The reality of our sport

This past ski season was my first year as a Junior Woman and the one thing that was really different compared to my old racing categories (Juvenile/Junior Girls) was the huge drop in numbers.

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Skate Mass Start, Coupe Québec MSA 2015 (Juvenile Girl)

As a kid, “Will there be any girls to race against?” was never a question because having people to race against was a given. As a Midget, showing up to the start line with 25+ girls racing was normal, so when I moved up to Juvenile and started racing on the Quebec circuit there were a lot of us! As a Juvenile in Quebec we had up to 49 girls racing in our category; in Junior B we lost over half the field, and in first year Junior A the competition was split in half again. In three years we lost around 6/7 of our category and this is just in Quebec. Although we have more skiing retention than other provinces in Canada we are still struggling to keep girls skiing. I, for one, love skiing and I love to compete and race hard against girls who enjoy the sport as much as I do. But if most of us quit, then how will those remaining keep improving when there are not enough of us to push each other to international success?

This reality has really worried me, so I decided we had to start doing something about it. The result of my reflection was that if I could get the Quebec girls together to try to build a community, it would remind each of us that, although we may be the only girl our age at each of our respective clubs still training, there are indeed other girls our age out there training as hard as we are. So, I thought, why not start some sort of training camp where girls in Quebec can train together over a weekend and get to know each other? With the help of others I put together a tester camp that happened last weekend! We didn’t get a lot of people out, but it was still super nice to have other girls to train with and talk about goals/plans for the up coming season. It would be great to continue this in years to come with hopes of building a fun, motivated environment for women in skiing and a solid platform for high performance skiing in Quebec.

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1 hour into our 3 hour bike ride. It’s not every day you see a group of girls out cycling!
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Sports Psychology workshop with Katie McMahon: How to cope with pre race stress
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Skate Rollerski Intensity

 

– Bronwyn

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Motivation

Another year, another testing week, another birthday come and gone. One thing has stayed constant in all these new beginnings and endings; I’m still skiing and I’m still loving it. But, the real question is, where is this motivation coming from? What’s driving this constant within all the craziness of life?

. . . .

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What success means to me 

  • working my absolute hardest – when the going gets tough stepping up to the plate
  • complete focus – only thinking about what I have control over

What motivates me

  • What can I do? Striving for excellence (but not perfection, because perfection is unattainable). 
  • Each little step and improvement along the way => THAT FEELING
  •  No matter what one is bringing with them seeing one commit to going out, making ‘scary’ goals, and giving it one’s all. 

Step 1: Success 

At the start of Canadian Nationals my Coach (Kieran) had our team sit down and individually define success and motivation. At first I was somewhat skeptical; how could I properly quantify such multi- facetted, dynamic, and individual concepts? But, once I got my thoughts on paper I gained a greater appreciation for the exercise. Defining success allowed me to take something that appeared uncontrollable (podiums, recognition etc.  . .), and place it back in my control. If success in a race to me is defined by how hard I go + a killer focus, I have the power to make my race a success or not. Let that sink in for second.

If you choose to define success based on something you can control then you are in control of success. How empowering is that.

But success is just the destination, so to speak. Step 2 is defining motivation, the map to your destination of success. Cause, let’s face it, some days motivation runs high, but other days you need an extra push.

Step 2: Motivation 

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Cheering on Katherine after tag off (Nationals Team Relay 2018)

That day in March while defining motivation I noticed there are two areas I draw from: 1. personal satisfaction from challenging myself  2. watching my teammates, and fellow competitors, crush it. At the end of a testing week I can confirm that those sources of motivation have not changed. I’m still loving chipping away at challenges and I will forever be inspired by my teammates. And, I can tell you, this week I wasn’t the only one feeling inspired.

Most of the tests during testing week are super individual and are the essence of racing – it’s just you against the clock. One of the tests is 3min all out on a ski erg (double polling machine). We have one official ski erg machine for tests at our club, so everyone takes a turn alone in the pain cave. However, it isn’t as lonely as one may think. The energy in the room is electric. Teammates cheer the sole sufferer on, hoping their cries of encouragement can pierce through the fog of pain and the screaming muscles, guiding their friend down the path to success.

– Zo