Rachel Syme and James McKeown
On Tuesday 1st January 2013 we set off with other members of the Scottish Development and Performance Squads, ranging from 12 to 19 years old, for our annual winter cross-country skiing training camp at the Skalka resort in Slovakia. Our aim was to improve our fitness, as well as our strength.
Our trip started very early on New Year’s Day with a flight from Edinburgh to Paris. After a very long transfer there, we took another flight to Vienna in Austria. Here we were met by Kristina, the National Coach, who drove us though Hungary into Slovakia, to her local canoe club’s clubhouse in Komarno, where we stayed overnight. Five countries in one day, so we were all ready to sleep before the training had even started!
The next day, we joined up with Slovaks from Komarno Canoe Club and made our way by bus to the ski resort and our accommodation at Chata Limba. This would be our home for the next 7 days.
Each day started with a very early morning alarm call and a run followed by a buffet breakfast, perfect for giving us the energy needed for the day ahead. The morning ski was usually a time trial, in which we did several timed laps of a particular circuit, completely tiring us out before we’d even had lunch! The afternoon tended to be a long ski with distances ranging from 8km for the beginners to 30km for the more experienced older skiers. After dinner training did not stop, with three evening trips to the gym during our stay to do weight sessions. We were given one rest day to recover in which we went for a longer than usual ski in the morning, followed by an afternoon of rest and relaxation with sauna, steam room, swimming and a sports massage. We teamed up with the Slovaks for all of our sessions.
This was the third winter training camp for the two of us, and we both saw improvements in the number of kilometres we skied and the times we achieved in our time trials. This also turned out to be the most successful camp for the squad in general, with greater total distances achieved by every individual group and a good, hardworking attitude shown by all involved.
The days were long and very hard work but we all know it will be worth it in the end. Everyone came back home ready for more hard work and eager to get back into regular winter training again.