I shared a little on my facebook page about my excitement heading to Gotzis, Austria tomorrow. It is an opportunity to take a little trip down memory lane...I'll explain more as we get into things.
But before I begin I'll update you guys on the past weekend! I wrestled in Dormagen, Germany at the German Grand Prix. Traditionally this has been a tough tournament and this year was no different. The Canadians brought our senior, junior, and cadet national teams which encompassed over 30 athletes ranging in age from 15-32!
We wrestled the two day tournament through the blistering German heat and I ended up taking home the top prize beating Marzaliuk from Belarus in the finals. It was a close match and I wasn't too content with how I wrestled but only up from here!! Luckily we shipped off to the Sportschule in Hennef where we are having a great camp with several different countries.
Typically we do two sessions on the mats each day and try and recover and rest inbetween sessions. I have learned as I mature in the sport that the rest and recovery in key to make it through the sessions in both body and mind! I try not to nap but I am re-visiting an old friend by re-reading the Game of Thrones series which is always entertaining... and sometimes sad as we all know how well our favourite characters fare in the novel!
As I mentioned, tomorrow we board the bus and head off to Gotzis, Austria. I will be celebrating my 25th birthday on weigh-in day and it is a funny full circle of my journey as that is the place where my whole internationally wrestling career started. I competed with the Cadet team in Austria and marked my 17th birthday in that beautiful little town. It was there I discovered first hand the thrill of international wrestling, the puzzle of different styles each country owns, and the tightknit bonds that were forged forever. I met my best friend and current 48kg World Team member Jasmine Mian on that trip... for some reason they thought it would be a good idea to bunk the biggest and littlest athletes together and that was the moment our unlikely friendship first took off. We were both 16, young, naïve, carefree girls who loved wrestling and adventure. We're still those people except a little bit older and I would like to say wiser but there's some people such as my coach Leigh Vierling who may disagree!!
Speaking of coaches, this camp here in Hennef has just been spectacular. I have had the opportunity to wrestle some great people but also really focus on improving specific technical aspects of my wrestling. We always debrief back in the room during down time and I remember telling my roomies Jasmine and Jill that I really felt like today I became a better wrestler. That is something I want to continue to pursue for a couple more years to come!
I apologize! Turns out I had a lot of random ideas to share with you guys today and I seem to have rambled on! I will send out a blog as an update after the tournament in Austria but please stay tuned to my athlete facebook page and twitter for more current happenings!
Here is a FILA wrestling article about the weekend's tournament where I get a pretty nice shout out!
Have a Wonderful Day,
Yesterday I spent the day at St. Patricks high school in Ottawa running a clinic for the National Capital Wrestling Club. It was a great event that brought wrestlers from all over the city of Ottawa and as far as Renfrew to spend the day becoming better wrestlers.
We had a morning session for kids, and then two 2hour sessions for the high school aged athletes. I was so lucky to be joined by my amazing teammate Dori Yeats! In between the wrestling sessions we did a little lunch and listen exercise where me and Dori talked about our experiences representing Canada and some of the tough experiences we faced along the way. There were some great questions from the group.
I was so impressed by the kids who are coming out and putting in huge work. I know wrestling car at times be a long, lonely journey with little glory at the end of it. But connecting with my old club and feeling their joy and support is a key reason why I am able to do what I do.
We talked a lot about goals and how we all dream to stand on top of the podium. Undeniably, there are a lot of perks that come with winning but there is just as much if not more honour in simply engaging full heartedly in that pursuit of excellence.
I hope everyone who attended the camp felt inspired to continue pursuing whatever is their dream with the fullness of their heart! It's worth it.
Yesterday I cooked up a storm at the annual Main Dish Burger Cook-off for the Ronald McDonald house! I was on "Team Notorious TMD" with Olympian and all-around great guy Chris Spring, Carly Weasel Child the 2014 Stampede Indian Princess, and a trio of Main Dish rockstars Connor, Shae, and Rafa!
Of course Master Chef, Raf put together a winning combination of three types of meats and TWO secret sauces! Our burger entailed a blackened beef patty, pulled pork, and maple-pepper bacon! We drizzled the two sauces right onto bun, got some fresh arugula and roma tomatoes and sprinkled on some crunchy grilled onions to finish it off.
There was some stuff competition with other Winter Olympians and Calgary Stampeders taking part but at the end of the day we won the People's Choice award selling more than a hundred burgers than the next closest competitor!!
It was such a great day and I was so lucky to take part in my first event with my first official sponsor, the Main Dish. This a great restaurant located in the heart of Bridgeland. They do an insane stuffed French toast for brunch on weekends but what will really be an essential asset to my training is the delicious take-away that will allow me more time to train, focus on recovery and of course, keep my eyes on the prize!!!
For the past month it feels like I have woken up with my heart racing in preparation for this past weekend's events. Even in the days following, I still was coming down off of the incredible high of earning my spot to once again represent Canada this upcoming summer at another major games and senior world championships.
Going into the weekend I was so lucky to be surrounded by such positivity and everything really came together. I performed well and really took the first step towards achieving my big goals for this summer season!
I won the Canadian national championships in a thrilling fashion 14-3 over my teammate and competitor Leah Callahan however it was a very hard fought match. A huge reason for my success is the tough training environment we push ourselves in everyday. Coaching played a huge role and of course, I wouldn't be as fit as I am, mentally and physically without my rockstar training group and strength coach, Mac Read.
You may re-call last year, I slept in and almost missed my wrestle-off attributing that slight mishap to a joint error on myself and my best friend Jasmine Mian's parts. Well this year I am proud to announce she will also be joining me on the World Team beating former World Champion Jessie MacDonald to come away with the win! Ever since we roomed together on our first national team trip when we were 15 years old... we have been there for eachother for the big wins and the crushing losses. In wrestling, you get it all and now to take this summer's journey with her will only make it that much sweeter at the end!
You may be wondering.... so I won! Now what..... well this summer will be jam-packed with events from early June to end of September culminating in the Senior World Championships in Uzbekistan!
A major highlight I am looking forward to will be representing Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland at the end of July.
My goals for the upcoming season are to win the Commonwealth Games and podium at the World Championships. I know these are realistic and challenging and I hope you will stay along for the ride! In the upcoming weeks I will be launching some exciting ventures so please stay tuned and keep #Bewiebing!
I do apologize for my lack of updates over the past couple of months. I have been juggling various committments, most time-consuming of the many roles I take on are my full-time job at an elite athlete and my part-time gig as a budding scholar.
As of about 10minutes ago I submitted my last paper of the semester. This week has been pretty hectic indeed as I scrambled to complete two 20-page papers for two upper-level courses I am in and also get the final edits in on my Honours Thesis project. The past couple months have pushed me to really grow as a student and writer and it has been a great experience! I have really enjoyed the entire process, even though I had have to remind myself of this passion at some low points throughout the year. Who knew travelling to Sweden, Japan, the US, and the Olympic Games could put a damper on my scholarly pursuits?
In case you are curious my Honours Thesis project was on examining the experiences of elite Canadian female wrestlers during this transformative time in the sport. It was an awesome undertaking to hear their stories and connect these insights in a sociologically relevant way which I believe is particuarly poignant in the face of increasing gender equity in the sport.
My choice to continue my academics can be a burden sometimes but juggling school and sport is a natural endeavour for me and it is equally challenging and rewarding. I encourage all athletes to do what makes them happy beyond their fields of play and for me I guess that's being a nerd.
That being said, I am SO EXCITED FOR SUMMER!!!! In my case, that will mean a fully realized priority on my sporting competitions but also an opportunity to read more books of my choosing! Last summer I was enraptured by the work of Guy Gavriel Kay who is a Toronto based historical fiction writer and so this summer I am up for any suggestions!!! At this point I am planning re-read the entire Game of Thrones series and possibly delve into Divergent. Why not eh?
What's next for me you ask... where will my summer travels take me! Well... my destiny gets decided on May 3rd where I will compete at the World Team Trials in Calgary, AB! This will dictate what events I will compete in over the summer and I am intent on returning to the World Championships in September with my eyes narrowly focused on the prize.
Yesterday I had the honour of participating in my first Fast & Female event!!! Empowering women in sport has become a passion of mine and this organization's vision and values line up quite nicely with exactly what I am all about.
The organization was developed by Olympic Champ, Chandra Crawford who is based out of Canmore and they have promoted a slew of events targetted at inspiring young, female athletes to dream big and keep rocking it.
I was lucky to spend a couple hours with the Calgary Rangers Soccer Club staff and their U13-U16 Women's teams. We did a little boot-camp, had a Q&A session with myself and speedskating rockstar Brittany Schussler and filled out a DreamBig worksheet. It was really powerful to see the girls writing down their dreams and taking the first steps towards that vision.
I know for me, I always had BIG DREAMS...but only recently have I been able to really visualize all the steps it takes to make it become my reality. It has taken a new sense of maturity and more than anything, a new sense of self-love. I always return to the famous Marianne Williamson quote, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?... Actually, who are you not to be? ....Your playing small does not serve the world."
I don't think it could be any truer... It can certainly be scary to verbalize your dreams and perhaps even scarier to really visualize yourself achieving it. But why the heck not!
The young, women I met yesterday were all uniquely awesome and I hope they each come to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and pursue full-on what their big dream is. I know I am.
Here is the Fast & Female website for more information: http://www.fastandfemale.com/default.asp
Follow them on twitter too: @fastandfemale
I am experiencing some inner confusion about identifying as fast and female... it really works for the cross country ski crew but not necessarily for the wrestlers! BUT alas, I'll make it work and maybe it's a good indicator about my future post-retir
Okay... So that title may be a little over-reaching but I am in Japan, Tokyo about to head to sleep and wake up to compete in a dual meet format against the top 8 women's teams in the world!!
It doesn't get any better than this.
My first match tomorrow morning will be a rematch of the final of last weekends Klippan tournament in Sweden when I took on 2011 world silver medallist Bukina from Russia! Then Ukraine's young team and afterward I'll be up against Mongolia, a rematch of my close, controversial last match from the 2013 world chanpionships.
Unlike traditional wrestling tournaments, the World Cup uses as a dual meet format where the 8 teams are divided into two pools and then there are crossover matches the second day where the top teams wrestle for first overal, then 2nd place in the pool wrestle for 3rd, and so on...
Dual meets are by far the most exciting type of tournaments where teams wrestle head to head, in this case nation by nation and I believe the young guns from Canada are cocked and ready to go!
I intended to write more about my Japan experience but thoughts of the tournament have permeated to the forefront of my mind!
All I can say, we are staying at the Japan institute of Sport in one of the smaller districts of Tokyo and it is a beautiful, state of the art facility. Best part are the heated toile seats. No... But the toilets are pretty impressive.
They have an expansive 6 mat wrestling room and a 'spa' area with a sauna and 3 different temperature pools; makes post workout recovery feel quite luxurious.
That's it for now! Goodnight!
Hopefully going to be #biginjapan tomorrow and dominate!
In the days leading into my departure for the Sochi Olympic Games I was beginning to experience a certain level of distress that I was unaccustomed to feeling. My fears felt very real and were mostly dictated by the stories the media was sharing of terrorist threats, unfinished hotels, and countless other unknown dangers circling the city of Sochi.
When I landed in Sochi and navigated my way quite easily to my hotel located in Sochi on the coast of the Black sea, I found a completely different version of Sochi than what I had expected. The palm trees were plentiful and the temperature was closer to a balmy Florida afternoon than the Winter Olympics. I didn't see any rabid dogs roaming the streets and the Russian people were friendly, excited, and extremely helpful.
I arrived less than 12 hours before Chris' first day of competition in 2-man Bobsleigh and had a busy day picking up my 'workforce accreditation', volunteering for a couple hours at the Canada House inside Olympic Park, then hustling the 2 hours on the train up to Krasnaya Polynana where the Sanki Sliding centre was located.
A lot of people have asked about the jet lag and what not, but if you don't give yourself a second to think about it, it never quiet sets in. Or at least that's what I tell myself.
I got to the bobsleigh track a couple hours ahead of the first heat and walked right up to the top. At most World Cup when I am there to watch I always head back to behind the start and will see Chris in between heats and give him a good luck hug. I decided the Olympics were no different and walked with an air of confidence and authority past several security check points and up into the start house where the athletes were warming up and prepping their sleds.
It was great to see Chris in the flesh! The last time we had seen each other was December 27th! He was sitting in 7th spot after the first heat and with this track anything could happen. I continued my quest for a prime viewing location and ended up taking a sled truck down to the finish ramp with the two spares Graeme and Luke. That's why I got so much camera time during the first race! It was so exhilarating to be down on the finish ramp! Erica 1 Sochi Security 0.
I took the train back down into Sochi that evening and got back to the hotel around 2am. After catching a couple hours of sleep I had to be up again and back to the mountains the next morning to put in a couple hours at the Mountain Lodge which was a Friends & Family support centre located in the mountains. The daily commute up to the mountains became a chance to relax, reflect, nap a little. It wasn't ideal to commute 1.5-2 hours one way every day but it's a part of the experience.
The final day of 2man ended well but not as well as we had hoped. Canada finished 6th, 7th, and 9th.
The boys had a day off and we met up and hung out in the mountains. It was nice to just hang out and relax, grab a bite to eat and watch the women's bobsleigh event at the Mountain Lodge. The energy from the guys was relaxed but anxious and ready. The team came here with such intensity and focus and I couldn't wait to watch them tear it up! I try not to gush too much but there is something about watching 4-man bobsleigh that is so beautiful. I love watching the starts and seeing how four giants can work in unison to create such an explosion of precision and power.
There is a week separating the 2man and 4man competition to allow the athletes one day to recover and 3 days to complete the training runs. During this time I volunteered at Canada Olympic House in the coast, toured around Sochi, got in some training of my own, and caught some other Olympic events. Without question the hockey was incredibly exciting but for me, any true amateur Olympic sport ignites this intense roller coaster of emotions as I watch them leave it all out on the line. I loved watching the 5,000m women's speed skating and can connect with the exhausted bliss that was wrought all over those women's faces. I also caught the men's ski cross event and watched as we were just inched out of a medal!
As I had blogged previously, with just one day left of training the coaches made some significant coaching decisions. I felt helpless and confused but was there for Chris throughout this period of time. I personally was a little disappointed with the actions and behavior of the Canada 3 driver who going into the race took on a win at all costs attitude and treated former teammates with (in my opinion) a level of disrespect that was undeserved. But alas, sport can be a cruel world and the hundredths of seconds that dictate Olympic Champions in bobsleigh don't include how many teammates you step over along the way.
The final days of the Games were spent cheering along the side of the bobsleigh track supporting a team that needed it more than ever. The boys performed honourably and Olympians were made. When the Canada 3 sled crashed in it's second run, the sled in whom the coaches had given the best crew and the best equipment and even tried to give the best starting position, it was the final straw for our small contingent of Canadian fans who had travelled across the world to support the team. It was a sad, quiet night for us all and I can't begin to imagine the emotions of the team.
The next day, despite the circumstances was extremely positive. The spares who had worked tirelessly on tour all year got to slide. Through the crash, the boys were all okay but two chose not to slide and allowed their teammates to step in and solidify their positions as Olympians. I once again snuck down to the finish ramp (this time security was a little tighter) but I got onto the finish dock and watched as Chris came down for his final Olympic run. I was so proud of him in that moment and throughout the weekend. He exemplified the Olympic spirit despite it all!
That evening the guys marched into the closing ceremonies and afterwards we came back to Canada Olympic House. It was not at all what I imagined my Olympic experience to end like but how can you ever forsee what it going to happen at the Olympic Games!! My coach, Leigh Vierling always says at the Olympics, something you could never ever think possible happens and you have to deal with it. I definitely saw it first hand at both Olympics I have attended and in my pursuit to compete in Rio 2016 it is definitely something I will keep in the back of my mind.
I feel as though this has been overall a tad negative but without the darkness of the night, the beautiful morning sunrise would never look as radiant and that is exactly what the Olympics is. I had many discussions with the volunteers working at Canada Olympic House and their incredible spirit is one small aspect of the power of the Olympic movement. It was hard to stay down for too long in Sochi because everywhere you looked there was excitement and pride.
My time there made me so proud to be Canadian and not just because we had a beer fridge that opened with our passport...Russians were dying to trade for Canada gear because of the symbolism the maple leaf portrayed. Even the Canadian tourists and fans felt like celebrities because we would get asked on the street to take pictures every 5metres!
In my own pursuit of excellence, the Olympic Games remains the pinnacle upon which I am solely focused on achieving. But that doesn't mean it is free from it's own controversies and criticisms. I think Duff Gibson (Olympic Champ & Cdn Skeleton Coach) has an interesting blog on his own perceptions of Sochi that is worth a read! Check it out at http://sportatitsbest.com/
This was a long winded one and is only really a small glimpse into my own Sochi experience but thank you for making it this far. All the best and stay tuned as I compete in Sweden in a couple days!!! Yikes. I know!
As I watched the fireworks burst into the night sky last night above Olympic Stadium I reflected back on my journey there and the last 16 days. I left for Russia on Valentines day to watch and support my boyfriend of two years. On his first full season of the World Cup he had a blazing year powered by a stellar crew. They finished 4th overall in 4man and were competitive all the way through.
I was ecstatic and tense. I knew going into it Chris has high expectations for himself. It was a type of pressure he felt he had earned over the course of the past season. He was driving well, in peak physical form, and had moved into Canada 1.
Now the Sochi Olympic bobsleigh track is a tricky one. It is the longest refrigerated track in the world and had three tough uphill sections. If you go into those sections without the right velocity or making a mistake turning into the corner, it can be disastrous for a pilot's medal chances.
Unfortunately, Chris faced the toughest uphill sections before he ever jumped into that sled. I can't explain nor justify the decisions that were made but what I can say is that despite it all, the boys rose to the occasion and competed like champions.
For now, that is all I can really say without becoming too overwhelmed with waves of emotion that transition through frustration, disappointment and anger. I will write a full re-cap of my times here in a couple days as everything becomes absorbed.
Being at the Olympic Games is an experience like no other. Going through this process with Chris and his team has been an opportunity to watch and learn what it takes.
The boys had a saying all season and that was "being olympic". They literally approached every situation these past months with this motto firmly dictating their course of action. Being olympic encompassed so many things and ultimately led them to where they are now.
Watching this process for me has been huge component of where I am today. Their commitment, intensity, and professionalism has translated directly into my recent success in the mat.
Being at the Games is getting me so fired up to make the big push. This is my time.
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.