Phil Shaw: World­lop­peteer

Phil Shaw has been rac­ing World­lop­pets for 30 years, and is no stranger to be­ing at the front of the pack. He has won the Gatineau World­lop­pet 50km Clas­sic on three oc­ca­sions as an Elite racer. With a long-term goal of par­tic­i­pat­ing in World­lop­pets for at

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Ben An­drew

To com­plete this chal­lenge, Shaw will have to ski 255 kilo­me­tres in 15 days. He will kick off his World­lop­pet cam­paign with the Gatineau World­lop­pet 51km Clas­sic on Feb. 18. This will be fol­lowed closely by the 51km Freestyle the fol­low­ing day at the Gatineau event. Shaw will then travel to Es­to­nia, where he will race the Tartu Marathon 63km Clas­sic on Feb. 26, be­fore fin­ish­ing up at the Vasa­lop­pet 90km Clas­sic in Swe­den on March 5.

Sk­i­trax chat­ted with Shaw to find out more about what drives him to keep com­pet­ing and push­ing him­self.

How did you get in­volved in the sport (i.e., clubs, early rac­ing)?

Phil Shaw: My par­ents were the first peo­ple to teach me cross-coun­try ski­ing. My fa­ther was a good skier and my mom too. We would cross-coun­try ski around Shaw­bridge back in the 1970's, when cross-coun­try ski­ing was the new sport to do. Jack Rab­bit Jo­hannsen (JRJ) was 100 years old and in­flu­enc­ing peo­ple as young as me to cross-coun­try ski.

My par­ents and I took a spe­cial ski train in Fe­bru­ary 1975 to cel­e­brate JRJ'S 100th birth­day. I re­mem­ber lis­ten­ing to JRJ'S speech and ob­serv­ing his youth­ful de­meanor. I was in­spired!

I had gym teach­ers in pri­mary, el­e­men­tary and high school who taught cross-coun­try ski­ing as a com­pul­sory sport. For­tu­nately for me, they were gifted teach­ers and pas­sion­ate skiers. I was one of their best stu­dents. Not so much be­cause I was a good skier, but be­cause I tried and prac­tised what­ever they in­structed. And I al­ways had the en­ergy and or courage to do what they said.

My love for cross-coun­try ski­ing wasn't just about ex­e­cut­ing the in­structed tech­nique or try­ing to ski fast. My love also evolved from trav­el­ling to school on my cross-coun­try skis. In­stead of tak­ing a 15-minute bus ride with mul­ti­ple stops, I would of­ten ski to school. And in the fall and spring, I would of­ten walk to school. At a young age, I re­al­ized the con­fi­dence-build­ing of go­ing to and fro in an au­ton­o­mous way.

And of the sat­is­fac­tion of do­ing it with my own en­ergy. I re­mem­ber my first cross-coun­try-ski race in Grade Four. We had to ski around a one-kilo­me­tre course. I re­mem­ber that some of my class­mates were cry­ing. I also re­mem­ber fly­ing around the course and be­ing the first child to cross the fin­ish line. I don't re­mem­ber hav­ing felt any pain. I only re­mem­ber the rush and thrill of ski­ing as fast as I could. It was a bright sunny day at the Alpine Inn Golf Course in Ste-mar­guerite in Fe­bru­ary 1977.

I be­gan to be se­ri­ous about cross-coun­try-ski train­ing in the late 1980's when I at­tended Mcgill Univer­sity. In late Septem­ber 1986, I tried roller­ski­ing for the first time. I didn't like the fact that they were un­sta­ble and had no brakes. Not sur­pris­ingly, we had our of­fi­cial roller­ski train­ing around Mol­son Sta­dium on the deco-turf. To this day, I find roller­ski­ing around a sta­dium way cooler than run­ning around a sta­dium.

Af­ter Mcgill, I joined `Les Fon­deurs Lau­ren­tides,' presently one of the big­gest cross-coun­try-ski teams in Canada. Gérald Guay, the coach, is the rea­son I went from be­ing a medi­ocre ski racer to a good ski racer. The seven or eight years that he coached me were the best for my fu­ture suc­cess as a World­lop­pet racer. His coach­ing was pro­fes­sional. I learned many cross-coun­try-ski rac­ing se­crets from Gérald. I learned pa­tience and hav­ing life­long ob­jec­tives.

Thirty years of World­lop­pet com­pe­ti­tion with ap­prox­i­mately 100 events com­pleted. What drives you to com­pete?

PS: The thrill of push­ing my­self to the max­i­mum. See­ing the Euro­pean elite rac­ers. Ob­serv­ing how the win­ners win. The so­cial in­ter­ac­tion be­fore and af­ter the race also mo­ti­vates me. I am presently learn­ing Ger­man as a fourth lan­guage. I am also a big fan of the ever-chang­ing scenery and weather. I love the in­cred­i­bly well-groomed trails at the dif­fer­ent World­lop­pets. I love see­ing thou­sands of oth­ers push­ing as hard as they can. To me, it's more ex­pended en­ergy than all the fans watch­ing a par­tic­u­lar hockey game. And ev­ery sin­gle per­son who man­ages to cross the fin­ish line is a win­ner. A healthy way to travel in win­ter. A nice way to see the coun­try­side. And a good ex­cuse to learn a for­eign lan­guage.

Why this new chal­lenge – four World­lop­pets in three weeks?

PS: I have never achieved ski­ing four World­lop­pets in three weeks. I feel I have the strength and en­durance to do it. I also have ex­pe­ri­ence and, more im­por­tantly, the de­sire to at­tempt this feat!

Have you com­peted at the events in Es­to­nia and Swe­den be­fore? Do you know what to ex­pect from those events?

PS: I have never com­peted in Es­to­nia be­fore, but I have raced Vasa­lop­pet four times in the past, fin­ish­ing be­tween 100th and 200th. I ex­pect the com­pe­ti­tion to be stronger than in the past. More Pro race teams and higher-cal­i­bre rac­ers. I ex­pect to have to fight tooth and nail ev­ery inch of the way. Scan­di­na­vians take the Tartu Ski Marathon and Vasa­lop­pet very se­ri­ously.

Which World­lop­pet is go­ing to be the big­gest chal­lenge?

PS: The Gatineau 51km skate will be the hard­est chal­lenge be­cause I will have raced the 51km Clas­sic the day prior.

You have a goal of plac­ing well in each event. Are you fo­cus­ing on rac­ing one event at a time, or try­ing to mod­er­ate your ef­fort a bit since you are un­der­tak­ing such a large vol­ume of rac­ing?

PS: I will fo­cus on ski­ing as best I can one event at a time. I won't be hold­ing back at any race.

With just un­der a month to go be­fore the Gatineau World­lop­pet kicks off, how is your prepa­ra­tion go­ing?

PS: My prepa­ra­tion is go­ing ex­tremely well. I have achieved all my train­ing ob­jec­tives, and I had good re­sults at cross-coun­try-ski races on Jan. 21-22, 2017 with Ski­nouk in the Gatineau Park. I am fo­cused, mo­ti­vated and ex­cited about World­lop­pet rac­ing again soon. I am also grate­ful about my past good in­flu­ences. I am grate­ful for my health, and I am es­pe­cially grate­ful to be liv­ing in Rose­mere, Que., Canada – a bilin­gual com­mu­nity that wel­comes roller­skiers on its bike paths and res­i­den­tial streets!

Stay tuned as Sk­i­trax will catch up with Shaw af­ter his Lop­pet ad­ven­ture to see how things worked out.

Phil Shaw has an am­bi­tious goal of com­pet­ing in four World­lop­pets in three weeks for a to­tal of 255 kilo­me­tres.

Shaw has won the Gatineau World­lop­pet three times, but can he ski 255km in 15 days and sur­vive?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.