Sunday River, Maine - Great news from the mountain yesterday as Erik made the podium in the NorAm Cup at Sunday River. He was the 1st placed American, 1st placed American Junior and 3rd overall. The Hole Shot Cross Tour bridges the gap between grassroots and wold cup level for skiercross. The Hole Shot qualifies athletes for Junior World Championships and World Cup Events. Erik will be back on the road tomorrow, traveling to Ski Cooper, Colorado. Stay tuned for updates, but enjoy this video from yesterdays action while you wait. You'll see in the video that it continues to snow in Maine. Sunday River has received 47 inches so far this month with more in the forecast!
Wow, it's been about three months since I sat still and caught my breath! I'm currently typing to you all from the library at University of Nevada, Reno, where my friend and teammate Thomas attends school. I've been sick for the past couple of days, which has allowed me to catch up and start moving photos over to my computer and write some thorough blog posts about the last few months. So no, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! I'll be posting in chronological order of the events and trips I've been attending for the past three months and let you know what I've been up to!
Erik Earl Sparkowski
Ski Cross Stokes Sparkowski's Competitive Fire
Since last checking in with you a lot has happened! My adventure continued from Mt. Hood to Portland, OR. I had a great time getting to explore Portland with my aunt and uncle as well as heading to the Pacific Coast for a bike ride before making the trek up to Whistler, BC. Whistler as a place is one of the most extraordinary places I've ever been in my life. It is an absolute outdoorsman's paradise with tons of activities like biking, hiking, and water sports in addition to the glacier skiing that runs until about mid July. Unfortunately towards the end of my stay in Whistler, I had a somewhat comical looking fall that resulted in me lacerating my kidney and a small part of my spleen. I had to be airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital because the situation seemed relatively severe at the time, but I only required monitoring after it was concluded that my bleeding had slowed and eventually stabilized relatively quickly. It wasn't a great end to the trip, but I could have been in significantly worse condition and had a much longer road to recovery had things not gone as mildly as they did. My sister and girlfriend who had originally planned on flying out to visit family and do the road trip back with me came and picked me up in the hospital after my four day stay and drove me to Portland, OR, where my gracious aunt and uncle harbored us and then brought me to the airport to fly home. I wanted to make the trip back with the girls, but my physical condition put me in a massive amount of pain and didn't make the trip very feasible for me. They still enjoyed the trip back, and I was more than happy to get the rest I needed to get better. The relatively short road to recovery for me was still difficult nonetheless, mainly due to me feeling relatively physically able to move, but finding pain when I actually attempted doing simple tasks in the initial weeks. I'm grateful to be feeling better and I am now cleared to get back to doing physical conditioning and most other normal activities, and will be good to get back on snow in a couple months time. All in all, I had a great trip despite the complications at the end and I'm happy to have had the experience and very happy to be getting back to work.
I haven't posted in a while because, well, I've been away from WiFi for the past few weeks! I was invited to the Project Gold Ski and Snowboard Cross development camp for juniors in Government Camp, OR for some summer training. Two weeks ago, I loaded up the car and embarked on a 4 day, 43 hour car trip to the west coast. I had a great trip and got to see some pretty amazing sights, and followed it up with an incredible camp! In addition to our hill time, we had excellent dryland training as well as extremely productive discussions to help guide all of us as mentally and physically capable athletes as well as direct us towards the best lifestyle choices that we can make as growing elite level athletes. Eric Archer, the head of Canada Ski Cross for the past nine years came back home to the United States to coach us, and over the 7 days we got on hill I grew immensely as a skier under his tutelage. Brant Crossan, a current world cup level US athlete also joined us for our camp and pushed and motivated us on and off snow, and was an excellent example to have around. As growing junior athletes, having the guidance and insight that both Archer and Crossan bring to the table off and on the snow not only makes us better athletes, but prepares us better for the real world and having to function as independent adults. Even despite my less than stellar performance by the end of the week, I was happy with how I grew fundamentally and the direction I am putting myself in by working to be the best athlete I can be. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by such amazing talent and intelligence in sport from my coaches as well as my fellow athletes who were all pushing themselves the entire week.
Currently, I'm in Portland, Oregon for a couple of days before I drive up to Whistler, British Columbia for two weeks of alpine training with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. Alpine is a fundamental aspect of ski cross, so the training I'll get up at Whistler will translate directly to what I need to work on when racing ski cross in the future. I'm really looking forward to my time up there and can't wait to see what's in store!
Wherever you may be (except for the southern hemisphere), you are probably feeling the warm weather returning and you are trading out your winter parka for a t shirt and shorts. So when you're a skier, what do you do to keep yourself busy when the snow melts? Well, I work, take college classes, do dryland physical fitness training, and if I'm lucky I get a few sessions of glacier skiing in! In this blog post, I'm going to focus mainly on fitness training.
Seeing as ski cross demands a lot of an athlete from many different angles, finding an ideal training regimen can be difficult. In the off-season, I need to work on cardio, power, strength and gaining mass all at the same time, so keeping variance in my activities and changing up my lifts in the gym is very important. For example, I don't always want to go into the gym and do low weight/high repetition exercises and run a mile. I want to change up my weight/reps on a regular basis to make sure I'm working all of my muscle groups in different situations that will ultimately help me improve my strength, power, cardio/stamina, and get me to a higher weight with higher density. I'm also seeing a naturopathic doctor to get help making sure I have all of the right nutrition to get me to the place I need to be physically. I hope I've provided some insight into what the offseason can be like for myself, and you'll certainly hear more from me soon!
Wow, has this season gone by fast. I was happy to end the season with a hard fought 4th place against a tough field. I had one of the best starts and and I ran one of my best defensive lines in my final heat, but a big mistake on the second to last turn cost me the spot on the podium. It was relieving to be done with the season, but also sad to say so long to all of my friends and fellow competitors until the snow starts flying again. I’m writing you from the Colorado/Nebraska line on my long drive back home, where I’ll have a lot of time to start planning for next season! I’m looking forward to getting back home and planning out the course of action for the next year, as next season starts as soon as the last one ends. I’d like to thank my family for supporting me, as well as Diversified Individual Brokerage for supporting me throughout the season, I can’t wait to see where things go from here!
Here are some random pics from the tour so far, season ender coming up April 10th in Colorado.