2010 Vancouver Olympics

2010 Vancouver Olympics
Welcome! It is here I hope to keep all of my sponsors and supporters up to date about my everyday life as a full time Biathlete. I will post regular updates about how my training and race season is progressing, which will hopefully provide a little insight as to exactly what my life is all about. With the Sochi 2014 Olympics fast approaching, I invite you to join me on my journey as I pursue my dreams...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Trials Recap (from early September)

After a very tense four days of racing and a stressful few weeks leading up to trials, I am happy to report that I’ve qualified as one of four men who will represent Canada on the first World Cup tour! As I mentioned in my previous post, I knew I had done all the hard work necessary to perform well, it was now just a matter of executing under pressure. I’m not the biggest fan of having trial races on roller skis in September (for a number of reasons I won’t get into) but it’s been the norm for the last few years now and I’m learning to accept and deal with it.

Three races were held over four days and a percent ranking of the best two races were counted towards team selection. Thursday’s 10km Sprint race was the start to the week I had been hoping for and I finished up the day in third. I had a solid performance on the shooting range hitting 9/10 targets and I felt decent on my skis. I didn’t have a stellar day on the skis but I felt fairly strong and conservative, and figured that I had enough energy left in the tank to be able to increase my ski speed as the week went on.

Shortly after starting the Pursuit race

Friday’s 12.5 km pursuit race was a little tougher on the range for most of the athletes in the lead pack. I had a mediocre shooting day with 6 misses, but I skied well posting one of the faster ski times to tie for a fourth place finish. Percents were tight with three spots on the team still up for grabs, and it was now obvious that the final race on Sunday would be the deciding factor.

Cresting the last climb before entering the range

I took Saturday chill and did some easy training while trying to relax as much as possible. I knew that I needed a strong result on Sunday but I tried not to stress or think about it too much. Sunday’s 15km mass start format turned out to be a fun and very tight race. Three of us skied almost the entire race together, which was exciting, but in turn added quite a bit of pressure on the range. I took my time shooting standing, as I knew I had to focus on hitting the last ten targets if I wanted stay in the race and have a chance at the win. I definitely sacrificed some time in the range in the final two shooting bouts, but I think it was necessary and I crossed the line finishing second behind Robin Clegg, who had an extremely fast and clean last shooting bout, allowing him to cruise to victory.

Final shooting bout in the Pursuit - All photos courtesy of Tom Zidek

It was a feeling of relief when I crossed the finish line in that final race, as I knew I had qualified for the World Cup, and could now decompress and relax a bit before switching my focus to preparing for this Winter.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Skiing the Haig

Last week the team spent a few days at altitude skiing on the Haig glacier in Kananaskis. I was a little skeptical of heading to altitude a week before our first World Cup trial races, but looking back I think it was alright. We were there mainly for altitude exposure, and being able to log some hours on skis in early September was a bonus. Conditions were marginal and the snow was going fast, but we still managed to get in some good days of training.

If anything, it was just nice to get away from Canmore for a few days to have a change of pace. Tension among athletes on the range has been growing steadily the last couple weeks with Trials just around the corner, so I think a mental break was good and what my coach had in mind. We had lots of time to relax between workouts, and were able to take our mind off the stress of Trials while chillin' on the lunar landscape that is the Haig camp.

Training at altitude can have negative effects on the body if done wrong, so I was very careful and diligent to not overdo any workouts and took it pretty easy. Since returning back to Canmore I’ve been fine tuning for this week's competitions, which begin tomorrow. I’m ready to race – I’ve trained hard over the Spring and Summer and I am confident I have done all the work necessary to perform well this week. Let the Trials begin! I’ll try and post regularly over the next few days to let everyone know how things are going.


The Haig camp.

Hiking up to the glacier for some early morning skiing with Robin, Tom, and Joel.

The 'tongue' of the glacier.

Post ski on a sunny morning.

Finished training and getting ready for the hike back to camp.

Trekking across the glacier while trying not to slip on the ice. In addition to the ice, some fairly big crevasses started opening up on day two that required some caution while crossing.

Post training hike back to camp.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Up Here

An interview from Up Here magazine that appeared in their June edition. (If you click to make the image larger it should be possible to read!)

- Brendan

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day of rest...

It's Sunday, my day of rest. I've got a fresh pot of licorice tea brewing, Bob Marley is keeping things chill on iTunes, and I've decided I'm overdue for a blog post. I just finished watching Usain Bolt crush his previous world record and run 9.58 seconds at the World Athletic Championships in Berlin. It blows me away how someone can be so confident and relaxed, at such a major championship so early in their career. The contrast between Bolt and Tyson Gay was interesting to watch on the start line. The tension and stress in Gay was obvious next to the relaxed and entertaining Bolt, who was confident in his ability to dominate while having fun in the process. If you haven’t already seen the race, be sure to check it out. It’s inspiring.

Out of curiosity I was looking through my training diaries earlier today to look at how much intensity we've been doing. Intensity has been the name of the game this Summer, so I decided to tally it up, and so far I've logged 20 hrs of Z3 intensity and 5.5 hrs of Z4, with plenty more to come! It’s been good though and training has been going as planned during the last month and a half.

Shortly after my last post we started up a testing week. These field tests are done twice every year, once early on in the Summer and once in the Fall, to give us an idea of where our fitness is at. The week consisted of two shooting tests combined with an uphill run up Sulphur Mountain, an uphill roller ski up Mt. Norquay, and an uphill double pole test. These tests and races went well and I am pretty happy were my fitness is at the moment. A more detailed description of the tests as well as results can be found on the following link to Scott Perra's blog.

Nothing too exciting has been going on lately... The hard intensity continues, and my body seems to have its ups and downs (along with the weather!) as to how its been handling these training loads. I’ve been feeling pretty good for the most part, although these last few weeks have been fairly tough and at the moment I’m feeling pretty tired! We’ve upped the amount of Zone 3 and 4 intensity training over the last couple weeks which has been challenging, but I’m looking forward to my upcoming week of training which will be more volume oriented. We’ve also done a couple of time trials now (15km Mass start and 10km Sprint) which have been useful in getting me dialed for our upcoming Trial races in September, which are fast approaching.

I’ll leave you all with a couple of pictures. Unfortunately, I left my camera behind on a lot of our more scenic roller skis as well as a pretty fun 5 hr mountain bike ride up Skogan and Jewel pass. I’ll have to remember to bring it along more often.


Nearing the end of the 8km Canada Day Race - I was lucky enough to win this race for the second year in a row! Photo - Scott Perras

During a few days off at the end of July a few of us hiked in to Fortress Lake for some camping. We got rained on pretty hard and had a close encounter with lightning, but the great fishing more than made up for any bad weather.

The team doing interval training on Mt. Norquay. Photos - Tom Zidek

Monday, July 20, 2009

May & eary June - Transition into training...

This entry should have been posted about a month ago as it has been sitting on my desktop for a while now. I finally got around to finishing it today.

Since the beginning of May I’ve been back in training mode and have been logging quite a few hours. I spent the first few days of my training in quite a lot of pain as my body transitioned from skiing on snow to the dry land training we will be doing over the coming months. I could barely walk for two days after my first session of lifting weights, and suffered for another day or two after transitioning into other dry land activities such as long runs, and the first few hrs on the road bike saddle. Over the next week or two my body slowly adapted and my muscles are no longer in a constant state of stiffness, but are now ready to face this summer’s training full on!

In addition, we’ve also recently started up our first high intensity block and have been pounding out intervals on what seems like a daily basis! I knew I was in for tough couple weeks when I received my latest training plan and opened it up only to be greeted with an abundance of daily workouts printed in red font. To my teammates and I, this red print only means one thing - intensity! I knew what I was in for however, and have been feeling pretty good during the intensity sessions over the last two weeks.

Highlights from the last little while of training included some of the following….

Skiing in Sunshine

Late May provided some of the best skiing I’ve had all year. The snow was long gone in Canmore, but at 2000+ meters there was still a ton of it. The alpine meadows on top of Sunshine had the best crust skiing I have ever experienced and provided endless hours of it. On one of our last 3 hr workouts up at Sunshine we were able to ski all the way into Assiniboine Provincial Park, and turned around only when the trees limited us from going any further. It was fun to ease into training again by having the opportunity to ski on snow and we were also able to take in the benefits of training at altitude.

Scott Perras on our ski into Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park

A picture of the scenery with a couple skiers in the distance - Photo from Scott Perras blog http://blogs.fasterskier.com/scottperras/

Sport North Awards Banquet

Towards the end of May I had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Yellowknife during the annual Sport North Awards Banquet. This year I had the honor of accepting the Male Athlete of the Year award along with cross country skier Mike Argue. It was fun to get a chance to chat with other athletes and acquaintances who were at the banquet, as well as visit with my parents who drove from Hay River for the occasion.

Myself and Mike Argue

Testing @ UofC

During the first week of June we spent a day with sports physiologists at the University of Calgary doing field tests. The morning started out with blood testing followed by body composition testing. These tests are done to monitor change in the body. I have records of these tests dating back to four or five years, and variances from my normal numbers provide insight into how my body is responding to my training load. They can also provide early warning signs of sickness or over training.

After getting some time to eat and digest I was back in the lab and on a running treadmill to perform a cardiac output test. This test measures the stroke volume of the heart, which is the amount of blood pumped from the heart per contraction. The more blood you can pump per contraction the better, as it will help all systems in your body be more efficient when under the stress of racing. This was my first time doing this particular test and it will be used as a baseline for comparison in testing later on.

In the afternoon I was in the Olympic Oval, which is home to the roller ski treadmill. Here the team was doing Incremental testing, which determines roughly what our individual target heart rates are for training in each particular zone. It was a long day in Calgary with a couple hard intensity sessions, but it was worthwhile as the information gained from these tests is quite useful.

Mid-way through the cardiac output test - Not the most comfortable test to do with all the equipment that your hooked up to. The tubes are used to measure gas exchange as well as input gas at different points throughout the test. Photo courtesy of Scott Perras.
On the treadmill.

Riding it up in the Kootenay’s

During the second week of June we kicked off our first training camp of the year in Revelstoke. Mt. Revelstoke once again provided an awesome opportunity for roller skiing, as the 25km climb with 1200m of elevation gain is tough to beat when a long and punishing workout is on the plan. From Revelstoke we road biked through the Kootenay’s towards Nelson and then headed back to Revelstoke for another session on the mountain before heading back to Canmore.

Our short four day camp consisted of the following –

Day 1 – AM - Drive to Revelstoke
PM - Roller ski up Mt. Revelstoke w/t 30 min of high end Zone 3

Day 2 – 152km ride from Nakusp to Nelson along the Slocan Valley – Just over 5hrs of riding.

Day 3 – 168km ride from Nelson to Nakusp via Caslo and New Denver – 5hr 40 min of riding. An awesome ride that I would highly recommend.

Day 4 – AM – Ski striding up Mt. Revelstoke w/t 40 min of continuous Zone 3
PM - Road ride from Radium along highway 40 / drive back to Canmore

Mid-way through our ride in Caslo.
Waiting for the ferry on our way back to Revelstoke.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spring & Rest

I drove 16hrs home the last week in April to spend some time with family, who I don’t get to see that often anymore, especially during race season. In addition to relaxing and eating home cooked meals, I was able to get in some great skiing on Great Slave Lake as well as some nice running and even a roller ski. I returned home two weeks later to resume training here in Canmore. I normally stay a bit longer in Hay River but my coach wanted to start May off with fairly big hours of training. So, I decided it would be better to return to Canmore and begin to focus on next season.

Anyways, here are some pictures from my time off in April.


I spent Easter visiting my sister and her family in Saskatoon. One of my nephews Dominic showed great patience while painting eggs all morning!

Enjoying some powder skiing during the rest month with team mate Nathan Smith

Alexandra Falls before breakup

Fly fishing on the Kakisa River with my Dad during the Arctic Grayling run

One of my favorite things to do while up North during the spring. This year had some of the best conditions for skiing on Great Slave Lake during May.

It was my niece Anna's 5th birthday while I was home. She wasted no time in getting a taste of the icing on her birthday cake!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where I stand in terms of Olympic qualification...

Now, to shed some light on a question that I’ve been getting asked a lot recently. The 2010 Olympics! The situation is complicated, and what happens now is out of my hands. I wish I could give a concrete answer at the moment, but the fact of the matter is I cannot. All I can say is that it will still be a little while before the Olympic team is decided for biathlon. In order to qualify for the Olympics we have to meet international criteria while competing at the highest level of competition - the World Cup. While on this circuit, we have to meet performance benchmarks, which comprise the Olympic criteria, at three different times throughout the season. I am pleased to say that this season has been a break through year for me. I spent the winter racing for Canada on the World Cup circuit as a rookie, and in addition was selected to race at this year’s World Championships in Korea. At World Cup #7 in Whistler I met the third and final part of my Olympic criteria and have now qualified to be nominated for the 2010 Olympic team.

This year the men’s team had their best ever season with many outstanding performances which included 17 Pursuit starts, 3 top ten finishes including a historic 7th place finish in the relay at WC#3, and one team member consistently ranked within the top 30 overall. As a team we ranked 14th out of 40 countries in the World Cup standings (despite missing a World Cup), which is a break through for us. We have shown that we are competitive on the World stage.

As of right now however, Canada may not be able to send a full team to the Olympics although this is pending. At the moment I am the third ranked Olympic qualified male, and would hold a strong position in the event that we are allowed a full team. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll hear good news soon and will hopefully be able to provide a better update regarding the Olympics soon.


Training on Great Slave Lake three weeks ago!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Out of gas…

After a week in Norway it was time to get back on a plane, this time headed for Quebec where I would compete in my last three races of the season at Canadian Champs. This time our path of travel took us from Trondheim to Oslo, Oslo to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Toronto, and then Toronto to Quebec. We arrived in Quebec late at night, and arrived at our accommodations just before 2 am feeling pretty exhausted.

I tried to sleep in as much as I could the following morning but due to jetlag that was easier said than done. I went for an easy ski in the afternoon to get my body functioning again and did some short intensity the following day in preparation for Thursday’s 20km race.

Racing in Quebec - Photo by Dan Giroux

The following three races over the next four days were exhausting and I performed far from potential, similar to how I was feeling! My legs burned the second I left the start line, and after the first lap of every race I felt totally bagged. I was however able to put together a much better performance on Sunday’s race was a nice way to end my last race of the season.

Start of the Relay - Photo by Dan Giroux

After a night out with friends in Quebec City I journeyed back to Canmore where I could finally relax and get some rest after a long season on the road! Because I was feeling so wrecked, I drove into Calgary a couple days after I got home to get some blood work and body composition testing done just to double check that everything was in order.

Sight seeing in Old Quebec

The spring skiing in Canmore is great right now so I’ll detrain for a week or two before taking a total break a little later in April.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Wow, that was long…

Our travel to Norway was long to say the least. From Vancouver we flew to Calgary where we jumped on our connecting flight to Heathrow airport in London. After a fairly long layover, which consisted of walking around the airport followed by trying to catch some sleep on airport benches, it was off to Oslo. From Oslo we got on yet another flight to Trondheim and arrived at our hotel after a 45 min bus ride from the Trondheim Airport. We arrived in the evening, so after a quick snack and a shower that’d I’d been looking forward too since my last race in Vancouver, it was off to bed!

One of the amazing views from Trondheim

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent trying recover from the races in Vancouver as well as prepare for Thursday’s 10km Sprint race. It had been raining a lot all week, which meant that we would be racing in tough slushy conditions. My race started out well and I was able to ski the majority of my first lap behind Norwegian Lars Berger. After shooting prone however, I began to suffer more on the skis than normal and just did my best throughout the rest of the race to hang on. I knew that I didn’t have a great day on my skis and I crossed the finish line in 63rd with two misses and just a few seconds outside of the top 60.

Mass start race. The track was salted prior to the race in order to absorb and eliminate most of the slush that we had to ski in.

The vibe at the venue was pretty awesome. Hundreds of school children lined the switchbacks into the range in addition to the thousands of fans that packed the grande stands. Every time Ole Einar skied by, the stadium would erupt with cheering. It was pretty cool.

The King of biathlon, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen on route to another World Cup victory in front of his home crowd

Norway as a country was really interesting as well. Scandinavia is the birthplace of skiing and biathlon so it was really neat to experience a country where skiing is part of the culture. I had the opportunity to do a couple of long skis on the surrounding trails, which was really fun. Trails went in every direction and were busy with people of all ages and skill levels. People were out having fun and being active which was great to see. It’s motivating to be in an environment like this and it was revitalizing to get away from the stress of racing and be able to ski around and explore. I would like to spend more time in Norway at some point although it is a very expensive country. Be prepared to spend $10 Canadian if you order a beer!



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Whistler World Cup – Racing at home!

This past week the Biathlon World Cup circuit moved to Canada for World Cup #7. This was the pre–Olympic World Cup where we were able to test out the new Olympic venue for Biathlon in the Callaghan Valley, just outside of Whistler, BC.

It was awesome to be able to jump on a plane and not have to cross the Atlantic Ocean for once! Finally the Europeans would get a taste of what our life is like on the circuit with having to travel so far from home. The week in Whistler was a lot of fun. It was special because my parents along with my brother and his family came out to watch me race and there were a lot of other familiar faces in the crowd cheering the Canadians on. The stellar conditions were a much-welcomed change for anyone who had raced in Korea and racing on natural snow was especially nice. It’s rare that we race entirely on natural snow, as the warmer conditions in Europe often require man-made snow.

Racing on the Olympic course in Whistler - Photo by Christian Manzoni

As for the races I am very pleased with how they went, with the exception of the Relay. I was skiing consistently fast and my shooting had improved since Korea, which allowed me to put together some pretty solid performances. In the 20km Individual I crossed the line in 46th shooting 17/20 and finished 52nd in the 10km Sprint shooting 8/10.

I like the Olympic course a lot. It boasts nice rolling terrain with great flow and is challenging in terms of many technical transitions which make you have to work hard to maintain speed. The new venue seemed to be well liked by the Europeans and everyone is excited for next February.

Lapping through the stadium during the Relay - Photo by Dan Giroux

After the Relay on Sunday we jumped straight into the team van and drove to the airport in Vancouver to continue on to our next destination; World Cup #8 in Trondheim, Norway. Not being able to cool down after the race, not being able to have a shower, and having to scramble to pack our equipment is definitely not ideal for recovery, but with our tight schedule to get to the airport we didn’t have a choice!

Thanks to all the volunteers and supporters who helped make the World Cup such a great success!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thoughts on World Champs…

The World Championships wrapped up the other day with the Men’s 4x7.5km relay. Conditions had improved slightly from earlier in the week, but there were still some corners that were pure ice on the down hills. Our team finished up in 16th, which was far from our best relay result of the season, but I think respectable given the pressure we were under. I actually had my best race of the Championships during our Relay and I managed to finally adapt to the unforgiving wind on the range. I felt solid on my skis, was able to push hard in the up hills, and logged one of my faster ski ranks of the Championships which I was pretty happy about.

Racing the Relay. Photo credit - Christian Manzoni

Following the race which was once again at night, we had to scramble to pack our skis and rifles at the venue and have everything ready to be loaded into cargo vans, which would meet us with our luggage at the airport in Seoul the next morning. Once arriving back at our accommodation we grabbed our last Asian buffet meal and did some last minute packing before heading to bed around midnight. Only a few hours later it was time to wake up to catch a bus to the airport and begin my journey back to Canada. While the rest of my teammates were able to fly back home over the Pacific Ocean, I had to fly home the opposite direction around the world with an overnight stop in Frankfurt. I made it back to Canmore in one piece but I am still feeling fairly fatigued from the travel.

My first World Championships was a fun and interesting experience, and I think it’s safe to say that it was also quite a different and unique experience for many of the veterans on the circuit as well. I can’t say that I’m a fan of racing in Korea, and won’t be disappointed if I never get to race there again! The Championships didn’t really have the same feel compared to the World Cups in Europe and the conditions were so adverse it made racing and training extremely frustrating at times. Performance wise other than in the Relay, I didn’t perform to my expectations which was very frustrating even though my skiing was in good form. I struggled a lot with the conditions, mainly the wind, and I think I lacked the knowledge and understanding that the most experienced athletes showed like Ole Einar Bjørndalen and Halvard Hanevold. This type of experience can only be gained through racing in these types of conditions and I think I am a stronger athlete now having had the opportunity to race these World Championships in Korea. I was happy to finish on a positive note with a good leg in the Relay, and I’m looking forward to the remainder of the season.

Skiing in the cross country stadium with ski jumps in the background.

I’m now back in Canmore and will be putting in a solid week of training here before packing my bag again and traveling to Whistler for World Cup #7. This should be an awesome experience to race on home soil and it will be fun to have some family and familiar faces cheering me on!

See you next in Whistler!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

World Champs Sprint & Individual

Since my last post both the Sprint and Individual competitions have gone underway here in Korea. I procrastinated writing a post about the Sprint because I hoped that I would have something more exciting to write about from today’s 20km Individual race. Unfortunately this is not the case, and I am disappointed to say that I have not been performing to my expectations.

Saturday’s 10km Sprint race was one that I won’t forget. When I woke up the rain had stopped and our team got the word in the morning that the race would be a go. The course would be slightly modified however as parts of the original loop were now too icy and dangerous to race on. Instead or racing 3 laps of the 3.3 km course, we would now race the 2.5km course and do a double lap of 2.5km in the middle of our race.

Working hard to stay on my feet on one of the sketchy downhills

After sleeping in and killing time in the afternoon by going for a run and dry firing at the race site, we made our way to the venue to prepare for the night’s race. The organizing committee trucked in quite a bit of snow and entirely recovered the stadium and most of the course. Everything leading up to the race went normal. Conditions were far from ideal though. The snow was really soft and a mix between slush and sugary manmade ice, especially on the climbs where our skis would get buried, making it a tedious day on the body. It felt like I was trying to ski through sand at many points throughout the race. The descents on the other hand were icy and fast which made the corners on the more technical down hills super sketchy and provided spectators with a few good crashes to watch. I tried not to fight the slush while skiing and instead tried to ski as relaxed as possible which is very important to do in these types of conditions. Instead of powering through the deep snow I tried reduce muscular fatigue by taking smaller steps on the climbs while skiing with a higher tempo relying more on my engine and VO2 max as opposed muscular power. The other difficult element to deal with that night other than the snow was a strong wind that was always present and would switch to stronger gusts throughout the race. In short, I didn’t race well and got off to a terrible start with three misses prone due to having problems making the proper corrections for the wind. Shooting standing was a little better, but still not great and I was out of the running for a top 60 finish, which meant I wouldn’t be starting in the Pursuit race the next day. JP and Robin were the top Canadians on qualifying for the Pursuit in 42nd and 48th place. The only positive from the race was my skiing in which I ranked in the top 45. For me this is solid. Ski speed is all relative however, as it doesn’t do much good unless combined with an excellent performance on the shooting range.

Our wax techs working hard as usual finding us the best pair of skis for the day

I put the Sprint result aside and focused the next few days on getting prepared for today’s Individual race. Training was going very well leading up to today. Race prep yesterday couldn’t have gone much better. I was feeling strong and had seemed to have mastered the tricky wind conditions in the range. I was pumped and ready to go.

After a very thorough zero which included some visualization of different wind scenarios and a solid warm up, I was confident that I could have a good race even if the wind wasn’t favorable. The race started out awesome. I paced my skiing well and shot clean prone and had 1 miss standing. At one point on the third loop I was ranked 25th. This was until I came in for my third shooting bout and things started to go downhill. The wind had changed and this time instead of not correcting enough, I think I may have overcorrected. I left the range with 3 penalties and my next standing bout didn’t go any better. It was very frustrating but I buried my thoughts and fought hard until the end. Once again I had a great ski and once again my shooting held me back from what had the potential to be a great performance. There were a lot of misses today; even from many of the top ranked shooters. Having a lucky day on the range with conditions being the way they were was definitely the ticket to a great result today.

A view of the stadium while training during the day

I’ll take tomorrow’s training a little easier and then it’s time to focus on preparing for Sunday’s Relay race.

Results, articles, live results, and a live video feed of all the races can be found at www.biathlonworld.com