Catching up with ... Chandra Crawford
Checked in with Olympic cross country skiing champion Chandra Crawford at an altitude camp with the Canadian team last week in Mammoth, Calif., and the news was all good.
Crawford missed all of last season. She had surgery in February because of compartment syndrome in her shins and has struggled with chronic pain in her ankles.
But she’s training full tilt these days and feeling optimistic about what promises to be a challenging Olympic season.
“It’s been a really solid summer and the fall has been awesome and the training’s right on track with my two best years of my career,” said Crawford, who has been keeping a low profile.
“I’ve been underground really because with the ups and downs and just processing it all, I’ve just kept to myself and stayed working and just enjoying so much not talking about it. It’s going really well and I’m just immersed in it.”
She’s underground no more. The skiers are living at 2,400 metres in Mammoth and can go up to as high as 3,000 metres, but are also able to train only an hour’s drive away in Bishop, Calif., which is at around 1300 metres.
“It’s an amazing setup,” said Crawford. “We can live high and train and low and live low and train high and do all the fabulous physiological things that are only available in a few rare places like this in the world.”
As Crawford notes, though, the benefits of training at altitude don’t come without risk.
“I know that by coming down from high altitude my body is better prepared to push more oxygen to more muscle cells than ever before. That’s my understanding of it,” she said. “But in a more practical sense, it’s kind of like you know when Jerry Seinfeld is talking about what it’s like to scuba dive and he’s always thinking to himself ‘Don’t die. Don’t die. Don’t die.’
“Because altitude is kind of a sketchy thing. If you go too fast up high, you can really cook yourself. We’re trying not to have any Thanksgiving turkeys on our team by being careful. You can just fry yourself at altitude. So that’s something I’m conscientious of, picking my battles.”
“They really heard me out when I was begging them for a physio to come on the road with us. That’s made a world of difference for me. I can’t make it through a training camp without a physio at this point.”
Below is a neat video of the team's training camp in Mammoth made by one of Crawford's teammates, Sean Crooks. Have a feeling they took some liberties with their Swedish translation. You can check out some of Crooks' other videos here. He does good work.