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A Holley Cup Comeback!

Race Stories

Thu, Dec  30, 2004 - By Dam Motowski

The time is Now…..

On December 26th, 2004 I competed in my first “real” ski race since 1993….YIKES! It’s been awhile and I’ve been threatening a “comeback” just about every year since I stopped racing. This year I finally decided to just do it no matter what shape I was in. Racing when you know you are not at the top of your game is not easy, especially when you have been at the top of your game in the past. As I found out at this year's Holly Cup, the past doesn’t count today. It’s a tough lesson, but I guess that’s what comebacks are all about….returning to what you once where, if you are lucky! Myself, I have a long way to go.

Lets look back at my 1991 performance at the Holly Cup. I was a 17 year old skier….that was about it….I didn’t have a job, a house, a wife, or a child. I ate, slept and trained for Nordic skiing (I also did go to high school, but I spent a lot of my time day dreaming about skiing). At the 1991 Holly Cup I had one of my best Michigan Cup races….13th overall with a time of 31:52….Milan Baic was 2nd overall with a time of 29:12. Not a bad race for a punk kid living 8 miles from downtown Detroit - imagine if I grew up in Traverse City!

Ok….lets jump, with a big thud, to 2004. I’m 31 years old now, working at GM, married to an awesome woman, I have a pretty nice house, 2 cars, we have 6 bikes in the garage, a child trailer and a jogger, and we have 1.5 year old Lance (picture at left!). Life is good ;)

The big challenge now is not fine tuning my fitness to a sharp point but trying to balance life with a few workouts thrown in here and there. As shown by my performance in 2004, my balance equation has yet to be perfected. Lets look at the 2004 Holly Cup….I skied and finished the race. That’s about all the positive I can say about it. I would say I was “racing” at about 75%….not 75% of 1991, but 75% of today, which is maybe 50% of 1991. In all fairness it was my first “real” classic ski of the year, so my timing was way off and lets not forget my “dog” skis…but even so I don’t remember ever really breathing very hard? I finished 25th overall (low attendance!) with a time of 43:29….Milan Baic won the race with a time of 29:42! Some things don’t change!

Well….the data doesn’t lie. Check out the table below that shows my hours of skiing and running in 1991 (Oct–Jan 20th) and 2004 (Sept-Dec 26th). The Holley Cup was later in 1991.

1991 2004
Rollerski – skate 20 hrs 20 hrs
Rollerski – classic 23 hrs 3 hrs
Snow ski - skate 40 hrs 6 hrs
Snow ski - classic 12 hrs 3 hrs
Running 23 hrs 16 hrs
Specific Ski Strength 12 hrs 6 hrs
TOTALS 130 hrs (8:40/week) 54 hrs (3:30/week)
Time difference to Milan Baic 2:40 13:47

Interesting isn’t it…reminds me of the Lance Armstrong quote, “What am I on? I'm on my bike, busting my a$$ six hours a day. What are you on?" That about sums it up. You get what you pay for!

Lets look at the future. The challenge now is how to get faster and not upset the balance of the rest of my life? I need to do more ski specific strength for my upper body. Mike Muha has been giving me an earful all fall about how I bike too much and I have a “weak” upper body. Although I can do more pull-ups then him with one arm, maybe he is right? (I hate that!) I need to be more ski specific with my training even more so now that I have less time to train. My big problem is all the cycling I do in the summer. 50% of my volume for the year is cycling if you add in running that is about 60%. No wonder I can out “hop” most of the team in our bounding sessions! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why I wouldn’t be at the top of my game come ski season.

What next? Armit anyone? Doug Garfield’s Armit system and "RepMotions" (his newest book - maybe Muha will review it soon) may be just what the doctor ordered. I have begun incorporating many of Doug’s exercises and Armit power bands into a home circuit I can do while I watch my son Lance. This helps with time management and is a great ski specific workout (check it out). I think they will help and I may see some strength gains at the races near the end of the season. Next race for me is the Michigan Cup Classic race. No hiding there…lots of hills for my weak little arms to suffer on! Maybe I’ll even wax my skis this time? Get out and SKI!! Better yet, help out your Team and get to a race…no Michigan Cup points for couch time!