Clubs: XC Chelsea Masters

Not Your Typ­i­cal Cross-coun­try Ski Club

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Jack Cracker

For many, those first cool days in Septem­ber sig­nal the end of sum­mer fun. But for the XC Chelsea Masters (XCCM), they sig­nal the start of a new ski-train­ing sea­son – bound­ing up steep hills in Zone Four, gru­el­ing sets of push-ups and TRX pull-ups, or end­less sets of dou­ble-pol­ing on roller­skis. No, this is not a club for Na­tional-team hope­fuls, but rather a unique mix of Masters ath­letes, aged 30 and up, with the big­gest chunk of mem­bers more than 50 years of age. They know that by train­ing hard and smart, they will im­prove their ski­ing and rac­ing skills to meet the goals they have set for them­selves.

XCCM is a reg­is­tered ski club in On­tario that was founded in 2010 by Natalya Kuziak, who was seek­ing to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment for adults who wanted tar­geted pro­gram­ming and coach­ing, sim­i­lar to what ex­isted only for youth. Af­ter 13 years of coach­ing Masters in­de­pen­dently or through lo­cal clubs such as Nakker­tok and Chelsea Nordiq, she be­lieved a community of like-minded adults could come to­gether in a sim­i­lar way – some­thing that was long over­due.

While a num­ber of clubs in Canada's Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion have pro­gram­ming for adults, XCCM is ded­i­cated to Masters only. It of­fers dry­land pro­grams with ski-bound­ing, roller­ski­ing and out­door strength-train­ing, in­door strength-train­ing in the gym and long-dis­tance roller­ski­ing, hik­ing or bik­ing. In the win­ter, 10- to 14-hour weekly train­ing con­tin­ues on snow and in the gym.

The club has evolved over the years and now boasts ap­prox­i­mately 100 mem­bers from the Ot­tawa-gatineau-chelsea area and a team of 13 coaches. It attracts a wide va­ri­ety of peo­ple. There are those in their thir­ties or for­ties who are at­tracted to en­durance sports such as triathlon, cy­cling and cross-coun­try ski­ing. Ski neo­phytes Julie Coburn and Heather Tkalec had never been on skate skis when they joined ap­prox­i­mately five years ago, and now reg­u­larly train and race in both dis­ci­plines. Others in their fifties, six­ties and sev­en­ties have been train­ing or rac­ing a lot, are fit as fid­dles and want coach­ing and community sup­port. Ed and Cathy Cot­tell, also known as Blanche Dra­peau, now in their six­ties, are still kick­ing butt in ski races and do­ing cross-train­ing such as cy­clocross. “An in­spi­ra­tion to the rest of us,” quips Kuziak.

In the past six years, the club has at­tained a num­ber of im­pres­sive achieve­ments. A team of 12 ath­letes and two coaches, in­clud­ing Kuziak (pres­i­dent and ath­letic di­rec­tor of XCCM), went to the World Masters Cham­pi­onships in Sov­er­eign Lake, B.C. in 2011. Two years later, an­other team com­peted at the World Masters in Asi­ago, Italy, with Kuziak as coach and Peter Hamilton as ex­pert wax­ing tech­ni­cian.

Each spring, XCCM skiers head to the U.S. for such races as the Bret­ton Woods Ski Marathon, Ski and Shoe to the Clouds or the Ran­g­ley Lakes Lop­pet. Re­cently, it has run an­nual fundrais­ing events, do­nat­ing 100% of the pro­ceeds – sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars – to promis­ing lo­cal ju­niors.

But it's not all about rac­ing. Many peo­ple join just to keep fit and to chal­lenge them­selves. And all love hav­ing a so­cial at­mos­phere where they can so­cial­ize with friends who love the same ac­tiv­i­ties and mo­ti­vate and sup­port each other. The club holds so­cial events such as potlucks, pub nights, epic skis and overnighters to cab­ins.

Ac­cord­ing to Kuziak, “We think XCCM is spe­cial. It of­fers a fun so­cial en­vi­ron­ment and rec­og­nizes that Masters need to train smartly to con­tinue to achieve re­sults, but stay in­jury-free. We strive to bet­ter adapt to Masters' phys­i­o­log­i­cal needs, such as re­duc­ing ply­o­met­rics, tai­lor­ing our train­ing plans and strength ses­sions, in­cor­po­rat­ing yoga and pro­mot­ing roller­ski­ing for its low im­pact and speci­ficity. We in­vite clubs and coaches to get in touch with us and share ideas on how to im­prove train­ing and coach­ing for Masters ev­ery­where.”

(clockwise from the top) Peo­ple join just to keep fit and to chal­lenge them­selves; The club is ded­i­cated to Masters only, with lots of pro­grams in­clud­ing roller­ski­ing; XC Chelsea Masters now boasts 100 mem­bers.

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