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Ice Queens – Introducing Bota Bota – La Relève team 1/2

Our champs are more than ready to take on the Saint Lawrence! Temperatures may be freezing, but there’s no way they’re going to get cold feet. Not after submitting to all those gruelling training sessions, and giving their all to win. The running, the falling, the pain, the getting up … it’s all part of what makes a winning team. And this is the team we’re supporting for the Montreal Ice Canoe Challenge.

TEAM MEMBERS ARE :
Marianne Biron-Hudon // Coxswain and team captain
Psychoeducation student and retired rugby player

Sarah Boudreau-Turpin // Front starboard side, in charge of scheduling
Graduate in nutrition and rugby player for the Rouge et Or team

Dominique Bernard // Rear port side, designated navigator
Forestry student and rugby player for the Rouge et Or team

Anne-Sophie Corriveau // Front port side, in charge of waxing
Master’s student in geology and rock climber (she really likes rocks)

Dominique Laliberté // Rear starboard side
Consumer sciences student and rugby player for the Rouge et Or team

Laurianne Ouellet // Rear port side, rear starboard side, team leader
Master’s student in occupational therapy and retired Team Canada cross-country skier

Mélisande Tardif // Rower (any position) and coxswain
Graduate in outdoor education and rafting guide

We had a talk with them to get their take on the sport, and to find out a little more about each of them.

A TEAM IS BORN 
by Mélisande Tardif

The story of our very young team began three seasons ago. It all began when Dominique Bernard fell in love with ice canoeing, which she had never practiced, but which just called out to her. Through her network of rugby player friends, she found two canoeists with experience who were ready to take part in her adventure. To complete the team, she contacted Marianne and Sarah, who had attended Quebec City ice canoe races when they were children. Everyone immediately hit it off! After a first season, the girls decided to create their very own team for 2012–2013.

Dominique, Marianne and Sarah found a canoe and more team members: Dominique Laliberté (a fellow rugby player) and Anne-Sophie (a long-time friend). Just one training session was enough to convince the two that both the sport and the team were definitely for them. We first called ourselves “Looking for sponsor,” but this didn’t last very long, as Bota Bota, the floating spa, contacted us before the start of our first season. They wanted to be part of ice canoeing’s revival in Montreal, and thought we’d provide the perfect vehicle. What an incredible opportunity!

We soon realized that five team members weren’t enough, and that we could use some help in case of injury, fatigue or illness. After signing up some stand-ins and then a sixth team member – who had to leave after the first season – we finally found our newest team-mates, Laurianne and Mélisande.

The Race Courses
by Dominique Bernard

Our team will be entering all the races in the circuit, i.e. seven races this year. To have a chance of winning, our two new team-mates are essential!

As each race has its own personality, each racer has her favourite. Below is a brief description of the races to be held in 2015:
Ultimate Races // The Montreal Ice Canoe Challenge and the “Grand défi des glaces” are the Ironman events favoured by racers who enjoy going all out. They’re the longest – in length and duration – with the toughest teams having to go around three times before having a chance at the podium.

Regional Races // L’Isle-aux-Coudres and Rimouski present an opportunity for some memorable team effort. Held in Quebec’s Charlevoix and Lower Saint Lawrence regions, these two races provide for some much-appreciated party time in the evenings. And getting there makes for an unforgettable road trip complemented by great music!

Show-off Races // The “Course de la banquise” is the first to be held. This is where racers show off their skills and reveal to other teams what they can do. The winner of the Coupe des Glaces can sometimes be predicted from performances at this event. Another show-off race, the Course du Carnaval de Québec offers large enthusiastic crowds and a few surprise appearances from teams that give the sport international exposure.

Races of Discovery // The Sorel race – the circuit’s newest – provides that element of surprise that many racers love. Also part of this category is the now mandatory Rimouski race, which will offer a new challenge for many participants.

The Team’s Best Performances
by Sarah Boudreau-Turpin

Our best team ranking was no doubt last year’s 3rd place in the Coupe des Glaces final results. Our second place in the Portneuf race was no doubt a factor in allowing us to make it to the women’s Élite Class podium. In the Montreal Ice Canoe Challenge, the winning team will be the one that tames the fierce Saint Mary current. Winners will have to paddle as well they run beside the canoe. Endurance will also be a key factor.

With our third-place standing and our first place in the last two races (Rimouski and Quebec City Carnival), we’ve set the bar very high for Montreal.

Training
by Laurianne Ouellet

The type and intensity of training imposed every week will vary according to the season. From the end of competition to mid-October, there’s no formal ice canoe training. However, everyone on the team will remain active during this period, and practice different sports like rugby, running, biking, climbing and hiking.

Formal training with a canoe begins in mid-October with sessions on the Saint Lawrence River twice a week, and a weekly session on the rowing machines at the gym. Once the river begins to freeze over (around the third week of December), we increase the frequency of sessions.

The holiday season is key in getting prepared for upcoming competitions. During this time we try to get out on the river every day. Racing season then gets under way, and a typical week will involve one session on the river, one on the machines, and another on the river with an emphasis on running beside the canoe.

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