Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Homeward bound

Once cleaned up and inside for lunch, we had a great time talking with all the Flin Flon athletes and parents. Soon enough it was time to pack up and hit the road, much too soon for our liking. It was a sad moment as we climbed back into our red and blue vans, the Flin Flon team waving goodbye as we backed away. After a brief stop at the candy bar (where we somehow ended up with a giant bag of gummies) and the Flintabity Flonagan statue, we were once again back in the road. In the blue van Erik got comfy with his pillow and sleeping bag and fell asleep within the first hour. Mhari and I spent some time blogging before we settled in for a This American Life podcast about an abandoned house. The next thing I can tell you about is the sudden realization of loud rock music, and that it was already after 4 o'clock.  If you want to knew how that story ended, you are going to have to ask Mhari.
The drive was long, and we were all tired and sore. Our next major stop was Ashern, where we took photos with a giant bird and stopped for our subway supper (the lobster restaurant was unfortunately closed). With about 3 hours left to winnipeg, we switched up the vans one last time and hunkered down for the final stretch of the journey.
Once we finally arrived at Raglan road, it was almost like we'd never left. The sky was dark, the night was quiet. It looked exactly the same as when we'd left, but sort from that nothing was the same. Sure we came home with a few injuries, but we made new friends, new memories, and had a ton of fun.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Flin Flon: Homeward bound

Emily, Erik and I hopped into Chris's van armed with our newly purchased health food ready for the long drive. We wrote our race reports and then very quickly, all fell into a comatose state, but not before arming our driver with a mystery podcast to keep him sharp. As we neared Easterville our car returned to life and we planned our seating for the next long stretch, Erik as I joined the red van crew, swapping seats with Levi and the party began.

Up front we talked and shared stories while behind us, Torin sat quietly eating pixie stick after pixie stick. As we ran out if ways to entertain ourselves we hatched a plan, to hit the other vehicle with a grape (this is where things start to get weird). We successfully did hit them with a singular grape right before Ashurn where we stopped to buy subway, the first real food we had eaten in hours. We timed Erik's sub consumption, as he is a notoriously slow eater; it took him 16 minutes to eat his six inch, which might just be his new record. Our car grew rowdy as the sky grew darker and about an hour away for Winnipeg Torin's sugar high took hold.

All had been quiet in the van, Erik was listening music, we were all feeling weary and ready to get home. As we tried to get comfortable I found myself using Torin's sleeping bag, his feet inside, as a pillow. Suddenly all three  boys had their feet in my face. Somehow through a series of events I don't quite remember (the while journey's a blur) Torin's voice jumped two octaves and the story telling began. Torin was a weird animal creature, part dog, part human, he had a jaguar tail complete with chicken feathers on the tip. His diet consisted of knives and gasoline and to our great disgust and amusement he detailed the consequences of such a diet. Just when I thought I could laugh no more Erik, who still listening to music decided the cacophony already going on was not enough and he began to sing along, rather hilariously. As we eventually neared the city limits, I was at my final straw, the boys were entertaining, but I had an ever worsening headache and one can only handle so much falsetto. Torin had finally quieted down, Wakina, however quickly alerted us that his silence was not a passive one. Torin had begun eating the cardboard from his gum container, and then, anything he could get his hands on, subway wrappers, my water bottle all while keeping up his impressively high voice. Given any other circumstance I might of been worried about his health but given the excessive amounts if sugar and total exhaustion his behaviour was somewhat justified.

Laughing as we we pulled in front of Chris's house we said our goodbyes and hopped in our parents cars towards our own beds. Erik and I had split up the remaining 3/4 of our uneaten spearmints and I remembered my water bottle for the first time this year. All told this has got to be one of the greatest and most entertaining ski weekends in Red River History. Although it was nice to wake up in my own bed and pet my own cat, as I walked to school this morning on dry sidewalks I couldn't help but think about how just one days jouney away, in Flin Flon, there lay pristine ski trails, still laden with white snow and I realized, I really need to learn how to drive.

I'd like to extend a huge thank you to the Flin Flon ski club who not only fed and housed us but welcomed us as their own. You made this trip possible, we could never have done it without you, not to mention it wouldn't have been nearly as fun. I look forward to any future activities with the Flin Flon club, you guys sure are a hoot.


Taza's first skate race

At the gate

Erik the beast 

Cresting the hill

Take your marks... 

Can you spot Erik

Hopping of the start 

Chris the super driver

What a view 

Collecting his zen before the race

Emily's new fan club

Brett Unrau with (most of) his family

Torin suffering from his fall

I can see the city lights

Erik the caterpillar

 RRN: We ski for the instagrams 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Flin Flon: Race day

My morning started a little later than yesterday as I had learned to keep my door closed however I still woke up well before my 7oclock alarm. Once I did wake up I made sure to crack open my door and was rewarded with a visit from sparkles the cat. Sparkles then tried to tear up my sleeping bag by jumping in my lap, A problem I quickly resolved with a pillow. Breakfast was once again held at the Ski club which we carpooled too. Honestly, us Winnipeg skiers need to coordinate living in the same end of town this kind of carpooling is so easy

After breakfast we decided upon which distance we were to race 3 or 6 km a choice that for a few proved difficult. Once the athletes had convinced the coaches of their decisions we set out to pre ski the very first section of the race; It was a small loop separate from the rest that we hadn't skied yesterday. We regrouped again 25 minutes before the race for a large group warm up led by Erik and myself. Most of us have written our own individual race report which you can read below, if you care to. 

Torin's race report:

I raced about two and a half KM before I fell and screwed my knee up so I Had to DNF.


Erik's race report:

I had a pretty good race. The hills were big but I over estimated them because I had pre skied the course the day before. During the pre ski I felt dead because the hills were massive, but in my race today I had plenty of energy to make it up those hills. I took my race way too easy at the start because I thought it would be harder than it actually was. I made it past the first two big climbs with plenty of energy to spare, so I stepped on it. I went very hard for the second half of the race almost sprinting up the hills. Half way through I saw Torin laying on the ground but he told me to keep racing so I did and when I saw Chris near the end of the race I said "Torin is down" and I had a good finish. After my cool down I saw Torin laying in the sled behind the snow mobile. He hurt his knee but he's doing okay. That sums up my race.


 Emily's race report: that bloody race!

Our race day dawned cold and windy, the conditions were great. The snow was icy and fast and while everyone was tired and sore, we were all excited. The first part of the race was hardest. A couple hard up hills followed immediately by some pretty big downhills. The first downhill had a soft patch where a I had fallen during the pre ski, so I was extra conscious of that patch making sure to keep my feet moving. I made it past it, and then in my celebration promptly lost my balance and toppled over on the flat. So much for that.
The next hill was called the roller coaster, and despite its name I'd had no issues on the pre ski and wasn't worried. I pushed off and tucked, keeping my feet moving and feeling the wind rush by me; one of the best race feelings. I got to the bottom incident free, and started to pull out of my tuck. Suddenly my ski caught an edge, and before I had time to catch myself I face planted nose first onto my pole. My first thought was get off the course. My second thought, well, wait a sec.... Is that blood? My question was quickly answered by a second drop, then a third, unmistakeable against the white snow. Crawling over to the side, I quickly realized that I was going to have to wait it out. As the red stain on the snow grew larger, Torin called out from 15 feet ahead of me. Limping over on his twisted knee, the two of us sat together in the snow watching racers go by us, slowing down, looking at all the blood on the snow, and having a moment of panic. We reassured them that we would be
 fine and to continue their race. Judging by my race time, I must have been sitting there about 15 minutes before I was able to ski again. From that point the rest of the course was surprisingly easy, and I crossed the finish line without any other incidents, though I looked like I'd been in a fight. I cleaned up ok, though my nose is still pretty sore.
Even with all its incidents, the last part of my race went very well and I had a lot of fun.


Mhari's race report:
After an unusually successful warm up I tore off my warm up tights and threw them expertly up to the second storey balcony rail, (where I then left them behind) and stood ready to go in my undeservedly flashy red race suit. As the soon as the timer beeped I slowly edged my foot over the line. My race plan was to slowly build so I was in no rush. The first part of the race was a relatively flat loop in the valley where I found my groove and picked up the pace, just a tad. Net came the race loop, which made up the rest of our race. The race loop starts with a long uphill, which I think is the most difficult hill of the whole course as it's not quite steep enough for excuses. It's also where Flin Flon skier, Parker, passed me for the first time. I submitted the hill just barely keeping Parker and his teammate Hannah in view. Unfortunately for them, the next big downhill took them both out. I crested the hill and started down only to notice that not only was there a large downhill but there were two skier shaped obstacles at the bottom! Through immense skill (pure luck) I stayed on my feet (barely). My right foot was in the leftmost classic track, my left foot was suspended in the air over the deep snow, my arms were flailing and my torso was miraculously still upright. It was with this excellent technique that I propelled myself halfway up the next small bump, thanks physics! The next section of my race was rather uneventful, Parker passed me again after recovering from his fall, I kept my pace reasonable although maybe not as fast as I should have and enjoyed the slightly frightening downhills. Coming up to the roller coaster downhill I spotted fellow red river skier Emily Hunt. I picked up my speed slightly, determined to catch her, a feat that she made very easy by punching herself in the face mid fall at the bottom of the hill beside Torin, yet another fallen skier. Once again I was spared, I somehow stayed on my feet today even though I'd fallen on every second hill yesterday. The next section of my race consisted of strong flats and a slightly pathetic climb up coaches hill, luckily there was no coach present at the time to critique my skiing. After summiting this last hill I realized that perhaps I hadn't been building enough and picked up my speed, saving only enough breath to quickly update coach Chris of Torin's well being (his fall had been a nasty one). The race ends in a downhill, assuring a strong finish. All told it was a fun race and I look forward to a rematch with Grady, a Flin Flon skier, who I later learned, beat my by only 5 seconds. 


After finishing our races those of us who could still walk went for a short cool down, partly because we are good athletes who now the importance of a good cool down but mostly because we wanted one last chance to enjoy the beautiful trails. We packed up after our cool down and enjoyed our last meal at the Flin Flon ski club.

Upon hearing that our trip to the candy bar was at risk, after lunch we quickly finished loading the vans, said our goodbyes and raced away, my warm up pant still hung on the banister. The candy bar is a very strange place, best described as a bulk convenience store. Many a bad decision was made in the store, Torin bought a pack of 120 pixie sticks and Erik and I purchase almost 2kg of spearmint leaves (300 leaves) of which we barely touched the surface of in our drive. When we exited the store I was handed my forgotten pants. Lora lee had chased us down at the candy bar to hand deliver my warm up pants, and had already left by the time I had finished lugging out the largest bag on candy I have ever seen. 

Stocked up with candy and tired from our race we headed out on what would become a historic road trip. I am, however, going to have to leave you hanging as I am exhausted and have a splitting headache. Time for homework! jk I never do my homework.


A beautiful day for technique

Ball control

Ready to go

Saturday night pre ski keeners

Hannah practicing her falls

I think I need a haircut

heading off for a cooldown
Torin starting his race

Torin finishing his race

Dat booty

David starting stong

Erik tearing it up

Jodi with the hammer down

Levi getting some glide

Me chilling on the course

Smiling through the pain
Group warmup

The whole gang.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Flin Flon: All day fun

My morning started bright and early at six am by pricilla, a friendly pug, jumping on bed. As my alarm wasn't set to go off until, 7 I used this extra hour to pet pricilla and catch up with some of our other teammates who are off racing in Qu├ębec. All of this before carpooling to the ski club with our next door neighbours, also skiers, for breakfast.

Breakfast was a big group meal of pancakes, fruit and ham. Oh, and lots of syrup! Right after breakfast with heavy stomachs full of tasty food we grip waxed our skis and headed out for some technique with our classic equipment. Well, most of us did.
For some reason, maybe I was tired, or just plain stupid, I had a lovely mismatch of skate poles and classic skis. Being the oblivious person that I am never noticed this mistake, and would never had if no one had pointed it out. I must add that my skate poles are white and my classic poles are black and rainbow. Midway through our technique session coach Brett asked me if I had any shorter poles to which I replied something along the lines of 'yes of course I have shorter poles I have my classic poles these are my... skate poles... Wait a minute, these are my skate poles! Luckily we had not strayed too far from the clubhouse and I managed to quickly ski back and switch poles in time for the last set of drills. 

Lunch, consisting of an extravagant spread of hot dogs, buns and cookies was the  only meal not eaten in the clubhouse. We packed it into packs and skied to the far end of the trails where we found a a fire pit and a small warm up shack. For a few of us Winnipeg skiers it was the first time we had roasted a hotdog over a fire, a fact that shocked many of the Flin Flon skiers who reported that hot dog roasting is a common summer activity. Red River's summer diet has been infiltrated by Pauline's love of Quinoa.

After lunch the Flin Flon parents stayed inside and watched the coaches, skiers in tow, head out onto the deck, lay down and sleep. An hour later we limped inside to inform them that our "sleep" had, in fact been very painful rather than relaxing. Chris and Brett had led us through an excruciating and extensive stretch routine.

After a short break we headed out to make use of our recently loosened limbs with a seemingly never ending game of hockey. For anyone whose never played hockey on skis you should be away that the only similarity to real hockey is the sticks. Ski hockey is played with 3-4 teams each with their own net. The number of players on 
the field from each team ranges from 1 to everyone, goalies are inconsistent and often not required. To anyone who knows him, the best way to explain the game is; Chris makes (and changes) the rules. Since I joined this game late as I was delayed 
with a boot malfunction I made up for lost time by playing as dirty as possible, skiing 
full tilt into people trying to take the ball but more often than not just taking us both

The hockey game was followed by some rest time which turned into a snow ball fight and then I believe capture the flag, I'm not entirely sure as I was one a few who choose to join our coaches in must needed rest. If today was to have a theme it would "GO! sleep. GO!" Each activity was followed by another even though everyone seemed to be exhausted. The team shut down coach Unrau's plan to pre ski tomorrow's race because they were too tired but when the pre ski was offered as an option a surprising amount of skiers came along. Torin and Levi peeled themselves off the couch and even a few Flin Flon skiers who the know the trails like the back of their hand agreed to ski the gruelling course with us. Only minutes after our return we began our final, and most important event of the weekend, MAN HUNT!

Understandably, I was tired at this point and briefly tried to talk my way out of man hunt, unfortunately the game had been deemed mandatory. Did I write unfortunately? Because I meant fortunately! For the hundredth time today I found a second burst of energy. Our game was played on skis and the boundaries (which we had skied earlier as yet another small activity) consisted of a wide variety of open terrain, crisscrossing ski trails and at least one large hill and we had very clear rules, set earlier in a heated clubhouse debate. The game started as would another we had 2 people start as 
hunters while the rest of skied for our lives. As the ski grew darker and the hunters 
caught more and more prey the game became more elaborate, group hunting tactics,
 deep bush exploration, deceiving signals and howling at the moon are a few
examples of how complex our game became. I partook in all but one of these, and you can probably guess that it wasn't the howling. Awooooo.... I must add that although a wasn't one of the very last to be caught I avoided capture for a respective amount of time, exercising Torin's hunting skills and eluding close capture many a time. Eventually an overestimation of my hunters strength and an underestimation of his determination led to a light tap, from a lunging Torin using up his last burst of energy.  As night fell Chris's voice boomed over the hills calling us back to the club
house where we ate one last snack, about our tenth of the day, quickly packed up and stumbled to our rides home.

 I am writing this from my bed, way past our supposed bedtime (sorry coach) and will leave you now with a bunch of photos from the last two days (no captions as I'm too tired for that) to dream sweet dreams of puppies and beautiful skiing. 

No this is not sideways

Levi the rebel

Levi tired from his rebellion

Is this hockey?

Ok... This looks a bit more like hockey 


In control 

Out of control

Pricilla the pug

Don't you love how these photos are all in order

Glow sticks last night

Mixed emotions towards the photographer 

The gang 

Coaches meeting

If only these were all mine 

4 faces showing 4 different types of fatigue


We tired him out

Group meeting with some well rested coaches

Bloggers hard at work 

Hey, who killed Erik

I guess I had more energy than I thought. A big thanks to all the photographers (parents and coaches) who spied on us all day long and took far more pictures than I could ever upload. 

Once again, goodnight.