Mike Argue remembers what it was like leading up to a big cross-country ski race: the nerves, the amazement; the need for sleep, but impossibility of getting enough.
"I don't think I slept more than four hours a night," Argue laughed, recalling the lead-up to his first medal event at the 2003 Canada Games in New Brunswick.
But after winning two medals that year, Argue learned the normalcy of those feelings — and the sometimes unnecessary need to perfect preparations before a race.
That's some of what Argue is teaching as co-coach of several high-performance skiers at the Yellowknife Ski Club, the very place he learned to cross-country ski nearly 20 years ago.
"Sometimes being a small jurisdiction, up against the Ontarios and the Quebecs and such, can be a daunting task, but at the same time I think there's also both the talent and the coaching support in the North," Argue said.
"There are no limits."
'Being able to push them'
Argue spent nearly a decade racing competitively, representing the Northwest Territories on the national stage. He says he wanted to help coach not only to stay on his toes and keep in shape, but to teach Yellowknife athletes their goals are attainable.
"Any goals that they have for themselves, they have the tools that they have here in the North to step up to those heights," Argue said.
And he says continuing to set his own goals gives him the backing to push them in the right direction.
In early February, Argue raced in the top event at the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival in Edmonton. For 55 kilometres, racers ski with a 12-lb backpack. Argue finished first.
"The athletes that I work with now, every year they're getting stronger and stronger," he said, adding how important it is that he stay strong too.
"Being in shape enough to push some of my skiers… being able to push them or at least stay with them."
And turns out "staying with them" may be crucial for Argue's next plan: he's joining Yellowknife high-performance skier (and student) Jack Panayi in a two-person relay event at the Cross Country Ski Nationals in Canmore, Alt., at the end of the month.