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The final tests before the season really starts



I’m sitting in the lodge at Kananaskis where for the past week the sun has been shinning outside, the temperature climbs to above zero in the day, and I’m thinking to myself "is this really November in Alberta?" Yep, it isn’t 20 below zero. Amazing.

I have been training here at Nakiska since last week and will be here until Friday. In the last few weeks we have gone through our pre-season physical testing at the University of Calgary and have been preparing for the next World Cups in Aspen, Colorado. And yes, the weather has been uncharacteristically warm. Did I mention that already?

Our schedule is usually the same each November. The whole team arrives in Calgary early in the month and we go for fitness testing at the university. Following testing we take the opportunity to train on our home soil on some early man-made snow conditions at Nakiska or Panorama.

In this article I would like to take you through our day of testing…. The testing takes a full day and it involves each team member going through six different fitness tests, a physical assessment with a physiotherapist and a medical exam with a doctor. Our body compositions are also taken. The medical and physical assessments are done to ensure that each athlete is healthy enough to start the race season.

The first test of the morning is in the weight room where we do a jump test on a mat, followed by a squat test. The jump test consists of four jumps, three trial jumps and a jump onto the mat which reads our jump height and the speed at which we move off of the mat. The squat test is done with a total of 60 kilos on our backs. Connected to the squat bar is a wire which is connected to a laptop that immediately calculates our power output. From these results you can compare to your results from May to see how much or how little you have improved. Hopefully it is how much you have improved.

The next few tests are up on the track, where we do an agility test, a 90-second box jump test and a consecutive standing long jump test. The agility test takes about 20 seconds and it’s a run through some cones. It is timed and we go through it twice, once from left to right and then from right to left. Then comes the final test of the morning – the 90-second box jump! This is the tough one. The box sits just below knee height for the girls and the goal is to get as many jumps as possible in the 90 seconds. A good score is 90 jumps and above.

Those are just the morning tests.

We get about three hours of rest until the afternoon tests get underway. Usually you try to eat a little bit of food to have some energy for the afternoon, but not too much because the final bike test sometimes causes that food to come back up!

The test is one-minute on the bike and each individual athlete is given a load of watts for the minute. The amount of watts is determined by a calculation that’s based on your past testing results. I’m not really too sure how it all works, I just know that what they load on you is usually very hard to push for the minute! The nice thing is that the minute is over quickly and then you are done until next May, the beginning of our training season.

Also on that day, we did a sports vision eye exam with Dr. Donna Mockler. She runs the eye clinic in Whistler and has been doing these exams for the team for quite a while. She was brought out to Calgary to test each athlete on the team. The different tests were really neat. They tested your depth perception, your peripheral vision and your hand-eye co-ordination. There were probably about six different stations. It was fun – probably the only test that was FUN on that day!

And now the testing is over and the training season is wrapping up, as we head into the race season. We are a strong group this year, both the men’s and women’s teams, and we are looking forward to our next races. The men will be racing next week in Lake Louise in speed events and I will be heading to Colorado for a giant slalom and a pair of slalom events starting on Nov. 27.

The cold Alberta weather will be coming soon but for now I will enjoy the warmer days and the sunshine as we finish up with our training. Hopefully now you know a little more about our final preparations for the race season.

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