The spirit of skiing (Skiing = cross country)

Welcome to the world of skiing. And by skiing I don’t mean downhill, I don’t mean backcountry, I mean the oldest and truest form of skiing, cross country. This concept that skiing equates to cross country and not downhill is something I am sure that any Canadian will find strange and any Finn normal. But, here it is a part of everyday lingo and skiing will never be downhill skiing. Thus, welcome to the world of skiing!

For this past week and a half, I have been helping with the Nordic World Championships in Lahti. I was assigned the role of team host to work with the Canadian, American, Irish and British teams. It has been amazing to work with these teams. All of them have been super nice and super welcoming even though they need not be. So, a big thank you to each one of those teams for your warm welcome into the folds of the international Nordic community. As I sit here, I am hoping that all of the teams do well in their upcoming three races left for the tournament. Go Team Canada! Go Team USA! Go Team Great Britain! Go Team Ireland! I hope that these next days are filled with personal bests and great memories!

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Over the past weekend, I got the opportunity to truly see what a skiing culture is like for a Nordic country. 35,000 people attended the ski championships on Saturday alone. Coming from a country where it is outstanding to get a couple thousand people at a cross-country skiing event seeing 35,000 people in one area to watch 2 minutes of their favourite skier was beyond incredible. The stadium was packed and it was next to impossible to see any part of the skiing arena because so many people were already in front of you. But the atmosphere was incredible as every time a Finnish athlete passed by there were there was a roar like you would hear at a hockey game. It was also incredible because you could tell where the top athletes were on the race just by the cheering that followed them.

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Then to add to this crazy Saturday, Wednesday saw the first world championship gold medal for Finland in 15km. The crowd went wild and everyone was super excited to see their idol cross the Finnish line in front of Norway, the reigning past winners. When I went down to the city square to watch the medal ceremony the mood was electrifying. Everyone was cheering and there was chanting of Iivo over and over again as he got his gold medal. To be in a place where skiers are national icons is something outstanding. When I told most of my Finnish friends, they told me that they knew and they had watched the race. This is something unheard of in Canada unless you surround yourself solely with other skiers.

It was also incredible to watch as one of the woman that has inspired and pioneered female skiing across North America accept her medal. For a very long time Kikkan Randall has inspired the lives of so many women including many of my teammates to get out there and ski! She has been an inspiration to girls as they have grown up believing that females are powerful and capable of anything that they put their minds to because Fast and Female is so much more than skiing. I know that not all of these females will grow up to be top-level skiers or even make it to the national team but they will ALL follow their dreams. Because it’s people like Kikkan Randall, Jessie Diggins and Sadie Bjoernson who have given back the power to female skiers and shown that female skiers and females in general are so much more than society tells us we are. So thank you to all of those female skiers who have made skiing what it is today and females who they are today. #fastandfemale #pink #morethansocietalvalues

This has been the chance of a lifetime to see the World Championships in a Nordic country. I feel super lucky and happy to be part of such an incredible experience!

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Living in a Nordic country

Imagine looking outdoors and everyone is skating, skiing, Nordic walking, walking, biking, running or in the rare case kite skiing. That’s what it is like living in a Nordic country. I now live in a world where people make it a part of their day to get out regardless of their equipment or the temperature. I cannot even begin to describe what it is like to live in a world like this but let me at least attempt.

 

In Calgary, where I used to live, only the people with the most expensive and top of the line equipment were outdoors. And, it was very uncommon to see someone riding on a worn down bike or skiing on 10 year old skis. I lived in the world of people flaunting their money or attempting to flaunt their money if they did not have any. Finland is not like that at all. Everyone regardless of age, ability or equipment is outside enjoying what the winter has to offer. Even those that do not like the winter as much still spend time walking around the neighbourhood.

Today I walked past a frozen lake in Lahti only to find part of the lake cleared for ice-skating in which both adults and children were there. Next to those skaters were cross-country skiers, about 5-8 of them, who were out enjoying the winter. Then on the banks of the lake were runners, walkers, bikers, Nordic walkers and more. There was even a dad and his child sledding down the small hill made there. Even when people go for coffee they still spend time outdoors. Most cafes here have a place to sit outside that is used both in the winter and in the summer. I saw people sitting outdoors in front of the café from which I am currently writing this. Kids are expected to spend time outdoors and you can see that in the amount of kids that are sledding or generally enjoying winter.

Then there is the practicality of the winter. It is very uncommon to see people dressed without a proper winter jacket. As well, reflectors are cool!! Nearly everyone wears reflectors and according to my Finnish friends, children always want to have the cooler reflectors. Safety and fashion all wrapped in one! As for sleds, they also have their special practicalities. Most adults with young children will bring around sleds with them for their children. These sleds aren’t just any sleds. Often the sleds are covered in wool to make them comfortable and warm for the kids so that they can even use them for sitting outside.

Everything in this country is built to be practical, functional and make the outdoors fun! I love living in a world built for being outdoors in the winter!

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Moi Moi

Pushing the comfort zone

As we grow up we create this comfort zone for ourselves full of all the things that we enjoy while at the same time we are told to push this comfort zone. But yet so rarely does any one of us do that because its scary or dangerous or pretty much any excuse in the book. Over the years I have learned that in the pushing my comfort zone that is where I am the most anxious but yet it gives me the greatest rewards.

But sometimes doing this, pushing the comfort zone, is hard and can push you to question yourself! Recently I have encountered something that has pushed my comfort zone to a new degree. Basically this problem goes against some of the ingrained ideas of our society which I believe are inherently wrong but are followed none the less. Unfortunately, we live in a society where stability is seen as the only true expression of having a good life. However, I believe that it is the risks that we take that define ourselves and our sense of happiness. Therefore, in order to truly define ourselves we must take risks that push our comfort zone.

One of the ways in which I have also really been pushing myself is to scramble harder and harder areas in order to push my comfort zone in heights. I’ve always had a fear of heights that has plagued me while hiking whether it was in the rockies or on the Newfoundland cliffs. But then one day I tried to do some more things that pushed myself. When you do push yourself you enter into this state of fear that almost shuts you down (Slowly I have been working to improve things such that I don’t shut down). But once you get to the top or back down to the bottom of either a scramble or a climb the rewards are immense. And that is why I try to push myself at least once a week if not more because the rewards of doing pushing a comfort zone are greater than anything I have ever found anywhere.

This summer has been one for the books in terms of pushing of my limits and also one for gaining immense rewards. I definitely look forward to seeing how this will emanate throughout my goals and the rest of the year to come.

Finland and such

After unsuccessfully attempting to sleep off my migraine I figured that I would update my blog with a long overdue post. A lot has happened since 6 months ago. As per usual some of it has been amazing and some if not so great. But I’m getting so close to one of my goals I can taste it! One of my big goals for about three years has been to ski the worldloppet which means encountering one big issue in that none of the races are cheap to attend nor easy to get to. Thus this past winter semester I applied for an exchange hoping that I would get somewhere that had one of the races.

SUCCESS! I recently got accepted by the University of Calgary to attend a winter semester exchange in University of Helsinki. I not only look forward to the curricular side of the school but also its only a small distance from Lahti which is a well known cross country skiing area. This means that I will get a chance to attend the world cup and then the finlandia-hiihto which is a 50km race that can be completed in both classic and skate. I look forward to pushing myself more in training when it comes to skate. This past semester I thoroughly enjoyed pushing myself and my limits as I attempted to train for a 67km skate race.

Already I have started to train hard for this race. I know that I will need to build an intense endurance base in order to attempt any of these races and am therefore working hard to get that mainly through running, more running and a little strength on the side. Tomorrow I hope to wake up migraine free and get in a solid 2 hour run followed by strength either later in the day or in the evening.

On further news going to University of Helsinki will allow me to not only learn languages associated with the Arctic such as Swedish and Finnish but also network with some of the best professors in Arctic Archaeology of the region. It will be interesting to gain further knowledge into the Saami culture and their origins. I also look forward to being near an incredible Russian department, according to my Russian professor at UofC. Hopefully, through both archaeology and Russian, I can further develop the knowledge necessary to be part of archaeological works in the Arctic and therefore follow my goal of being an arctic archaeologist!

New goals, new aspirations

To start off I should explain where I am. I am now a third year university student who does school, jobs and extra-curriculars. Most people tell me I do too much of everything, however it’s doing so much that makes me happy. I have been working hard to really make the most of life and accomplish as many goals during my short time on this earth. And to do that I have to stay organized, keep on track with everything and work harder than I have ever before. Since first starting this blog my list of goals has morphed and changed so much to reflect the person that I have become over the years.

As a third year university student many things have changed since I last wrote in this blog especially in terms of goals. And as the new year approach I figured I must refresh the list of goals I once had.  Thus, I shall start of the new blog post with a new list of goals, some of which are inspired by my old list of goals.

  • Ski in 10 of the loppets around the world and complete the worldloppet: as of yet I have skied one of the ten loppets, but am hoping to ski another this coming year in France. It will be a 68 kilometre skate ski race through the countryside
  • Bike through Scotland/England/Wales
  • Grad School in Scandinavia: I have always wanted to return the place I was born. It would be so amazing to be able to complete my masters in a school where I admire the culture, lifestyle, history and more around it.
  • Ski to the North Pole
  • Hike the Camino de Santiago
  • Complete research and publish work on the research
  • Visit every continent
  • Sew 50% of the new clothing that I wear as of 2016
  • Care for the people around me: I know this sounds a bit ambiguous but it is important all the same that we care for each other. Looking out for those around you can truly help make this world a wonderful place
  • Spend at least an hour each week creating things
  • Travel to India
  • Backpack for a month in a single place
  • Beat the 2015 cross-country skiing race times
  • Follow my Grandfather’s footsteps in WWII
  • Bike across Canada
  • Receive the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
  • Learn to speak Welsh
  • Re-learn Norwegian 
  • Make the most of living near the Rockies
  • Read at least 100 different medal-winning books from all 6 continents
  • MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!
  • HAVE FUN!!

This is my current list of goals however it is highly likely to change within today, tomorrow or even the next hour depending how the future unfolds.

As of today, I shall be starting to write on this blog to talk about my successes and failures. Because failures are just as important as successes in life in that each one helps you strive for a better version of yourself.

Getting back on top of everything!

Lately I have been extremely busy getting back to my plan. So I have fallen behind in practically everything! Before exams I thought that I could just procrastinate and not worry about anything and everything would get done. I was sorely mistaken!! Upon completing my exams and receiving my report card I realized that I NEED to get my life back to normal. So what have I been spending till midnight doing? Exactly that. So I am going to go through and highlight the goals that I have been working on to get back to normal, then move onto exciting news on old goals and finally end with some exciting news to do with a new goal.

Finish Grade 11 with a 90% average: Recently I received my report and I can tell you that it was not up to par by my standards. My overall average at the moment is 85% with the largest drop in a subject area being 10%, which is a massive drop. Upon reflecting on my report card I realized that the reason my marks are not up to par is because I have become lazy when doing homework and thought I could survive high school without doing it. Upon reflecting on this I decided I was wrong so recently I have been working on actually doing the homework.By the end of the year my way of doing things WILL change and I WILL be doing homework each night.

Go to school at Durham University or University of Cambridge: To do this goal one of the major things I have to do is received a lot of scholarships. This means applying for numerous scholarship from school and outside of school. About a few weeks ago I had a chance to apply for a large scholarship, but due to the fact that I have been procrastinating lately I did not complete the application in time and do not have a chance to receive. Next week I have another opportunity for a slightly less scholarship so this time I WILL get it in on time and complete it.

Received the  Gold Chief Commissioners Award in Guiding: For a long time I have completely forgotten about this goal, but this week I was reminded of it. Upon a deeper look into my room a booklet emerged from a box on a chest of drawers. This booklet is my ranger program. I have now decided which activities I will be doing to complete my goal and have started to work on a couple of them. Along with 18 activities that I have to do I also have to do a ranger service project which I have an event coming up that I can use. The only major problem is the large selling of Girl Guide cookies which I aim to figure out soon.

Receive the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: I am extremely close to finishing of my silver Duke, all I need are signatures and the excursion. I can guarantee this will be finished by the middle of March which is great. This means that I will have my gold done by the end of next year for the end of High School.

Beat the 2011 cross-country skiing race times: This past weekend I had a chance to participate in the CCNL Provincial Championships and what an experience it was. During this trip I was able to complete this goal!!!

FINALLY:

Become the Youth Member of the Provincial Council: I have sent my application in for this new goal and will find out in June if I actually received it!

Exams…

FIVE DOWN, TWO LEFT TO GO!!!

Today marks my fifth exam being finished out of seven in total. So far this week has been a brutal week, where I feel as if I have done nothing productive as I have spent the time studying and working as hard as possible for these exams.

The week started with two exams on Monday, Chemistry and French. Out of the two I believe French is the most important and the one that is most important to recieve the high marks as my French mark is not at its best. By the end of these exams I felt as if they went extremely well, the best that they could. The next day followed with my two hardest exams, Pre-Calculus and Grade 12 Physics. These were both gruelling exams in which my mid term serverally mattered to my mark. The Physics was by the longest exam of all that I had written by the end of it. Today was my English, which was long but I felt it went well for an exam. Either way I will know whether or not when I get back to school on Tuesday…

All that is left is my Histoire du Canada and Grade 12 Math. Hopefully they will both go well!