Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Code

"Accepting dorkiness is the first step to embracing dorkiness. Without embracing dorkiness you can't make fast skis" Z. Caldwell, 2010

In other news, and in case you missed the grin on my face that was several kilometres wide, Madeleine is going to the Olympics and that is pretty cool. You should read her update here - Madeleine's update.

Today we had a great day of testing at Valcartier with some really conclusive results.

I'm heading out tonight with Julie, Catherine, and Paul here in Quebec. It'll have to be pretty chill as tomorrow is another big day of testing and ski prep.

Things are looking good.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Olympic Trials - Sprint - Boom

That's what I'm talking about!

PS - I realize the quality is kind of bad, but you get the idea. Final results are here - results.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Silverstar - wrap-up report

Good news: I'm sitting in the Kelowna airport enjoying the observation tower. In a sweet turn of events the temperature as dropped to -173°C across the Canadian west. As a result, my flight back to Edmonton has been delayed by two hours or so. Pretty standard for a Canadian race trip.

The flight to Kelowna was uneventful and arrived on time. Christian picked me up and after negotiating some intense traffic we made it to Silverstar (see 2008 post for pictures of this place - it is amazing - Silverstar). We got right to work that night and made a powder test on the Fischer test fleet. This consisted of ten varieties of powders from Solda, Swix, Holmenkol, and Vauhti. The snow was cold and new and we quickly began to see some patterns in our testing.

From there we moved on to paraffins - a quick test of five options revealed a clear winner and we made the call. The real differentiating factor in making skis in on the powders and topcoats, so no need to waste too much time on paraffins.

End of day one. Boom.

Nope... that was a false alarm. Making fast skis is all about hard work so when we got home we had some supper and moved on to the night shift. Thursday night was all about setting up the test skis (11 pairs) for Friday to maximize our efficiency. At this point we narrowed our focus to a few powders and focused on topcoats (too many to count) and hand structure. As it turned out the hand structure was not making a difference.

Ok... real end of day one. Boom.

Day Two - repeat day one but with refined variables. We also did a second session of testing in the afternoon as the changes in temperature offered another window from 4:00 - 6:00.

Friday night was all about setting up race skis for Saturday. We were feeling confident in our plan and the team executed it perfectly.

End of day two.

Day three - As someone once told me, "eat a double helping of Wheaties because you'll be dragging ass by now and we're just getting started." Race day. Game on.

We were at the race site early to focus on testing topcoats to make a final call. Sweet, but not very interesting. What was interesting is that Gord Jewett qualified for the Olympics in one of the most gutsy performances I have seen in a long time. It was amazing to be out on the race course and listen to the splits come in over the radio as things unfolded. Truly inspiring.

Madeleine also had a wicked race to finish as the second Canadian. This leaves her in a very good position going into Canmore and the Olympic dream is very much alive. I'm feeling very confident as to how things will unfold.

End of day three.

Today was our last day and consisted of a skate sprint. Conditions were classic Sovereign Lakes for sprint races - ridiculously cold, windy, and snowy. I don't think there has ever been a sprint here that didn't fit that bill.

It was a mixed bag in terms of team results with some athletes not starting the race and others using it as a training event.

Next week we are off to Canmore for the final bout of Olympic trials. It is going to be an exciting weekend.

End of day four - nope. False alarm. The end of day four will depend on West Jet. Stay tuned here (WS422) - flight time and click here for a live map - flight map.

More this week...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Update - Canmore

Tired after a long week and a crazy night of packing. L-R: Zach, Miller, Patrick, Nathan, Swede

Swede - offset technique

This was after the sprint race, which was entirely in the shade. It was cold in the trees and we were happy to get back in the sun.

Making race skis. 15 minutes to start.

Patrick - one skate.

More one skate.

I am awesome. Boom.

Testing isn't all about wax. The skis are the most important.

Making a powder test. Regretfully, my mask was back at the hotel. Self-boom.

The contents of the infamous satchel.


All set up and ready to rock.

Upon arrival.

I am in Canmore now at the Alberta Cup event. The Academy is using this as a tune up race to get ready for the trials races over the next couple of weeks. It's cold here - really cold. Tomorrow's race will go ahead but Sunday is not looking good.

Here are some pictures from West. Some of them you have seen already and all are courtesy of the Swede.

Also, the pictures went up in a random order and above the text. Sorry - it's too late to fix it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

West Yellowstone - updated number one

Day 1: Wake up at 4:50AM, travel all day, work until 11PM. Check.
Day 2: Test skis like a madman, work until 12:50PM. Check.
Day 3: Repeat day 2.

Too tired to provide a better update for now. Nathan Schultz has crafted some details here - BNS update.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Only thing that's on my mind...

... is who's gonna run this town tonight.


- We are.
- This town = West Yellowstone
- Tonight = this week

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It begins - 2009 Edition

Ladies and gentlemen...

Welcome to the 2009 cross-country ski season. In reality, the 2009 season began in May or so, but this is a good time to catch up.

First, a few housekeeping things to take care of:

1. I've updated the "Where's Patrick" section on the right hand side of the page. So, if you're a family member wondering where I'm at or when I'll be in Vermilion, etc., that is a good way to check.

2. Things are going to be a little bit different on this blog for the upcoming year - In the past I've been very open about our testing results as well as race updates. For this year you will notice that the posts will still include lots of testing results (just not in as much detail) but will focus more on the races themselves.

The reason for this is simple - over the past couple of years we have been working hard to develop advantages in the preparation of fast skis. This is something that we've actually done a pretty good job of and people are starting to take notice. Given that this is a qualification year for the Olympics, world junior championships, and U23 world championships we're just not in quite the same sharing mood.

Additionally, I have had several opportunities to work with Zach Caldwell of Boulder Nordic Sport and the USST as well as Mike Mappin of the Alberta World Cup Academy. In fact, I've been absorbed into the AWCA along with the Fast Trax Pro Team. Both of these guys are respected members of the service community and it's only fair that I protect their intellectual capital.

Anyway, enough about that...

This weekend I am off to West Yellowstone to work with Boulder Nordic Sport for eight full days. This is going to be a fantastic learning opportunity and I can't wait. There is a good picture on the BNS website that shows what I'm in for - picture. A little while ago Zach sent me an email outlining my agenda as follows:

Day 1
Locate good spot for speed trap, set up for testing.
Zero test new Madshus wax testing fleet.
Run grind test on old Madshus "APU" fleet.
Rewax the wax fleet with Paraffins after consultation.
Run wax test.

Day 2
More or less the same thing with interchangeable fleets and test

Day 3
Eat a double-helping of Wheaties because you'll be dragging ass and
we're only just getting started!
Repeat day 2.

Day 4

It really doesn't get much better than that.

At this point it is way past my bedtime and I have an audit committee meeting first thing in the morning (we've got auditing dialed). More updates to follow. Stay tuned.

PS --> Did I mention that I got some new skis? Pretty sweet :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh baby...

Six pairs, hand picked direct from Austria. At least I can concentrate at work again now.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boom - part 2

Tonight's workout - by the numbers:

  • Number of intervals - 15
  • Total amount of intensity - 10 min (it felt like a lot more)
  • Number of consecutive intervals with max heart rate greater than 190 bpm - 8
  • Last time my heart rate was above 190 bpm - May 31, 2008
  • Last time my heart rate was elevated to any meaningful sort of level - August 1, 2009 (not proud of that one)
  • Number of slices of post-workout birthday cake consumed - 1.5
  • Number of marathon club members at the run - 23

It was a great run tonight. Wicked weather, awesome crew. Perfect.


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Friday, August 7, 2009

Late summer

Driving to canmore, alone with my thoughts. Trading emails with zach. Pearl jam tomorrow.

Life is very good.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

An Open Letter to Cyclists (and runners)

Dear Cyclists:

You smell bad. Cycling and running shorts are uniquely positioned among clothing in their ability to take on an unpleasant odour within 37 seconds of being on your person. The implication of this is that if you get lazy and decide to two-jack your shorts and wear them out for a second workout, an article of clothing that normally does not smell good actually becomes toxic and requires a WHMIS label.

This is an easy rule to remember: it does not matter how long you wore your shorts for the first time (three minutes or three hours - it does not matter), they need to be washed before you wear them again. This is not negotiable.

Further, bicycles are uniquely positioned in their ability to travel over pavement at incredibly high speeds in near silence. The implication of this is that if you are approaching someone from behind and your bike is well tuned (your bike is well tuned, right?) they cannot hear you coming.

This is also an easy rule to remember: get a bell, sing a song, just do something to let people in front of you know that you are coming well in advance.

PS --> runners, the above rules apply equally to you. Wash your shorts and let cyclists know when you are passing.

That feels better. Thank you for your attention.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thoughts on Strength Training

  • Most skiers have enough muscle mass in those muscles that are used in cross country skiing
    • Some female, junior, and a few male skiers (Patrick) may need to increase muscle mass and maximal strength, especially in their upper body


General Guidelines:


  • Focus on prime movers
    • Prime movers are the big muscled groups that do most of the work
  • Prevent muscle imbalances
    • Often injuries from strength training are the direct result of developing muscle imbalances
  • Use multi-joint exercises whenever possible
    • Such exercises more closely simulate the dynamic movement patterns of sport and also limit time in the gym
  • Mimic the positions and movements of the sport
    • For example when doing pull-ups the hands should be the same width as they would be when poling
  • Include core
    • The forces applied through your arms and legs must pass through your core. If this area is weak much of the force is lost. A strong core keeps the pelvis in a neutral positions (hips high and forward). If the core fatigues or is weak, the front of the pelcis sags and the butt protrudes shortening stride length.
  • Keep the number of exercises low
    • In order to concentrate on improving specific movements focus on those exercises that will provide the greatest gain for the least time invested
  • Periodize strength training
    • Different phases of strength training should have different goals
    • Loads should be increased ~5% every four or five workouts


  1. Anatomical adaptation (4 weeks, 2 sessions per week)
    1. Initial phase to prepare the muscles for greater loads
    2. Load – 40-60%
    3. 20 reps
    4. 3 sets
    5. 2 minutes recovery between sets

Potential program:

  1. Leg Press -
  2. Pull- up -
  3. Pistol squat
  4. Barbell bench -
  5. Seated row -
  6. Triceps dip -
  7. Bicep cur –
  8. Shoulder press -


Monday, July 6, 2009

Good Riddance?

More like time of your life.

Green Day is still my favourite band. Without question.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Update re Ski Speed

Re #7 posted yesterday:

Despite what many people think, a 5% change in ski speed (ie better glide, which would be imperceptible by most people) could save up to a full minute over 10km. Test those top coats!

Actually, a 0.5% difference is almost always highly significant (statistically speaking) in good speed trap data, and can be detected by "feel" by just about any test pilot. A 0.2 - 0.3% difference is generally detectable, but not with high confidence by the pilot. A 5% difference is massive. Bigger than anything I've ever measured. The amazing thing is that a 0.5% which "should" only equate to 8-10 seconds in a 10K can make a minute difference. Average speed is carried speed and advantages compound over the length of the course. Ski speed is paradoxically cool.

- Zach

I love this stuff. Bottom line.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Been a While

Admittedly, it's been quite a while since I've posted anything. Luckily it's summer time and there hasn't been much to report.

Here is a selection of what I've been thinking about:

1. Madeleine has joined the Alberta World Cup Academy for the 2009 - 2010 season. I've joined up too as part of the service team along with Mike Mappin and Jonathan Lamothe.

2. The Fischer f-series classic skis for this coming season are maybe the best ever produced.

3. Skiing performance ultimately depends on two things: 1) The ability to ski fast - neuromuscular input, muscle recruitment, maximum oxygen uptake, skiing technique and economy, aerobic and anaerobic energy production 2) The ability to resist fatigue - sustained neuromuscular recruitment, fractional utilization of MVO2, glycogen stores, and utilization of fats.

4. Skiers probably have enough muscle mass and maximal force strength but they may have limitations in fast force production and in the ability to keep up force production throughout the duration of a ski race. This means skiers should emphasize sport-specific, exploisve type strenth, spring, and muscular endurance training. Studies show that concurrent strength and endurance training can be used to improve force-velocity characteristics and fatigue resistance without decreasing aerobic performance.

5. In uphill skating poling contributes more than half of the propulsive force.

6. Force applied to the ski by the foot should be perpendicular to the ski surface. Pushing backward will only serve to decrease the ski's glide speed and will not increase propulsive force applied to the skier.

7. Despite what many people think, a 5% change in ski speed (ie better glide, which would be imperceptible by most people) could save up to a full minute over 10km. Test those top coats!

8. Little metabolic and velocity difference has been found between the three skating techniques - with the exception of uphills. Basically, it doesn't matter which technique you choose until the grade is in excess of +6%. At that point offset becomes faster.

9. Specificity of training means that only those characteristics in only those muscles, tissues, and organs that are overloaded/stressed during training will be improved. All that bike racing you're doing this summer? It's not going to make you a faster skier.

10. Skiing specific muscles must be used when training for improving fractional utilization of MVO2. Whole body MVO2 training requires that great muscle mass is activated; optimal summer training modes are ski-specific including ski-walking/ski-striding and rollerskiing.

11. Research indicates that consuming sport drink has a performance enhancing effect during prolonged (>60 minutes) of exercise. The same studies also indicate that it doesn't make a bit of difference which sport drink you consume. They all work equally well and the most important thing is to find one that is palatable.

12. We made some final grind decisions on Madeleine's skis today.

13. It's only July and I'm already super excited for the season. I think I may have a condition.

14. There may only be five or six people that can actually understand most of the things that come out of Zach Caldwell’s mouth when he’s waxing poetic on ski polemic. I'm working very hard to be one of those five or six people... frighteningly, sometimes with success.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Slow Clap

Cross Country Canada is awesome - slow clap

Just when you thought CCC couldn't be any more awesome, they elevate their game to the next level - Harvey is cut


Thursday, April 16, 2009


Sometimes there is more to life than just skiing. Just scored AC/DC tickets for the Edmonton show this summer.

Me + stage side tickets + AC/DC + 60,000 other screaming concert goers = guaranteed good times!

The stoke is running high!

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 4 update

I'm sitting in the Vancouver airport waiting for my flight back to Edmonton and reflecting on the past four days. They've been a whirlwind of testing, learning, and fun. Overall, we didn't reinvent Madeleine's fleet and mostly just confirmed our theoretical ideas and previous findings.

FakeFasterSkier (profile) once noted that, "Zach Caldwell is basically ski Jesus." It's not an exaggeration.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 3 update

Structure rule #1 - do no harm. In other words, you need to be convinced that your hand structure modification is going to make the situation better, and not worse.



It's +0.8 degrees and pouring rain. Just your standard easy grip day here at the venue.

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Day 2 update

Do you have a pair of skis that you know should be good but just doesn't perform? Maybe the bindings are in the wrong spot.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 1 update

It has become evident to me that I'm reasonably good at picking race skis. However, the mind reels at the body of knowledge that I do not yet possess.

"Wax on, wax off, young grasshopper."

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Thursday, April 9, 2009


Tonight I'm making the trek to Whistler to spend four days working with the master. It feels a little bit like Christmas eve, only significantly more exciting.

This is going to be sweet.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It has been brought to my attention that I failed to spell check yesterday's post prior to putting it on the internet.

I'm sorry for any inconvenience the error may have caused :)

Re: fundamental
Fr: Paul

According to the International Phonetic Alphabet, if I were to write the
word 'fundamental' into a script I would do so as follows:


...and not..


...and certainly not..


As such, you can't even blame phonetics for your error.

In short, "fundimental" is not a word; "fundamental" is.
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Monday, March 30, 2009

More Details

While eating breakfast this morning I was re-reading last night's post and realized I should maybe clarify a few things:

1. I did the skate race yesterday, not Madeleine. She was busy winning the Buckwheat Classic, a totally random, totally awesome 50km classic race in Skagway, Alaska. Google it... you'll find some hilarious news stories and pictures about the event.

2. Simple Jack ≠ Jack Cook. If you have seen Tropic Thunder then you understand the reference. If you haven't stop what you're doing and find a copy. It's good stuff.

Now... on to the update. It's funny to be writing an update about myself doing a ski race, but it was an awesome day.

The race was a fund raiser for the Canadian Cancer Society in honour of Roger Tetrault. This is a guy who laid the foundations that make Fast Trax what it is today. He is a cancer survivor and an inspiration!

It was a super flat course that covered a 5km loop at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre. My skis were fast... stupid fast actually, which is a big part of why I managed to finish this thing :) 30km is a long way for a guy who is used to testing skis. That process normally inolves skiing at race pace for a few hundered metres, then stopping to compare sensations and switch skis.

Anyway, the laps were taking about 15 minutes with average heart rates over the first five laps as follows: 175, 178, 176, 172, 170. It was at this point where things got interesting. Lap 6 took about 19 minutes with an average heart rate of 162 (not even zone 2). The interesting part was that despite the fact that I was going a lot slower, and my heart rate was a lot lower, there was no perceived change in exertion. I had bonked... to the max.

Luckily, immediatly following the race I dominated on half a dozen oreos, a smokie, and a coke. And that my friends, is the fundimental difference between a racer and a coach. I've been to a lot of races with Madeline... tons and tons of them... and have never seen her refuel like that.

It was an epic day and a ton of fun. I don't regret that recovery meal at all :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

30km Regional Race

Things were going well until about 25km (the start of lap 6) and then, bingo; Houston, we have a problem. Simple Jack time.

Overall, conditions were unreal and it was for a great cause! Great event!

More details to follow tomorrow.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shark - part 2

Le neige au maximum. Spray lakes road = totally impassable. Today's race is cancelled.

Upcoming: time line of the weekend events.
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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Not at Shark?

This is what you're missing. Spray Lakes road is a skating rink, probably 30 cars stuck.


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Thursday, March 19, 2009


This update is going to be a montage of different topics:

1. Montage - definition (maybe this isn't technically a montage)

2. Strong Bad Montage - sbemail

3. Bente Skari - this montage gives me chills

4. The last post about running shoes has for sure been our most controversial to date, generating significant discussion both for and against. Let me add more fuel to the fire:

- A midfoot strike is the most efficient and fastest way to run. The heel strike = applying the brakes (making you slow) and creating impact (making you injured) with every stride. Being slow and injured with make you sad.

- Running on your toes is probably not a good plan either (unless you're a sprinter). Using only propulsive muscles means that you are not using the body’s natural cushioning system. This puts too much vertical movement into every stride, and that leads to inefficiency and considerably more impact, muscle and tendon stress on the body. Specifically, if you’re too far forward in a sprint position, you’re overusing your calf and hamstring muscles and putting a lot of strain on your Achilles tendon. This will also make you sad.

- A midfoot strike is the most natural way to run. To prove this point, all you need to do is run a few hundred metres barefoot. You'll immediately discover that when running barefoot you're not landing on your heels = you're landing on your forefoot. Before the advent of running shoes that changed our biomechanics, I would contend that the frequency of heel striking runners would approximate nil.

- I am not suggesting making a cold-turkey transition from your Grid Stabils to lightweight trainers. If you are a traditional heavy heel-strike runner, you have a technique change to make; this change is going to take some time. Frequently, runners get excited about their new shoes and make the transition too quickly. To adapt to your new running technique you need to start with short, slow runs (say 1 - 3Km) twice per week. Focus on good technique and increase your time and distance as the body adapts. Too much too fast = you will get injured. This will make you sad.

- Last week, Jack ran 50Km barefoot on the treadmill (Jack's post). It took him three years of work to build up to this effort. Take your time.

5. If you are going to build a homemade heatbox (see Marty Hall. "Hot Boxes: Do's and Don'ts." SkiTrax Feb/Mar 2009: 46.), be very careful. Your skis are not tough = temperatures as low as 50C can cause the bases to move. The wax doesn't need to be totally melted to make its way into your bases. That being said, Marty is correct: the heatbox is an incredible tool and if used properly will help produce some very fast skis.

6. This weekend is the Mount Shark Alberta Cup, which is always a good time. For an added dose of awesome, I'll be working with Mike Mappin of Solda Canada. He is one of the best in the business and it's a fantastic opportunity. Expect updates throughout the weekend.

7. If you think that the new Nordic Hole Ski from Fischer (website) is just a gimmick, early indications are that you are dead wrong. This new ski appears to absolutely be the goods. I'll be doing testing in April, more to follow.

8. One of my favourite hobbies is plotting world domination with respect to skiing. I had a great telephone session of that today and am ridiculously amped for next season. PS... next season starts in April. Game on.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Big, Cushy Running Shoes - bunk

I couldn't agree with this paper more. Throw away your big cushy shoes and get yourself some lightweight trainers. Your running technique, and body, will thank you.

Running shoes

The absorption of the shoe prevents injuries by reducing the runners’ shocks on the body.

The clinical and scientific results do not support the fact that shoe absorption reduces the incidence of injuries for a runner.

The absorption of the shoe does not change the stress on the skeleton (bone and cartilage) since the body adapts its behaviour, moderation impact (absorbs more or less by himself), according to the hardness of the shoe.

My opinion
The foot is the organ that connects us to the earth. It informs us about the surface, adapts to its irregularities and absorbs the weight of our bodies. The foot, just like the rest of the body, is a biomechanical marvel that fits ... for better or worse. The shoe is the interface between the body and the earth. An essential interface protects us from the cold and dang erous surfaces... a useless feature for the majority of our daily activities... and an harmful interference for activities involving neurophysiological mechanisms.

Technological development of the running shoe, based on clinical concepts without scientific evidence, exploded in the 1990’s: more absorption to reduce the stress on the bones and integrated technologies to footwear (stabilization system calcaneal, anti-pronator, arch support) to control the foot considered abnormal in its biomechanics. These technological advances which were designed to reduce the incidence of injuries have propelled the shoe to a weight, size and price ever higher. As the shoe is modernized, there is a complex manufacturing phenomenon that is moved to the foot which causes lost of primary tactile sensations by the thickening of the sole. Like the modern and sedentary man, unconditioned to physical dependency, eg maladaptive patterns and mechanical stress, the runner, constantly prot ected, has become lazy. A laziness not only found in the muscles of the feet, but a loss of absorption reflex capacity responsible for the efficient and mechanical protection. The shoe is now the leading cause of impairment in running biomechanics! As for injury prevention, it is disheartening to note that one gets hurt more than before; that the runners that wear shoes are injured more than barefoot runners; and that those who pay more (and therefore better quality footwear with more technology) do not reduce the incidence of injuries.

In terms of performance, the absorption at the heel and its elevation relative to the forefoot has disrupted the whole biomechanics of the racer who, protected from the impact of the ground, is unconsciously converted to a formal initial charge on his heel. In the biomechanics of a modern man comes an ineffective and possibly harmful braking phase.

The appearance of protective footwear has always been appreciated. Sinc e the beginning of times, leather played a shell against pointy rocks, cold and snow. The day fabrication technologies have improved and where new materials were discovered, engineers, influenced by the marketing departments, were swept away with catchy designs. The evolution of the shoe was as important in the past 20 years than in the 4000 antecedent ones.

Blaise Dubois PT, RCAMT, Sport Physio Diploma /

PCN physiothérapie et médecine du sport de la Capitale

4205, 4e Avenue O, suite 103, Québec, CANADA, G1H 7A6

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is anyone else seeing this?

Ok, I admit it... I just recently found out what Twitter is, but I'm learning fast. This ridiculously simple website seems to be revolutionizing skiing coverage. To that extent, FakeFasterSkier is the bomb (FakeFasterSkier). This feed has stolen a ridiculous amount of my time over the past few days and I'd suggest checking it out... better yet, just subscribe. Slowerskier is also good, but deals more with legit coverage.

Some FakeFasterSkier instant classics:

- Excerpts from the 1973 AD diary of the patron (and spiritual guide) of the #birkie - Saint Masterblastus (PM - I always appreciate a good burn like this...)

a) "He who raceth the first kilometeric length in the most aggressive fashion shall be the victor." (Vermilion loppet, anyone?)

b) "If though stompith thy neighbors pole into bits and pieces, eternal glory is assured." (This is true. There was a lot of this at the Birkie. Team FT fell victim to some of it.)

c) "Should your waxations prove ineffective, 'tis always best to blameth their failings first, for surely it is their fault."

- For you classic skiers, Toko kick wax has been fast exactly never (This is also true.)

If Steve McQueen were reincarnated as a ski expert, his name would be Zach Caldwell. Yeah, that much of a badass. (Confirmed)

Finally. A legit use for Peltonens -

Every time Therese Johaug skis by, I Andy Samberg myself - (Phenomenal)

Watching the non-US nations flail around on the Callaghan trails. Zach Caldwell is basically Ski Jesus. Man, you guys are screwed next year. (Confirmed. Canada, we dropped the ball.)

I could go on and on. I'm sorry to bring this Twitter feed to your attention. You're about to have one of your all time least productive days at work.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

With respect to the temperature...

"It's colder than Old Man Winter's crotch."

- Paul Moore, describing his feelings on the temperature

In reality, it is pretty cold in Edmonton right now. This morning it was -38 at the airport. Lucikly, it's currently +1 and raining in Collingwood with a forecast for -3 and flurries tomorrow. In another stroke of luck tomorrow's race is a medium distance classic.

I think I'd still take insane waxing conditions over Old Man Winter's Crotch. I'm just saying...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Wondering what's up?

I'm not going to pretend that I've been doing a great job of keeping the site up to date over the past two weeks. Madeleine has been in Europe and had a great trip. You can read her updates here - Mado's FT Page

Luckily, nationals started today which will provide a lot of new material.

Is anyone else starting to get tired of the snow? I love winter as much as the next person, probably even more than most, but I am getting seriously fed up with shovelling the sidewalk. It's time to move on to the summer version of skiing...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Some New Ideas (part 1)

This weekend I'm enjoying an opportunity to work on skis with one of the best in the business. Here are some ideas from day 1:

1. Stop testing glide wax - Well, maybe don't stop testing all together, but don't worry about it so much. In scenarios where you are going to be covering your glide wax with a top coat anyway, spending a lot of time and effort to come up with the perfect solution may not be an efficient use of time. Simply making a call based on the conditions and what you have in your box can save a lot of trouble and allow you to focus on more important variables. That being said, you still need to be in the range; for example if F40 red is the goods and you apply F40 green, you are not in the range. However, if the question is whether to use Ski*Go HF blue or Solda F31 blue, as long as top coats are in play it probably doesn't make any difference.

2. Start testing covers - lots and lots of different covers. Interestingly, it seems that different top coats have different properties. Today I tested five different covers, plus powder, fluid, and block variants of the best picks. It was absolutely shocking to me how significantly different these options were in terms of absolute speed and overall feel.

3. Start testing binder wax - I know... I'm surprised too. But seriously, it turns out that this is worth the time. Here's the deal... every athlete is going to end up having different grip wax. Some will have covers to speed it up, some will have a toe of something sticky for a little more grip, etc. The one consistent factor will be the binder. Test for this by applying different binders to the test skis and covering with a constant grip wax. The best binder is the one that gives the kick you want with the glide you need. The idea is the same as the glide wax = get yourself in the range and ensure you have lots of room for adjustment warmer/colder.

4. Ski selection - I've said this before and turns out it's true. Although glide wax, powders, topcoats, and grip wax are all very exciting, the skis matter more than anything. Know your skis.

In other wicked news, Madeleine had an awesome race in Schilpario, Italy today. She finished fifth (results) and scored her best FIS points ever (FIS points). I wish I could tell you more about the race but the internet in Schilpario is apparently sketchy and details remain thin.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Will Critchley is in the house!!!

This will blow your minds:

1) Go here - CBC Edmonton News

2) Under "Watch CBC News Edmonton", click Watch Latest Newscast

3) Skip forwards to the last 30 seconds or so ... the 58:35 mark, to be

4) Watch, and enjoy.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fast Trax Pro Team - Prime Time!s

Fast Trax makes the news in Edmonton!

Check out the link here (skip ahead to 40:40) - newscast


The Final Call

This is going to be short as I'm on my way to my real job now.

I tested at Islet Lake this morning and here is the lowdown:

- The trails are groomed and in great shape!
- Grip = blue klister covered by Guru black (this was riddiculously good)
- Grip (2nd choice) = green klister covered by VR40
- Glide = no change from previous recomendations

With respect to the klister... remember, this is a binder layer = put it on thin. Really thin. Use way less than you think you should. The idea isn't to get grip from the klister, but rather to give the hard wax something to stick to. Once you've heated and spread the klister on your skis, it should be so thin you can hardly see it. If you can pick at it with your fingernail, you've got way too much! You can find more info here - klister.

Lorris and I will be onsite tomorrow morning early doing final testing for top coats and grip, as well as touch ups. Feel free to stop in and see what we're up to!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Plan

The forecast is still cold = no changes to the previously posted wax suggestions.

Did you get a bottle of S30 yet? It will be in your best interest to put some on your skis.

Tomorrow I'll be at Blackfoot testing wax and checking out the trail conditions. You can expect further updates with more specifics in the early afternoon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Birkie Weekend

This Saturday marks the 2009 edition of the Canadian Birkie and the weather is looking interesting. After several days of above zero temperatures, a huge mass of arctic air has settled over Alberta. Good times... if you enjoy racing at borderline legal temperatures!

Depending on which forecast you believe conditions might be as follows:

The Weather Network: Cloudy, high -13, low -18
Environment Canada: Sunny, high -13, low -22
The Birkie's weather guy
: Sunny, high -13, low -20

The bottom line? It's going to be cold... really cold. Not only that, but the temperature is going to change significantly throughout the race, especially for those doing the 55km.

What does it all mean? Luckily, Lorris and I specialize in waxing for cold conditions, so here are some initial thoughts.

1. Harden your bases. Despite a very small amount of the new snow, the conditions are highly transformed and highly abrasive. You need to get your bases hard enough to endure 55km of racing on that junk. Solda S30 is my favourite choice, but Ski*Go C380, or Swix LF3 would be reasonable alternatives.

2. Race wax - pick something cold. Even if the snow warms throughout the day it will maintain it's transformed and abrasive properties. Potentials include Solday F40 green, Solda F15 blue, Solda Techno Green, Swix LF4, or Ski*Go HF blue, depending on the humidity. Without testing, your safest bets are probably F15 Blue or LF4.

3. Topcoats - This part is nearly impossible to predict this far in advance. However, given how cold it is likely to be, possibilities include HP05 (if the snow is warming significantly), HP05/S30 mix (if the humidity is high but the snow is staying cold), or HP06 (if the temperatures stay warmer than predicted, the humidity is high, and the sky is solidly overcast).


1. Given the transformed snow and long distance race, a klister binder is probably in order. See application details here - klister article. Likely candidates are either green or blue klister.

2. Hardwax cover - possibilities include Guru black, MFW blue, Guru Haligier, Ski*Go universal, Magnar 2.5 or 3.5, or Swix extra blue.

Wow. That is a lot to digest and probably not that useful this far in advance. We are expecting that the trails will be newly renovated on either Thursday or Friday.

Lorris or I (or both of us) will be heading out to check out the trails on either Thursday or Friday morning, depending on grooming, and will update wax options at that time. You can find our most recent updates on the Fast Trax Website - Birkie page. I will attempt to update the Pro Team Website as frequently as possible as well.

In other Fast Trax Pro Team news, Madeleine and Graham leave for Europe tomorrow to take on the OPA nordic tour. The first race is in Germany on Saturday so stay tuned for the details.

Also, in other shop news, I must make it clear that Jack was not part of our lunch last Saturday. Although I have credible information from Les Parsons that Uncle Burgers contain some fragments of sirloin meat by-products and a few veggies, Jack stayed well clear. I think he had hemp hearts instead?

Finally, have you checked out the Johnny Klister website yet? If not, you need to immediately!!! I have no idea who is behind this website (if you know you should tell me), but it is for sure my favourite stop on the interweb. Well worth your time.


Saturday, February 7, 2009


Contrary to popular belief, lunch at the shop is not always the best for your shape.

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's the end of January... now what?

This post has been a week in the making so let's get you up to speed.

Last weekend was the final significant NORAM of the season and Madeleine had some great results. She finished 5th in the skate sprint on Saturday and, after a great race with Shayla, won the classic event on Sunday. Wicked... but not enough.

The Rossland NORAM was the final selection race for World Championships and also was to determine the FIS regional series leader for attending the spring world cups. Unfortunately, Madeleine was not selected to the world championships team and missed the regional series spot by one point. Argh. Such a disappointment but it's time to move forward. There are still big goals for this season and lots of work to be done.

Also, huge props to the athletes who were selected to the Worlds team, especially Dasha and Shayla who have been having a great season without NST support. Very cool!

This brings us to the question of now what? There are no races of consequence left in Canada until nationals which are still two months away. Based on this, Madeleine has made the tough decision to head to Europe to start several races on the OPA Cup tour (similar to the NORAM series, but with more opportunities for high end points).

The plan, as it currently stands, is to head to Europe on the 11th and then start races in the following locations:

Zwiesel (GER); Feb 14-15
Schilpario (ITA); Feb 20-22
Olivone (SUI); Mar 1-2

Unfortunately, Lorris and I will not be following Madeleine to Europe to complete Team Fast Trax. Luckily, however, Madeleine has secured support from a Whitehorse native who now lives in Rossland; John, I think? He supported Madeleine at the Rossland races when Lorris and I could not attend and has graciously volunteered to travel to Europe to join the team. The help is much appreciated :)

More updates to follow as the season continues to unfold.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

World Cup Update - for real this time

Classic Sprint
Friday's classic sprint was Madeleine's first opportunity to test the WOP trails this season. Ranked 45th going into the qualification, Madeline finished a strong 42nd. Not enough to move on to the rounds, but just 11.5 seconds back of Kikkan. The race sensations were very good, her skis were excellent, and Madeleine was feeling positive. Perfect.

As the second, and final, distance race for World Championships qualification, Saturday was a big day for Madeleine. I had picked skis for her the afternoon before and Madeleine and I agreed on the best pairs. As Madeleine made her final preparations to begin the race, I headed out to the feed zone with the rest of Team Canada.

As the field came through the feed zone (~2.0km) for the first lap, things were looking pretty tight. Madeleine was in 22nd place and skiing in a group of about 15 athletes. However, as the race began to unfold the picture began to change. At 5km Madeleine was in 23rd, at 7.5km she was in 20th.

Now, based on that you might think that really nothing was changing in the race; Madeleine wasn't slowing done significantly. However things become more clear when you look at some of the other splits. Some of the girls were simply getting faster! Shayla went through 2.5km in 25th, 5km in 18th, and 7.5km in 16th. The story was very much the same for Brittany; 19th, 14th, 14th. Check out the full analysis here - FIS.

Ultimately, Madeleine completed the race in 22nd position; an improvement over her #26 bib. However, this made her the 5th Canadian which will be a long shot for World Championships. Overall, the pursuit was certainly not a disaster and had many positives, but it wasn't a full success either. It seems that for that day Madeleine was able to ski relaxed and in control, but was just lacking the top gear to cover breaks as the race developed.

Team Sprint
This is where things began to get interesting! Madeleine was assigned to Canada 3 for the team sprint and all of us were super excited about the possibilities held by this race. As a distance athlete, Madeleine typically lacks the top gear to go with the best sprinters in the country, however the team sprint is an entirely different story. As each team member completes three laps there is a huge endurance component to this event.

Madeleine and Brooke skied an amazing qualifying heat and were part of a tough field. The heat times were fast! As the qualifying round ended the announcer indicated that Canada 3 would be moving on to the finals as a result of their qualifying time! Unreal! Super stoked on this news, Lorris and I went and found Madeleine to give her a huge high-five. Wicked!

The break between races progressed as expected. Madeleine got a massage, the techs worked on her skis, and she got down to the business of warming up. Sadly, this is where things headed south. With just a few minutes to go before the race Brooke and Madeleine were on their way back to the stadium to pick up race skis. At this point, we received notice from FIS that there had been an error - the number ten and eleven teams had been mixed up. Canada 3 was in fact not in the finals and had finished in 11th spot, just a few seconds out of the required time. Talk about a crushing blow.


Here are the three most important things I picked up from the World Cup:

1. Attitude - I've said this before and it still holds true. At the end of the day those people who act like winners end up being winners. Alex Harvey is 20 years old and came home with a world cup medal. Other Canadian athletes are just as fit and finished well back in the field. What's the difference? Alex believes and acts like he belongs as part of the big show. This guy is an absolute class act and amazing role model for younger athletes. Alex may have the greatest potential of any athlete in Canada right now.

2. Poling technique - skiing technique is constantly evolving and I'm beginning to see a big shift in the poling technique of the world's best athletes. See Jack Cook's discussion on the topic here - Fast Trax article.

3. If you're a douche and win World Cup medals, you're still a douche. There is something to be said for sportsmanship.

Monday, January 19, 2009

World Cup Update

Our condo in Whistler had at best very sketchy internet, hence no World Cup update so far. And, as if to add insult to injury, this isn't a World Cup update either. That will come later as I have mad unpacking to do... and a "real" job to attend to :)

For now, just enjoy the majesty that is the Swedish Ski Team Truck. Per Zach, " They did everything right. I was inside. It’s exactly what you’d want…"


Seriously though... I'll write an update soon...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Not at all relevant

Two very random You Tube videos that are not at all skiing related, but worth watching anyway.

1. A short video about a hippo, some noodles, and his friend Roy. This little gem was brought to my attention by some of the NST service staff. Good stuff - Noodles on my Back

2. An even shorter, but much weirder, video about a gummy bear. Not much to say here, mostly it's just weird for the sake of being weird - Gummy Bear

In other news, the World Cup starts later this week. Stay tuned for mad updates.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I'm about to board my 7th flight in six weeks as I attempt to return to Edmonton.

In a [not] surprising turn of events this flight is delayed. Why is this not surprising? Because of those seven flights precisely one was on time.

Airlines are lame.

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mandatory Reading for Race Organizers

This is admittedly plagiarized from Johnny Klister

10 Rules for Hosting a Coaches' Meeting

1. Serve beer.

2. Have an agenda ahead of time. Follow it.

3. Don’t repeat yourself. Seriously, don’t repeat yourself.

4. Thank your staff. (Once.) Thank your sponsors. (Once.)

5. Answer every question regardless of how obvious.

6. Print out copies of start lists, weather reports and course maps ahead of time. Seriously, ahead of time.

7. If you need a microphone, use it.

8. “There’s no skiing backwards on the course.”

9. Jokes (especially inside jokes with the race staff) will fall flat. Don’t make them.

10. The meeting should not last more than 30 minutes. 15 minutes is ideal.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pursuit - a better update

Today was my second full day back to "real" life after almost six weeks of non-stop travel for skiing. I've been on seven flights during that time, of which precisely one departed on time. This miserable statistic includes my heavily delayed flight to Grande Prairie last night that arrived just before 1am, but I digress...

Yesterday's skate race was very positive for Madeleine and we're excited about the upcoming Whistler world cups. Things are looking very good.

Here are a few thoughts on the race:

- Madeleine chose a pair of 90 mould s-tracks for her classic skis. This was a bit surprising to me, however the skis felt great in the rock-hard Canmore tracks and the longish wax pocket had the most positive grip.

- Our grip combination was out of control recipe of violet klister, Swix extra blue, Start MFW red, old school start red, and more MFW red... Lorris was the mastermind behind this alchemic concoction, so I'll leave it to him to explain it in more detail. The bottom line is that it kicked a ton (not surprising!) and had really excellent glide properties (somewhat more surprising!).

- Madeleine had one of her better classic legs in a Canmore pursuit and entered the exchange box in third place and part of the lead pack. However, in a wicked (read weird) turn of events, the race organizers assigned the highest seeded athletes the furthest exchange boxes, meaning those athletes had to spend the most time on classic skis. It's not clear why this was the case.

- The skate skis Madeleine selected have a grind that seems to be great everywhere. They consistently tested the best all weekend and, despite what we may have predicted, ran well with no hand structure modifications.

- Glide wax was Solda Performance Red (hilarious, I know!) with S30/HP05 on the tails. Solda = the bomb dizzle. You should have it in your box!

- Following the exchange, Milaine and Brittany were able to open a bit of a gap on the field. Madeleine was skiing in the chase pack with Amanda and Shayla and not feeling great. Things started to come around when she and Amanda put a bit of a surge on near the top of the course, at which point Shayla dropped.

- As the final lap was finishing Amanda attacked hard on the last uphill, fully hop skating and making a move. It was a gutsy call and huge props to her for going for it! Madeleine was able to cover Amanda's break and passed her on the downhill into the stadium.

- At this point, the sprint was on with the two of them hammering it out to the finish line. It was a lunge for the finish and Madeleine made it by a toe. It was a wicked race for both girls and it's super good to see Amanda back and throwing down on the course.

- Overall, a very positive result for Madeleine with massive potential leading into the world cup.

In other, and entirely unrelated, news, as a result of my real job I am spending the next three days in very close quarters with some very sick people. NOT cool. I continue to be convinced that my pretend job is way more fun than my real one and that athletes are way more awesome than accountants. However, I'm determined not to get sick by following some very simple rules. They are worth a read and you can find them here, third article down - Fast Trax article

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pursuit - very brief update

Great result today = 3rd!!! The word is that it was a sprint to the finish with a lunge for the line.

Awesome job!!!

I'm in Edmonton right now, so details are sketchy at best.

I'll try to provide a better update as information becomes available.

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Canmoe - 10km Skate

Earlier today Madeleine completed her first race here in Canmore with a solid win. The temperature warmed significantly from yesterday and the 10km skate race went off without a hitch.

The race unfolded like this:

1. Madeleine
2. Rhonda Jewett (+10)
3. Amanda Ammar (+15)

1. Madeleine
2. Amanda Ammar (+22)
3. Rhona Jewett (+24)

1. Madeleine
2. Amanda Ammar (+41)
3. Rhonda Jewett (+55)

1. Madeleine
2. Amanda Ammar (+29)
3. Rhona Jewett (+46)

As the race developed Madeleine focused on skiing smooth and relaxed in order to conserve energy for the 15km pursuit tomorrow.

Race wax was all Solda!
a. Base of Solda S32
b. Solda F15 blue
C. Solda S30 tips and S30/HP05 tails.

Lorris and I will spend the afternoon testing and preparing skis for the big show tomorrow.

Full Results - Zone 4

Friday, January 2, 2009

Rule 303.2.2

With air temperatures below -20°C (temperature measured at the coldest point of the course and without wind factor) and competition distances less than or equal to 15 km, the Jury must postpone or cancel the competition. With competition distances greater than 15 km and temperature less than -18°C without wind factor, the Jury must postpone or cancel the competition.

This was a rule that everyone involved with the first trial race of the weekend became intimately acquainted with at about 11:15 this morning. When we arrived at the race site at 7:30 this morning, the temperature was -23 and by mid morning it had risen to just -22. It was cold!!!

Luckily, the race directors had the gumption to recognize a dangerous situation and cancel a very important race. Frostbite is bad news, but when racing at this temperature the real concern is frozen lungs. The problem is that frozen lungs = no more athletic endeavours = not cool.

The cancelled race was very much a bittersweet situation for Madeleine today. On one hand, not racing in the extreme cold was a very good thing. On the other hand, she woke up feeling great with amazing energy; it was shaping up to be a very good day. In any event, the pursuit race has been rescheduled for Monday and will still be a selection race for World Championships. Monday will be a good day too.

Tomorrow is a skate sprint that we have decided Madeline will not start. This is simply a decision to deal with energy management to optimize conditions for a great result in the pursuit on Monday and at the World Cups two weeks from today. Instead of deal with a draining sprint day, we will complete an intensity workout focusing on snappy intervals and good technique.

In other news, today was very much a Solda day, focusing heavily on S30 with some F15 blue also in the mix. Grip was going to be a mixture centred around Magnar 2.5.

This was where we were instructed to test wax today. Unfortunately, the Nordic Centre staff were blowing copious amounts of snow all over the tracks. Sometimes it's just easier to test on the course.

Stay tuned to weather updates over the next few days. The forecast is for better temperatures - The Weather Network; Environment Canada