated athletes will prevent the temptations I may have if I were back home in Ontario. I'm looking forward to putting all the energy I have to bring myself up to an optimal physical and mental state.
This year the Haywood Canadian National Championships for cross country skiing is being hosted by Blow–Me-Down Nordic, which is located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. The images of this place have been dancing through my mind for a couple of years now, since it was revealed that Nationals would be held there. The furthest east I've been in Canada is just past Quebec City, and the charming, curious tales of Newfoundland have always sparked my intrigue. I don't think I'm speaking for myself when I say that I'm extremely excited for my stay there and although I will be competing, I hope to submerse myself as much as possible in the unique Newfoundland culture.
Focusing on the days before heading down east, have been as relaxing and enjoyable as possible in order to lift our spirits and energy. We have had opportunities to explore Vancouver, compete in fun team-relays at Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club, have massages, and even practice some aerials training. These days have been greatly emphasizing recuperation – such as making sure I stretch, and adjust the program to how my body is responding. This is essential for performing well at Nationals. Unfortunately my body has given in to some illness at this time, so I've completely cut off training at least for the next day or so. I would rather be sick now however, rather than at Nationals. It has also been a week to adjust to what it will feel like travelling to the other side of the country. The time change from Whistler to Corner Brook is quite substantial, with a 4.5 hour difference. So if we didn't start adjusting to waking up at 7:00 am for races, it is going to feel like 2:30 am for us. It would be such an easier change if I was travelling from Ontario. I'm slightly envious at those with a smaller time change. To prepare, I have started to go to bed early and wake up early, adjusting the time earlier for each day. This will hopefully ease me into the time difference so I'm not as jet lagged when I arrive.
I can feel my energy starting to come up which is a good sign and once I'm over my cold I will be ready to give it all I've got for these last few races. It's so exhilarating coming into these races that even if I'm not quite 100% yet I can feed off the energy that everyone else radiates and give myself the illusion of feeling incredible. All the work is put in now, it's just taking the right steps towards feeling well and racing well.
The Callaghan Country Lodge
Amongst the great BC pines prevails a most invigorating sensation. The clouds hung low, and draped an immense sheet of fog throughout the trees. The precipitation perspired onto my glasses and formed a thin layer of droplets on my jacket. I came to a flat section where my glide could be elongated and my speed increased. The fresh corduroy track glistened and the wrinkles crumbled under each stride echoing its crunch. The cool breeze drifted by as I made my way down the gradual hill. I found myself wondering where the mountains had disappeared to in the fog. It was like a completely new place without them as your centrepiece. Though you could not see them you felt their immense presence anyhow which added to the eeriness of this scene.
Another day of overcast and rain. Something not uncommon to the coast, and something that makes the sunny days all the more pleasurable. We had just returned from Canmore where we had been training and racing for a week, though the weather was not too much better there either. How lucky we became as the week went on and gratified us with days of sunshine strung along like words on a page. The surreality of the picturesqueness that encircled myself would be a rude awakening into the beauty of our country for many. The appreciation has sunk in well with myself now and yet each day I'm out, I could not help but soak in the serenity and the warmth it provoked. The silence sung on in a shrill hush as I made my way onwards and I found myself lost in the possible outcome of what if this wouldn't last forever?
I had many days to investigate the exorbitant amount of kilometres. I found myself looking out over to the Black Tusk, where the Top of the World languorously leads up to a magnificent lookout. Norwegian Woods and onwards to Madeley Lake quickly became a staple route, however I found myself thoroughly enjoying skiing with the dogs on the ski joring loop. One Saturday we enrolled ourselves into the local Coast Cup being hosted. It was long and hard and most of us were still quite sore from the hard days that led up. Although where I'm from, there would be something truly appalling about wearing merely a bib and tights mid January. For one of our longer training days we skied up to the top of Callaghan Country to explore the authentic Scandinavian lodge and upper trails. The sun rays blazed sensuously and I was irradiated with an intense euphoria. The lake up top was in moderate condition to crust ski, and we took full advantage as we entertained ourselves with the reality of being truly nestled in the white capped mountains. I believe I fell in love with this place and I wish that I could live up top in that lodge until I grew old.
The next week we continued on with our usual regiment and the blue skies remained. It's unfortunate that I became so accustomed to the positive degrees and clear skies as the weather in Ontario would not be of the sort. However, this is where we would be ushered to next. When the end of the week drew its last breaths, we packed up and headed off to the next event. These past weeks in Whistler were an innocuous reminder at the unfathomable quality of life we have on the Callahan Valley Training Centre.
It has been a while since my last post in late November. I suppose being jostled around the country for four weeks has left me beat. It sure has been quite the month, packed full of racing and adventure. As always I will try to bring forward a summary of what I've been up to.
The CVTC team started their races off in Canmore, Alberta nearing the end of November. It was great to get a week in on some excellent snow conditions, because back in Whistler the snow has been hard pressed in accumulating. It also gave us a chance to acclimatize to the higher altitude Canmore is situated at. We started off the race weekend with freestyle sprints and ended with an 11km classic. Both courses were very flat, due to the lack of skiable trails, although the ones that were open were excellent. I had a moderate day sprinting (I was disappointed not to move on into the open heats) and I had an excellent classic race finishing 22nd in open men and 4th in junior men. I also exceeded the distance standard and it was my best race to date points wise. The lack of hills and technicalities definitely worked to my advantage, as double poling is one of my strengths.
The Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge in Canmore.
Finishing off the weekend on a positive note, we headed out to Silverstar the Monday after the Alberta Cup. We were ecstatic to see how much snow Silverstar had, and we had a beautiful week training before our first NORAM. The only downside was it was quite the cold front that had greeted us. The temperature didn't seem to want to rise above -20 for most of the week, which jeopardized the races. Both races were a go, however it was a very close call and both races had a delayed start time. For the younger age categories of races, the Saturday race was actually cancelled, which is rare to see. We had a 15km skate race on the Saturday and a classic sprint on the Sunday. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with both races. However, we ended the week with some tobogganing and hockey. It's hard not to have a smile on your face ending the difficult week in a fun way! It was also great seeing the Ontario gang out on the trails!
My new painting of Silverstar done in a Fauvist style.
On Tuesday we piled in the van and headed off to Rossland for the next NORAM. On the way we stopped in Kelowna to shop at their big mall. It was nice to break the trip up, and be able to walk around in between our drive. We set up in a house at Red Mountain for our stay in Rossland. We were able to fit in a few days of training before the races. This was good as it provided us the opportunity to check out the newly cut trails. The new course was pretty wild with big up hills and technical downhills.
The Saturday was skate sprints and Sunday was a 15km classic. Again I was quite disappointed with how the races went for myself. However, Sunday's classic race was a challenging one for everyone as the conditions were quite difficult to wax for and it was a difficult course.
We left to go back to Whistler right after Sunday's race. It was a long trip home, about nine hours in the van. I had a couple of days in Whistler to get reorganized and then I made the long trek back to Ontario for Christmas break. The whole trip takes around twelve hours including the connections. It was great to be back home and to be able to ski on my home trails (Whistler had no snow when I left). I ate lots of tasty food which was a huge treat after three weeks on the road! I was also able to see all of my pets! I hung out with my lizard Klister and my dog Sophie, basically whenever I wasn't skiing. My last day at home was Boxing Day, which I spent hiking. I hiked in the morning with my family and then in the afternoon with my best friend Jack.
Whistler with no snow on December 17th.
My lizard Klister.
Hiking to the lookout above High Lake in North Bay with Jack.
I had to awaken at 4am EST on the 27th to catch my 6am flight out of North Bay. By 3:30pm PST I was back in Whistler. We've been training the past couple of days here in Whistler gearing up for our next big NORAM/ World Junior Trials in Canmore. We are planning to leave January 3rd to either Revelstoke or Golden for some better on snow training or we will go straight to Canmore. That basically sums up the past month.
It's that time of year again! The snow has fallen and it's time to gear up for the long road of races ahead. This will be a shorter blog post, explaining the build up to the race season.
The CVTC team headed out to Canmore on Monday to get a few days of training in before the racing begins. Whistler has enough snow on the upper loops to groom a decently skiable loop, however it is much more enjoyable to be in Canmore to ski on excellent conditions and a variety of trail. The team will be competing in three race weekends in a row including the Alberta Cup in Canmore, the Sovereign Lakes NORAM in Silverstar, and World Junior Trials in Rossland, respectively.
Approaching the first races of the year I find can be difficult because you have gone the past seven months in training mode and it can be a challenge to get back in tune with racing. Usually one race weekend is enough to get me back on my feet though. I am also moving up a category this year so I'm looking forward to seeing whether all the hard work I've put in will stand up to the challenge.
Getting back on skis definitely feels good and I'm finally beginning to realize the fitness level I'm currently at. I've been focusing the past couple of weeks on putting my mind back on racing and regaining the confidence I need to compete. It's definitely paying off and I believe that I'm heading into the first races on good terms.
I have recently received all my equipment, also which is great timing before the races. Shoutout to Fischer, and Swix for supplying all my skis, boots and poles. Also to Bliz for my sunglasses and Halti for our winter clothing. I love all the new gear!
The energy is back, the team is looking fast, and the racing excitement is in the air. I wish all competitors the best of luck and look forward to seeing all the familiar faces for another season!
In this blog I will review my recent art projects and describe in some depth their purpose and why I decided to create them. I will stray away from skiing in this post and try and primarily focus on the wonderful world of art.
When I returned home in early October my mom had asked me if I would be able to complete the task of two paintings to match a larger piece I had previously completed and was displayed in our dining room. This piece was not my usual style of art, but one I admire. Cubism was a style of art invented by Picasso and Braque in the early 1900's and focuses on analyzing an object and breaking it up to give it more than one viewpoint. It is considered to be one of the most influential styles of art in the 20th century, for not only visual arts but also music, literature and architecture. Cubism went through two major phases.
The first phase was called analytical cubism and can be characterized as simplifying the subject matter into shapes which would represent the whole object. To envision this, picture the image on glass and then dropping it on the floor and trying to reassemble it. Analytical cubism also tended to be monochromatic or consisting of very few colours. This phase lasted from 1910 to around 1912.
The second phase is called synthetic cubism which can be more or less described as collage. This was the first recognized time of using objects other than paint such as newspaper, small objects, etc in the piece. This style was very flat and more colourful than its predecessor. This lasted from 1912 to 1920 as a major movement.
Now that you have a bit of an art history lesson I will describe my version of cubism. The first cubist piece I painted, was a grade 11 school project. Picasso is one of my favourite artists and I really wanted to move away from my usual impressionistic landscapes. With cubism in mind, I decided I would give it a try. I thought that analytical cubism was too dull and lacking in colour for my taste, but I liked the effect of the broken objects. However, I really liked the colours in synthetic cubism and the flatness to it. So I combined the two into my own cubist style. The subject matter I chose was a fruit bowl, and I broke it up slightly, while still giving it the flat characteristics of synthetic cubism. I then added lots of colours to the fruits but kept the background dull with respect to analytical cubism. Lastly I added bold black lines to emphasize a shattered glass effect and also pop some of my colours. The result was Liam's cubism.
So back to October. With the fruit bowl piece in mind I decided to stick to the style I conjured from the two phases of cubism. At the time I had been investigating interesting degrees to pursue further on down the road. My parents had suggested the Oeneology and Viticulture program offered at Brock, so my mind was on wine at the time. A wine bottle and a pair of wine glasses ended up being the subject matter of the piece. I also thought this would match well with the idea of food in my previous piece. I made this piece a lot more fragmented than my first one and tried to incorporate more planes of view to create a more interesting piece. Although, I still kept my intense colours and bold lines though. The result was a really cool piece that showed some evolution and improvement from my first cubist piece.
For the second piece I wasn't too sure what to paint. So I asked my mom what she wanted. She decided that perhaps I should use less colour and do something a bit different. Looking through the analytical cubism pieces, I noticed that they used a lot of violins as subject matter. I thought this was interesting and I could do a version of this because my brother Sean is a very talented double bassist. He just had his first symphony premier a couple weeks ago and is currently working on the next one in December. I hope to go to his symphony in the spring when I'm home. The piece quickly took shape. I used very small brush strokes in a variety of directions to achieve an interesting texture to the piece that I had seen in a lot of the analytical cubism pieces, particularly with Braque. I then broke apart several basses in the piece using references from some of Picasso and Braques works to give it an authentic look. I think I used more colours in it than I had intended to, but it gives the analytical cubism style a very modern look that I'm quite pleased with.
The next project I've been working on is an exhibition for next fall. This is with the group of artists I belong to called the Consolidated Artist group of 7s, and we base ourselves out of Kings Framing and Art Gallery in Corbeil, ON (just outside of North Bay). The exhibition requires two pieces to be done that represent the LaVase portage, a series of portages running from North Bay to Mattawa. It is suppose to be done en plein air, however I live in BC now so I'm just using reference photos. Luckily I have lived on both the lakes in North Bay which are apart of the portage system so I took my photo references out my back door when I was home in October. I have decided to focus on two well known locations that the portage route encounters. One is Stepping Stones, which are a series of boulders that protrude into the middle of the Mattawa River. The other is Camp Island, a massive beautiful island in the middle of Trout Lake with beautiful sandy beaches, very old red and white pines standing watch over the island, and the best camping spots I have come across.
When I came back to Whistler I began working on a sketch of Stepping Stones. When I say sketch you are probably envisioning a hastily drawn picture with an HB pencil on a ratty piece of paper, but what I mean is a small painting. Painters often use these sketches to plan for larger pieces of work and are particularly handy for en plein air painting. They allow the artist to capture the colour, mood, and basic concept of the piece and then can go back on a larger canvas and spend more time developing the details and overall impression they want the piece to have. In other words it's practice and planning for when I go and do the actual piece. The sketch I did turned out quite well and I'm satisfied with the colour palette chosen and some of the techniques I chose. It gives me a good start to the exhibition.
The last piece I have been working on is from my trip to Frozen thunder a few weeks ago. I've been doing this piece just for my own satisfaction and also to follow up on documenting skiing through art. I figured that to a non-skier Frozen Thunder is a curious site to the eye. A trail of snow groomed through a loop on the ski trails with not a spec of snow to be seen anywhere else. Hundreds of people gathering to shake out the summer jitters and strap on their skis. It's definitely a happening place in the fall and one many people from abroad also come to experience. So I determined that the oddness of this scene would candidate well for the next ski painting.
It's a much busier piece than I'm used to and painting. It has small images of people is not the kind of painting I enjoy, but it was a good lesson for me to reach out and push my art abilities. The piece depicts the stadium area of Frozen Thunder. There are skiers chatting around the pistenbully, coats and bags scattered on the ground and on the many fences, the large hills making up the world class race course Canmore offered and of course the shimmering out of place road of snow.
I always like to paint subjects from ski trips because they are usually quite unique when observed by other people. They also withhold a lot of memory and meaning, which helps to create a successful piece. The thing I like most about this piece is that it captures an excellent example of what the ski community is like, fun, hard working, friendly people trying to make our sport as successful as possible. The community in skiing is one of the reasons I enjoy skiing so much and why many others do as well.
For more information on my artwork, where to buy my artwork, and where to stock up on high quality art supplies at great prices check out http://kingsframingandartgallery.com
As this being my first blog post I have some catch up to do because it has been a busy few months and I regret that i hadn't made time earlier to start up this blog. However, I would now like to take some time and review briefly the highlights which I have had being on CVTC and living out west. I will then proceed to a more detailed description of what the Frozen Thunder scene consisted of.
Immediately after finishing my high school exams, I packed everything I needed and hopped on a plane the morning after prom to move into my new home, Whistler. Luckily my family came out with me and helped me settle while they explored the wonders of Whistler and the surrounding areas. I had a hectic one week before we left on our first team trip.
We left in early July for a three week training camp in Park City, Utah. This was approximately twenty hours spent in the car over two days. I had not driven that long since I was young, but it was something I needed to get quickly used to, as we drive a lot being on CVTC. We chose Park City because it sits at an altitude of around 7000ft. This makes it very handy for training. Though it was great for training I am not one to favour the desert. It was very hot and very barren.
Painting of Utah I did after the trip.
I went home for one week to Ontario after the Utah trip to visit my family, see my friends, and enjoy the lake. It was nice to have this break.
When I came back to Whistler we had three days of testing. The testing involved an erg machine test (double pole machine), a VO2 max test, and two time trials. We had the whole month of August in Whistler which was great because I didn't have much time previously to settle in and explore my new home. Highlights of August were finding the amazing train wreck in Function Junction, the stand up paddle board race/ getting to explore Vancouver, getting a job with Whistler Cooks, relaxing by the lakes, and finding snow at the top of Whistler mountain.
The train wreck in Function Junction.
The next journey began in early September. We were to go to the Haig glacier in Alberta, Rossland, and Revelstoke for one week each. This granted us a variety of training opportunities, outreach into the cross country BC scene, and a great way to see some other parts of the country. I had been to the Haig glacier once before and loved it so I was ecstatic to return. We had four beautiful days on snow but unfortunately the groomer broke down and we had to pack the camp in a day early and finish the rest of it on foot.
Rossland I really enjoyed. It is a quaint little mountain town that was originally founded for mining. It still doesn't look like it has changed much since then. The old character of the town definitely gives off a unique vibe. The training was also great there! We had a route for roller skiing near the US border that was fairly quiet and many opportunities for road biking. World Junior Trials will be held in Rossland this year so it was also an opportunity to check out the newly cut trails.
Revelstoke was also a great place. I could tell that the town catered to tourists coming to check out the alpine runs and get a glimpse of the mountains. We met up with the BC ski team and the local ski club to give some outreach for CVTC and hopefully get younger BC athletes to consider joining an NDC one day.
The Haig glacier base camp.
After this three week whirlwind trip I decided to head home to Ontario again for a fall break. This was a well needed break for me and it was awesome to be home and get refocused before the race season starts. The fall colours were beautiful back home and I got to have a turkey dinner!
Coming back from Ontario I brought my best friend Patrick out with me for a week. It was his first time out west and I think he loved the mountain air. In between showing Patrick around we had our second rounds of testing. This included once again, an erg test, a VO2 max test and two time trials. I apparently have the new three minute record on the erg test so I hope I can hold on to that!
Picture taken out my bedroom window at home.
The next week was Frozen Thunder which was the most recent event we've done. We packed up all of skis and gear and piled in the team van, preparing ourselves for the long and winding road to Canmore. You begin to become accustomed to this route because Canmore is such a sought after destination for a Nordic racer. We still have two more trips to Canmore this year. It becomes a second home for those of us that don't live there or are from there. The drive from Whistler to Canmore is usually anticipated to take 10 hours, and it entails two stops. One stop is in Kamloops and usually the second is either in Revelstoke or Golden.
When we arrived in Canmore we clumsily attempted to climb out of the van as a result of the stiffness a long car ride brings upon you. It's always great arriving upon clear and sunny skies and that's what Canmore treated us to the whole week. After unloading our suitcases out of the trailer we went to get our most important job done, food.
We got to sleep in a bit on the next day with practice scheduled for around nine. We purchased our ski passes and waxed our skis before hitting the snow. Frozen Thunder appears very out of place. There's no snow on the ground, people are roller skiing, the temperatures were reaching up to 20 degrees, and yet there is a road of snow a metre deep for three kilometres. It's uniqueness has attracted not only Canadian skiers but also skiers from the United States to as broad as Europe. It is also an excellent experience to embrace the presence of some of our country's as well as the worlds best skiers. Frozen Thunder is definitely the place to attract a high caliber of athletes and coaches.
The best thing about such a big Nordic event is that you get to be reconnected with all the great friends in the ski community. There aren't too many people you ski into that you don't know. Skiing with good friends definitely makes the long skis on the repetitive loop a lot more enjoyable. It's always fun times with great friends!
Each day at this camp involved two workouts. The morning was always a ski, either long and easy, or with some intensity sets to keep it interesting. The afternoons would rotate between running, strength and skiing. The goal was to get as much on snow time as we could while still trying to keep our health and overall fitness up.
The main event at Frozen Thunder is the early season classic sprint race. This event was held on Thursday morning. There were approximately 50 people in each category. The categories were just a men's and a women's category, so everyone was thrown into one group. Only the top 16 moved on to heats, which was competitively stacked full with National Team athletes. In fact there was really only National Teams or NDC athletes racing, which gives a very fast field of competitors. No one on CVTC moved on but we didn't take it too much to heart because we understood how difficult it would be. We stayed to watch the heats, curious to see who would take the win, and headed back to rest up for the next workout.
Unfortunately that afternoon I came down with a pretty nasty cold and I quickly became uninvolved in training for the rest of the camp. As an athlete it's difficult to admit you're sick because you like to feel invincible, but the only way to fight off the cold is to take an insane amount of vitamins and sleep. After a long couple of days quarantined to my hotel room it was time to head back to Whistler. It was less full of a van on the way back leaving Martin, Sebastian, and Paul in Canmore to visit with family. This made the car ride a little roomier. After ten hours of music, sleep and discussions we were back in Whistler.
That pretty well sums up to the point we are at now. We had last Sunday off training and helped out at the ski swap in town. I am just coming over my cold and getting back to the normal training routine. We are gearing up for a tough month of training in November to beat us into race shape and then the season begins in December! Stay tuned for more updates!