Athlete Journal - James Monson

Hello,

Well, here it is the final update of the 2004/2005 season. Like most years, it's hard to believe that it already over. A lot has happened in the last 6 weeks, so I will try to keep it brief. After my last email I had just finished the Canadian championships, where the team is decided for the winter world cups and championships.

The third sprint world cup of the season was in Calgary. It was nice to race at home and have family and friends around to watch. It's also nice to race on your home track because you are familiar with the ice and the building. I was racing only the 500m. In saying that, the racing didn't turn out that great. I had a couple of ok races but I was really hoping to have a great race, where everything comes together. Also I think it was the only world cup where Jeremy didn't win a medal. Shannon Rempel was the only Canadian to get a medal - 2nd place in the 1000m.

The following weekend the team headed down to Salt Lake City for the world sprint speed skating championships. There were supposed to be held in Turin, Italy. The site of the 2006 Olympic games, but the venue there is not ready yet. It should be completed by September 2005. I raced ok but again, not as well as I would have liked. I fell in my 1000m on day 1 and wasn't able to complete the competition. I did not get an overall ranking this year. Jeremy did skate better and finished 2nd overall. Cindy Klassen also picked a medal in the 1000m. Cindy finished 8th overall and Shannon Rempel was 12th.

The next set of World Cups were in Europe. We went to Erfurt, Germany at the beginning of February. It was really nice to go there because for most of the sprinters it was their first time to skate in that Oval. It is only about 5 years old. Again, I raced ok but not great. At this point in the season I was getting a little frustrated with my racing. The crazy part is in training everything was going well and I really enjoyed coming out to skate. But I had a lot of trouble putting things together in my races. Jeremy skated better and was able to finish 1st and 3rd in the 500m. It was nice to see him win again. Mark Nielsen had a good weekend as well. He won group B 500m and also finished 2nd in the 100m race.

The final world cup of the year was in Heerenveen and it was an all distances world cup. I am always talking about the sprint world cups. But there is another set of world cups for the long distances. The world cup in Heerenveen was over three days and they do all the distance from 500m to 10 000m. And once again, I raced ok, but not as well as I would have liked. I guess that the ways things go sometimes. Jeremy finished 1st and 2nd in the two 500m races. Cindy Klassen won the 1500m and finished 2nd in the 3000m. Arne Dankers had one of his best finishes in the 5000m with an 8th place.

After the final world cup there is one more major competition. It's called the World Single Distance Championships and there is a world champion crowned in each individual distance. To go to this competition you need to qualify. You do that by either being top 16 on points after the world cups or top 24 with a time ranking. I unfortunately was ranked 25th and missed qualifying by one spot. Instead of flying home after the last world cup, I decided to stay in Europe and have a little bit of a vacation. I went to Berlin and spent a week there and then went down to Inzell, Germany to watch the world single championships. At the world's, Canada did pretty good - winning 6 medals in total. Jeremy won a bronze in the 500m. Pretty good since his back was acting up that morning and he wasn't sure if he was going to skate. Cindy won the 1500m and the 3000m. Kristina Groves finished 3rd in the 3000m. Clara Hughes finished 3rd in the 5000m and the ladies won a silver in the team pursuit.

After the last world cup in Heerenveen I didn't do anymore skating and I figured my season was over. Every year the Olympic oval has a competition called the Oval Finale. I wasn't planning on doing it, but when I got home and was at the oval and watching everyone skate I got a little excited and decided that I should maybe race one more time. I was a little surprised because this year I didn't race that great. So I figured my motivation to race wouldn't be there. I did end up racing and it went ok. Again not great! The nice thing about it was that I enjoyed being there and I had a great time watching other people race and it didn't really matter that much about my results. It's fun to watch other skaters race and see how excited people get when they skate a personal best. And that really what it's all about.

So that's it for the season. I now have about 5 weeks off of training. I'm planning on going on a vacation with my family so I look forward to that. After that I will probably just do a lot of relaxing and recovery to prepare for the next season. This season didn't go as well as I would have liked but I have to remember I'm still living my dream of representing Canada at major competitions. As well, I know that if I work hard and put the time into training, the results will come and sometimes you have to be patient. This year was just one of those examples of having to be patient. I’ve been through these cycles before and I know that things will come around. When they do, I look forward to sharing them you.

Take care,

James Monson