Monday, 3 October 2016

Skating and Skiing are back on the agenda (updated)


Lara has started her "dryland" training for skiing already, this involves a session on Friday evenings in a gymnastics arena, doing jumps and flips and all sorts of body conditioning, then on Saturday mornings she has an outdoor session for an hour and a half, with more running, jumping, stretching and all those sorts of things that come naturally to an eight-year-old. As much as the physical side of things, these sessions are also to help the kids bond as a group, to get to know the other kids in her new age group.  She started in the Under-8s (or U8) group two winters ago, and this gave her 18 days on snow. Then last winter she was in the U10 group, and this meant 33 days on snow. She has now progressed into the U10+ group, and this starts to get more serious. She's due to have 56 days on snow during the autumn and winter, starting on November 12th. That's almost every Saturday and Sunday until the end of April, and also a bunch of Wednesday evenings at Calgary Olympic Park during the colder months from December to March.
As far as Lara's concerned, so far the highlights have been catching up with her old skiing BFF, Lillian, and getting a racing suit. She didn't need one for U10, and really she doesn't need one for U10+, but that's the age when the kids start getting them, and once one kid has one, it's hard to stand up to the barrage of begging that ensues. So, she tried one full price suit on in a shop a couple of weeks ago, but that was more for us to get an idea of her size, and then last weekend Olga found her a perfect, used suit at the ski club's used-gear sale, and Lara is delighted with it. At $75 rather than $350, so are Olga & I.

At U10+ the kids also have to have a team jacket, again to build this team-spirit thing, and I must admit they do look good when you see a bunch of them, all in the same black coats, bombing down the hill in perfect control. They have reminded me, on more than one occasion, of mini-bad-guys from a James Bond movie.
So here's Lara in all her gear, complete with her M.A.S.T jacket (a Bond-esque acronym), which stands for Mount Allan Ski Team - the mountain where the Nakiska resort is located.

Tomorrow night we are off to a specialist skiing shop in Calgary for a "Club Buy Night" - coaches from the ski club will be there, along with representatives from the big ski and boot manufacturers, and the idea is to make sure we get Lara the right skis and boots to suit her ability for the coming season. Lara's U10 coach will be there, which is going to be very useful, as he knows most about her technique and which skis and boots will be the right choice for her for this coming season. The credit card will need to go in the freezer to cool down once we get home, I suspect. But at the same time, it will be a very interesting evening, whilst she's not yet having skis or boots custom fitted, this is the next best thing, and she'll be weighed and measured, and prodded and probed before the decision is made. Those will be her "racing skis", we won't trade in her old pair, as we've done until now, as she'll also need a pair of "rock skis" for when the coaches take them in to the trees or down ridiculously silly, narrow, rocky, double-black-diamond runs. I'll meet her at the bottom of those, thank you very much.

It's not just Lara that's getting new toys - given that Dan will also be starting in the racing club, at their most junior level, from January, and all four of us will be skiing a lot, it's time I learnt how to look after the skis, so I'll be doing the "tuning" of all four sets (five, if I tune Lara's rock skis too), so that's the waxing of the base, and the sharpening of the edges.  Lara's ski club put some classes on that I attended, so I've an idea of how to get started, and I've bought some of the necessary gear, and I need to clear a space in our garage. It's a very Dad thing to do, I hear..

Dan is also looking forward to skiing, it'll be nice to ski with him just for fun initially, but then to hand him over to proper lessons on Saturday mornings from January. One of Olga or I will be with him to get him on and off the chair lifts and pick him up if/when he falls, but from what I saw last winter, I think he'll make really good progress. We picked up some used boots from the club sale last weekend, and are on the look out for new skis for him, he's outgrown his last pair. We'll be selling the reins we bought for him, he doesn't need those any more.


And then there's the skating... Lara is back to skating four days a week - Monday afternoons, Wednesday and Thursday mornings (before school - the alarm goes off around 5.40am!) and then on Friday afternoon. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday is more "general" training, but Friday's is her "competitive training" with a smaller group, geared at getting them ready for the competitions they'll enter through the season. This is also the session where the head coach puts the girls into a harness to help them learn their jumps. Olga got some of Lara's attempts on video - this was one of her better ones, but there were others that were better than this that weren't recorded:

Dan also started back at skating today. Now that he's no longer in full-time nursery, we've been able to put him into skating lessons at lunchtime, when it's much quieter, and he'll get some more individual coaching. He was the best kid out on the ice today! They group the kids into coloured groups based on ability, with the complete beginners in yellow group, then it's purple. then green. Dan is in green, and has been for a while now. Today the only other kids on the ice were yellow, so Dan was often sent off to do a quick lap of the rink while the other kids practised standing up after falling over. He helped tidy up the teaching aids at the end of the session, he was the complete teacher's pet! We had to buy him some new skates just before the lesson, which need sharpening, but it's a bit like riding a bike - you don't forget. He was a little wobbly for the first minute or so, then was fine, though he still pushes with only one leg, rather than using both equally. He's very, very left-footed, like his dad and grandpa! (and very left-handed, which is new for both sides of the family)

UPDATE - Olga tells me Grandpa Nikolai was actually left handed, but was forced to learn to write right-handed at school!