Some Racing Adventures
When you think of ski destinations, the first one to come to mind is definitely not Kazakhstan. However, Almaty, Kazakhstan was definitely a neat venue for the 2017 Winter Universiade.
On January 24th I headed off on a two-day journey, and on Thursday I arrived in Almaty. I had been prepared for the trip with advice from Olivia and Maya, who travelled to Kazakhstan for World Juniors in 2015 so I came equipped with extra food and ready for the smog.
Fortunately, we ended up much better off than the girls were two years ago. We got to compete at a site out of town, at 1500m elevation, where the smog held off until late afternoon and the ski conditions were wonderful. We were also fed tolerable food, although the snacks I brought were much appreciated.
After we arrived we had a few days before the racing started. We got to get a nice feel for the courses, which had some fun corners, one big climb and lots of snow. We skied then skied two 5km races, skate and classic, a sprint, a relay and a 15km. I really wanted to qualify in the sprint and I was able to, along with three other Canadian girls. It was cool to have so many girls in the heats!
The non-racing side of the games was also very interesting. There were athletes there from many winter sports, and we went to see a women’s hockey game. I was good to remember that there are other sports in the world, when you live in the Canmore bubble most of your friends are in Nordic or Biathlon.
It was also interesting to talk to athletes from other countries. The French and American girls were very friendly as well as some of the eastern Europeans. The Russians and Kazakhs didn’t speak all that much English or French, but still managed to communicate their good spirits.
We got a little bit of an opportunity to go touristing outside of the racing. We visited a few places in Almaty including a church and the market, which was the most fun. It was nice to buy some Kazakh snacks, which were different from the athlete’s village's nation neutral food.
After the games I took a little layover in Switzerland/France and did a local race and a marathon, La Tranjurasienne. Despite a lack of snow, they managed a 50km course for the Trans’ju, and I skied my first 50k. I got an elite wave start, so I got to start up with Aurélie Dabudyk, Robin Duvillard, Jean-Marc Gaillard and the other top racers, which allowed me to avoid the traffic, but meant that I got passed by many many men from wave 1.
After the marathon. I was really ready to come home! I got a bit sick over there and it was nice to come home, although the wave of homework and exam that engulfed me immediately needed to be manages. I’m now looking forward to Nationals and enjoying the amazing snow we have in Canmore.
Last three photos creds to Kyla Vanderswet (hockey), Shelby Dickey (me racing) and U sports (team jumping photo).
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