The plan was to go to Park City, Utah with the Canadian and US National teams, the AWCA and a bunch of other random teams from across North America. Who wasn’t in Park City? Well me actually. 2 weeks before leaving I found out there wasn’t in fact room for me on the camp I was invited on… just great. I was at least glad that I'd saved myself from listening to fantasy football nonsense with the guys. The things people waist their time on these days.
Having strategically planned training leading up to this altitude camp, I was pretty bummed out. Lucky for me, Dave Wood and the Black Jack Ski Team out of Rossland, BC came to the rescue. Dave Wood was the National Team Coach back in the day and I personally would credit him with most of Canada’s skiing successes to date. He now has built the most successful program in BC. I had called Dave to ask about accommodation in the upcoming NorAm scheduled for Rossland. Dave said “no problem” and then invited me on short notice to their annual altitude camp in Mammoth lakes, California, which just so happened to fit in perfectly to my training schedule.
Air North gave me the flights I needed and before you know it I was sun tanning in Cali. By sun tanning I mean going on 3-hour mountain runs and double poling up switchback roads in the sun.
The bulk of our training was in Mammoth Lakes (elevation 2,400m). Training was top notch here- plenty of good roller skiing opportunities: bike paths and quite roads. The Black Jack crew was awesome training partners. They’re very motivated and hard working. It was nice having a small group of us (6 altogether). Dave was able to give us lactates after nearly every interval and during most training sessions. We also did lots of video/technique work. Living up in Mammoth was very comfortable in our condo style apartment with kitchenettes and beds each to our own. Except Julien, he had to sleep on the floor (sucka). Having a comfortable place to chill after a 5hr workout is crucial to recovery. We always had a fridge full of food and time for an afternoon nap.
5 hr workout! Mountain running
Working on my striding
Woking on my skating
After our bodies got used to training at high altitude we’d hop in the van and zip down to Bishop (elevation 1260m) to bang out some intervals. The idea is that we trick our bodies as they take quite a while to acclimatize. Sucking back thin air at altitude eventually becomes the normal, then when we suddenly go back to lower elevation the normal normal feels super easy… if that makes sense. In Bishop we stayed at a campground on the outskirts of town. Dave is like a mad scientist. He would get us to stick electrode things on our chests to track our heartbeats, analyze the data, and decide when we’re going up to Mammoth and when we’re going down to Bishop. I just did as he said.
Camping in Bishop
Julien and Scott doing bounding intervals
A miscommunication on when we were actually leaving to go home led me to hire a guy in a Toyota Corolla to drive me to Reno, NV to catch my plane home. 300 dollars later I got there at half an hour before my flight left. We had to stop at Costco to fix a wobbly tire. A+ to Alaska Airlines for letting me on the plane. I slept on my old familiar sleeping bench in YVR and was home the next day on Air North. Another training camp in the bag!
Thanks to the Black Jack Ski Team!