Last day of our European Tour and then home for the Gatineau Loppet!- February 9, 2020

Hard to believe that today is our last day! We both slept really well at Tetin and got up to see the girls off to school. Vincent has the week off of school and on Friday they are all heading to St. Anton for a ski week. Matthew took Ross, Greg and I on a little drive to Karlstejn castle that is 10 km down the road from the house. It was built by King Charles IV in 1348 to store the Bohemian/Czech Crown Jewels, holy relics and other royal treasures. It is the most frequently visited castle in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, since it was a Monday the castle itself was closed and since Ross has never seen inside we’ll do that next time we come over.

The view from the golf course.
The town of Karlstejn.

Afterwards we packed up and drove into Beroun to have a good bye lunch all together before heading to Munich. It has been a fantastic trip! The skiing was incredible, the races so much fun and the time with my family here so special! 

These are Ross’s momentos from our trip. Mine are all the same except I didn’t do the Volkswagen Bedrichovska 30 km skate race.
What an amazing Worldloppet European Tour!! This weekend we are skiing in the Gatineau Loppet which is the Canadian Worldloppet race. We’ll ski in the 50 km classic on Saturday and the 50 km skate on Sunday. It’s in Gatineau which is very close to Ottawa, our home town.

We have totally enjoyed our journey on the trails to becoming Worldloppet Gold masters and already have plans for the near future. In April this year we will head to Iceland to ski in the Fossavatnsgangan Worldloppet. Next winter we will head to the Worldloppet in Estonia, Finland and Poland where we will hopefully receive our Gold masters! This means we will have completed 10 main Worldloppet races in 10 countries and 2 continents. We just love the skiing, the events, the people we meet, living in Europe and the travels. Already can’t wait for next winter!

The Cez Jiserska 50 km classic Race Day!- February 9, 2020

The big day is here! We are so so happy that all of Cez Jizerska races could happen in the end! Mother nature took our side and brought lots of snow (50 -80 cm) and cooler temperatures just in time!

We woke up early to load the car with all of our belongings-hard to believe we are flying home with all of the things that we have. Matthew was able to get us a VIP parking pass so we got to park right near the start, which meant we could stay warm and didn’t have to check our clothing bags for the race. This way we could also head straight to Tetin after the race for our family celebration bbq.

The course is in red.
The profile

The sun wasn’t quite up yet when we reached the start area but there was so much excitement and thousands of racers all getting ready. It’ll be a clear sunny day with a low of -1 and a high of about 4. The wind was really cool though so we wore our Johnny Servis jackets once again.

We stayed in the car for a little bit and slowly got dressed and ready to go to the start. We both wore a surgical gown to keep us warm. Ross was in wave 3 and I was in wave 7 which started 20 minutes after Ross (and a few thousand skiers later).

I waited at the gate for the guards to let us in and when they did I ran right up to the front to put my skis down and ended up in the second row!! The whole start area was filled with so many skiers with skis and poles in hand- quite the scene to see! There was also the usual helicopter to cover the race for Czech National T.V. and great music.

There will be 6000 racers on the course. You can see Ross in the surgeon’s gown at the back on the right.
The gun went off and the race was on! I had forty minutes to wait for my start.
There were tracks but people even put their skis down between the tracks for the start! It was really squishy.
Wish I could ski as fast as them!

The start was the usual craziness but I soon found my spot and headed up the hill for the second time in 2 days. I hoped that the skiers would thin out soon. The track was pretty good however that all changed on the downhill. The wobbly tracks made my legs feel like noodles and I could really feel my tired legs from yesterday. Right then I decided this was going to be a challenge!  I had to get out my mental toughness for this and decided to do so right then and there. This time I brought my new ski pouch with some water and food which came in really handy.

The picture above shows how narrow the track was and how many racers there were! It thinned out a little later but not by much.


It was a beautiful course and there were a lot more people cheering today mostly because there were more access points to the course. The sun was shining and the snow was melting off the trees. So pretty! At some point near the end the winds really started gusting and the snow clumps were falling off the trees on us. This was a sign of the windstorm that was going to hit Central Europe and would later cause us flight delays.

Ross gave up on the idea of racing after a few kilometres as it was so busy and he was tired from the last two days! It took too much energy to pass. He loved the course. If he was to do it again he would try to get a better seed time and would start at the front of the wave.
Woo hoo!
So happy!
Ross’s finisher shirt! 3 races, 105 km and 7 hours and 22 minutes of skiing in 3 days!
My finisher shirt! 2 races, 75 kms and 8 hours in 2 days! (There’s a typo on my shirt. It was 25 km in 2 hours and 28 minutes)
It was an incredible event! We’ll be back again soon!

Right after the race we drove to Tetin, Czech Republic to the farm for our family celebration with Matthew’s wife and their three children. We had a really fun evening with the family dining on the farm’s own beef steaks. We decided that the races will become an annual family event!!

Hervis Jizerska 25 classic race day!-February 8, 2020

The big day has arrived. The four of us are skiing the Jizerska 25 and it’s sunny with temperatures around 0 degrees- a perfect day!

The course is the black route.
The profile

The boys drove up to the start from Tetin and we took the bus up to meet them. We had their skis as Ross had waxed them, thankfully. At Matthew’s car (in the VIP parking lot) he presented us all with really nice new Johnny Servis ski jackets to wear for the race! So nice! We all had our Canada hats too.


Next, we spent a little time with several other hundred skiers in the big warming tent before we headed out to the start.

Go team go!
Lots of people!
So cool too be a part of this event.
Hopefully one of my sisters, Melanie can join us for the race in the near future!

We were all in wave one so we lined up together with 1200 skiers.

Greg has a special note giving him permission to start in wave 1 so we’ll all start together!
Maybe a little nervous?

Ross shot off like a rocket and we never saw him again until the finish!

I caught up to the boys about a kilometre after the craziness of the start. I’m always a little over cautious and patient in the start as I don’t want too break a pole or fall over. It was a steady uphill climb until about 10km and I pushed up pretty hard and the boys were hanging on. We stayed together and chatted a little along the way. The sunshine and views were glorious.

I found this photo of me on the front page of the race website!
Matthew on course.

They caught Greg post wipe out!
Ross is so fast!
I just love to ski!

Matthew actually wanted to stop and take a picture but it really wasn’t possible, no room. I stopped at the first checkpoint and had some warm tea on the way up but they didn’t want to stop. I caught back up to them. Once we got to about the 16 km mark I was out in front and thought I’d ski at the pace that I felt I could without wasting myself for the 50 km race tomorrow. The trail was really fun, especially the long straight downhills even though it was a bit narrow for 3 tracks. I just kept going and all of sudden I was approaching the finish line.

Didn’t want to look back!

The boys were behind me – phew! Me, being the eldest of the three of us, felt a great sense of accomplishment at getting to the finish line first!! I finished in 2 hours and 28 minutes and was 17th in the Female 55-59 and 416 overall out of 1012 racers. I was pretty happy. Matthew and Greg weren’t far behind, only 4 minutes- first Matthew then Greg a few seconds later. As it turns out Greg had a major wipeout on the downhill, bent his pole and had about 5 skiiers ski over his hat while he was sprawled all over the track. Thankfully he was okay!

The expressions say it all!
We were all pretty happy with our times of approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.

Meanwhile Ross finished in an hour and 50 minutes- so fast! He was 15th in his age group and 98th overall out of 1012 racers – broke top 100!!!. He was first Canadian and passed 118 skiers. Very impressive!

Czech crystal of course!
Such a great feeling!
Matthew was pretty happy to have beaten one of his employees!

It was a super, super fun day! Of course, we celebrated with a few pivos (beer) outside in the sunshine – a perfect spring skiing day! We’ve decided that doing events together is a fabulous way to spend time together as a family and we’re going to do it more often!

Na zdravi! Cheers!

The boys drove back to Tetin and we took the bus back down to Liberec to get ready for the big race tomorrow- the Jizerska 50 km! What a great day!

Jizerska 30 km skate day!-February 7, 2020

Today is the Volkswagen Bedrichovska 30 km skate race! Ross will race but I’m not going to as I want to save myself for the 25km classic with my brothers tomorrow and for the main race, the Jizerska 50 classic on Sunday.

When we left Liberec it was raining and once we got up to Bedrichov it was really foggy with a mix of snow and rain.

The start area bright and early!
The map and profile

Feels so strange that I’m not racing. The atmosphere of the whole event is fantastic! There’s music playing, lots of big screens, more blow ups than I’ve ever seen! Everywhere you look there are volunteers smiling and wearing bright orange Jizerska 50 hats.

This is what it looks like as you’re coming into the finish line for the skate race.
The warming hut before the race
The disposable surgeon’s gown is a perfect way to stay warm at the start line.
The starter is getting ready.
And the race is on!
You can see Ross with a reddish headband on the far side under the letters “lif”of the Volkswagen California banner.

Everything is super well organized. I got to see Ross start which was very cool. The course goes uphill steadily for about 4 km followed by a nice 2 km downhill but then a solid 6 km climb with more climbing than it looks on the profile. It was a hard day to see while on the course because of the fog and rain/snowy mix.

Ross found the pole track soft so it was hard to double pole and to pass people. He really liked the course and finished in one hour and 37 minutes. He was 130th overall out of 700 and 22nd in his age group (50-59)- amazing results!

Looking pretty happy!
Picture of the day!!!

It was a really nice treat to be able to watch the start and the finish as a spectator and to see Ross cross the finish line (since I always finish after Ross I never get to see him finish). Glad I took it easy before the 25km classic race with Matthew and Greg tomorrow. Can’t wait!

Skiing at Bedrichov with Matthew- February 6, 2020

Today we drove the 20 minutes back up to Bedrichov to meet Matthew for a short ski and a quick little lesson as he has cross country skied less than 5 times in his life. He went and got himself all set up with Fischer everything! This picture shows his skis and the old ones he’s giving Greg to use that come with boots from the 1988 Sarajevo Olympics. I think Matthew will have a very good advantage! Hence Ross has decided to use his wax skis and will lend Greg his skin skis. This will even out the playing field between the two brothers.

We had a fabulous ski of about 6 km on the beautiful trails! Then Matthew headed to a meeting and we went to pick up all of our race kits. Our names are on the startlist below.

After we picked everything up we went to our apartment and Ross set up a make-shift wax bench then we met Matthew for a delicious traditional lunch of venison and gnocchi. After lunch Ross got to work on waxing his skis for the 30 km skate race tomorrow. I’ve decided not to ski that race so I can save myself for the 25 km and 50 km races. Ross has no limits for the amount of skiing he can do day after day. It’ll be 105 kilometres in 3 days.

Thank you Ross for always doing such an amazing job of waxing my ski perfectly and making them fast. You know exactly what to do and how to do it! Actually he’s also doing my brothers’ skis too.

Our apartment is the one with the light on.
It’s very pretty city with lots of large old houses.
The city hall is right across from us.
A city street with stores that very few people speak any English.

It was a fabulous day all round!

Travel from Tetin to Liberec, Czech Republic and the history of the Jizerska 50-February 5, 2020

Today we learnt that all of the races will go as originally planned because the snow gods listened and brought us lots of snow and cooler temperatures. We are very relieved as the idea of doing loops and skiing a shortened version of the 50 km at 10 pm at night was not too appealing.

We drove up to the stadium at Bedrichov which will be the start and finish for all of the events. Ross will ski in the 30 km skate on Friday, the 25 km classic on Saturday and the 50 km classic on Sunday. I’m going to ski in the 25 km classic on Saturday against my brothers and the 50 km classic on Sunday.

As it turns out it was green everywhere here yesterday, and today is the first day of skiing this year! They got about 50 cm of snow in few days-thank goodness! We went for a 10 km ski in the beautiful trails through the forest. The place is a beehive of activity with everyone getting ready for the big races or just out enjoying the snow.

The map like most things here are incomprehensible! Czech is such difficult language.
Matthew’s company Johnnyservis is everywhere you look!
Even the port-a-potties!

As a matter of fact the tents, the flooring, the fencing etc. are supplied by his company.

This photo leads me into the history of the Jizerska 50!


The Jizerska 50 dates back to 1968, when the first race took place as part of winter preparations by mountaineers for their upcoming season. Some of the races founding members went on a training expedition to Peru in 1970. Fourteen of the members lost their lives in a rock avalanche on Peru’s Huascarian Mountain and one died the day before. Since that time the race has been referred to as the Peru Expedition Memorial and a remembrance of the climbers has become an integral part of the ceremonial opening of the Jizerka 50.

Another memorial to the mountaineers on the trail.

Travel Day from Oberammergau, Germany to Tetin, Czech Republic, February 4, 2020

Today we drove about 4 hours to Tetin. My brother Matthew and his wife Veronika live there with their three children, Valentina, Isabella and Vincent.

Tetin is in the bottom left corner.

The farm and lands belonged to my father’s family before the communists took them over. He reclaimed them after the communist era and Matthew moved there from Toronto 28 years ago with my father. It is a working farm with all kinds of animals and crops. It’s also where he started his Johnny Servis company which is a major sponsor of our next races, the Cez Jiserska Worldloppet. Matthew is sking in the 25 km classic with us on Saturday and our brother Gregory is coming from Toronto to race as well.  There’s a very competitive spirit in my family so we’ll all ski to beat each other, just for fun!- should be awesome!

The new robot feeding the cows.
The other robot sprinkling straw.
More barns.
Some of the horses.
Vincent is so happy to show us the horses.
The new Farm shop.
Valentina at the shop.
The old brewery has been restored.
Isabella, Vincent and Valentina!
Veronika is a fabulous cook!
A mini ski lesson!

It was a great visit but far too short! Tomorrow morning we’ll drive to our apartment in Liberec which will be our home base for the Cez Jiserska.

Rest, Recovery and Rainy Day- February 3, 2020

Today was a take it easy day! It was pouring rain and didn’t stop until 9 pm. I walked to the bakery to get breakfast treats, we repacked all of our bags and relaxed.  We drove up to Linderhof castle which was really nice to see as the Konig Ludwig Lauf Loppet would have had us ski right past it. Now there is no snow and there are huge puddles/lakes of water everywhere you look! Tomorrow we will drive to see my brother, Matthew and his family in Tetin, Czech Republic which is 20 minutes south of  downtown Praha and then onto Liberec for the Cez Jiserska Worldloppet races. It will be so nice to see them all!

King Ludwig’s Linderhof castle
This is where the water fountains are in the summer.

It was a super relaxing day and now we’re getting excited about the Cez Jiserska Worldloppet races in the Czech Republic. We are also praying for snow and colder temperatures there. Right now it’s looking questionable whether they’ll be able to run the races. Time to do the snow dance and say a few prayers! The organizers think that it’s going to work out!!

Toblach-Dobbiaco-Cortina Ski Marathon- 32 km Skate Race Day- February 2, 2020

Toblach-Dobbiaco (the start) is in top right corner and Cortina D’Ampezzo (the finish) is in the bottom left hand corner.

It was going to be another gorgeous day-bright blue skies and warm temperatures. It’s pretty easy to get use to this warmer climate than the deep freezes we get at home. When we got to the start the sun was just about to pop up above the mountain top.

There were about 700 racers today, less than yesterday’s 1500. We both decided that today we’d start way at the back, take pictures and just enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way.

The course was a little different from yesterday and I kept waiting for the sign for the last 500m of the climb but it never came. All of a sudden I was at the top! What a great feeling and now it was only 12 km down. I thought there would be a track but there wasn’t. You just had to skate ski and that took some concentration as my legs were still a little tired from yesterday and the snow was pretty soft. It was a superb spring ski day! We both really enjoyed skiing in a more relaxed mode today as it was just so beautiful. The next four photos I took while skiing in the race:

At the finish the sun was still shining and it was plus 10 degrees! It’s just so nice to be able to change outside and not have to rush inside to stay warm! I finished in 2 hours and 48 minutes and Ross in 2 hours and 5 minutes. We went to the pasta party in Cortina and then hit the road to go back to our place in Oberammergau, Germany.

It was a fabulous weekend of skiing! 

SKIING IS NOT A LIFESTYLE! IT’S A LIFE! This is the expression from the bracelet they gave us in our race kits.

Here are some of the professional photographers’ pictures:

Ross at the start- third one from the left.
Me at the start- to the right of # 9099.
Ross is just coming over the hill- #8177.
Ross at the finish line!
Me at the finish !
Good bye to the Dolomites! We’ll be back!

Toblach-Dobbiaco-Cortina Ski Marathon-42 km Classic Race Day, February 1, 2020

Race day is here! What a picture perfect day! It is -5 degrees with no wind and it’s going to go up plus 10 degrees. Hopefully we’ll be done before then.

Here’s the course map for both days of the weekend.
The classic profile map.

I’ve decided to go with skin skis as I don’t want to risk not having enough grip on the way up and over the pass. The only draw back is that I will be slower on the downhill but I need to try to stay as injury free as possible. Ross will go with wax skis. Here’s his wax recipe for today- green klister base, a layer of Toko blue klister, a layer of Toko red klister and then a covering of Toko blue hard wax. Skins sure are easier to wax- just need glide wax!

It was still quit dark and the sun hadn’t risen above the mountains yet.
Lots of. excitement, loud music and helicopters flying overhead.
We wait as long as we can to take off our jackets as it’s still quite cool.

We were at the start area with lots of time but didn’t realize that we could go and put our skis down in the pen and get a spot near the front. As a result we ended up at the very back of our wave. The plus side was that there were lots of people to pass but the downside was that it was really hard to pass them as the track was too narrow. All of sudden we were on our way-the race was on. It was a really tough start because it was on a downhill and people were running into each other. Suddenly I was down, sprawled across two or three tracks with people coming at me. I managed to get up quickly but them fell back again-so painful and not a great way to start off a race! From them on it was uphill for 20km. Ross passed 104 people on the climb and an additional 49 on the way down. If only he had started in the right spot he would have had a better result. He still managed to do 42 km in 3 hours and 4 minutes.

The scenery was just out of this world! I wanted to stop and take pictures but the skins were working well and I figured that I would ski in the 32 km skate tomorrow and just stop a long the way to take photos. Things were going great until the 12 km downhill section. The skins were not gliding at all. So many people were passing me. I had to push like crazy, thankfully I had my arm brace. In the end it took me 4 hours and 10 minutes. We also just realized after the race that it’s gun time not chip time. Too bad that we started at the back!

What a fabulous day of skiing! I think that the Dolomites are even more spectacular in the winter!

What a great feeling to see the finish line!!!
What a back drop!

Here are some of the professional photos:

This is the elite wave. Fun to see what it looks like as Ross and I always start further back 🙂