I just got back from six days skiing in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec. I’ve never skied conditions so good. All trails were well covered with fresh, soft snow. The snow hung thick and heavy on the trees. There was an endless variety of trails to ski on, too. From the mellow 33 Le Harvey, to the wonderful single-track classic 38 that wound it’s way through the forests, to the steep grinds and spine-tingling drops on trail 24. We picked up a few inches every few days to keep things fresh.
I did a lot of classic up there. The conditions were perfect for it. Temperatures never above the 20’s. I used Swix VR 40, touching up a little here and there, until the last day, when I added a top coat of VR 30 for the final, early morning ski because temperatures overnight had dropped to single digits.
Last year, I did this same camp and I had to work hard to keep up with the other guys. I skied most of the days at race pace for me and was endlessly exhausted. This year, things clicked, especially for classic technique. I came out of the dryland season fit, strong and fresh. I carried over a lot of the comfort and technique improvements from last year. Most of all, I figured out how to stride the hills, especially the steep ones.
The conditions helped. The new Fischer Carbonlite classic skis, with a longer and flatter kick zone helped. I finally got the leg extension, hip follow-through and body position to all come together. There were still moments when I slipped here and there, but I was able to recover. My ratio of good kicks to slips was the oppositve of last year, 90-95%. The snow was so soft in some spots that I couldn’t depend on my poles to muscle my way through, because the minute I leaned on the pole it would sink a foot or two. So I had to put even more emphasis driving from my legs. It was unprecedented for me to be climbing things that steep without struggling, with my heart rate in the comfort zone, with confidence I’ve never had before. I owe a lot to the guys who had the patience to work with me to improve my technique, to provide positive feedback and to put up with my endless questions these past few years.
I’ve been at this skiing thing for more than a few years now. Every year I get better. A lot better. This speaks to how much room I have to improve. After last year, I figured I would have reached a plateau. But these long, hard days at MSA have shown me that I have made another big leap forward.
And there’s no better way to start the race season.