Friday, December 16, 2011


I've been hanging around the Calgary Gymnastics Centre quite a bit these past few days acting as team mentor for the Canadian Men's Gymnastics team. They have 25 days left until their final shot at Olympic qualification. The pressure's on.

Check out this article from the Calgary Herald about the team and the final push towards their Olympic dream...

Canadian gymnasts prepare for Olympic qualification


Shewfelt mentoring squad as they sequester in Calgary to train for next month’s competition in London

Former Canadian gymnast Kyle Shewfelt is lending his expertise as a mentor to the national team.

Former Canadian gymnast Kyle Shewfelt is lending his expertise as a mentor to the national team.

Photograph by: Stuart Gradon

Kyle Shewfelt knows what a difference it can make to have teammates at the Summer Olympics.
“I was by myself in 2000 and it was like, blah, and in 2004, when I won (floor routine), I had all the support of the team. You’re so much more into it ... it just makes such a huge difference.”
Shewfelt has long packed up his golden gymnastics career, but he’ll be close by when the Canadian men’s team travels to London, England next month to try to land one of the last four-team berths to the 2012 Summer Olympics in that country.
If they qualify, they can send a team of six (five compete). If not, only one can carry the flag.
Seven members of the team have gathered for a weeklong training camp at the Calgary Gymnastics Centre to fine tune their routines. They’ll get their chance to land a spot Jan. 10 in London against France, Great Britain, Spain, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Italy and Belarus.
Those countries, along with 12th-place Canada, finished between ninth and 16th in the recent world championships, where the top eight automatically qualified for the Olympics.
“Based on their past results, the front-runners are Great Britain and France,” suggested Shewfelt, who serves as a mentor to the Canadian team. “They have a lot of veterans and have really high difficulty scores, but Canada factors into that group.
“They just need to be consistent and really hit because this is cutthroat. It’s your last shot, it’s urgent ... do or die mentality.”
Two-time Canadian Olympic team member Nathan Gafuik of Calgary knows of what Shewfelt speaks.
“We went into worlds hoping that was the place we were going to make it ... went into that one thinking that was our last chance and then, whoops, we got this chance,” said the 26-year-old member of the University of Calgary Gymnastics Club. “The last two times we qualified, we did if from the worlds, but the rules have changed so now we have to do a secondary qualifier, which is a bit of new thing, but we should be OK.”
Gafuik has been to the past two Olympics, in 2004 as a standby reserve on the six-man team, and as a competitor in 2008. His high-bar and vault routines are world class. Perhaps even good enough to find an Olympic podium finish at London.
“(High bars) is such a hard event to do perfectly every time with all the different manoeuvres that we have to do,” said Gafuik, who has 20 years of gymnastic experience. “If I can ever figure out how to be on every single time, it’ll become one of my good ones.
“As you mature and you get all the skills you need to challenge for that (medal) position, then it’s all about perfecting them, being confident in competition situations, consistent in competition situations, so a lot of the last couple years has been aimed towards doing that.”
Gafuik is joined on the team by 2005 world championship medallist Brandon O’Neill of Edmonton, up-and-comer Jackson Payne of Edmonton, Ken Ikeda of Abbotsford, B.C., former NCAA champion Casey Sandy of Brampton, Ont., Jayd Lukenchuk of Saskatoon and Kevin Lytwun of Stoney, Creek, Ont.
Although there’s still that big test event to get through, Shewfelt believes Canada has a big shot at landing a couple of Olympic medals next summer.
“Brandon O’Neill on floor,” he said of the 27-year-old. “Very talented, world champion medallist in 2005 who has struggled with injuries the past few years, but he’s back and looks really, really good.
“Then Nathan Gafuik ... he’s always been so great on the high bar. I know right now he’s focused on team qualifications, so he’s taken out some of his difficulty, but once the team qualifies he’s going to add in a lot of new skills, give himself the best shot to get to the finals.
“Once you get to the finals, it’s anybody’s game. That was proven in 2004 when I won. You just have to get past that first phase and be perfect on the day.”

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A few days ago I signed up to run my first MARATHON!

I am going to run the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 6th - conveniently on my 30th Birthday. My brother, Scott, and I are going to train together and it should be a gruelling yet super enriching experience.

I've started back on the running train and it's been a different experience compared to when I trained for my half marathon in October. First and foremost, I now have to watch for black ice! This invention below has been very helpful though…

They are called YakTrax and they are a life saver when running on ice and snow. I highly recommend that every winter runner gets a pair!

It's also been different because I've been doing a lot of my runs solo. Can you say boring?? CBC Radio and I are becoming very close friends ;) My bro and I are going to start making it a priority to meet for at least one run a week, but as he put it, "he hasn't been in shape for 20 years", so he has some pre-training to do in order to create a foundation. He's in his own personal boot camp at the moment and he should be ready to train with his little bro by mid-January. They say that slow and steady wins the marathon training race so slow and steady we shall be...

My body is feeling awesome and I have made sure to stretch well and keep up with my yoga. I am following a self-prescribed combination of a couple of different programs (Hal Higdon's, Bruce Deacon's and John Stanton's). I wanted to have some flexibility in the program because I am going to be away a fair amount in the new year. I also didn't want to be running 6 days a week because I am hoping to simultaneously train for a June 9th Triathlon in Wasa Lake (we'll see if I can manage both ;) ). I am going to do most of my long runs on Saturdays, even though the race is on a Sunday, because I like starting my weekend off on a really positive note. Another factor in choosing my training program was that I wanted to be able to take Cooper (and Patch when he's here) on runs with me, but I won't take them for more than 10K (I won't take Coops for more than 5K right now, but he'll be a year in February and then we can up his distances). I wanted a program that offered some shorter runs in the week so I could be with my doggies because that's a really enjoyable experience for me.  

REAL training starts on January 2nd and then it's 18 weeks of suffering to reach the goal. I'm excited about pushing myself far beyond my comfort zone and about taking on a challenge that seemed literally impossible to me 6 months ago. It will be a good way to set myself up for a productive and fulfilling 30th year.

I will be keeping a training journal here so please stay tuned for updates.

Here's to creating new limits!


Thursday, December 08, 2011

The beginning of the road - CTV Olympics

Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.

Today, the journey began for my role as analyst for the 2012 London Olympic Games with CTV Olympics.

Rod Black and I had our first "rehearsal" today and it went pretty well. I wanted to nail it out of the park, but I left with a lot of really constructive things to work on. I am so excited about the next 8 months of prep and I realized today that I have a lot of work to do in order to get to where I want to be.

courtesy of @carolynwaldoCTV

This process is eerily comparable to the prep that I went through as an athlete. I found myself visualizing being in the O2 arena with the 10,000 people in the audience. I could feel the tension and the storyline's unfolding. I also felt thankful that we still have 8 months to go before the big show…

I don't want to just be a commentator. I want to bring excellence to the role. I want to have the viewers at home feel like they are out there on the floor with the athletes. I want them to have the butterflies and I want them to completely understand the sacrifice and dedication it took to get there. My role as an analyst is to explain the WHY's and the HOW's. Simple, right? Well, not so much…

But this is where my focus needs to be. And it's great to have a focal point.

Over the course of the next 8 months, I am going to be vigilantly watching hours and hours of gymnastics on VHS, DVD and youtube. I'll be playing with language. I am going to listen to the best of the best (any recommendations?) and see what they say. I am going to be constantly recording myself while explaining WHY an iron cross is difficult. I am going to make lists and lists of flavourful adjectives that describe certain characteristics of skills and routines. I have a goal of never being tongue tied…I want to be so 'ready' that I don't have to try.

In Athens and Beijing, I remember stepping on to the floor feeling like I couldn't have anything more to be more prepared. I want to feel this same way in London - I'll just be on the other side of the camera.

Today, this incredible role I have with CTV Olympics started to feel a little more real. I have a lot of work to do. But with that being said, I am so psyched about doing it!

Next stop: London. I'll be there in January for the final Olympic qualifier (Go Canada Go!). I apologize in advance to the person who has to sit next to me in the stands. They'll be getting a running commentary of the event whether they like it or not!