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Nothing Fun about Funerals!

I went to a co-worker’s funeral in the beautiful church of St-Sauveur-des-Monts. We joined the organization at the same time and we’re office neighbours in that first year. Three years ago he was diagnosed with inoperative cancer: he died this month at the young age of 42.

David was a guy with a big heart and one of the biggest practical jokers that I have ever meet.

Here are some of his classics:
– Writing bogus reference letters to people who ask him for a reference.
– Filling a cubical up to the top of the wall in paper when an employee came back from parental leave.
– Sending and growing grass on old keyboard at an employee’s desk which was gone for a long period and putting his face on milk cartons.
– Crisscrossing the computer to monitor cables of two neighbouring colleagues. Each person would see the other person screen and couldn’t figure out their computer was acting that way. Especially when one of them rebooted their machine and nothing happened on the screen in front of them while his neighbour’s computer kept rebooting for no apparent reason.

This fellow geographer also had the biggest music and movie collection of anyone I knew. He did some much overtime, he never said ‘no’. I joked that his house was his secondary address and that his main address was his cubical with the amount of overtime he did and little vacation he took. This is other sign for me that there is more to life than work. David will greatly be missed by friend and family.

+ + + Repose en paix David + + +

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L’Express HSQ, Laurentian Autoroute with a peek of Mont Gabriel’s summit


Village of St-Sauveur-des-Monts as seen from the Mont Avila-Mont St-Sauveur boundary.

After leaving the funeral, I decided to try to clear my head and go skiing. I’ve done this before, skiing to focus on more positive things or forget.

I exited the church at 3pm and was parked next to the Laurentian Ski Museum, but the door was close. I was in St-Sauveur-des-Monts, a place which is surrounding with skiing. Six ski areas in which to choose from, five of them belonging to MSSI which I had access with my super Edelweiss MSSI pass.

Mont St-Sauveur : many runs and although my MSS has been recently limited to May skiing, they were some runs in hills and runs in the valley that I haven’t skied in decades.

Morin Heights : A nice area, but I skied here with Morgane back in 2007. I wished to focus on places that I hadn’t skied in a long time.

Mont Olympia : I was never a big fan of Olympia back in the 1980s, however I wouldn’t mind a return visit. Unfortunately the MSSI ski area didn’t offer night skiing midweek and closed at 4pm.

Mont Gabriel : I skied Gabriel more often than many of the different areas, but I haven’t returned since we trained there when I was on the UdeM ski team back in 1991. Other than training, this was the ski area we always visited with our annual High school ski day over 30 years ago. Unfortunately, like Olympia, MSSI didn’t offer midweek night skiing. The corporate advantage of having many ski areas under one roof.

Mont Habitant : not part of MSSI, so they need to stay open to compete with the MSSI empire. I haven’t been in decades, but I wasn’t going to stay long enough to warrant buying a lift ticket.

Mont Avila : I did a few turns at AKAMP ski camp last July, but I didn’t get a good return visit. A dozen of ski trails: that would be enough for the amount of the time I had. I just want to spend some time on snow to clear my head.

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High ratio of boarders


Trail heading towards L’Express and Laurentians Autoroute heading to Montreal

Mont Avila is the first of a series of Laurentians ski areas when you head North from Montreal. If I exclude the few nights of training I did when I raced in university in 1992 or the cross-boundary dual ticket with St-Sauveur, this was my first real ski visit of Mont Avila since 1984. You can ski from Mont Avila to Mont St-Sauveur which is accessible on a dual-ticket (or my pass), but I wanted to stay on the Avila side as it was limited and wanted to get a feel of the place. There are similarities between Avila and Edelweiss; vertical drop, more than one lift on a relatively restrained size ski area, one being a HSQ, trail that was converted into a snowpark (which needs a parkpass to access) and the easiest trails on the left plus there is tubing not to far off.

I eat a lunch/supper in the cafeteria and headed out shortly before sunset. It was felt colder than -12c. After my first run on Express under the Quad, I skied left to right on trail map starting with mellower JackRabbit and La Laurentides trails. The next two trails were steeper or that is the way I remembered them. They are now exclusively park of a mega snowpark, so like Yodeler at Edelweiss, the Grande Ourse and Piedmont trails contain a number of park features. To access this terrain you need a parkpass and a helmet, I only had one of those.


Secteur Piedmont snowpark as seen from La Laurentide trail. The mound and park features are also used in the Summer ski AKAMP


Bottom of La Laurentide trail and Secteur Piedmont snowpark

The fact that MSSI has a number of ski areas in the valley, MSSI has focused on building a kick ass park for a hill which so little trails. For the last few seasons, they covered the snow from the big air at the bottom of Piedmont trail once the season was over and kept it for the AKAMP job camp at the end of June. Mont Avila definitely caters to the park jibbers.

The place was deserted as the sun was going down. The next trails were straight down the face of Avila. At the centre of Mont Avila is located the wide Express trails (East and West). I remember the steep pitch at the top of skier’s left which 30 years later is totally avoidable.


The steepest part of the pitch is the same as when I was a kid (Bourasque trail), but it is now totally avoidable of only part of a most larger Express trail


View from the top of Express. Top of Mont Olympia can be seen in the distance

Conditions were hard with recycled frozen granular with a hard icy surface and not as pleasant as Edelweiss. It helped to have good edges. To the right Pronto was groomed hard and the Hill 67 had sketchy conditions. I don’t think I went into the glades as I had my good slalom skis, but I did take a ride of the mini park features on Secteur Express.

After 11 runs in 90 minutes, I had enough. Even though skiing generally helps get my mind off unpleasant things, the skiing didn’t help much tonight. It was nice to revisit a place a few decades later, but my mind wasn’t into it.


Chalet and my skis that were stolen in March 😦


Mont Avila as seen from the Chalet


Mont Avila-Mont St-Sauveur Trail Map

I wrote this a few months ago, but never got around to complete it. David would have turned 43 this week, so I thought it would appropriate to post it now.

Sampling of song in my head : Des fois mais pas toujours from Urbain Desbois
http://bop.fm/s/urbain-desbois/des-fois-mais-pas-toujours

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MadPat’s Gallery:
Mont Avila : 10 février 2014

Monday Mad Addict’s Attic:
Mont Avila, circa 1980
The trail named have changed (Piedmont on the old map isn’t the same).

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After the bad week and last episode of rain 14-days ago, the awesome 2013-14 Winter was back on track. The Polar Vortex 2 moved in time for the Ottawa Masters to use their no skin suit rule last Wednesday. The temperature moved away from the deep into the -20s just in time for Saturday.

Saturday January 25 : Edelweiss

The Strief ski run opened for the previous weekend, but we were away racing at the neighbouring hills. Prior to the trail opening, Strief had a few big mounds of snow on it which was probably moved after the rain, then it got real cold.

Saturday morning was covered with 10cm layer of fresh snow. As usual, instead of making fresh tracks, coaches were making a fresh course down a steep Streif. I couldn’t believe the amount of snow that was blown at the entrance and in the pitch of a still closed Shotgun trail. I’m taking meters high. A few poachers defied patrollers and ducked the rope or sketched down on the edge of Strief behind the pipes.

Today was the return to awesomeness of our great winter weather with fresh snow, big flakes falling and -6c in the afternoon.

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Sunday January 26 : Edelweiss

Our Winter hasn’t been only about the snow, but also the cold spells. A freezing -29c start which would warm up to -18c later in the afternoon. Shotgun mounds of snow were roughly flatten, but I think the trail was still closed and some people were still poaching it.

It didn’t matter, it was a hero snow day on Strief. When it is this cold, snow doesn’t slide much. Hard lovely carveable cold artificial snow on the steep pitch, I could have stayed for hours if it wasn’t for my frozen hands and toes. Morgane was giving her ski lessons, not easy to ski with young kids when it is this cold.

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Tuesday January 28 evening : Edelweiss

Another 10cm feel on Ottawa on Monday with continued cold conditions, awesome skiing and -18c. Coaching on Strief again, but with the U10s and U12s for a training evening under the lights. For the three outings in four day, I still skied exclusively on Streif.

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Wednesday January 29 evening : Fortune – Back on course (Racing)

So Winter was back on course…now it was time for me to get back on course. Back to ski racing. I’m taking babysteps in Winter 2014 in my return to Ottawa Masters ski racing after a hiatus due to health issues. I’m still not over them and I’ve been skipped two of the first three races struggling with my anxiety. Wednesday was my first slalom race since March 2011. A slalom on Slalom was the order of the evening. I hesitated before leaving the house, however I managed to overcome my demons for this night. The stress level was slightly better than my first race back two Wednesdays ago, but the results were again far from my normal handicap. Skiing at 88%, second last in the Beer Points again. Although the conditions were nice, the course was down to the blue ice layer from the rain event. The skis weren’t tuned, but that wasn’t important, the goal was showing up for the race.

Next race is already tomorrow: a GS at Edelweiss.

Tonight’s Results and Beer Points

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What did I go during the Holidays? Not sure other than ski many days at Edelweiss and watch hours of Doctor Who episodes. We also got away for New Year Eve Celebration at Titus Mountain, New York.

Saturday December 21

On the first day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin des bois trails to ski.
A snowing drive after the previous day long snowing drive to and from Tremblant.
A nice -7c and smooth skiing.
One coach off to Newfoundland and the another at Tremblant resulting in me skiing with the U10s.
Great day with the exception of one hour of freezing fog and a young racer being plowed by a snowboarder on Chemin des bois.

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Sunday December 22

On the second day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin des bois trails to ski.
Woke up by some ice pellets hitting the window.
No snowplows on Ottawa streets and crazy slow snowing drive after I managed to hit the highway.
A nice -6c and 12cm of fresh snow with a layer of sugar on top with was hard for the U10s.
Freezing windshield and goggles weather turned us into skiing glazed donuts.

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Monday December 23

On the third day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Upper Zoomer is added to Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin des bois trails to ski.
Brushes on Upper Zoomer for the younger kids to brush up on their stance and pole plant while older kids got full gates on Lower Yodeler.
Again nice -7c and awesome groomed packed powder skiing.
So good that I added a couple of extra runs after the training was done.

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Friday December 27

On the fourth day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Upper Zoomer, Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin des bois trails to ski.
Skiers’ Boxing Day…after wrapping, unwrapping and shopping in the last 3 days, it is time for the folks to hit the slopes.
The Strief chair opened for the first time this season, but no extra terrain open.
An 8am arrival for my daughter Morgane’s CSIA Level 1 Instructor Course even if the lifts only opened at 9am.
One coach gone and two were back – Christmas Camp is starting for the whole race program.
Brushes and stubbies on Upper Zoomer and Full gates and hand timing of slalom runs for older kids.
Conditions were awesome in the morning, but I was helping to set the course.
Deep cold as moved in those days, but the cold morning temperature, turned out to blue bird and -7c again.

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Saturday December 28

On the fifth day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Upper Zoomer, Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin trails to ski.
Second day of CSIA course for Morgane, second day of camp for the race program.
Racers skiing GS while younger kids begged me to take them in the “bumps” which was in fact ungroomed mounts of snowmaking on the skiers’ left of Upper Zoomer.
Warm day in Ottawa with a -1c at 7am, temperature hovered around freezing all day.
A very light spitting like on Day 2.
The top of hill was covered with a fog/mist when we left.

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Sunday December 29

On the sixth day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Upper Zoomer, Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin trails to ski.
Morgane passed her CSIA Level 1 and follows in the tracks of her grandfather more than 60 years later.
Christmas camp day two and I’m with the U12s today as we set on Upper Zoomer.


Congratulation Morgane!!!

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Monday December 30

On the seventh day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Upper Zoomer, Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin trails to ski.
Cold -20c and the snowguns are back on Zoomer.
Frozen U10 kids in and out of the lodge a few times.
My whole family is at the hill and Morgane’s season pass snapped in half while training GS with the U16s.
Warmed up to a -18c in the afternoon.

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Thursday January 2

On the eighth day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Upper Zoomer, Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin trails to ski.
Car had difficulty to start when it was time to leave the hill.
-29c makes for a freaking cold day, almost record-breaking, wind chill warning in Ottawa, frozen toes and frostbite at the end of nose to end the day… even if it had warmed up to -24c. Hard to believe that it could be colder than earlier in the week.
We had the hill to ourselves, except for a few brave frozen souls.
The kids trained GS top to bottom on Yodeler on a Polar Vortex day.
Too cold for the radios to function; awesome groomed conditions.
Huge mountain of snow on Zoomer…can’t wait to have it flatten so we can have another run open. There was also limited snowmaking operations on Easter Bowl and Streif for the first time.

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Friday January 3

On the ninth day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Mountain of snow on Zoomer are flatten.
The rest of Zoomer is added to Upper Zoomer, Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin trails to ski.
Another -29c start at a freaking cold day, wind chill warning, frostbite on nose and frozen toes as it warmed up to -25c.
Stubbies slalom instead of full gates due to cold and the risk of breaking them.
As for my body, I thought my nose would fall off.
Incredible skiing on incredible new grabby hero snow on Zoomer.
Snowmaking on Easter Bowl and Strief.

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Saturday January 4

On the tenth day of Christmas,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Zoomer, Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin trails to ski.
Couple centimeters of fresh snow and Slalom training on Zoomer.
Much warmer day forecast gave us a still cold -22c to start and increased wind. Temps managed to crawl up to -14c, but still had frozen toes and nose.
And Mikaela Tommy visiting her coaching brother and giving back to her club and community. Never saw someone ski so fast in a course without touching the gates.
18-year old Mikaela received the rockstar welcome from the kids.

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Sunday January 5

On the eleventh day and last day of Christmas holidays,
Ullr and MSSI gave to me:
Zoomer, Yodeler, Chute, Trou du Diable, Easy Street and Chemin trails to ski.
Great conditions and awesome skiing with fresh snow again. You know its good when a World Cup skier skis Edelweiss on fat skis.
People tracking powder when we are setting.
Mikaela was back in the afternoon with her race gear to ski with the club and her dad, Mike Tommy (twice Olympian and Canadian Champion in the 1980s), gave a few pointers to the racers and coaches.
It was a great conclusion to the last day of the Holidays. Awesome snow conditions, awesome skiing by the kids and awesome pointers from World Cup skiers.
And real warm day compared to the last few days; -12c to -4!!!

Last Holidays were real good, but the 2013 Christmas Holidays skiing at Edelweiss was overall the best in over 5 years!!!! The Ottawa region was blessed by Ullr this Christmas, let’s just hope he doesn’t take too much of a break this Winter and keep delivering.

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Pictures courtesy of Julie from the Edelweiss Ski Racing Team

U12s on Lower Yodeler


Mikaela skiing the awesome conditions


Maddie U16 training slalom on Zoomer


Adam


Chris


Xavier


Mikaela and her fans!!! You can even see a piece of MadPat in that picture

Support Mikaela Tommy : Make A Champ website

S-Media : Q&A with Canadian Rising Star Mikaela Tommy by C.J. Feehan

FIS website : Mikaela Tommy’s biography and results


Bob and Doug McKenzie : Twelve Days of Christmas
Truly is the Great White North!!!

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Celebrating the New Year in New York!!!

Ti..s is the place!!!

Not TIMES Square at the centre of Manhattan, but TITUS Mountain on the Northern edge of the Adirondack mountains a few miles south of the Whippleville near Malone, New York.

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In the last days of 2013 I received an email from Titus informing me of their plans. I thought it would so cool. I had skied a number of times on the first day on New Year, but never at the stroke of midnight.

Quote from Titus:

This New Year’s Eve, we’re pulling-out all the stops to ring in 2014 & you don’t want to miss it!

Great food & beverages, LIVE entertainment, nightskiing & much, much more!

Our lifts will be OPEN ’til 1am on New Year’s Day! For the FIRST TIME, you can lay down the FIRST TRACKS of the New Year!

As midnight approaches, you can enjoy our Torchlight Parade down the main slope in front of our expanded lodge & patio area . . .

. . . and, at the stroke of midnight as the last torch goes out, the FIREWORKS explode over the mountain!

The North Country has never seen a New Year’s celebration like this! Join us & welcome in 2014 the Titus way!

It was something that I had looked for New Year 2000, but I didn’t find. Now we were going into 2014 and a family ski area few miles south of the border was going to make it happen. The month of January 2014 was also a personal skiing milestone for myself.


Wait at US Customs on New Year’s Eve

Although I was skiing locally at Edelweiss almost every day during the Holidays, the family thought it would be so cool to drive to Malone, New York. The forecast was calling for an extremely cold night, but the lowest temperatures of the week was pushed back 24 hours making me breath a sign of relief as my youngest daughter had a hard time the previous day at Edelweiss. We hadn’t planned to ski for the whole day, but the last few hours of the year and getting first tracks of the year past midnight was on a “Bucket list somewhere”. We left Ottawa after 6pm to make the 100 miles 2-hour journey across the border. Between the traffic, slippery roads with snow and the cold below -21c, the longer than average wait at the US Border and the odd extremely slow driving individual such as 30mph in a 55mph zone (they were either drunk or never drove when snowing types): the drive took us over 2:40. We arrived shortly after the torchlight parade (which had been moved earlier in the evening) which gave us a parking spot not far from the lodge.


Sign to Titus


Base Lodge


Party in the Base Lodge with band playing some Guns

We walk through the the bar which was rocking with lights and a live band playing stuff like Guns N’ Roses. It was passed 9pm when we got our lift tickets. This was my third trip to Titus: the last one involved us showing up at unfortunately closed ski area during a terrible Spring Break 2012. The only visit which featured actual skiing was in February 2005. Morgane was only 7 at that time and it proved to be an excellent family ski area. It is a 1200′ vertical area with 3 small mountain with a calm atmosphere. The night skiing is limited to two sides of the smaller of these hills.

Ski Map


Ready for some turns


Sunset at the base of Chair I


Chair I

This was the ‘least’ good and the iciest conditions I had experienced in 18 outings so far this season. I have to say that the conditions for the last month have been consistently amazing. It was snowing and there was a nice layer of fresh snow, however the base was slick and firm and would have called for sharpen skis to fully appreciate it. It is true that ski areas north of the St.Lawrence divide hadn’t suffered any real thaw this season, unlike near or south of the border.

A trip to Titus is a bit of travel to simpler time with old lifts, old lighting and quieter trails. I always love skiing at rustic ski areas. The terrain offered to us didn’t add any extra value to make the trip from Ottawa, especially for the night skiing. The skiing isn’t steeper and the vertical isn’t really greater than the Ottawa locals have to offer. For the same distance, you can make it to Tremblant, but you won’t be able to find that rustic feeling, excellent family, quiet and beginner ski area.


Snowing on Chair I


Main Side and Chair IV

Our late evening started with a slow ride up the triple and a descent towards the other side of Moon Valley. Morgane mentioned that the black run wasn’t that much harder than Edelweiss’ green run Easy Street. There was maybe 7 various descents to be skied on this night. The plan had to ski non-stop until next year, but it was a cold night. The temperature was warmer than anticipated with a -14c compared to the -20c it was in Ottawa when we left, but it didn’t stop us from taking a small break to warm up.


Warming up


Fireworks and snowflakes galore

Our last moments of 2013 we done riding the slow double. Certain trails had their light shutoff and the trail closed by a simple chair during the fireworks so we could ski back to the main side from our location. With a few other skiers, we watched the fireworks from behind the chair then heading down the still blackened trails. The darken trails reminded me of night skiing when I was in High School in the early 1980s.

The run on the side of the double chair (chair I) with runs like Whistler, Sunset and Milky West-Ravine Run were more interesting than the flatter main side with chair IV with Milky West, Little Dip/Meadow Run, Chocolate Chip and Ridge Run, however that more remote Pine Run was nice and quiet. The Face was a sheet of ice-covered by small layer of snow. Besides the entertainment inside the Base Lodge, there was also a few people riding the beginner handle tow, in the novice terrain park or at the snowtubing park. A wonderful evening to spend outside.


First turns of 2014 in the dark

Tara and my wife were cold and called it quits for the night with maybe 30 minutes left. Morgane and I closed off our evening until last chair on the main side at 1am. It was a wonderful evening and I could see a better great way to celebrate the New Year and reaching month 100 in the ski streak. I have a voucher for Titus and I might make a return visit when the bigger mountain is open, because 2-hour
is a long drive for this skier to only ski 155 meters (508ft) vertical which is smaller than the hills next door. Still I wouldn’t have wanted to be at another place on this day.


MadPat celebrating the 100-month mark

Happy New Year everyone in the Ski Mad World.

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MadPat’s Gallery:
Titus NY – December 31, 2013 – New Years

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Skiing on Velvet! \:D/ \:D/ \:D/

Just a simple TR just to say Wow!!!

Simply amazing groomed conditions. P.P.P.C. (Perfect Packed Powder Corduroy) on the two different runs I skied. Mind you the temperature was -26c in the morning with -39c windchill; the hill will remain in great shape as we received a bit of snow earlier in the week.

First race of the season, when I turned into the parking at 6:30pm it was a nice -28c.

Did maybe two warmup runs down Zoomer, the usual run for our race. Tonight we had a treat, the GS course was set on Streif.

The racer in me = :drool:
My back injury = 8-[

Streif is pretty impressive trail for a recreational racer. Fun course.

One run for course inspection and one run free ski followed by my 3 timed runs. Not a single patch on ice even on the steep pitch, way better conditions than last Sunday a few miles south at Cascades.

No speed suits for tonight, but a few of us removed our big coats in order to impress and play mind games with our opponents. 😆

3 straight runs without a jacket, just a vest. Back to the top to get my jacket, I was about to get back on the HSQ…but I decided to call it a night for my toes (starting to freeze) and my back. In the bar at 9pm (for the awards and door prizes 8-[ ), got home at 11pm.

Satisfied of my night overall (times could have been better, but with the lack of skiing and back issue), my time was improving every run. Paid a beer for 0.23 slower than my rival. I was a bit stiff at first, but the back survived. Iced it when I got back home.

So for those keeping track, that’s 2 hours, 8 runs x 200m with 0 powder. \:D/

Ottawa Masters evening GS results

From the Ottawa Masters:

Speed Suit Rule
When the ambient temperature at the time of registration drops below -20 C, the use of speed suits shall be banned. Dress warmly. Women, however, are still encouraged to wear speed suits in the bar after the race.

Race Cancellation – Weather
Race will be cancelled if, at 15h00 on the day of the race, Environment Canada posts an ambient temperature of -28C (or lower) either at the http://www.weatheroffice.com web site, or at the 998.3439 info-line. It is the responsibility of the racer to check these sources on race day – Chances are Gary might not be able to post a cancellation notice on the web site by 15h00.

I wasn’t sure if the race was going to happen, notice Vorlage didn’t have any nights. Camp Fortune had lights also, I couldn’t really see Cascades on the drive up. I saw that Edelweiss didn’t opening the following night.

Originally posted on Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:01 pm on firsttracksonline

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Monday Monday… a nice drive up from Montreal.

A beautiful blue sky day. A beautiful cold and windy day.

I took advantage of skiing Ste. Anne when almost all the trails (55/62) were opened. I generally ski this place late in the season. Most of the closed trails on Monday were in the new south side glades area called la Forêt Noire. Snow coverage was great, however some natural snow trails definitely needed more snow.

Skied only on the South side (which is generally closed late in the season). The ski area was making snow like crazy on La Crête and Grand Vallon. La “S” and Beaupré was great fun to ski.

The sleep S trail was hard (some would call it ice), but it’s was very edgeable. I skied mostly groomers, the exception was La pionière which had rock hard bumps and a few rocks. Bare spots were also noticed on some of the sleeper south side runs near the “Trip” triple. Snowmaking runs were in great shape.

Generally a great day. Super, didn’t have any frostbite 😀 . The Maximum for that day probably didn’t get above -20c.

Originally posted on Fri Jan 28, 2005 3:42 pm on firsttracksonline

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