Friday, November 22, 2013


A few great things have been going on that I want to share with you! By a few I mean two:
1) Thunder Bay is hosting a Fast & Female Event! 

My roommate/friend/co-host Katherine and I have been busy planning a Champ Camp in Thunder Bay that is happening this Sunday, November 24th. It's an afternoon for girls ages 8-19 full of activities, motivation, inspiration and of course dancing and glitter. This have been coming together quite nicely this week and we are pumped for the weekend. Our community has really stepped up to support us in many ways and we couldn't do it without them! Thank you to:
  • Lappe Nordic Ski Club
  • Big Thunder Ski Club
  • Thunder Bay Nordic Trails (TBNT)
  • Lake Superior Ski Division (LSSD)
  • Fresh Air Experience
  • Push Fitness Centre
Spots are filling up and the first 40 will receive a free water bottle! Registration is $15 and  includes a buff :)
You can sign up here…. 

or here...

and be sure to check out our Facebook Page:

….And this interview I did with CBC about Fast & Female, and girls in sport :)

Preparations may have taken over our living room…

2) It's almost time to head out west and begin another season of racing!

This means it's time to finish up the semester, get organized for next semester and pack up! We head to the snow globe of Silver star BC for a few weeks, then to Rossland BC, then home for Christmas, then Canmore for Olympic Trials, and then we will see from there. But It's gearing up to be a good first series of races. I will have more time when on the road to post some pictures and results, but until then, (since I know you were all soooo curious as to my disappearance from blog-land) I've got work to do!

Cheers :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back in the Bay, Got Slapped in the Face by the Dog

It's been just under a week since I've returned to Thunder Bay, and nope, I still haven't really unpacked. This means A) I have too many clothes, B) Doing my laundry before coming home actually backfired, and C) I'm leaving again in too short of a time that I don't want to put it all away, just to take it out again.  I'm home in Tbay for 10 days before heading back to "home-home" for another 7. Some of the athletes on NDC are attending the Southern Ontario Division camp to help coach and train with the Ontario's Junior athletes. I hear the camp is full with over 60 participants! It's awesome to see that so many high-school aged athletes are working at getting fitter and faster in the summer time. Can't wait to join you!

So, as per the awkward title: I went in a local race on the weekend called "Conquer the Dog." The race consisted of a 5km canoe (partners), 18km mountain bike ride on a gravel road, and 5 km run. I really had no idea what to expect. Only as boats, bikes, paddles and lifejackets were being aligned and coordinated around me did I start to get it.

The canoe...Alannah and I did the canoe portion as a team. I'd like to commend Alannah for basically learning to steer on the start line and doing one heck of a job to keep us going in a straight line. She is clearly more skilled than I in a canoe because as she directed myself with certain strokes to do, I had to inform her that she couldn't yell out strokes because I didn't know what they were.  She said with a laugh at the start, "Well, this could be a true test of our friendship..." and oh was it hilarious. First of all, 5km on the water is a LONG way! We tried so hard to hunt down Andy and Ben in a boat that was forever 20ft ahead of us, and the river bends just never ended ("the finish is around this one right?" - Nope). We sang songs to pass the time and we actually figured things out on the 2nd half of the paddle and made it work. Upon arriving at the finish, in a frenzied attempt to get the boat out of the water, I dumped Alannah in the river!... thank goodness it was at shore, but I still feel horrible! Sorry girl!

The bike... okay this is where things got a bit hairy. I didn't do the due-diligence of really riding my bike before hand and the seat was titled up slightly more than I'm assuming was good for me, so my lower back got super tight and awkward and all I could do was spin the last 5km. But there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it so I just rode it in and told myself to run fast after falling behind.

The run was the turning point. I was able to bring my legs back to life in the first km, and made up a few spots to end up 3rd in the Women's field.  Congrats to Marilyn Ailey and Alannah on #1 and #2. What a day! It was mentally and physically challenging in a lot of ways, but super super super fun at the same time. The race was really well organized, the day was beautiful, and the whole community was out to have a good, hard day.

I had a lot of people help me that day. Victor and Evan on my team took care of all the boats/paddles/lifejackets and Evan even let Alannah and I use his fast boat... even if we didn't do it justice. My roomie, Katherine let me borrow her sweet mountain bike, and upon forgetting my helmet, the Ailey family lent me theirs. Thanks everyone!

I was reminded of something too: It was very refreshing - in a weird way I guess - to be thrown into a race setting that you're unfamiliar with. It was a challenge and I think that is healthy when you're so invested in one single sport. I'm fortunate that I have a level of fitness from doing one sport that I can indeed throw myself into something else, but it makes you experience and think about racing differently again. And I had a hoot doing it!

Okay I'll be quite now... for your viewing pleasure:
My Prize! Wine to go? and 2 stemless wine glasses! I don't actually have race photos but if I dig some up I'll get them up here another day.

We made bad-ass shirts! Thank you iron-on transfers and Alannah's Dad for having bought her an ink-jet printer years ago.


Conquer the Cutie! 

A few other tidbits from the last 2 weeks...

I was able to sneak a few days at Parry Island with my Mom and we went blackberry picking! Beware: Thorn bushes will get you!

Kayaking on Georgian Bay

Landed on an island for a break

My Mom is better at selfies than I am!

I was so surprised and excited to have a few days with my best friends from home. They all surprised me at my friend's cottage and it was a much over-due reunion.  I didn't get any pictures except a beautiful Muskoka sunset.

 Backyard flower picking, they came with the place, so I had to pick-em!

Have a good week everyone!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let's Get Organized

This morning marks the close of what feels like the last 3 months. I'm at my parent's house in Horseshoe Valley after getting off the plane from Austria last night, and have that feeling like a block is over. Athletes tend to organize their lives in "blocks"... intensity block, volume block, rest week, training block... and a new one starts when another one ends. It's a way to organize your focus for what training goals needs to be accomplished next. I would consider this a big block covering many little blocks. This summer has thrown me a few curve balls and I'm actually quite proud of how I managed to duck or swerve to once again, get organized.  The first was dealing with a big ol' bummer of cancelling a 3 week training camp to Canmore, AB. I was really looking forward to training with other women and good friends in Canada but the flooding out west cancelled that trip, for the Austrian alternative. I'm pretty lucky that my team planned to go to Austria because it made it easy to turn around and get excited about something else. So we booked a flight and that was set. What can ya'do? Go to Europe!

And then my plans changed a little bit one more time. My family lost a great lady, my Grandmother, a few weeks ago. She has always been a light in our lives and full of laughter, fun and love. I was able to make it to Parry Sound before going to Austria to spend some time with my family. I learned new things about my Grandma as a young girl and loved every minute of hearing everyone's stories about her, and sharing my own. She will be remembered as a lady who was loved by everyone. This was a really special few days for me, a real treat to be able to honour her memory. Here she is...

Always up for a party! And always in bright colours!

Myself, Granda and Mom

 Out in full cheering force to watch my brother and I compete in a triathlon!

I've learned that you just gotta-go-with-it, with whatever may happen. I met up with the team a few days late and was off and skiing. There will be one more training camp before the end of the summer, and then school will begin and another training block. And then, and then, and then.... and then you can go on for days but you'll have to wait for those to stories to develop.

Here are a few last pictures from this amazing training camp....

It was a good day, got the Parrot!

I think I talked about the sun too much because we got a flash hail storm!


Hail and then.... another beauty day on the glacier!
"Andy, give me your best technique!"

Good night Schladming

Before take off we had a night in Munich, the "bavarian snack plate" as my meal, as well as some pancake soup and pretzels. Alannah and I vowed to at least try everything on the plate. Little did we know, after taking in a spoon full, one thing was actually a pork fat "spread" with bacon bits...whoops.

 Jack and Victor's impressive platter

I just want to say thanks to my team and coaches for a great camp, everyone worked so hard and so well to make those positive gains we need to move forward. See you all in a week-ish.


Saturday, August 3, 2013


Here area few snaps from the last 2ish days....

 Photo Credit: Bob Thompson
My Team!

 Photo Credit: Bob Thompson
One more time...

Another classic Dachstein shot, but really, it doesn't get old. I love how the mountains always appear in layers, like they aren't real.  Tomorrow we have been prescribed "as long as you want" on the skiing front (within reason, of course), since it's our last long day on the glacier. Time to soak up the rays!

 By a skilled photog's standards this is a terrible shot, but I like it for whatever reason.

 "The meeting spot." Meet for workouts, meet for dinner, but make it before the quarterly bells rings and you're good to go. It's actually a bench outside a small museum in the driveway of our accommodation.

We do that a lot... match.

HUh? We were at the rollerski track in Ramsau this afternoon to work through some recovery from this morning's running intensity. There is definitely a picture out there of myself completely snow-plowed, arms out, thinking I'm about the eat it, but I don't have it on hand. I'm usually pretty good on my rollerskis, but this track is CRAZY. Fast downhills and banked corners at well... every corner. Fun, but a tad bit scary. I'll try to drum up some pictures of it for the next post. 

Off to bed with me,

Friday, August 2, 2013

Back to Austria I Went...Am still...In Austria

Here I am! I'm in Schladming, Austria and it's even greater than I remember. This trip marks the 4th time I've had the chance to hang out in this little mountain town and ski my brains out up on the Dachstein Glacier. The 4.5km ski loop sits at about 2600m and I think a new record has been set with the number of sunny days I've ever ha on a glacier.
My morning view 

 Still a beaut!

Selfie while waiting. My hair has grown long since we last spoke :)

I've noticed some differences with this trip. Being a ski racer brings ample opportunity to travel and see the world in a different kind of way, but you don't often chose your destination. Other than one trip to Florida with 2 girlfriends, I haven't been to a place that someone else didn't decide where I was going. Don't worry I'm sure not complaining, but it's interesting to me to visit the same, small, 7,000 populated Austrian ski town 4 times in 5 years. Who does that? A skier chasing the snow. I feel much more "at home" here than ever. Maybe it's my wise-ness kicking in (bahahah, kidding), but we're staying in Haus Katerina again, eating at the same Wintergarten for breakfast and dinner, I know which gelato shop gives you the most for your euro, great routes for afternoon runs, and where the best spot to jump in the river is. Repetitive? Not in the least! I've been able to understand more German (Assistant Coach Victor speaks it fluently so that REALLY helps), relax much easier, and enjoy the stay. Summertime is also beautiful in Austria, like a post-card-all-the-time-beautiful which is a new experience since we always have come in the fall.

Just getting going on our 4hr+ hike into the mountains. Ahh-maz-ing.

Hard to be anything but stoked!

Alannah and I (and 2 photobombers)

Yah sure... that way...we actually didn't get lost!

Backtracking a bit for you, here are some points about the last year or so, present to past:

I moved houses in TBay! I'm now living with my friend Katherine and new teammate Jenn. We scored this great house and things are quite comfortable. This move also prompts the goodbye to my teammate/roommate/friend Andrea who has moved on to other adventures in skiing and school. I wish her all the best but will miss her SOooooooo much!

awwwe a little throw back from our first year on NDC together hehehe :)

I finished up a few classes over the year, and even convinced myself to take a spring class. Many weeks later I came out another 1/2 credit ahead which marks the end of first year. I'm officially a 2nd year student at Lakehead. Wahhhooooo! I plan on taking more classes this fall.

Amongst the changes, we have a new head coach, Timo!  We've had a great start to the off-season training and the team has shaped up to be a pretty awesome bunch of 10 + 2 coaches!

Canadian Ski Nationals in March started out great, winning my second ever National medal in the club sprint relay with Mary Thompson! It was a really fun race and the prefect start to the week. My parents came out to watch and my Dad was put to work in the wax room. Many thanks to him for donating his time to our team, my Mom for all the picture taking and chauffeuring, and my Aunt Sue for coming to visit!

Open Women Silver and Challenge Girls Bronze for Team Hardwood!

NDC/Lakehead ladies all cleaned up

 Mom and Dad, love ya for all your support!

 NDC ladies from last season

I RACED IN 2 WORLD CUPS!! Yeahhhh, I'll state that one like a little kid excited about Christmas. Canada was awarded 2 weekends worth of World Cup racing and I qualified for one city-sprint in Quebec City, and another sprint in Canmore, Alberta. The racing experience was unbeatable and definitely the highlight of my season.

Quebec City sprinting action.

They had a jump? Apparently this is how you make xc-skiing exciting to the general public.

Fast-forward again, we have a few more days in Austria before heading home. I'll be making a pit stop at home to spend some QT with my family and friends before heading back to Thunder Bay. Can't wait since I really don't get to see them as much as I'd like to!

Auf Wiedersehen! (goodbye/see you again)

PS. I really do have more to write about, but I thought it would only be fair to give you a warm up after such a long hiatus... that's all I'll say about that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Have You Ever Had a Dream?

Gaahhh, this is what goal setting is all about. Getting it out! Sometimes it's the toughest part of a sport to communicate with the people around you. It's not a matter of whether the listener actually cares what they are or not, or if they are achievable... it's the fact that you want them enough and believe in them enough as the person who is labeled to achieve them, to share them with someone.

I've been asked this question flat out more times this year than I can remember in a short period of time. "So, Erin, What are your goals for this year?"  It's usually in friendly conversation by family members, coaches from around the province, people in the sport from all different angles and each time, in my head I'm a little stunned. To everyone else outside of your head it's a very normal question. Ask an athlete and they clam up like the end of the world could be induced by answering it. It can be a weird attitude (and don't pretend you're not territorial about it in some way), that you don't wish were actually the case in feeling. That onus that there is no turning back once you spit, stutter or state it out is the part where most people trip up. Everyone will almost always answer, and I always do because I've learned its an integral part of the process, but I still catch myself thinking, should I tell them all of it? I keep it short and sweet. The statement piece of the goal is all they really need to hear at the moment. WHY is a whole other story. And that's a whole other question. It's really the most important part. So thank you to each person who has asked me, I think you should know how much you're helping me.

As one moves up the categories there are natural goals that come along. You are a Junior so that means your goal should be to make World Juniors. Well guess what, it most definitely was my goal but would I have really been ready to go there and compete? Probably not. And that's okay that I didn't know that until after. That's just my personal path but at the end of the day there has to be substance behind your goals. I'm not telling you NOT to dream. Dream big and dream frequently, but know why and where the goal is coming from. It will turn out to be much more powerful. Those scary goals can be the hardest ones to set, and those are the ones that when they come up, I pay the most attention to. Why is this such a big monster to me? What am I afraid of? Time to find some answers!

So I encourage you to set all the goals you want. But in the end, learn how to talk about them. I promise the world won't end.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Games

This video popped up on facebook and of all the ways to share it there wasn't a blogger option. So I leave you with this link and I ask you to watch the video. It's about 4 minutes long (sooo long, I know) but please listen closely to Brian Williams of CTV as he states his respectable perspective to us:

The video is called "A Final Goodbye." Tomorrow it may not be the first video on the roster but I hope you find it.

Mr. Williams states, "We do live in a real world...", "but in their best, purest form, the Olympics should be about the enthusiasm and the dreams of youth. They are about hard work and setting goals. They are about representing your country in the best possible way you can, but most of all ladies and gentleman, they are about the athletes."

I could watch the Olympics everyday for a whole year. What is so special about the Olympic period for me is that the world is exposed to the secret life of sport. I say secret because in order to reach this event or anything close to its caliber, these athletes have to work themselves not only during the competition, but every day. Every single day has a moment, or most likely period, dedicated to self improvement. The wonders of these sports will continue on beyond, as they did before as well, the 2 week period that most people choose to pay the most attention to. I often get the question after explaining that I'm a cross-country ski racer, "So do you want to go to the Olympics?" Yes, of course! But it's not about a single event for me. Athletics, for me, is about personal excellence. It boils down to it every time. Strip away any possible fame, money, endorsement, pride, lifestyle and you will see that it's about being better than you were yesterday. To me that sounds selfish. But what is beautifully crafted from sport is the ability to push oneself beyond limits unknown. The ability to recognize and understand an element of the human body and mind that is so unique to each human being. No single human being is the same.  So, therefore, no athlete is the same. And finally, you won't know what exists for you unless you explore it.

Brian Williams nails it on the head beautifully. The Olympics is an opportunity for the world to see how the odd life of an athlete works.  The montage of emotional video that follows Mr. William's goodbye, matched with the perfect "believe in yourself"-type song, demonstrates athletes who have embodied sport to its in-the-moment capacity through years of hard work. What I find interesting about the images is the amount of tears. A lot of the clips, if taken out of context, could be taken for happy or sad moments. And sometimes it's hard to tell. What I think is happening is the disbelief, or coming of belief that, "that just happened." When I see someone achieving excellence in something they are good at, it's one of the best feelings. It sounds funny and kind of dramatic, but it's something that always pops out as if I'm experiencing what they are. That is how I know I'm doing the right things with this period of my life.

This post is an attempt to sum up the side of the Olympics that isn't about the cameras and the flashy suits. There is so much that can be said about Canada's amazing, bright and talented athletes but for whatever reason I've been compelled to tell you about my perspective of sport. It's a little more expressive than I usually care to write for but I guess this is about the hope that I have for everyone. That they find something in their life, whether it be sport, music, education, travel, a career or even basket-weaving that they care enough about to pour themselves into in order to learn something about themselves. It's a timeless and invaluable experience that I am truly thankful and privileged to be experiencing at a young age. It just so happened to be on a pair of skis.

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."