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Welcome! My name is Michael Somppi and I am a competitive cross-country skier. I am a member of both Canada's National Ski Team and the Alberta World Cup Academy based out of Canmore, AB. I developed this blog so sponsors, family, friends and fans can keep up to date with my life as a full-time athlete. You can expect regular blog posts about racing, training, and life in general. Check out other sections of my blog by clicking on the tabs above.

Friday, July 12, 2013

One Season to Another


I’m going to do my best to keep this “brief” and get you up to date with what I’ve been up to since my last post.  My last blog post left off with my spring World Cup escapades and I touched on the racing ahead at National Championships.  The 50km was my only real focus at Nationals since I missed out on the other distance races.  I prepared as well as I could given the short time frame I was working with.  Despite the lack of training and excessive travel and racing I did in the last month I surprised myself by finding some good feelings in the 50km.  I skied a strong race, staying near the front for its entirety.  It played out in a sprint finish and although I positioned myself well with 1.5km to go, I wasn’t able to maintain it and was pushed to the back of the group with less than a km to go.  I lost a podium spot with poor strategy/lack of aggression and finished 5th, 2.7 seconds from the win and less than a second from the podium.  It was a let down to finish off the podium.  On the positive side, I had no idea how my body would hold up for 50km when my preparation for the race hadn’t been ideal so I’m happy I had some good feelings out there.

And that wrapped up my 2012-13 season.  A quick way to sum it up was awesome domestic racing and poor International performances.  I accomplished the goals I had set out for myself in domestic racing, winning my first NorAm race and claiming the NorAm leader spot for the spring World Cups.  However I struggled with World Cup racing.  I was never able to put together a solid all around performance, something I will be focusing on improving next season.

With the season at an end I travelled back to my Canmore home.  It felt great to shut off the race mindset and relax.  Two highlights were an awesome spring downhill ski at Sunshine with some good friends and a fun crust ski at Mt. Shark with Bob (Shout out to Bob!).

Jesse Cockney all smiles on a sunny spring day at Sunshine.
Great scenery crust skiing at Mt. Shark!
 A little over a week later I was on a plane again.  This time headed to St. John’s, Newfoundland to visit my girlfriend, Britt.  It was my first time to Newfoundland and I was blown away with the city of St. John’s.  It’s incredibly scenic and colourful, plus the downtown core is full of great shops, restaurants, bakeries, you name it.  Here are a few of the highlights: several runs/hikes along the East Coast trail, being Screeched In at Christian’s Bar, watching the Ice Caps final game of the season, fish & chips at Duke of Duckworth, lunches at Rocket, Montreal bagels from Georgetown bakery, and of course trying the variety of local Newfoundland beer (it’s good stuff!).  I also did a local 5km-running race, which was a blast!

East Coast Trail, NL
The colourful streets of St. John's
Britt on Belle Island, NL
My next journey was a road trip from St. John’s, NL all the way to Guelph, ON.  Britt’s summer work placement is in Guelph so we used the opportunity to explore the East Coast while we drove across Eastern Canada to Ontario.  We had a great drive with lots of adventures along the way.  Britt’s Toyota Echo was filled to maximum capacity and made it just fine halfway across the country.

Surpassing the 200 000km mark on the Echo
Attempt at a runner's magazine shot with an iceberg near Twillingate, NL
Beauty picnic spot on the Green Gardens trail in Gros Morne Park, NL
Britt showing off our first lobster at the local diner in Rocky Harbour, NL

On the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia
Flower Pot silhouette on the Bay of Fundy, NB
Top of Camel's Hump in Burlington, VT
I managed to fit in a short visit home to Thunder Bay before travelling back to Canmore, AB to kick off the new training season.  My April rest month was filled with travel and my 2013-14 season started off on the same note.  Our team drove to Vernon, BC for a training camp, utilizing the last of the snow at the Sovereign Lakes Nordic Centre for some on-snow training.  Everything went smoothly, I was able to put into a good number of hours on skis plus some afternoon runs, rides, and strength sessions.

Back in Canmore our team got into some regular training routines.  In June we did a short training camp in Nelson, BC.  It didn’t quite pan out as planned due to heavy rains and the whole flood situation Canmore endured.  We made the most of it, changing our modes of training, and managed to complete our planned training hours.  After Nelson, our team went straight into the first testing period of the year.  We did a classic rollerski double pole test, a skate rollerski prologue test, an incremental test using a rollerski treadmill, and capped off these tests with a local Canada Day running race.  The results were positive including a PB in the prologue test and I’m confidant things are heading in the right direction.

Once all the testing was complete I enjoyed a lighter training week, focusing on recovery before July’s volume block.  I went on a 3 night family trip to Jasper with my mom and sister.  We stopped in at the Icefields Parkway on our way and it was a little shocking to see how much the Athabasca Glacier has receded since I was there in 2000.  The highlight of the trip was a hike up to Sulphur Ridge combined with a soak in the Miette Hot Springs.  The 360-degree mountain top view at the top of the Ridge was stunning and the hot springs were the perfect way to relax after a good hike.  The mountain goats provided entertainment on the mountain and in the parking lot.  We watched a herd of goats play king of the castle on a boulder in an alpine meadow during our hike, then had to defend our picnic lunch in the parking lot from them afterwards.

Marker showing where the Athabasca Glacier was in 2000.  Shocking!
My sister and mom hiking up the final section to Sulphur Ridge
Awesome views from the top of Sulphur Ridge!
Goats playing king of the castle on a boulder in a mountain meadow.  My sister and I could barely stand on that boulder together... don't know how the goats do it!
Lunch with a friendly goat?  Visit Jasper, AB. 
Now, the training season is well under way.  I’m 5 days into a heavy two-week volume block and everything has gone smoothly so far.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my latest training adventures.

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