Canadian Cross Country Ski Team

12th August, 2010
By Devon Kershaw

> New Zealand : The Camp that keeps giving

Copied from the blog of Devon Kershaw

Canadian Cross-Country Skier (Using the iCool inflatable)



New Zealand: the camp that on keeps giving…


Two short days. Hell, one night actually. That’s all that remains until I pack up my wet boots,

nasty Craft and jam a plethora of clothing, equipment, footwear, and miscellaneous xc specific

items into both my ski bag and duffel to begin my long journey back to summer –

and to my good friend Shayla Swanson’s wedding outside of Bozeman,

MT (but that’s a story for next time…)


Reflecting on our 16 day training camp down here, I am pretty happy with how things


Sure, I would have loved to win a few more games of Monopoly.

I would have loved to have had all 16 days of skiing be under bright sunshine, perfect

tracks tooand I wish all my best buddies and training partners could be here to enjoy the

journey with me

day in, day out. Yet – in reality, I would have never guessed that the 2010 edition of the NZed

camp would have turned out so well.


It took awhile – too long to be honest, but I was able to nab my first NZ Monopoly win,
which was big for my psychological state. Although we weren’t bathed in sunshine EVERY day,
I’d say that 85% of my workouts down here on skis were pretty damn close and I may not have
had ALL my “besties” down here banging out kilometers with me, but I had some of them –
and I couldn’t ask for better teammates to train and hang with. It’s been awesome.
Hard not to be motivated, and psyched to get after it.
Great tracks and weather down here this year 
Great running along Lake Wanaka,
we've got a stellar crew!

This camp was about 5 days shorter in length than the other 4 in the past

and at firstI was nervous that the camp would feel “too short.”

There’s no denying that NewZealand is far away.

Any time you are talking 10,000+ kilometers of travel, you

expect to feel like you look: disheveled, tired, and out of it for the first few days

– that’s why I before coming I was hoping for a longer camp. Yet, this I always

forget that the Snow Farm seems to be one place that it doesn’t seem to happen.

As soon as you strap on the boards and are gliding along “Hanging Valley,”

you forget you even traveled at all. It’s that good, and as this camp winds down;

I realize that 16 days is a fantastic length of time for this camp.


The training we threw down over the 16 days was great. Less overall load than
I’ve been used to during the annual New Zealand camp, but way more strength –
which I am happy to report, is improving. Am I at Newell’s level doing chin ups
with a small vehicle and 4 teenagers strapped to my waist?  
No, but I am improving slowly.
In a "zen state" to aid in not focusing on the bone chilling cold in our portable cold tub
- letting the muscles recover from strength 


I’ve been super happy with my movements and technical gains, especially with how the

cleans and snatches have been going. I am sure that when I started about a month ago,

you could have taken 80% of people in a Sudbury Tim Hortons at 8am on weekday,

and regardless of their age, physical fitness or talent they would have looked like

Ronnie Colman next to me going though those Olympic lifts.


Keeping us on the road while we bang out our training have been two stellar therapists.

A big thank you to B210 – the group based out of Montreal that I joined in the spring

– for being so instrumental in getting this going. Having steady work with our awesome new physio

– Hutchdogg’ and Scotty Y (the massage guy we have here from Bend, OR)

has allowed us to recover from the long skis, interval/race workouts, and my

(in my own mind anyway) “epic” strength workouts. Plus, those two guys are totally

boss to hang out with. It’s been win/win.


Aside from the normal interval workouts, long distance days, strength, etc…

we also were able to do some racing down here for the Australia/New Zealand


Cup FIS races. I had always planned on just doing the first race: a 15km classic

mass start, and it was a ton of fun.


It was a USA/Canada show down, and the 3 lap, 15km race was a blast.

It turned out to be tactical, where everyone was marking and watching each other

and was a great exercise to stay close to that style of racing. For the majority of the race,

we (the Canadians) did all the time at the front, alternating often before Kris Freeman

(USA racer extraordinaire and Outside Magazine cover man’) threw down a massive

attack with about 1.5-2km to go. It was pure carnage, as he shattered the field in an instant.

Nobody could go with his acceleration and we were left feeling and breathing like an old

man climbing a steep set of stairs. A bit in shock, but also worried it might all be over.


I stayed calm, and made an assumption. Watching Freeman launch, I didn’t think he had
the shape to make the line. If he did – that would have been some top winter shape, and
I knew that Freeman had been doing a ton of training, just like us. I stayed calm, and
focused purely on technique – looking only a few feet in front on me. Then, suddenly
with 600m to go, there he was: right in front of me. I didn’t play games at that point –
assuming again that he was blown up, and attacked hard for the line.
I didn't hang around - once I caught Freeman with 600m to go, I just kept charging. Photo: Scotty Y 


I ended up winning by about 7 seconds or so. In the winter, an attack like that from Freeman

would have been all she wrote’ but I was able to be patient and take the win here in August.

It was nothing more than just a fun workout and everyone had a good time pushing hard.


The women’s race, a 10km classic mass start - was a total two-up show down between

the two talented American racers: Morgan Arritola and Liz Stephen. Chandra dropped

out after 5km because of some back issues, and Kikkan was sick and didn’t start.


It was a beauty to watch, as both Liz and Morgan hammered for most of the race in
tracks side by side, nobody giving an inch. I have to say I was pretty impressed by both
those women: their speed and technique for the entire 10km was impressive for any time
of the year. Liz really dug in to win the race in a sprint finish, but kudos to both of them
– it was inspiring.
Liz and Morgan during a rare moment where one was behind the other. These two women were charging!!  


The following day was the sprint on a new and challenging course (1.6km). I was never

planning on racing, so I was on photo/cheering squad. It was a pretty nasty day with some

wind and snow falling – making it tough on racers and spectators alike.


In the women’s race Liz showed that the previous day was no fluke – and blew the qualifier
away by over 5 seconds which was madness. As the rounds progressed both Chandra and Liz
moved through easily setting up for a show down in the final. Liz charged hard and again was
really impressive (sprinting isn’t usually Liz’s thing) but Chandra showed why she’s one of the
best skate sprinters in the world and played it perfect tactically – turning on her sprint with
100m out to snag the win.
A "more challenging" weather day during the sprint. Liz has her "game face" on, but
Chandra had the upper hand in the final to snag the win.
Chandra on the start line of the final - focused and ready 
On the dudes’ side, it was Simi Hamilton nipping Newell at the line in the final to take the win. Newell dominated the qualifier
as per usual, and through all their rounds, the two Americans looked amazing. Our boys (Ivan, Alex and Stef) did a great job too,
and Stef was able to accelerate past Alex in the last 100m to take 3rd. It was a long, wet day, but everyone seemed happy their efforts.
Newell, Simi, Stef and Alex going for it up the last climb in the final. Simi got the win - pretty impressive stuff.
Since then, it’s been business as usual. We got out for some sessions with the Americans
that were pretty fun. I had an especially great 3hr crust ski (my first ever down here in New Zealand)
that Alex and I enjoyed with Newell on sunny day and I had a great time running in some rainy,
messy weather with Noah Hoffman (a young American racer to watch for sure) later in the camp.
Business as usual for Babs one day was "gripping it and ripping it" on the luge track in Queenstown.

I personally feel that it was great to train and be around the Americans at a training camp.

Not only was it was great to train with them sometimes, but also they are a great group of athletes

and coaches all around. Focused, great leadership and great athletes all around – I have no doubt they’ll

keep getting better and better – they are on the right track for sure.


Justin has proven once again to be a great leader and coach. We’ve worked hard on technique and he’s

kept a really close eye on how we are all doing. My ass may be out the back like a horse’s rear hanging

out of a trailer in my double poling – but we’re working to fix it and he’s extremely committed,

bringing a great attitude everyday.


One night left. I’ll head down for my last strength session of the camp this afternoon, and if the stars align,
I may even grab my second Monopoly win – although the odd makers in Vegas would say otherwise I’m sure.
Minutes after my first New Zealand Monopoly win. Needless to say, I was "pretty pump bout' dat' " 
Loving life, and banging it out with smiles on our faces – the Canadian National Team had a great camp down here in New Zealand.
Big thanks to everyone who helped make it happen. 




A beautiful country - this is above Queenstown - "the Banff" of New Zealand.


"Kuhn-tache" and I cooling down after hitting the gym down in Wanaka - Photo: Scotty Y




< Back to News