Nov 15, 2009

XC skiing and life

DSC_5562We drove out to the Canmore Nordic Center this morning. Doreen was meeting up with Shelly so they could do some laps and the boys were going to be on XC ski's for their first time. They both did great, particularly since we didn't give them any poles to lean on.

As I was watching them fall over and struggle back up I got to wondering if either of them would ever compete at XC or biathlon. And as I daydreamed away I started thinking back to when I was a kid on skis and how I would have done if I had competed at XC or biathlon.

The first time I did a decent amount of XC was when I got in the army but it certainly wasn't competitively structured. Lots of pulling really heavy sleds behind you, for multiple hours, across the barren wastelands above the Arctic Circle for weeks at a time - not exactly competitive.

My sole claim to biathlon fame was an oddball long distance ski and shoot I did in Norway while training there for a month with the Norwegian army. As the event unfolded I was right on the Norwegian champs heels, closing a significant amount of distance in the final 15mins, not what the locals expected. The Canadian contingent was going crazy as I came up on the finish line so close that it came down to the shoot at the finish line. I got handed a Norwegian G3 7.62mm rifle I'd never held before, I jumped straight down into the prone position, slammed a 20 round magazine in, cocked the weapon, lined up the metal sights and proceeded to squeeze the trigger. More on that in a sec...

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I was always a good shot, from the time I got my first long barrel in my early teens right through to shooting all kinds of distances and all kinds of stuff at an international level in my 20's and early 30's. I had the shooting ability and I think if I would have had the trg and opportunity on skis I might have done ok at biathlon. As I was daydreaming about what could have been and what the boys might do, the National team was out on the course at the same time as us and they were ripping up the laps. It was really impressive to watch, fantastic athletes, as I watched them I had a bit of regret that I never got to give that a go when I was a young fella.

So, back to the Norwegian G3 assault rifle... as I lay there in the snow I did the best I could with an unknown weapon, racing the clock to shoot faster than the Norwegian next to me but at the same time outscore him on the paper target. It turns out we finished shooting right about the same time but he out-pointed me on the target, not by much but enough to get the win. I was pretty happy to get a Norwegian medal from the Commanding Officer who said in broken English "these are quite rare for foreigners". All I could think of at the time was "Cool I got a medal, and WOW that was a hard race". That evening I drank schnapps with the Norwegian winner and never gave biathlon another thought.

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What's the point of all this... nothing deep really, other than as I look back through time I see the possibilities that laid out in front of me and biathlon could have been a good choice but I didn't see it as a choice at the time. Looking into the future for the boys Doreen has made a good decision choosing XC as the family winter sport, if they never become competitive in it they will still get a healthy respect for the outdoors and a fitness based lifestyle. But since there is a streak of competitiveness floating around in Doreen or I (mostly Doreen I think ;-) who knows, maybe the boys will get my shooting eye and 15yrs from now one or both of them will be doing laps around the course with the national team? Life's a funny thing. You read it here first. ;-)

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