George Grey
By George Grey
December 14th, 2009


This past weekend was one that will be ingrained in my memory for a long time. From the day we left Canmore to the last minutes before we left Kuusamo, Finland, there was drama.

Sara Renner, Dave Wood, and myself left from Canmore on Wednesday afternoon in hopes to arrive in Kuusamo roughly twenty hours later on Thursday afternoon. Little did we know that it would take us over fifty hours of travel plus a whole year’s worth of curve balls.

Roughly three hours after we departed Calgary, we were positioned somewhere over the Arctic Circle when there was an announcement of a medical emergency. We were being rerouted to get a passenger medical attention in Toronto. I was hopeful for a quick stop, drop, and roll. But that was beginning of two memorable days of travel and drama. The pilots were unable to continue due to flying time restrictions and we were forced to spend an additional eighteen hours in Toronto before getting on our way again. 

While in Toronto we received news that Inge Braten, our coach, had slipped on ice and shattered his hip while talking to Dave on his phone about our delays. Wow, that’s a blow to our team but more importantly a terrible misfortune for Inge. I guess I will be teaching him how to stay in shape in the pool. Inge went in for surgery just two days later and had a total hip replacement which has a faster recovery time than repairing the damage.

After spending another eight hours in the Helsinki airport, we jumped on our last flight and rolled into Kuusamo at nearly eleven pm the night before the first race. Then that night some of the athletes returned to the room with ashen faces bearing some concerning news from the team technicians. 

Reading this you need to understand that a National team is like a family. We travel together, room together, eat together, race together and celebrate together. Small things can turn into big deals that have no real foundations and look irrelevant in retrospect. I know that trying times can make you stronger and more efficient for the future. That being said, with all the turmoil in the team, we had a tough weekend and had to gaze further down the results list than anyone would like.

The reality is that we went through a tough patch but we are a tough team and we will be better because of it. Like my Dad always tells me, ‘son…tough times don’t last but tough people do’. I live by that saying and believe that our team will be back on the top in good time. Our job is to race and some had a temporary lapse in concentration that affected performances this past weekend. The Olympics are the focus and that is where we want to be firing on all cylinders.

I am not disappointed with my race in Kuusamo. My fall training was not ideal with an injury that sidetracked me for the better part of six weeks. Three aspects of my race were very positive for me. My foot was strong, I climbed well, and I skied the last 10km at a respectable pace.Kuusamo is not the time or course that I have skied well in the previous four trips to the World Cup there. My time off the lead was +1:33 and I ended in 52nd position. Ivan Babikov was the top Canadian in 38th with Devon, Alex, and Graham finishing in 55th, 62nd, and 66th respectively. It can be amazing the difference that a couple of weeks of good training and a strong head can make to your spot on the leader board. Without a doubt, our team will be looking for redemption in the next World Cup in Switzerland.

We have just arrived in Livigno, Italy for a two week training block that we are all looking forward to. And the bonus?  The cappuccinos are ridiculously cheap and particularly well made. Going training now…ciao.


Categories: Uncategorized

Other News Stories