Well, what can I say…I am a procrastinator. I have not written an update in quite a while. I have to say I am sorry, but I wanted to update everyone as the start of spring is upon us.
The racing season has been over for just over one month. I have to say that I had a lot of fun during the second part of the racing season – probably the most fun I have ever had. I am not sure why exactly, but with the stress and frustration that I had experienced before Christmas (dealing with my back); I realized that I just had to take things as they came.
I really had a great time at the World Championships that were here in Calgary. I did not have a great weekend of racing, but I had a great weekend in terms of fun, enjoyment, etc. I was still having some problems with my back, and three days before the start of the Championships I got a really bad cold. When things like that happen, I get stressed, upset, and then after a couple of days, you just say “there is nothing that can be done”. I skated as hard as I could, I gave it my all, and I had great support from the crowd. Many friends, family, and supporters came here to cheer myself and the team on, and I really appreciated it. I always want to skate well and have everyone be so proud of me, but I did what I could, and the support that I felt from everyone made the 2003 World Sprint Championships one of the most memorable weekends of my skating career. Our team had some great results. Jeremy Wotherspoon became the 2003 World Sprint Champion and Cindy Klassen was second overall. We were very proud of both of them. During the weekend, the Olympic Oval did a tribute to my contributions to the sport of speed skating, and it was very touching. I really appreciated the whole weekend and I thank everyone who was a part of it.
Our schedule for the racing season was a great one. After the World Championships, we had one month to prepare for the next block of races. We took a few days to recover, and then we started a hard training block which would allow for another peak in Europe. It was nice to have a lot of time at home and be able to enjoy some time with friends that I don’t often see during the winter.
We left for Europe the third week of February and I was very excited for the trip. Bart was able to come on the trip as well which always makes it more enjoyable for me. The trip consisted of two World Cups and the World Single Distance Championships. All of the competitions were in places where I love to skate and I was looking forward to seeing some old friends, and to experience the culture once again. The first World Cup was in Inzell, Germany. Inzell is a beautiful little town in Bavaria. The oval is outdoors and we were so fortunate with the weather the whole week for training as it was sunny and warm. The first day of racing brought some rain, but other than that, the weather was ok. I raced really well and was on the podium for all four races – I even had my first victory of the season in the 100m!
The next stop on the tour was Heerenveen, Holland. It is always a joy to race there as it is the centre of speed skating in the world. The crowd was great as usual – 10,000 screaming, drunk, Dutch fans that just love skating! I raced well there also and because it was a combined World Cup with the all round skaters, we were able to share with them in their victories and great results.
The final stop was in Berlin, Germany. I hadn’t skated there for a few years so I was excited to be there again. I love the ice there and was looking forward to the weekend. This was the Single Distance World Championships which runs for three days and the format are with two 500m on one day. I was racing Saturday and Sunday. I was looking forward to racing, but also to see the rest of the team skate and do well. I had some solid races, but unfortunately I didn’t make the podium. I just missed by a couple of 10th’s in the 500m to finish fourth. I was very proud not only of how I skated all my races, but of the effort that I gave. After my 1000m race, fans from various countries threw flowers, stuffed animals, and cards to me on the ice. It was very special and it meant a lot to me. I was a bit emotional at the end of the weekend, as it had been such a memorable trip and I had enjoyed my time with my team so much. I guess I was starting to contemplate what the future was going to hold and I was a little emotional.
Upon returning to Calgary, my long distance training started – for four days. I had decided to skate a 3000m race in the Olympic Oval Finale competition. I hadn’t raced a 3000m for 10 years and I wanted to skate a personal best. I was extremely nervous before the race. It is a totally different race than a sprint race and I felt like a rookie. It would be like telling a cross country skier to go do a downhill race – it is just the same thing -on skis! Well, ok, a bad example, but you get my point. I ended up skating a pretty good race and getting a 10 second personal best. Yay! It was a success!
The last month has been fun, and also a little crazy. I have been very busy. I was in Toronto and was so honored to be awarded the Canadian Female Athlete of the Year award at the Canadian Sport Awards. I was also in Ottawa, Mexico (for work and rest), and Vancouver. I co-hosted the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Hall of Fame Induction dinner with Steve Podborski. It was a great evening and was able to meet many new people. I was able to stay and visit with my sister and was fortunate enough to be able to see the Vancouver game on Sunday night. It was a lot of fun.
The past month has been a lot of fun and I have been doing some fun activities like playing squash, going for runs along the sea wall in Vancouver, and taking some time to enjoy myself. I have been asked many times what my plans are for the future. At this time I am looking at my options, thinking about my future, and together with Bart, family and friends, I will make some decisions in the upcoming months. I will keep everyone updated.
Until next time, I hope everyone is doing well, that you are enjoying the start of spring (when the snow finally melts), and that you all take care.
All the best,
Catriona Le May Doan