Timeline – 2009 to 2011
Olympic Year. What better way to start her final Winter Olympic path than with an adventure. Physiologist Dr.Dave Smith suggested Clara ‘do some altitude training’ in the spring. She knew just the place. They decided to try, once again, from the very beginning, to traverse the Inyo-White Mountain range. Why? Because if they actually pulled it off, they’d never have to do it again. Nineteen days of toil, melting snow for water, with camps as high as 13,500 feet, ice-axe picking along snow ridge walks later, they finished with great relief and incredible fatigue. Best spring training, ever. Back to the team and the specific speed skating training. The World Cup season was her least successful ever, but Clara did not care. Inside, she knew that beautiful skating lived inside and was waiting to show itself at the Olympics. Clara made contact with the Four Host First Nations on the West Coast and spent some time with the Aboriginal Youth who so inspired her. She was named flag-bearer for the Canadian Team. Her skating was moving ever so slowly to the place she knew possible. Her friends at the Four Host First Nations invited Clara and her ‘circle of strength’, the team of people (first of which being Peter!) to receive a brushing off ceremony before the Games were to begin. Less than a week before they accepted this gift and it cleared the mind and the heart. It was a dream Olympics that she’ll never forget: flag bearer, 5th place in the 3000m and finally, in her final race on ice, that elusive flow came through her body and manifested in the perfect race. She didn’t win and it didn’t matter. A bronze medal that was as good as gold that she shared with all of Canada. This was the last time Clara ever skated on the long blades.
Quit skating. No retirement announcement, Clara did it as she always wanted, just not showing up at the next race. Though she wasn’t competing anymore life felt like a marathon. Traveled to Nunavik, Quebec, with Joe Juneau to support his Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Programs. Spent a week in Kangiqsualujjuaq that she and Peter will never forget. A few speeches turned into over fifty key-note presentations within the year. Had the investiture ceremony into the Order of Canada. A road trip with the Bell Canada crew allowed her to learn of the upcoming mental health initiative that was going to change the face of mental illness in Canada. Became spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk, the campaign designed to take the first steps in breaking down the stigma attached to mental illness. Shared her story of going through depression as a young athlete with all of Canada. Traveled to Rwanda with Right to Play. Spent almost 2 months with Peter preparing for and then doing an 6-week long kayak trip in the East Arm of the Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. First kayak trip of her life. Finished kayaking and decided she really wanted to race her bike again. Went to the track in Los Angeles with the Canadian National Team and rode a few days. Met Chris Rozdilsky, her future coach. Started training again in September while traveling a tremendous amount for speeches and awards. Got a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. Was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
First race back, the World Track Cycling Championships. Nothings like jumping right back into things. Decided to pull the plug on the track after racing the team pursuit and focus only on the road. First road race back, the Tour of the Gila. Won the overall classiment as well as two stages. Won the Pan American Championships in Columbia, road race and time trial, effectively qualifying herself for the World Championships in Denmark come September. Won the Gatineau UCI time trial after crashing halfway through. Finished second overall in the Mt.Hood Classic stage race with one stage win. Crashed at over 60KPH two days before the National Championships and still managed to win the time trial. Third overall at the Cascade Stage race with one stage win and then, finally, at the World Championships a frustrating fifth place in the time trial fired Clara up for a major assault on the road race. She attacked with 33 km to go and was caught by the peleton with only 3km left to the finish line. Close but no cigar. Not bad for a first year back in the saddle. Finished the season with a camping trip in the Utah desert with Peter. Traveled to Mali with Right to Play along with Adam Van Koeverden.