We're in Nakiska, Alberta now for a week of training before heading to Lake Louise. I can hear the snowplough outside my window trying to deal with the foot of snow we got last night. We were hoping to get in another slalom session. You heard me right. I can still shlick-shlack. I have a pear-shaped body, not a great vertical jump and my slalom helmet squeezes my brain but yesterday I trained slalom for the first time in over 3 years. It's not quite like riding a bicycle in that it just comes back. But it was fun and I look forward to moving down the corridor instead of side-to-side.
Monday was eventful too. Jan (Hudec) and I were on breakfast television at 7am, then headed to the university for our concussion test (more like playing video games for 20 minutes), then to the press conference for the unveiling of the Canadian team this season. The Canadian Cowboys played hockey against some great girls from the University of Calgary Dinos' team and some Calgary Flames vets. They held their own but took a 4-2 loss. Stick to the ice of the World Cup speed circuit, boys.
But here's some exciting news on the sponsorship front. The Pursuit campaign to fundraise the amount of my team fees was extremely successful. Leah Skerry and Julia Rivard founded the website to give athletes like myself a platform to raise the funds we need. That way we can keep representing Canada and going hard after our dreams. That is just what happened. I 106% covered my invoice from Alpine Canada! But something incredible came of that online opportunity. A network. A handful of very big-hearted people have stepped up in a big way! DJ Wiley of DJ Steaks is a 'shoulder patch' supporter fueling me with not just red meat :) Coffee with DJ is always eventful and his smile speaks loudly of the good he does. As well, Glenn Gradeen of Tangle Creek Energy has signed up for a shoulder patch for the second consecutive year. I met Glenn at a Podium Club lunch in Calgary in 2011 and the two of us were just starting out. I can proudly say we are both up a few rungs on the ladder since our first meeting. Thank you, Glenn, for allowing me to be your energetic ambassador :)
In addition, Jan Hudec is a supporter. He is my friend, my teammate, my advisor, my all-round go-to guy. Jan bought a toque from my online fundraiser and then one-upped himself to put a sponsorship on the front of my helmet for the Lake Louise World Cup Winterstart weekend! Jan's starting a fund to empower the athletes that have the skill, ambition, dedication, perseverance and bravery but not the means. There are hundreds of athletes that experience this... Jan included. Just last season he was $400 away from hanging up his skis. With friends and family eking him by, Jan went on to have the best season of his career. Jan's fund is called pandaHAUS and will be sponsoring both myself and Jeffrey Frisch. Jeff is an extremely talented skier with his own set of obstacles making it difficult to stay above the price that being an elite athlete costs. Jeff has lots of support, just like myself, but together we will benefit greatly from being involved in the most positively incestuous fund! This isn't about waiting till we're out in the corporate world to do something significant. This is my buddy, Jan, helping my other buddy, Jeff, and I to reinforce our athletic opportunity. And once we've done so, we will change someone else's life that needs that boost we were so familiar with. As a 'receiver', pandaHAUS is going to be one of the most incredible concepts I've ever been involved with and I look so forward to giving back. Check out the Calgary Herald's take on Jan's initiative. And by the way, Jan is just one big panda. I chose him as my MVP for the Pursuit campaign and this is how I best described him. "My MVP is Jan Hudec. He is the real life version of Kung Fu Panda. He's big and, actually, quite hairy. He's silly and even border-line soft. But when it's time, he will do anything in his power to stand up for himself and others. He's passionate, ambitious and successful....."
Thank you, in every way, to all the people who believe in me. It has been an overwhelming month and I promise, to each of you, to work hard and ski as fast as I can.