Rather than talk about the boring wrestling stuff, I’ve decided to write down some small anecdotes from each event! I am so lucky to have the opportunity to travel the world and represent Canada with some amazing people. Here are the off the mats highlights from the past year of international tournaments….
Nordhagen Classic Calgary, Canada
Christine Nordhagen puts on an incredible event every year and it was super fun hosting the Norwegians and Americans who attended this year! I was honoured to win the outstanding wrestler award and received a little wrestling charm necklace. Who knew they even made those!?
Ivan Yarygin Memorial Cup Krasnoyarsk, Russia, January
A small group of 6 national team athletes made the long trek to this forbidden land nestled deep in Siberia. Needless to say, Siberia is AMAZING! We stayed at a Holiday Inn and were wined and dined in a way I have never experienced before. The finale banquet was a highlight with a fine array of Russian delicacies and culture. I also won and was handed an envelope of 150,000 roubles all in 1000 rouble notes which was pretty cool!? I’m still waiting for the giant cheque prize though… That is really the only reason I’m doing this…. (Just kiddinggg)
Klippan Open Klippan, Sweden
This is our second year travelling to Sweden and this tiny town called Klippan is renowned for it’s wrestling and it’s blanket factory. The highlight was spending the week training with the Chinese national team who are these hilarious, fun, and super athletic women. We are housed in this beautiful mansion built in the 1600’s (and luckily renovated more recently than that…) and it is quite magical. The big event most days during the camp is walking to the gas station to get treats on the daily.
Olympia Open / German Grand Prix Olympia, Greece & Dormagen, Germany
We did a combined tour of Greece and Germany competing in Olympia first then heading to Germany for a mini training camp and competition in Dormagen. I stayed an extra week longer all by myself and did the big European camp in Hennef. SO thankful for my German and Hungarian wrestling friends who took care of me, especially my old Dinos teammate Vanessa Wilson.
The Greek tournament was set in Olympia and every day we walked past the historic site of Ancient Olympia. This was an unforgettable moment and truly exemplifies the enduring impact of sport throughout history.
The German coaches ran a typical German camp with every session outlined in an excel document and distributed at the beginning of the week. You gotta love their precision to detail.
Canada Cup Guelph, Canada
The Cubans and the Brazilians came to Canada Cup this year for a little pre-Pan American Games competition and camp and I had a blast training with the girls and watching the guys train with their shirts off…
Spanish Grand Prix Madrid, Spain
This tournament may go down in history as United World Wrestling’s longest tournament… we started the day at 9am and I wrestled my finals at midnight. There were over 500 athletes wrestling in Greco, and men’s and women’s Freestyle on only four mats! My secret to surviving the day was I spent most of the day lounging around in the air conditioned training room across the street (this isn’t my first rodeo…). We stayed for the camp in the blistering heat of Madrid and I spent a lot of time training with Guzel Manurova (a 2x Olympic Medallist and Kazahkstan Coach/Athlete).
The Spanish coaches ran a cool segmentation of wrestling blocks that were short and intense. Which may have been necessary in the 40 degree heat.
Watching the World Championships in Vegas
I had been toying with the idea of going to Worlds as a spectator for awhile, after all it was in Sin City… then when my best friend, Jasmine Mian was named as the 55kg representative for Canada I knew I had to be there. Going was the best decision ever because I sat and watched and I knew I could be among the best there. It ignited a fire deep within.
NYAC Open New York, USA
Once again, held at the iconic New York Athletic Club located right in Manhattan. I ended up cutting an extra kilo just because I didn’t want to leave the beautiful sauna overlooking central park! The tournament is well run but I will admit my highlight from this trip was the interactive theatre experience we attended called ‘Sleep No More’. It is a dark adaptation of MacBeth and is set in the old historic McKittrick Hotel … you essentially wander in and out of rooms following various storylines and have your mind blown. Satan Blood orgies anyone??
Canadian Team Trials Strathcona County, Canada
We arrived into Strathcona County on the Wednesday afternoon and I didn’t wrestle until Saturday at noon. Needless to say there was a whole lot of Netflix and chill. I looked forward to the ritualistic saunter over to Starbucks for breakfast with Breanne and Jasmine every morning. We would just sit there for a couple hours, sip our coffees, discuss the problems of the day and secretly convince ourselves that this vibrating tension in our bodies was normal. On the day of competition I found it very difficult to keep my breakfast down… I was nervous but I felt as if the outcome was already written. Day of competition did go as planned and I couldn’t imagine a better way to cap off this year.
Erica Wiebe is a Canadian freestyle wrestler and Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Calgary. Her passion for wrestling and writing combine in the words of this blog, sprinkled with a strong opinion on certain matters and a hint of feminist thrown in for good measure.