Thursday, February 25, 2010
Shhh!!! Don't Tell Anyone But....
So I was hoping that on Monday I was going to be able to officially announce that I was on the team for the 2010 Paralympics, but obviously that didn’t happen. And I’m not holding out on you, because the answer is I am pretty sure I am going, but nothing really official yet so we have to keep it quiet for now - just our little secret! The official team announcement will be made on March 2nd. Cross-Country Canada has not formally published a list of the athletes they have nominated to the Canadian Paralympic Committee for team selection, but I have been informed by our team manager that mine and Andrea’s names have been put forward. But by asking the question, I got reamed out by our head coach so I guess I shouldn't have asked. Oh well! It is pretty unlikely that CPC will go against CCC’s nominations, but we all will have to wait until March 4th for the official word. There you go, clear as mud!
The reason for the delay is that the powers that be have decided to delay the team announcement until March 2nd, after the Olympics are over, in order to maximize any media attention we might get. In the meantime, I have Nationals to contend with! I will have two races this weekend, one classic and one skate, but as far as I know, Cross-Country Canada has yet to publish exactly how far these two races will be! Do you see a trend here? Athletes seem to be the last ones to know exactly what is going on! So we’ve all developed a pretty good sense of “Expect the unexpected and expect there to be changes to the unexpected.” Gotta just roll with whatever comes our way!
I will be staying with Andrea and her parents at their place in Canmore (thank you Moe and Michelle!), which is so much nicer than staying in a hotel. After Nationals, I’m going to hang around Canmore until March 5th to get in some more skiing with the team. The only one not staying is Mary, who is going to head to Mount Washington in order to get in some extra time on snow that is more like what we will have at Callaghan. For you non-skiers out there, snow is not just snow to us skiers. There is dry snow, wet snow, new snow, old snow, artificial snow, cold snow, warm snow, abrasive snow, soft snow….you get the picture! We have to know what the snow conditions are in order to pick the right wax so Mary’s idea of going to Mount Washington for more time on the warmer coastal snow is a good one. How you ski a course will change depending on the snow conditions so more time on the damp snow on the coast is a smart move on Mary’s part. Actually, Mount Washington was where Cross-Country Canada sent its’ Olympic team to prepare, but we will be preparing in Canmore where the conditions are unlikely to be very coastal at all – hello dry prairie snow! Sounds logical, eh? To me it is an example of how the Paralympic movement in Canada still has a ways to go before things truly are integrated….
Anyway, I had an 8:00am flight this morning and got to the airport in good time, but I have to bring my biathlon rifle with me to Canmore for training. You know how you shouldn’t mention the word “gun” in an airport? Try travelling with one! Andrea brought it from Canmore for me and had no trouble, but I think this morning I got an over-zealous security guy! I checked the gun in and told the man that gave me my boarding pass that a laser biathlon gun. He said “No problem . Just send it special baggage.” So I did, but that was where Mr. High Security was. He sent me back to the first guy to sign my boarding pass that I had indeed declared it. Then, after explaining for the third time that it was a laser biathlon rifle, Mr. High Security said. “Any ammunition?” So I re-iterated that it was a laser biathlon gun so no, there were no bullets. “Are you sure?” Hmmm, let me think….NO!” This would have been a really bad time to say I was also legally blind. So I politely just said no. “Well, you need to fill out this form declaring you are travelling with a gun.” Okay, so I did that. Then I had to take it over to get it swabbed for explosives. The woman there hardly took two looks at the rifle, but Mr. High Security came back while she was waiting for the swab test results and told her he would sign the form when she was done so I had to wait for that. Anyway, by the time I got the gun onto the luggage belt, it had been about 35 minutes from when I arrived at the airport so I had to run to security.
I can’t remember if I mentioned it in a post or not, but when we were coming back from the World Cup races, the Swiss Olympic team was on our flight. So I had to laugh when I noticed that right in front of me in the line-up to clear security was a Swiss athlete, easily recognized by his clothing and backpack. We both got through security and were packing up our bags when the woman watching people come through the metal detector recognized he obviously was an athlete too. “Any medals?” she asked. “Yes,” he replied, “Two gold.” She laughed as if she was thinking “Yeah, right buddy.” And then asked him, “A silver or a bronze?” So then he looked confused because he had just very clearly said “Two gold.” So he repeated his answer only to have her laugh again and said “No really, did you win?” And he again looked confused (understandably) and said “Two gold.” At which point, she said, “You? You won two gold?” He shook his head. “By yourself?” she asked. Oh, you have got to be kidding? I didn’t want him to think all Canadians were that dumb so I asked him for what sport and it was ski jumping. He jumped 95m on the normal hill and 104m on the large hill. I knew that ski jumpers were small, but he was tiny! Jockey-sized in fact. Anyway, the security woman asked if she could she his medals and I’m not sure if she asked because she still didn’t believe him or because she really did want to see them, but he started rummaging through his suitcase to find them and she walked away! He looked at me and said, “She asked to see them and now she is gone?” I just shrugged, but it was all good because obviously everyone around was oohing and ahhing over them. And yes, those medals are huge! So congratulations to Simon Amman from Switzerland for winning two gold medals in ski jumping. All by yourself.
And some good news – I finally have a camera! So now I don’t have to mooch pictures off others, other than those that are better than my own, which pretty much means I will still be mooching photos. But at least I can take my own when I want!
So that is it for now, but I will post soon again. I am sitting in the Calgary airport while I post this so when I get settled in Canmore, I’ll post again.