Testing. A method used in just about all walks of life to measure success and improvement. For myself and NTDC Thunder Bay, testing is done twice a year at the beginning and end of the training season in May and September. For us, it historically consists of 6 different tests, 2 running, 3 roller skiing, and a strength and mobility screen. These tests allow us to measure and monitor where we have been improving, and where we need improvement. This year the team is working with the Canadian Sports Institute Ontario (CSIO) which helped take our spring and fall testing regimes to the next level.
At the end of May, myself and the rest of NTDC flew down to Toronto for 2 days of screening and testing at the CSIO lab in Scarborough. The facility was built for the 2015 PanAm games in Toronto and is a truly world class facility with similar caliber athletes such as Andre De Grass and Penny Oleksiak training out of it.
As a cross country skier, i don't spend too much time in a lab and this was without a doubt the first time i really felt like a lab rat. That being said, i loved getting to see all the data from doing VO2 max testing, working with power plates, and testing in an altitude room. It is a different side of the sport that i have not experienced very much, but i can only imagine will be a strong influence on allowing athletes to continue reaching further and getting more out of themselves.
My teammate Angus Foster put together a video while we were there that summarizes the experience very well
Back in Thunder Bay later that week it was time for the traditional tests that have been a staple of the centre for a number of years. First up was the running test with the 3km uphill test run and for me as a local athlete, it is extra special as i have been running this test a few times every summer since i was 13-14 years old. with age, training, and improving my running technique, I've been able to get my personal best down to a time i really would have never expected to see myself produce looking back a few years ago.
After the 3km test run the remaining hard testing left was two days of back-to-back race efforts on roller skis. the first day is two separate efforts under 7 minutes long which give a solid gauge where the top end speed and power is at for both skate and double pole. it is somewhat like a sprint day where you finish an all out race effort and then quickly have to refocus to start another race effort shortly afterward. Similar to the 3km, this hill is where i really came to learn what nordic ski training is all about. As a junior i did not do the same time trial efforts on "minnow hill" but it was where i did the majority of my roller ski intervals and with the help of my coach truly started to get a grasp of technique, training zones, and how to enjoy the suffering the sport has to offer.