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Welcome to the CAN Fund Athlete Blog!
This is where Canadian Athletes will be posting as they train and prepare to represent Canada on the World Stage! Keep up to date on when and where our athletes are training and competing!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE - Sailing

This morning I woke up to heavy rain, sometimes hail - funny cause "it's never like this" in Perth in December. Considering it was the hottest day on record a few days ago, and then it's hailing...it's become a bit of a running joke amongst us sailors (but it's not a funny joke) that the normal weather patterns never hold up for race time. The norm here in Fremantle is that "The Fremantle Doctor" blows constistently between noon and 3pm, a cooling afternoon sea breeze which occurs during the summer months in SW coastal areas of western Australia. In all our training time leading up to the Worlds, we had these great "usual" conditions, however, that's all changed. The Doctor has yet to come, I think he's drowned in all the rain. I'm pretty sure that Perth has a new rainfall record from today.

Thunder and lightning kept us onshore all day, and at 2pm the race organizers called off the day. Too dangerous. Lightning was hitting things in our boat park!!!

I came home to check out the weather and news...only to learn that: Storm-ravaged parts of the city have been declared natural disaster zones.

With racing cancelled today, we lost the opportunity to race 2 races. Tomorrow they have 3 races scheduled (which is the most they can do on a given day - provided that we windsurfers have at least 1 of the 1st 2 races in planing conditions). With only 6 races in the opening series scheduled, now having been dwindled down to a maximum of 5, it's quite important for me to have 3 super solid races tomorrow.

Bring it!
Nikola

Thursday, December 1, 2011

SARAH BOUDENS - Canoe/Kayak

Canada Cleans Up and US Thanksgiving Race!
The Canadian Whitewater Slalom Team has been training super hard in Charlotte, North Carolina at the US National Whitewater Center.  This site will be hosting our 2012 Olympic Team Selection races in April of 2012 alongside the US Team Selections.  Our Olympic Team will be determined after 4 runs over two days with the best 3 of 4 counting.  It’s going to be intense!!
This training camp was a great opportunity to get in some quality time on the course in Charlotte.  It’s big and pushy and makes for some exciting racing.  Our training camp concluded with a two day race that was very well attended by us Canadians of course but also included the entire US National Team.
Canada won every class we entered!  It was even a clean sweep in the Men’s Kayak class with five time Olympian David Ford taking the win, closely follow by Ben Hayward of Edmonton and rounding out the podium was John Hastings of Ottawa in third.
The C2 Men’s class was won by the Cutts brothers, Jamie and Adam, of Ottawa while Alexandra Mcgee also of Ottawa placed first in the C1 Women’s class.
I’m also happy to report that I won the K1 Women’s class followed in second by top US paddler, Caroline Queen, and in third place was newcomer to the Canadian Team, Thea Froehlich of Ottawa.
It was a very successful training camp followed by an even more successful race.  It’s a good sign of things to come for next year leading into the Games.  Go Canada!
Sarah

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE- Sailing

After returning home from the Pan Am Games, I completed a hard two weeks of training at home, both on and off the water in what were some pretty great November conditions in English Bay, all in preparation for my trip to Perth - and the upcoming World Championships/Olympic Qualifiers. I was relieved to finally have everything packed and done when I got on the plane last week to Perth. After a super long day of travel, a Vancouver to Sydney flight (luckily direct but still 15+hrs), then another 5 hour flight from Sydney to Perth, I finally arrived, safe and sound, somewhat tired and luckily with all my equipment in tact. 
Excited about sailing in warm and sunny Perth, I went out for a session on my first day (always helps with the jet lag). The next day was very stormy, rainy and cold - which gave me a perfect chance to get myself organized: I food shopped, got my gym membership, phone card etc. Since we were starting a 4 day 'coaches run regatta' the following day, I didn't mind taking this day off. 

There were 3 races each day for the last 4 days. The coaches organized this regatta and charged an entry fee so that there would be some prize money at the end for the top competitors, and more importantly so that the competitors would actually take the regatta a bit more seriously than "just training races". I broke my batten on the first day before racing so I sailed 3 races like that... not the best and thus my results suffered a bit from that. However for day 2, 3, and 4 I had gear that worked and I was able to test my speed and my racing skills against many of the sailors that are here training. One of the days got really windy and with the bay being quite shallow, the waves/chop made it very difficult and sometimes a bit scary upwind as we get launched off the waves, but they also make for some particularly sketchy downwinds. Attached is a picture of me leading this crazy windy downwind! I think we were about 20+ girls. I managed to have quite a few good races amongst the 12 race regatta and finished the event off in 3rd....which meant prize money...$100!!! Ok, so it's not that much, but since we never get prize money, this is the most I've ever won for an RSX event :) Here in Perth, everything is so unbelievably expensive that I gladly welcomed this addition to my funding...


The online magazine Sail-World.com has also just released an article on me yesterday...click here to read it:
 Perth 2011 - Canada’s RS:X Champ Nikola Girke shares love and luck  <http://sail-world.com/Australia/index.cfm?SEID=0&amp;Nid=90975&amp;SRCID=0&amp;ntid=0&amp;tickeruid=0&amp;tickerCID=0>

 And...that's all for now. I'm having 2 days off the water before I get back out there...today I went to check out Perth and tomorrow I'm heading down the coast to the infamous Margaret River.

The first day of racing of the World Championships is on the 5th of December. I'll be sending details on how to follow results etc then, but you can also check out the website of the Perth 2011 ISAF World Championships <http://www.perth2011.com>

Thank you for your continued support.


Nikola

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

STEPHANIE RHODES-BOSCH- Equestrian

Five Points Horse Trials

After a very successful weekend at the Carolina Horse Park, I would have to say that I’m feeling very good about my plans for the rest of the fall season.

I had a very successful return to the Advanced level with Ollie, finishing 2nd after adding just one rail to our competitive dressage score. Obviously, after making a mistake and popping off at Richland, I was bound and determined to make things go well at Five Points. Tremaine Cooper certainly gave us enough to do on the 7:17sec Advanced track, but that was just how I wanted it. One of the reasons that I made the 6 hour hike to Raeford, NC was because I knew the track would be awesome and it didn’t leave me wanting more!!

The offset houses out of the barn, two tough coffin complexes and several other combinations that made you ride forward and stick to your guns was exactly what I needed to rebuild my confidence at this level. I rode with a purpose and Ollie stepped right up to the plate and rocked around like a champ.
Little miss Vienna completed her second Training level event in style, shaving 9 points off her last dressage test and adding just one tired-pony rail to her score. She is so brave cross country, which makes my job easy. I am focusing on getting the ride right for an even better dressage test with this mare in the future. She has all the pieces, but she’s definitely a challenge!! She finished 8th in a large, competitive division and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Now, back to rainy Virginia ( yayyy for the footing… boo for the fact that I just bought two cans of camp dry for every thing I own)

Wishing everyone luck at the American Championships in Georgia this weekend, and looking forward to a few weeks of dressage and fitness work on the nice squishy ground!!
Stay tuned

Saturday, September 3, 2011

JOHN


Bratislava Life

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks since I touched down in Prague. With the World Cup Final, a trip to the 2011 Sprint Canoe World Championships, and now training full-on here in Bratislava, there really hasn’t been a stop. 

The World Cup Final in Prague didn’t go as well as hoped. As I have referenced a number of times, with the amount of time I have spent training and living there, Prague is like my European home course. I was looking to better my performance from last year’s World Cup, and after a strong couple of runs in the qualifier, I was feeling on form. I was off to a strong start in the semi-final, and was fastest at the midway split, however, I took a touch in the lower section of the course that not only added two-seconds to my run, but slowed me down as I became a little more passive to avoid touching another gate. In Prague, if you are fast enough, you can get away with one-touch....but two-touches, forget it (unless your Vavrinc Hradliek, or Matuesz Polaczyk). Anyways, I ended up 13th, and as you can imagine was a bit disappointed. As this was the World Cup Final, I ended up ranked 12th on the overall World Cup.

Following Prague, the team headed south to Bratislava, Slovakia, where we are now based, and will be through to the World Championships. Seeing that this will be the site for our World Champs in September, getting as much training on the course here will certainly be advantageous. Training is going well, the beauty with Bratislava, there is always something new to learn, which keeps it fresh here. We can also tell that the Worlds are quickly coming.  Everyday something new is being built at the course. I am getting excited to race.
This past weekend, coach Michal and I ventured further south to Szeged, Hungary to watch my all of my friends race in the 2011 Sprint Canoe World Championships. I have never been to a Sprint race before, and since Hungary is the epi-center of Sprint Canoeing, I figured why not! We were not disappointed. As most of you know, Adam VanKoeverdan dusted the competition in the K1-M 1000M final. It was inspiring to watch....and let me tell you, it was no fluke. I don’t know any other athlete who trains as hard as Adam does, and to see the hard work pay off, again, reassured my belief that hard work does pay dividends. 

Talk soon,
John

Thursday, August 4, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE- Sailing

After several nice summery days here in Weymouth, it was back to good old UK weather! I woke up to the heavy rain several times this past night...and sure enough, this morning was no better. My races were scheduled for 2pm and luckily by that time the front passed, it was beautiful and sunny with some breeze.

For the entire time of my pre-race warm-up/getting dialed in, it was fully planing, but then just at the start the wind died quite a bit and we ended starting with our daggerboard down in railing mode. I did not have a great start, I was too close to others - both from above and below and quickly got rolled. I had planned on going left up the first beat - so decided when the breeze came up a bit again to go planing. I was soon in clear air and with some good speed and height, I was passing boards. I tacked just shy of the port layline and it looked to me that I was in the lead...until about 3/4 up the track when the wind went a bit right and the boards that went right were coming in hot. Needless to say, I did not round first nor did I round in the first 10. I battled the rest of the race and with a few smart calls up the second upwind, I worked myself up to 7th.

Race Two: Everyone had figured out that the right side of the course was favoured by this point and thus 3/4's of the fleet started on port (heading to the right side). I started on port as well - but once again was too close to the boards below me and lost my ability to sail high and low working the waves. Dirty air is never good and thus I decided to foot off (sail lower than those around me) which in turn had me sailing through them to leeward. The leaders were gone at this point (they had great starts with clean lanes) and I just had to try to catch up as much as I could. Bit by bit I took boards down and by the third upwind mark I was in 3rd. On the last downwind the wind lightened off a bit, I didn't gybe in the proper spot missing a gust, then got dirty air from the boards behind/on top of me, and I had trouble staying on a plane. Then one of my battens broke during a gybe which kept me from planing out of my gybe, I wallowed a bit while the others planed past me from both sides...ARGH!!! So, 200m from the finish I went from 3rd to 8th. Definitely disappointing and some lessons to be learned from that....I must fight to plane no matter what!!!

I sit in 8th at the moment. Many more races to go...

And attached is a picture of me getting my sail all stickered up....GO CANADA!!! no mistaking what country I represent :)

Nikola

Sunday, July 17, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE- Sailing

After an incredible 3 weeks of training, I'm going home tomorrow, but just for 10 days before I head back to Weymouth for the Pre-Olympics. Some may ask why I am going home for such a short time...with all that jetlag to deal with etc... and well, over the years I've learned how I work and perform at my best. Five weeks away is my cut-off and if I didn't go home, I'd be gone for 7+, whilst racing the Pre-Olympics in those last 2 weeks. Plus it keeps my training away intense and exciting!

The training camp in Santander with the girls was awesome... We pushed each other hard both on and off the water. Sailing, gym, surfing, running, biking, yoga, eating and sleeping was on the menu each day and by the end of the 11 days I was too tired to sleep. My body had had it... I was done, I had given it my all.





My last day in Santander started with a morning surf, then went straight from the beach onto a bus that took me to Bilbao 1.5hrs away, from where I flew to Germany. Thunderstorms and missed connections had me and 3 others stranded in Munich late at night when we wanted to get to Nuernberg, and thus Lufthansa ended up sending us in a taxi. Yikes....a 250euro cab ride. Three days in Germany to visit with my family and go to my cousins wedding was my treat for the long day of traveling. And all was great until I got some sort of stomach flu...



Arriving in Weymouth, still feeling a bit under the weather, it was perfect that there was absolutely no wind on what should have been my first training day. I soon regained my strength and the past 4 days of training have been really good. Both yesterday and today it was very windy...about 15 degrees with intermittent squalls that had the wind get up to about 30+ knots today. Being out in those conditions for more than 2hrs each day is very tiring and I thought it was a good idea to call it a day when I lead around the top mark on the 4th practice race of today. A nice way to end my training here in Weymouth... and the sun even came out to dry everything nicely as I packed up.


Cheers,
Nikola

Friday, July 15, 2011

CAN SMEDLEY- Canoe/Kayak


World Cup #2 & #3

It’s always fun and exciting to explore new race sites and cities, and this year we had two new places we got to check out.  The site for the second World Cup was in L’Argentiere, France and it’s a beautiful little town on the edge of the Alps.  The water is glacier fed which makes it very cold.  As for the race course it was long and open, and combined with the altitude made racing interesting.  Qualifiers went well as I had a fast second run without penalties allowing me to move on to the semi-final.  My semi-final run went well but I touched two of the gates which added 4 seconds to my time resulting in a 25th place finish.

We then moved on to Leipzig, Germany for World Cup #3.   The site reminded me of a slalom course in the United States where we frequently train.  So even though it was a new for me it felt as though I knew the river.  And as it was my best finish at the World Cup races so far I would like to think that it helped.  The day the races started the wind had picked up making it even tougher to stay away from the poles.  I again pulled through on my second qualifier run and I was able to stay clean and finished 8th, easily putting me through to the next day of racing.  It was a nice change being able to watch some of the paddlers in front me do the course and give me an idea of what might be the fastest line.  Unfortunately I took 2 touches in the semi-final putting me back but I still had a fast time overall so I finished 16th.

Last week some teammates and I decided to do some training in Bratislava as we had a few weeks between races and it is always good to get comfortable with course that will be hosting the World Championships and the Olympic Qualifiers.  But tomorrow I head back to Canada for a small break before preparing for our National Champions in 2 weeks.  It will be nice to back home for a few days in this long racing season!

Cam

ROBIN RANDALL- Waterpolo

Hi everyone!

Robin Randall here from Team Canada Men's Water Polo Team.  A lot has been happening since I last wrote you, and I'm excited to fill you in on the details...

June saw the squad travel to two cities in Montenegro en route to Florence, Italy, and the 2011 World League Super Finals.  In Herceg Novi and Podgorica, Montenegro, Canada trained with that nation's team daily to prepare for Florence where they would square off against the top teams in the world.

In Florence, Canada managed to beat China in their final match, securing seventh place.  In other matches the Canucks fell short to Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia and Australia in hard-fought battles outdoors, where temperatures exceeded 35 C daily.

Now the team finds themselves en route to the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China.  Having trained with Montenegro again in Guangzhou (formerly Canton), the Canadians will face Croatia, Japan, and Brazil in the preliminary round before defending their best-ever eighth place ranking from the previous World Championship.

Watch our boys in action by following the links online at:

www.fina.org <http://www.fina.org>

Thanks for reading, and as always, GO CANADA GO!!!

Robin Randall
Fulfilling your goaltending needs
Since 1987

Friday, July 1, 2011

JOHN HASTINGS- Canoe/Kayak


World Cup #1 Recap

So, I finished 8th in the first world cup of the season. I feel a slight sense of vindication making the final here in Tacen, especially after missing the semi at last years World Championships. So am I happy with my result, kind of. Making a World Cup final...it's tough, and I am pumped to have achieved that, but just like everyone else in that final, I kind of wanted more. 

After my semi, I was sitting in eight; however, I knew I had a little left in the tank and could probably go a second or two faster. In the final, I got off to a fast start, but got tied up in the tough gate 4 - 5 combo. I tried making up for the time-loss by cutting lines, but in Tacen where the water ebbs and flows like the stock exchange, this decision worked against me. Needless to say, my time was slower than my semi time and after I picked up a touch at the bottom of the course winning a medal became pretty unlikely. I am positive though, and as my dad always says, there's always another race.
You can check out the finals and the semi-finals at http://video.digotel.com/eurovisionbest/icf/index.html. Scroll over to Canoe Slalom World Cup K1-M Finals and cue up the video to 1:19:00.
Anyways, highlight of the week was meeting a "family friend" of Taylor Swift at the annual Parallel Slalom in the downtown core of Ljubljana. Paul, a huge fan of Taylor, gladly handed over his phone number to this guy as he promised he would deliver it to her, and get her to call him next time she was in Calgary. I was a little more skeptical of this guy and this relationship...so to test him, I requested he get Taylor to simply tweet good luck to the two of us for the race.....yep, that didn't happen....I am not going to say I am a better judge of character as I will admit I will be pretty jealous if she does call Paul....and I want to stay positive for the little guy. 

Anyways, off to France today for World Cup #2. We will be in Southern France in L'Argentiere La Bessee. 

Ciao,
John

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE- Sailing

After two weeks at home, I'm off again... No competitions this time, just training. My first week at home was spent recovering, the second was back at training - both on the water, dryland/gym and at the end of the week, just to finish me off, a fitness test! Needless to say...yoga was quite tough the following morning.

I arrived here late last night, my training started today (our session was already over by 7am my time!), in Santander, Spain (atlantic coast), at the Spanish Olympic Sailing Team training center. I'm joined by a really great group of girls - both on and off the water. Within our group (World #1 - Spanish sailor Marina, Lee from Israel, Demita from Mexico and Vicky from Hong Kong, and myself), we've got experts to cover all the bases: heavy, medium and light winds. The training facility is world class (we sleep here in dorm rooms looking out over the boat storage area and the harbour), there is a gym here on site as well as a gym/pool close by that we can go too. The sailing conditions here are good too, as is the surfing. It was a requirement to bring a surfboard :) And for all of you who've expressed some jealousy that I'm in Spain...it's NOT the warm part of Spain I just found out. It was a normal summer day today; 16 degrees and rain. Hmmm... I wonder why nobody told me that before I got here.

Attached are some pictures: the loading of the Spanish Van in Weymouth after Sail For Gold...little did I know until packing day that there are about 8 guys training in Santander too...and everyone's equipment had to go in or on the van. Not much room left for anything else!!! The pile of gear that we had to sift through to find our stuff. Our dorm room...before and after we moved in, and the view of where we are at the club. The town is very close...although I haven't seen any of it yet because it's been raining too hard.

And now it's off to try to sleep - should hopefully be a bit easier after a full day of sailing and the gym!

Friday, June 17, 2011

STEVE VAN KNOTSENBURG- Rowing

Amsterdam/Erba/Lucerne

It has been a while since I wrote last – I’ve held off writing because I don’t want these posts to become mundane training updates with nothing else of any substance.  The past three weeks have been a solid block of training and Dave and I have gotten some good work in.  We have had a few minor illnesses and injuries to deal with but nothing that has derailed us all that much.  Many of the other Canadian boats have been gradually selected and have started to come together and pick up speed.  We tried to avoid last minute selection for the crews this year but in the end that is exactly what is happening.  It’s not ideal, but the boats are melding together well and starting to post some impressive times.  The races over the next month will serve as a speed check for all of our crews and will determine whether these line-ups stay together or whether we need to reshuffle things and try out new combinations.  So, while the athletes are excited to get over to Europe and race in their respective boats, the boats are still very much works in progress. Preparing for these two races is exciting but our focus is the World Championships at the end of August.  A trap that I think we have fallen into in the past is focusing too much on preseason time trials and races – they are definitely important and can help to build confidence, but it is possible to try to peak too many times and end up feeling a bit dull by the end of the summer.

We travel to Amsterdam on Monday to race in the Holland Beker regatta next weekend. Only a few international crews will be there but it will be a great chance to get used to being around a regatta site again and go through the process of getting ready to race.  I’m sure it will all come flooding back, but I haven’t done this sort of thing for 3 years!  It will take a few days to adjust to the 9-hour time difference and recover from the jetlag but we should be ready to go by the weekend.  From Amsterdam we will be traveling to my two favorite places in the rowing world.  For the past 8 years the Canadian team has held our European training camps in a little Italian town called Erba, just south of Lake Como.  There isn’t much to do there, but we have the lake to ourselves and the food at the hotel is incredible.  It is a great place to settle into life away from Victoria and to prepare for the upcoming races.

The World Cup race in Lucerne, Switzerland is always the main preseason race that most international crews to go to test their speed against the competition.  The city itself is beautiful and the lake that we race on, called the Rotsee, is ideal.  The lake is barely large enough to fit a 2km rowing course and the water is typically completely flat with no wind… leading to fair lanes and great racing conditions.  I have had some of my best races on the Rotsee and I can’t wait to go back!


The docks in Lucerne

Start for the final of the pair in 2008
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Walden

This is the song that I listen to right before I go out to race.  Not a huge ‘pump up’ song… Just one that reminds me how great it is to be alive and to be in the position to race against the best rowers in the world.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SARAH BOUDENS- Canoe/Kayak - Slalom


Canadian National Team Trials

After a stressful weekend of racing for all of the athletes, the 2011 Canadian National Whitewater Slalom Team has been determined.  The venue was changed a week and a half before the competition due to high water levels in Jonquiere, Quebec and moved to Valleyfield, just west of Montreal.

The whitewater in Valleyfield is much smaller and less technical than what we commonly compete on internationally.  This meant that the times were super close resulting in a nail biting competition.  We had 4 races over two days with the best 3 of 4 counting for each athlete.  The times were so tight that even after the 4th race was completed we needed to wait for all of the math to be finished to figure out who had made the team. 

Congratulations to the following athletes for some great racing over the weekend to qualify for the 2011 National Team.

K1 M
David Ford
Paul Manning-Hunter
John Hastings

K1 W
Jessica Groeneveld
Thea Froehlich
Sarah Boudens

C2
Jamie & Adam Cutts
Thomas & Daniel Purcell

C1
Cam Smedley
Julian Potvin-Bernal

C1 W
Alexandra McGee
Haley Daniels
Sindy Audet

The team is off to Slovenia for the first World Cup of the season next weekend.   The team will compete in 4 World Cups over the summer and the athletes in the Olympic disciplines of K1M, K1W, C1 and C2 will be competing in the London Test Event on the new 2012 London Olympic course in July.  The season will culminate in September with the World Championships and the first Olympic qualifying event in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Sarah

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

KYLE JONES- Triathlon

Two weeks ago I raced the ITU Pan American Cup in Ixtapa, Mexico. I had a bit of a rough swim, exiting the water further back than I would have liked, but still in the main group. There were 4 of us that worked really well together at the start of the bike and we were able to close the gap to the small lead group within 5k. Packs merged together and It ended up being one big group of about 40 athletes. It was a rolling course with a couple 180's so there were a few attacks, but for the most part the pace was pretty controlled. I stayed near the front the entire ride to stay out of trouble. Coming into transition I was well positioned and started the run in about 6th place. I ran conservatively (due to the heat) for the first 1k but was able to get to the front. Manuel Huerta (USA) and I ran together for 3 laps and opened up a good lead on the rest of the field. At the start of the last lap I made a surge and was able to open up a gap on Huerta. I ran strong for the next 2k and it was enough to get the win. I’m very pleased with how the race played out.

Then, it was off to Asia for 2 more continental cup races. This past weekend was the first one, the ITU Amakusa Asian Cup in Japan. Much like last week, the goal was to score as many points as possible in order to boost my ranking. I was able to do just that, coming away with another win. I am very pleased with the result! I had a much better swim today, getting to the front early on and settling in to the lead group. We had a small group of seven exit the water together. Onto the bike there were five of us that worked really well together and by the end of the 40km we were able to maintain our lead on the rest of the field. I started the run fairly conservative as the first half was quite hilly. Gavin Noble (Ireland) went straight to the front and opened up a small gap. I ran about 20 metres behind him for most of the run. With about 1km to the finish I closed the gap and then surged up the final climb. I ran hard for a few hundred metres and it was enough to get a gap. I was very happy to get another win!

One more race next weekend in China and then I’m heading back home to prepare for the Edmonton World Cup in July.

Cheers,
Kyle

www.kylejones.ca <http://www.kylejones.ca>
twitter: @JonesKyle

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE- Sailing

The regatta started off with a bleak forecast for yesterday's racing. Initially I thought I was racing at 11, which actually had been rescheduled for the girls for 2pm, but with the boys being postponed for most of the day prior to us getting out there, it ended up being something like a 6pm start time. The wind definitely stabilized through out the afternoon and we actually had some pretty decent racing, in moderate conditions. Both starts I did not get off the line too well and had to deviate from my plan, however always fought back hard and finished mid fleet, a 19 and 14 (We have two girls fleets of 30). I thought I had sailed much better than my actual results showed, but it's still early in the regatta.  I was in 34th at the end of day one. Home by 8:30, dinner, stretch and...bed. Made for a pretty late night, and all I wanted to do was sleep.

And sleep was definitely not in store for me last night. Unfortunately, whatever stomach bug I had 2 weeks ago came back to haunt me...all night long. I couldn't help to think...was it the lettuce that I ate a week ago...or was a cucumber or sprout that was snuck into one of my meals?!? Needless to say, dry toast was going to have to sustain me for my racing today, a day that was forecasted to be windy.

Race One: It was nice and windy - about 20knots!!! We had 2 general recalls (meaning that two times in a row, too many boards were over the start line too early so we were recalled to start again.) Lucky for me as the first start I messed up, the second start a board crashed on top of me...so I was gunning for 3rd time lucky.
For the 3rd start, I was determined to get off the line, clear and with speed....which I did. I sailed high and fast and by my first tack I was in the lead. I tacked onto the starboard layline (something like 150m ahead of the next board) and...thinking I had enough room to round. My layline was oh so tight and I was praying that I'd make the mark....and I....almost did. I got half way around and then my fin caught onto the mark anchor line. It was so embarrassing. Windsurfers are allowed to hit marks, but having such a nice lead and to get stuck on one with all the coaches in their boats watching!!! I tried backing up to clear my fin but that didn't work, so I actually had to drop my sail in the water and get on the back of my board to take the rope off my fin. AHHHH! Finally I was free, got back up and somehow...I was still in the lead, but only just. I now had to work really hard and not make anymore mistakes to stay there. I pulled away from the pack behind and focusing ever so hard. AND....I FINISHED 1ST. It's my first ever World Cup Race win!!!

Race Two: I basically did the exact same as in race one. Was leading after my first tack, but then some how couldn't keep my lane and got passed to leeward. Not such a big deal, I was in second coming into the top mark....and then a puff hit me and lifted my board up and I exploded. NOT GOOD!!!! This time there were plenty of girls at my heels and I lost about 15 boards in that. I had my work cut out for me for the rest of the race. I managed to catch back up to 8th, but disappointed in that result as my goal was top 3.

Overall, I've moved up to 18th. 4 more days of racing :) and hopefully no more sleepless nights!

Nikola
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www.nikolagirke.com <http://www.nikolagirke.com>

Friday, May 6, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE- Sailing

A week has already flown by since the end of the French Olympic Sailing Week - and I'm happy to be home after being away for over 5 weeks.

After the first day of the regatta with nice breeze, the winds remained quite calm for the remainder of the regatta. After the first 6 races, the fleet was divided into Gold and Silver fleet (top half/bottom half). Although I had a few bad races, I did have 3 top 10's in the first series which easily put me into Gold Fleet. With only the top girls in the final series, the racing was much tighter and any mistakes that were made, were much more costly. 



The wind conditions and sea state made it quite hard on me. For the most part I had decent starts and a pretty good first 2/3rds of the upwind, but then I became unglued at the top mark. With the fleet being so tight, the distance between being in the front pack and the back pack wasn't very much and my errors in positioning at the top mark had me slide into the back pack most times. Once in the back, it's always a struggle to catch up, one is always in dirty air and my decisions often clouded or ended up being dictated by others due to this. Needless to say, it was a trying regatta for me.

If I can take one thing away from the regatta, it would be that I never gave up. It's pretty easy when you round the last windward mark in last (which happened a few times)...to put your head down and just want the race to be over with, trying to convince yourself that you don't really care....when you really do. Determined that I was not going to come last, I continued to work hard and my relentless effort made me pass a few boards each time... Every single point counts, even when one is in the back of the fleet, with the highlight of the last race being the passing of a Chinese girl, which everyone in the fleet knows...the Chinese never let up or give up. 





I finished 33rd. The regatta pointed out a few key things I need to work on for my next stint...which although a bit daunting, I'm excited about and it's keeping me quite busy at the moment.

Up next is the "Sail for Gold" regatta in Weymouth, England, June 5-11. This is a pretty important regatta for many sailors as it's a qualifier for the Pre-Olympic Regatta in August.

And until then... I'm home and loving it :)

Thank you for your on going support.

Nikola

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www.nikolagirke.com <http://www.nikolagirke.com>

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SARAH BOUDENS- Canoe/Kayak - Slalom


I’m the first Canadian athlete to get onto the new 2012 London Olympic course….and it’s AMAZING!!!  I was helping out with the 2011 British Team Selection event and was doing the demonstration and foreruns for the races which took place over three days. 
Leading into the competition I had 8 sessions on the water over the week.  I was absolutely exhausted by the time the race came around but I just couldn’t force myself to get off the water, it was so much fun!  The conveyor belt which takes you from the bottom to the top of the course allows you to fit in many more runs which can be a blessing but was definitely adding to my exhaustion!


It’s an absolutely amazing facility and I think it’s my new favourite.  My hopes are to make it to my 2nd Olympic Games so I can race on this course when it counts.  T-minus 450 days!

Monday, April 18, 2011

SARAH BOUDENS- Canoe/Kayak - Slalom


I love spring time racing!  It’s a great time to get yourself back into the racing swing of things without too much pressure to perform so early in the season.  I’ve done 4 weekends of racing so far here in the UK and I’ve really been enjoying it.  I’ve also been quite happy with my results which feels great and gives me some confidence going into our team selection races. 
Two weekends ago I competed in Nottingham, England as a guest in one of the British Team selection events.  The pressure was on for the British athletes to try to make their Junior and U23 teams.  I was taking the race very seriously as well as I’ve spent quite a bit of time training in Nottingham and I really wanted to see what I was capable of on a familiar course.  I placed 5th In Saturday’s competition and 6th in Sunday’s race.  The courses were very challenging and unusual to say the least.


In whitewater slalom we’re allowed unlimited training on the whitewater with training gates but don’t get to practice the race gates once they’re set.  Our first race run is the first time we’ve ever done that specific gate combination.  The goal in training is to try to practice as many gate combinations as you can in an attempt to predict what may be set for a race.  Sometimes it can be quite surprising what the organizers come up with for the race and Nottingham was no exception.  Over the two days of racing there were multiple moves I had never tried before even after months of training on the course.  That’s one of the reasons I really like this sport.  It’s always different and exciting!
This past weekend I was competing up in Grandtully, Scotland.  I had a great weekend and placed 2nd.  It’s my first podium finish in the UK and I’m extremely happy with the way I paddled.
Spring time paddling also produces what us paddlers call the “hand tan.”  Even though it’s getting warmer outside the water can still be quite cold which means it’s warm enough to not have to wear something on our hands but still cold enough to wear a dry top.  This results in funny looking tanned hands.  It does mean though that summer is on its way and short sleeved paddling tops too!  I can’t wait.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE- Sailing

After the crazy windy day I couldn't sleep at all that night probably because my adrenaline was still pumping too much and my whole body hurt. Losing a night's sleep definitely didn't help the next few days...

The next days were super tough long ones: the mornings started with an offshore breeze, building to a super nice 15 knots. Before the race, I did my sail tuning to make sure I was set up right for these conditions. A slow race committee combined with the guys fleet starting before us and having general recalls (which meant they had to restart several times), meant our start time was continually delayed. Finally we got underway, only to have the wind back off... The first upwind still had planing conditions, but by the first downwind it was marginal planing - for the second upwind, the wind continued to shut off and it was already pumping conditions, while the last downwind was painfully slow and lumpy, only to finish off the race with what seemed like a never ending slalom (supposed to be fast, exciting and 2 minutes long) that took 8 minutes, in near glassy (no wind) conditions. Needless to say, very tricky and almost impossible to catch up as the distances between sailors was increasing as the wind was decreasing. Then the wind completely shut off and thus we were sent ashore to wait for the wind to fill in from the other direction.

Lots of waiting... In the afternoon the seabreeze started to fill in and we were sent out for our second race of the day. The wind conditions for the rest of the days were always between 7-11knots. The water in the bay of Palma is also quite shallow making it quite lumpy - definitely very tough for me as I'm one of the heavier girls and I'm not the fastest in these conditions. The wind was also oscillating slowly (going from right to left back and forth) and I just couldn't ever get it right. When I went to the left, the wind swung to the right and when I went right, the wind went to the left. In those 3 middle days of the regatta I added many points to my score as I finished in the late 20's for most of them. Frustrating races they were, but I learned from some of my mistakes and finally, on the last day I actually put into practice some of the things I had learned from the previous days. Before the start I was very diligent in monitoring the wind, devising my game plan and sticking to it. For myself, I also needed to finish the regatta off on a better note... 

 
Which I did! On the last day I sailed to finish a solid 18th in these difficult conditions yet was in the game the whole time. In the 2nd race I rounded the top mark in 3rd, and after losing a few boards on the downwinds (I just couldn't plane as long and as deep as some of the others) to finish 7th. Happy to end the regatta on a positive, my last races also helped me move back up to 18th overall in the regatta.

Dead tired - I am now enjoying some days off (no sailing although I still have my regular fitness routine to uphold). I haven't even had internet, so I've really been out of the loop too.

On Sunday the training continues in Hyeres, France... Where the next World Cup Race: Semaine Olympique Francaise will take place from April 23-29th.


Nikola
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www.nikolagirke.com <http://www.nikolagirke.com>

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ROBIN RANDALL- Waterpolo

Hello, everyone! It's Robin Randall, Captain of the Canadian Olympic Men's Water Polo Team here with another report.

Things are going swimmingly, if you will pardon the pun, as preparations are underway for the big tournaments this season. Coming up at the end of the month will be Canadian National Championships in Langley, BC. Teams participating will be two each from Quebec and Alberta and three from British Columbia. I will again be helping the Calgary Torpedoes in the quest for domestic glory. We hope to repeat last year's podium finish.

Coming up in May, our participation in the 2011 FINA World League has been confirmed and we will travel to California to determine our seeding in that competition. Finals are to be played in Tuscany, Italy.

It is only a scant 102 days until the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China, and we are aiming to achieve another Canadian best. Until now we have managed eighth in the world.

Until next time,
Your goalie,
Robin Randall

Robin Randall
Goaltenders' Union President
Dictated but not read

Sunday, April 3, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE- Sailing

Hola from Palma de Mallorca, Spain!

After what seemed like an extended layover (9 days that felt like 3) in Vancouver; just enough time to unpack, do laundry, train both on the water and in the gym, run all my errands, do laundry again and then repack, I arrived in Palma de Mallorca last Sunday the 27th.

I can't believe it's been a full week of training here already. There are so many good girls to train with here, so I've been able to check in and see how I'm doing. The weather's been great and surprisingly warm, but we've mostly had lighter wind conditions. The racing starts tomorrow, and will continue until Saturday the 9th.

Princess Sofia Trophy is the 3rd of this year's World Cup Circuit, the first in Europe, so we have a big turnout in the fleets. I think we have 50ish girls racing the RSX.



To follow the races and results go to: http://www.trofeoprincesasofia.org/
You can also sign up for facebook or twitter updates.

I'm hoping we get a variety of wind conditions throughout the week. I'll keep you posted.

Attached are a few pictures of me and some of my surroundings!

Hasta luego!


--
www.nikolagirke.com <http://www.nikolagirke.com


Monday, February 28, 2011

NIKOLA GIRKE- Sailing

Well, no news can mean many things... However this time it just means that I've been too busy enjoying Brazil to take time out to write an update.

I was home for just two weeks after Miami OCR before heading to Brazil. I was absolutely drained when I came home from the long bout of intense training and racing, and thus all I did during my first week was recover.  For week 2 I was back training, both in the gym and I got one great day on the water: sunny, windy (25-30knots), big-ish waves, fresh snow on the mountains, and yes... T'was a bit chilly too. 7 degrees plus wind chill meant extreme pain in the hands once the thawing process began onshore. Knowing that I was coming to Brazil a few days later, I couldn't really complain about anything!

On February 14th I flew to Rio, via Toronto and San Paolo. Once in Rio, I was picked up by Davidson, the taxi driver who all of us windsurfers use to shuttle us back and forth to Buzios. I had met him in 2006 and he was my tour guide then for a day in Rio, so it was great to be met by a familiar and friendly face at the airport. A very long day of traveling, but well worth it! Following the 3 hour drive, we arrived to Bimba's Windsurf Club in Buzios, aka... Paradise!

 
The next morning, bright and early (about 5am my time) I was on the water with the training group. Marina from Spain, Bryony from the UK, Laura from Italy, Jazmin from Argentina, a few Brazilian youth guys, and myself. Windy and warm, it was a nice start to my training in Brazil. The next 4 days were quite windy, tiring all of us out. To vary it up in training we did some destination sails - sailing around 4 different islands, to a secret surf spot that you can only get to by boat and of course the usual board handling drills.


Week two saw a change in weather (stifling hot and little breeze) and our training group shrank as some left to go back home for a bit, while some of the guys had a competition to attend.  We trained early in the morning, guys and girls together for some pumping sessions. Alex, the Spanish coach was creative in his drills and made it really quite fun for us - as we did match racing with/against the guys and other good drills. Short and intense sessions were great cause the crazy heat made all of us quite slow and lazy on land. On top of the on water training, it was quite challenging to fit in gym and cardio training in the heat, but when the day was all done, bedtime was incredibly welcoming.




I've had a few days off and a bunch of us went sightseeing around the Buzios peninsula with a rented "Bugre". There are so many beautiful spots and beaches to explore here, leaving no doubt to why it is the weekend destination of the rich of Rio. Geriba beach, the beach directly on the opposite side of the peninsula to where we sail from has been pumping with waves. Many days after sailing we'd go there for a surf. We've had several group dinners - either freshly caught fish by Bimba's (the Brazilian windsurfer's) brother or just meat Brazilian style. Good times! Attached are a bunch of pics. None of sailing though. Hard to take those myself :)

I can't believe it's already been two weeks of training here, with two more to go before I head home.  Time is flying...


Nikola

CHARMAINE REID- Badminton

Reid and Grether Settle for Silver in Iran
                                             
While you hear daily about the unrest in the Middle East, Nicole Grether and I experienced a different side of Iran on the badminton courts.

Nicole and I traveled to Tehran to join players from over 30 countries to compete in the 21st Fajr Iran International Badminton Tournament.  While the players had to adapt both on and off the court to the culture we experienced the kindness of the Iranian players and the joy of sport.


It was a new experience for us not to have a mixed double event at an individual BWF tournament and to compete with only women or men in the hall at one time. During our matches the women did not wear a head scarf while competing, therefor the men were not allowed to watch the women play. The spectators were great as they were cheering us on and you could see they enjoyed watching the matches.


It was a bit challenging for us compete in Tehran as the capital is 1200 meters above sea level. This makes it harder to breathe because of the altitude, and also makes the shuttlecocks faster. As well the women only played one session a day making it difficult to recover properly in a short period of time. On Thursday and Friday we played 3 matches in just over 3 hours.


Away from competing on the courts on Friday there was a peaceful demonstration down the street from our hotel. The players were told to stay in their rooms until it was over just in case. They changed the schedule for the quarter finals and semi-finals, and started them after the demonstration later that evening. Although we had security guards watching over us, we were not allowed to go too far from the hotel or badminton hall until the last day when we were lucky to get a chance to see the city after the finals.


After Nicole and I won seven tournaments in a row our winning streak came to an end in the finals as we had to settle for the silver medal. We defeated two Iranian teams and a Turkish team to reach the finals and lost in a close match 21-17, 22-20 to Nimeshika Ratnasiri Achini and Samanthika Weerasasinghe Upuli from Sri Lanka.  In singles action I reached the quarter finals and Nicole had a great win in the semi-finals defeating Anne Hald and then capturing the gold with a win against Nair Dhanya from India.


It was a special experience to compete in Iran and we found the hospitality of the players and organisers to be superb.


Our next major tournaments are the All England’s Premier Super Series in Birmingham followed by the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold in Basel starting March 8. We are currently #17 in the world.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

JAMIE & ADAM CUTTS- Canoe/Kayak


We were so happy to be on our way to Australia about to start our winter training camp with a new boat. Of course, things rarely go perfectly to plan. We get to Australia, and due to some “complications” at the factory, we find out over the next few days that our boat would not be coming. Fortunately, we have some generous teammates; Cam Smedley and Ben Hayward, who let us use their C2 for the entire time here. We are definitely lucky that they brought their C2.
Moving to more exciting news, this was our first trip to Australia for training and it certainly did not disappoint. The course in Penrith, used for the 2000 Olympics is absolutely incredible. Training on a world class whitewater course in February, with most of the top paddlers in the world, in weather that hovers around 30-40°C has undoubtedly been great for the development of our skills and comfort on whitewater. Usually we wouldn’t be getting onto whitewater back home until March, it would be freezing, and not the same level of difficulty. This year we have a head start and on top of that, 2 races under our belt!
 We had our first set of races within 4 days of arriving in Australia. This consisted of 2 races during which we had a mix of results. The first wasn’t the greatest, however, our second day of racing yielded some good results, with a 4th place finish, behind the hometown Australian boat, and two Italians, one of which was the bronze medalist from the Beijing Olympics.

The second race, the Australian Open took place on our last weekend in Australia and was certainly what we were building up to during the training camp. Times were tight in the qualifier that had a fairly open course, with the exception of 2 trickier moves. After a mediocre first run, we were sitting in 17th place and looking to move up in the standings with a second run. Unfortunately this didn’t exactly go to plan. We came out of the gates flying on our second run doing all of the moves quickly and cleanly and were set on putting down a fast time. We, however, had a momentary lapse in concentration at the finish line of the race, flipping and drifting over the finish beam upside down. Unfortunately, this would mean that our time; which would have put us in 11th place, did not count. Nevertheless, our first run still qualified for the semi-finals in 19th place. The semi-final/final course was changed completely overnight and we re-focussed in preparation. Our race in the semis again, was decent, but not overly spectacular. We both agreed that at the end of the run we weren’t overly tired, when at the end of your race, you should be completely gassed.  We just needed to up the tempo a bit and kick it into the next gear.

Thanks for teammate Adrian Cole for taking the great race pictures!
As we were also in Australia for the first time, training wasn’t the only thing on our minds. On our time off, we did a fair amount of sightseeing, taking in the famous sights of Sydney such as the Opera house, walked through the botanic gardens, and the harbour front. We also went on a spectacular hike in the Blue Mountains, and did a little bit of surfing at the famous Manly and Maroubra beaches.
To sum it up, this trip was a huge benefit to our development this year and to give us a head start going into the summer racing season. We will definitely repeat the trip next year, perhaps a little longer next time. Now it’s time to buckle down, finish the school semester and look forward to the upcoming paddling season.
Cheers,
Jamie and Adam