About kaliskier

Hey, my name is Kali Butler and I am from the small town of Rossland, BC. I am pursuring a journey in apline ski racing to find success through focus, comitment and dedication.

Schweitzer Races

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DSC01333Today it feels as if the winter has just begun, though it is already nearing the beginning of February. After a short and sweet break at home for Christmas, our team ventured to the US for GS/SG series in Schweitzer and then back again less than a week later for the Speed Series.

At the first series I finished two out of four races. On the first day I skied straight through the fifth or sixth gate, having made some equipment changes, my skies reacted in a way I wasn’t expecting. I took what I could from the experience knowing I still had another chance. The next day I ski well on the first run, but to round and cautious not wanting to make the same mistake again. On the second run I skied well up until the pitch, didn’t make the proper move forward to readjust my position down the fall line. I got caught on the inside ski and without the power of my downhill ski I got thrown out of the course by a small rut. On the two super-g days I skied respectably considering that it was my first super-g race since that time last year. I was disappointed with how I did, knowing I could have put more on the line. Contrary, feeling my subconscious natural instincts telling me to be ‘safe’ and hold back. I knew I had done what I could in preparation, but was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t just let my body perform.

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Second time around, we started with two days of downhill training, managing to get in three runs. On the first day I got instinctively nervous considering my past downhill experiences. The biggest thing for me was to ski well and finish every run. Knowing that if I could accomplish this it would be a huge accomplishment, and I was right. The first time I made it down I nearly cried because I was so relieved.  Every run I made it down I felt that same relief to have made it again and again. And on the fifth day it was an amazing feeling to have completed five consecutive downhill runs. I had only ever finished two run before!  I took the good feelings into the super-g and the next day I skied with the most confidence I had in what felt like two years! Realizing that day that I wasn’t doing anything wrong before, that I needed to be patient and know that with time and commitment these things would come together.

KALI START SCWITZER

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On the last day, while slipping the men’s run before our race I witnessed a terrible crash on a part of the course that a few people were having trouble with. I did a good job of not focusing on what I saw, instead visualizing myself skiing that section well. When the time came for my run that image was certainly there. My confidence drifted, I got low on a gate and it was too much to make it back so I skied out.

Since I have been back I have had some good days of training, but also some very rough days. I had a hard time tapping into that confidence that I skied with in the super-g race. Now I am going into a solid training block while the rest of our team heads out to Apex for a Nor-Am speed event. My focus will be on gaining confidence and belief in my self and my abilities. I know that if a bring focus and commitment to myself and my performance, but also relaxation and patience that I can make strong improvements technically, and mentally.

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Lake Louise Women’s World Cup

After two years with out clicking into my downhill skis, I stepped into my bindings at Lake Louise. On Monday the day before official training started, we were there to do a test run of the track, with only a quick inspection of the course. Since crashing in my first downhill race speed has been something I have had to fight against I was nerves but I have been confident and comfortable on the slope before, so at the start I focused on calming my nerves and, keeping my  body forward to ski confidently. I had watched the run many times, and replayed it again and again in my head, helping grow my confidence to race down the Lake Louise downhill track. I came down to the bottom, wanting to improve and the desire to go faster; I was very proud of myself for what I accomplished that day.

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On day two the track was much faster, more than most of us expected. I was taken-aback by the speed and had a hard time trying to get ahead of it; looking forward, Then on the third day I was more nervous, and reflecting back, could have been in a better head space. Coming into the more challenging part of the course I may have had too much direction, gotten in the back seat or was thrown off by the snow structure.  The next thing I was heading towards the net, I thought for an instant “can I save myself?” Then I new that there was no chance and was going to end up in the nets. I rode along the suspended  a-net for what felt like a while, hit the snow, and slid down the pitch. I sat up with my lips numb from the cold snow. When I sat up I was in shock, trying to decipher what had happened. I got up and skied down with a patrol, still very much in shock.

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Since then it had been a bit of a battle, fighting the negative thoughts away, and questing the condition of my head. I was told to precaution this as a head injury, witch was very concerning for me considering my past. It seems though that I have only suffered from blunt force trauma to my back and neck, and I know I am lucky to get off with only a minor injury.

Things are seeming to be moving in a positive direction though. I spent the last few days of the race hanging out and being cared for by my parents and did some easy free skiing with my dad. I started to see physio, massage/sport therapist, and chiro, who are all helping me get back on my skis again.

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ALPINE SKIING

Photo Cred: Reuters
Lake Louise World Cup Downhill

ALPINE SKIING

Photo Cred: Reuters
Lake Louise World Cup Downhill

As It Begins Again

It is that time of year again, where days seem shorter as they become colder and there’s always race skis to wax and tune. After the long days of training in the off season, it is nearly a relief to put your feet to snow again. The hard work is not over, but now is the time for it to pay off.

STEVEN PANO 13

We began training at Panorama on the 15th of November. The conditions are great, amidst the many other keen racers. Steven and I are continuing to work hard of the snow in the gym, even though we are crunched with time with the responsibilities of living on our own. I feel good about what this season has to offer, but I will take each day step-by-step and will do my best to only look forward from here on. I have lots of work to do but have even more to gain from experience and from success.

PANO

Tomorrow Steven, Becca and I are heading to Lake Louise to do a test run of the downhill track for the Women’s World Cup this weekend. Training for the down hill for all the athletes will start on Tuesday and I will be fore-running the track along with several others before each day of training and racing. This will be an very good chance to watch and learn from the best in the world and experience the “World Cup” action in a extremely opportune way. I have not had many chances to train or race downhill so for me this will be an opportunity to learn a lot  and to gain confidence with speed in racing.

Prepping for the Season

As the air becomes frigid and the trees turn golden, my anticipation begins to rise; the snow is coming. Whenever I head out on the road with my bike I am now never without leggings and the long sleeves my forest green merino wool. When the time comes for Autumn to introduce himself again my modes change as I begin to prepare. As we are securing a home for the winter and equipment gathering I cannot help but think about the next chapter that is about to begin.

As others have been preparing for the season by training in Portillo, Chile and Tignes, France, Steven and I are working hard at the physical aspects of training. Since we began our off-season training on July 8th the two of us have been in the gym four days a week and no less than 3 hours (except recovery week: 1-2 hrs). Yoga sessions, ultimate Frisbee, aerobic and anaerobic thresholds, recovery rides, 30-45 min core session and max intervals have some how managed to fit in between. No wonder why we are so anxious to  put on our ski boots.

DB Cleans

I can honestly say that were are stronger and more powerful than ever; beating personal records and pushing each other to do our best everyday, every session. Even after injuries and incomplete seasons, our training program put us back on track and will allow us to return to snow with bigger more powerful and agile bodies. I am confident in the steps in which the two of us have taken to prepare ourselves. Not being on snow at this time does not concern me, being that I want to return to the white iced mountains as healthy, powerful and motivated as I can be.

In the next three to four weeks I will be busy preparing for the season: packing ski bags to containers of food, prepping skis, mental training, securing our small apartment, and various other things. The next weeks will fly by and in not time I will be back on the mountains.

Keep posted on my season by following my blog. You will notified by e-mail when ever I post something new!

Feed back on way that I can improve my blog and writing are always welcome!

Power Squat and Trusty Spotter

Cable Push-Pull Complex

Some really profound thougths about our coaches. Worth the read.

Kristina Groves

I don’t know legendary rowing coach Mike Spracklen, but I certainly know of him. I’ve long heard the fabled stories about how tough and demanding he is, that he can be blunt and harsh and unforgiving, that he pushes you to the brink of your own sanity and then pulls you back.  I’ve heard all of that, and I’ve also heard about the medals his athletes have won. He coached my childhood idol Silken Laumen and she was pretty damn good too.

I don’t claim to know one single thing about what happened between Rowing Canada, Mike Spracklen and all the rowers he coached but from what I can tell there was little to no consensus among those involved. Central to the issue, it seems, were his style, methods and standards. By all accounts, it was not an entirely agreeable decision to let him go.

This all got me thinking…

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Fire In My Belly

While driving with my dad, we came upon the topic of being obsessed.  He mentioned to me that it was similar to my focus towards skiing, inspiring this post…

I have put a lot of energy and time into what I do, and will continue to do so.  I want to work as hard as I can, and make it as far as I can in ski racing. I am beginning  to realize the commitment that it takes, hours in the gym, on the bike, resting  effectively and not always having time for other things. To really excel at what you do it takes a lot of time, energy, dedication, and focus. Some might say obsession. It does not come easy to be the best you can be.

To reach your potential  in any sport at some point will require 100 percent commitment to what you are doing. It does not come at an easy price. In the book by Terry Orlick, “In the Pursuit of Excellence,” there is a section in which he interviews Thomas Grandi. One of his question for Thomas was, “What kind of commitment does it take to achieve your goals in your sport?”(pg. 82) and Grandi’s reply was this,

“Every decision I make is weighted on weather or not it will help me in my quest. If something is not going to help me in this quest, it probably won’t happen. To reach the top of any sport requires a huge time commitment and huge desire.” (pg. 82-83)

There is this desire I have, a certain “fire in my belly”, that keeps me inspired. It is becoming a  persistent image in my head of what I want to achieve.  After some harsh set backs over the past couple of years with concussions, I continue to get back up.  I love what I do deep down. I love the life style, having something to work towards, and the learning process. I appreciate the lessons about life skiing has taught me and because of this I want to do it for as long as I can. In the end what I would like to gain out of this journey is a sense of accomplishment for myself and to give back to others for what they have given on the way. To be able to say, “Yeah, I did it,” and have others standing beside me sharing my success. I don’t know exactly where that point is but I believe that if I keep committed and working hard in all aspects I can achieve my personal excellence.

In my mind it is important to find a balance  between doing everything you can and knowing when it is enough. Between giving every last bit that you have and still finding joy in what you do. It is pushing your limits but also knowing when to give it a break . You need to find a balance between the two or else you will run out of esteem. That I believe is the difference between obsession and dedication.

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful” 

Thomas Grandi

 I would like to thank all of you who read my blog, your support means a lot to me. I want to ask for your help by sharing my posts and blog on your social media sites, with friends, or any way you can think of. And please don’t be afraid to comment!

Seattle – Hood – Regina

During the summer months I planned to do a little more blogging other than the two post I did a while back. I have been very busy with off-season training and on the 15th of August my family and I left for three weeks. We started off in Seattle, WA, and met up with Hansi, our home stay from two years ago. Steven and I were then dropped off at Government Camp, OR,  for a ski camp and we finished off in Regina for my cousins wedding.

Over the past five years our family has taken in students and athletes to be part of the Red Mountain Ski Academy in Rossland. Over these years we have had students from the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, and other parts of Canada. It has been challenging at times but overall a great experience. In 2010 we took in a student from Germany by the name of Hansi Schwaiger. Over the years of taking in students our paths had yet to lead us to meet up again with the people who shared our home with us for a year. Just over a year after saying good-bye to Hansi from the Ferry Terminal in Port Townsend, WA, we had the opportunity to meet up with him again for a week at the Moore Hotel in the heart of Seattle, WA.

By the end of the year Hansi had grown to become part of our family. He did things with my parents and would talk to my mom early in the morning while she was doing laundry. He would play indoors and outdoors, in the snow building jumps with my younger brother. Hansi taught me a lot of things in the short time that we spent training, ski racing, and living together. He is one of the most positive people who I have met. He had a big impact on our family; he taught me to relax in stressful situations, that I can’t stress about things that I cannot control and to always have a positive outlook on life. He never seemed to be stressed or worry about being late, and if he ever had a bad day it seem that it was easy for him to let it go.

You can only change or influence the things that are in your control.

The time we spent in Seattle was short but only because time flew by as we kept each day full of activity.

Mexican for Dinner!

Concert at City Hall in Downtown in the summer heat

Hansi and Hayden

After our time well spent in Seattle we meet up with our team and coach, Helmut for a 6 day ski camp at Mount Hood. Mount Hood is notorious for its summer ski camps for young and older racing groups. It seems that most racers you meet have done a summer camp at Hood, but for Steven and I it was our first time visiting. It is a fairly small glacier, you end up skiing the same terrain all week, but anytime on snow is valuable. The snow for the first few days was great for training, hard in the morning and softening up as the day went on. As the camp continued the weather warmed up along with the snow, although we were still able to get quality work in. We worked tirelessly on technique. Finding balance and comfortability on our skis, really drilling into our bodies a forward position and move to increase speed and power into our skiing. We did some drill courses to get our feet and bodies moving and reacting. I now realize that it is not necessary to jump into a course right away. It is better to become technically sound and confident before you start attacking a course.

Having some very high quality time on snow now to revisit what we were working on last will set us up optimally for the preseason in November. We will able to start training courses sooner and prepare for the first races of the season with more confidence.

“He was eaten by the fog monster!”

Mount Hood

On the last day of skiing in Hood we met up with my family again, after they spent the week playing in the water and surfing on the coast and drove the eight hours home to pay a short visit. We got up the next morning at 4:30am and left by 5:25am to start towards our final destination. It was long and restless but 14 hours later we arrived in Regain, SK. When I opened the door and stepped out side it was complete relief, knowing that I would not have to drive any longer.

In the end it was worth it to be apart of my cousin, Jessica’s wedding as a bridesmaid. Weddings are something that should only happen once, so I was very grateful to be apart of this day for Jessica and her new husband Brain.

The Bride

Opening My Eyes at The Yes Camp

Since the end of my planting contract I had about a week to unwind and relax. In the next week Steven and I headed to Kelowna to visit our trainer and go through our conditioning program. After a full week of training we drove out to Calgary to visit Stevens surgeon (who only had good news). A soon as we were recovered and energized again we headed full force into our training, nine training sessions a week; four lifting in the gym, two hill climbs on the road bike, and three recovery sessions in the pm.  Training like this is difficult, it puts a lot of strain on your body and you have to learn to listen to what your body needs. At the end of the day and even more so at the end of the week it feels great though to know you’re done and that you have done something great for yourself – that you have been putting your foot in the right direction toward your goals.

This past week though Steven and I had the chance to experience something completely different; something that was positive for our out look on life, that broadened our ideas, and showed us something new. It became a week out of our lives that wasn’t related to our racing lives, of training, traveling, or making money. It was time where we were allowed to be ourselves and discover new things.

At 10:30 am on Sunday my parents dropped us off at the Kelowna Greyhound station where we expected a passenger bus to pick us up. Instead a big yellow school arrived.  A total of six boarded the beast and we ourselves comfortable for the long journey to Cowichan, BC to experience The Yes Camp. I know for certain that both Steven and I were uncertain about where we were being taken and what lay ahead of us. Although I was still open to this new experience, and knew that it would be an opportunity to learn, even so it was only a week.

A very windy ride on the ferry

A very windy ride on the ferry

When I arrived at camp after a ferry ride and another bus ride with forty or so strangers I had no idea about the laughs I would share, the tears I would draw or the connections that I would make with these people.

On the same night that we arrived we started off with some ice breaker games, and then established the “Free Zone”. As a group we agreed upon things that we would leave be-hide us like judgement or exclusion and things that we would embrace every day like love or breaking out of our comfort zones.  In that moment I had no idea how important this task would be in creating an environment where you were allowed to express yourself without judgement of your peers or strangers.

The Free Zone – Photo Credit Morgan Benedict

On the same night we divided into color groups of about nine people and moved to separate buildings where we were to partake in Reflections. The group that I was in gathered in a small wooden cottage. Together we formed a circle around two candles in the dark room. In this place and time we were allowed to express ourselves – any feelings or emotions – the atmosphere became completely judgement free and nothing we said would leave the room. Some nights we were asked questions arising happy memories and other times very strong emotions were released. On more than one occasion these ceremonies brought tears to my eyes – happy ones and sad ones. This is probably one of the strongest parts of The Yes Camp – making it different from other camps. In these times I learnt a lot about myself and about the others around me. It became a very special experience to share with amazing and beautiful people.

The first full day I was unsure as to what I was doing in this place where grugs (group hugs), cuddle puddles (exactly what they sound like), dressing up in ridiculous costumes, random dancing, and talking in strange voices was acceptable. Sometimes it made me feel like a child again, but I knew I could either leave here with regrets or embrace it full on. As the next day went by I realized that it was okay to be this way and that was when I began to grow into camp.

The last night – Photo Credit Morgan Benedict

During this week the forty of us partook in many new experiences. Everyday was long and filled with a lot of activity and a ton of learning. Then at the end of the day I would look back and could hardly realize where the time had gone. Nearing the end of the camp I began to realize the things that I had gained from this short amount of time. I realized this new appreciation I had discovered for the wonderful things in my life: having a positive childhood, growing up in a wonderful community and beautiful town, amazing, loving and passionate parents, and a friend and partner who loves deep down in every which way. Somethings I am sill realizing, like the positive energy and motivation I brought back with me from the people I was able to share these thing with. This camp also made me want to do something positive in the world. I will have to reflect upon this idea. I know that I would like to go back as a camp leader and staff to help grow this magic and continue to make the younger generations realize what they are capable of.

Eat, Sleep, and Plant Trees

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One tree, two tree, three tree… one thousand seven hundred twenty-five trees. Tree planting is really unlike any job you may ever have. It is dirty, unattractive, back-breaking work. It is work that can push you to your limits but at the end of the day it is satisfying to sit in the truck with aching joints, bruised shins and sun burnt arms. I wake up everyday before six am and clock ten hours of work per day. I don’t know a day out there when I didn’t try my best or push my hardest given my physical state of being. Everyday I planted right up to the end of the day, always pushing to get in the last bundles.

It doesn’t really sound fun, and when people share their stories it often ceases to do the job justice. It seems that when stories are shared they are more often than not about the strenuous repetitive work, the slippery logs piles that reach above you head, the nasty bugs that never leave your side, the blisters and calluses, spending hours or days in an open cut block by yourself,  or waking up with the “claw” or shovel hand. There is often few stories about the people you meet, the lesson it teaches you about yourself, new knowledge about our planet, the stories it gives you to share, or the fact that it takes you away from the reality of our lives. Although is can be unforgiving work, there are aspects that I have grown increasingly fond of.

I enjoy planting trees; I enjoy working hard and having it pay off, I enjoy being outside (although when it’s pissing rain while you are driving up the washed away dirt road, I may beg to differ). I like the break that you get from life and media; the fact that the only thing you have to worry about on a day-to-day basis is how many trees you put in the ground and not about what you look like that day. I also found that over time I began to appreciate the time I was given to spend alone in the wilderness. To understand the work this job requires or the mental effects it has on you, is to live and experience it. Trekking  along with 400 trees on the sides of you hips and bending over every 15 seconds is certainly not for everybody. It requires self-discipline, – for some it is the money that keeps them going – strength, and maturity.

Postive Shifts

Last week I journeyed back to Invermere and the small house where we lived for what was supposed to a majority of the winter. Although this wasn’t just a trip back to pack up all my stuff that I left when thought I would only be visiting home for a week or so, I was feeling well enough to wrestle into my boots and click into my skis.

It was certainly the best thing for me to do, and much the the credit for the turn around in my status should be credited to Dr. Clint Hallgrimson (Chiropractic doctor in Kelowna). He is a specialized upper cervical NUCCA practitioner with a quite a record for success. During my first appointment he took three x-ray images of my upper back and measured my alinement. We discover that the upper vertebrate were twisted and turn cause disablement throughout my entire body, right down to my feet. After a few more visits I felt like myself again. I am still dealing with some upper back pain and tight, agitated muscles now a then but it has been a complete turn around. I feel very lucky to have discovered this, that I could ski again and that a lot of the symptoms I was still having were not still concussion symptoms.

The first day I go back on snow wasn’t all gory and joy, in fact the first few days were frustrating. I felt unbalance and physically week and as if I didn’t know what I was doing. The fact that everybody else was ending there season as I was trying to get back to mine was confusing but with each day I improved and gained more confidence back. I did my best to focus on the positive things like being back on my skis, or being outside in the sun. I told myself that what ever I am struggling with now I will have to later, so why not get through it as soon as I can. I did a lot of drill skiing on my slalom skis and got right back on my speed skis. By the end of the week, my confidence turned around, my attitude was nothing but positive and I am now more determined to get back on snow as soon as I can.

This past week I have been really focused on finishing up my school and preparing myself for tree-planting season.

Getting Gear Up - Treeplating caulks

Getting Gear Up - caulks boots