Thursday, March 22, 2012

What can I say, it's the East!

Well, it hasn't exactly been a ski racer's dream week up here in Le Massif, Quebec. The first two days of DH training were canceled due to warm weather, poor visibility, and a lovely, early morning lightning storm over the mountains. After that, Mother Nature completely made up for her apathetic view towards the previous days races with perfect weather conditions; blue skys, and 75 degree temperatures. What a mess! We got a training run off, but everything that wasn't salted turned to slush by 8 A.M.
                         This was taken by my long time buddy Andrew Kircher at 7:30 A.M. during inspection. (Note that the sun is already pounding on the entire slope.)

The race day was somewhat of a let-down for me. I was starting 11th, had skied really well in the training run the day before(finishing 5th,) and was really pumped up to be getting another race opportunity in speed. I had a pretty solid run and was in fourth after 16 people came down. Then, after a decently long course hold, they canceled the race due to rocks showing up in the track. Even though there was nothing anybody could have done to avoid this, I was still pretty upset. I haven't scored yet this year in DH, and letting any opportunities slip by in speed is really a waste. Fortunately I get a few more shots at the end of the season, so it's not over yet!

The organizers thought we might be able to run GS on the hill a few days later, but none of us were convinced when we got off the lift the next day...
                                     This was a cat-track the day before. I'll give the coverage an A-.
                                                               (photo by A. Kircher)

Now I have a few days of training before two SL races just down the road at Mt. St. Anne. It is still super warm out, and is supposed to rain tonight, so we'll see what the morning brings! Hopefully it will feel a little more like winter in Canada!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Today the team and I drove up to Quebec, Canada from Stowe, VT. Under normal circumstances, this drive is from 6 to 7 hrs in length. Not too bad, but no small venture to be sure. After 8 hrs crammed into the back seat of a pick-up truck loaded to the brim with gear, I found myself approximately three miles closer to my destination than I had been four hours prior... I can't stand traffic!! I was frustrated for the first few hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway outside of Quebec city, but then realized that wasn't helping the situation in the slightest. So instead I deigned myself to enjoying the wonderful scenery, sounds and aromas of the area in which I was a temporary captive... Tail lights, horns, compression brakes, and diesel exhaust.. Back to being frustrated.

 Long story short we found our way to the quaint little hotel we are to call home for the next 9 days and had a great french dinner before settling in. I went on a run after dinner and hit a 5:09 mile on the way out with a 6 minute average for the whole loop. Feeling pretty good!! (That said, I might have to get back to you on how great I feel tomorrow morning..)

Tomorrow is a free skiing day, but after that it's 5 days of straight DH at low elevation! Pretty excited for that!! (Low elevation might seem like a moot point, but I have to say it is wonderful when you don't feel like passing out at the bottom of a 2 minute course because there is no oxygen in the air. ;) I'll keep you posted on how the week goes!     

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Time For Everything!

The SG race here in Rocarraso, Italy was a very interesting one for me. I knew what I wanted to do in inspection, got in a great warm-up on other parts of the mountain, visualized a ton, was confident going to the start, and ended up making a few stupid mistakes. I wasn't moving into the ski the way I have been recently. The power cultivated in the top of the turn is what seperates the good skiers from the great ones, and without it one cannot hope to compete. That said, at the end of the day I was still 25th out of all the juniors(19 and under) in the world. I know I ski well enough to compete at this level and that I belong here; that is what I am taking home with me.

The evening after the race we all headed into town for the awards ceremony to cheer on the days victors. Good sportmanship is important in these international events, and we were definitely not going to miss a chance to show our good will. OF COURSE we didn't go there to see all the beautiful, blonde-haired Norwegian girls standing in the crowd, not a chance! But somehow after the event was over we found ourselves walking to dinner with 6 girls instead of going back to our hotel with our coaches. I wasn't complaining! We walked around town for an hour looking for a restaurant that opened before 10 pm (it being 7:15 at the time) until we finally came to the agreement that our time was better spent getting take-out pizza and eating it at the girls hotel. You might hear, "take-out" pizza and cringe a little bit, but let me tell you it's a little bit different than Pizza Hut! I think I could live of the stuff if I ever got stranded in an Italian restaurant for a few months.. Not bad at all!

Anyways, after that adventure we headed to a restaurant where all my German, Austrian, and Swiss buddies were celebrating the days success.  Around 11 o'clock the waiters came out and moved all the tables into another room: the DJ got into place around 11:05, and the party got started soon there after. I won't go into details, but lets just say that when we got out of there at around 1:30 am things were still on an upward plane on the dance floor. ;) There had to be a couple hundred people crammed into the space eight tables had taken up earlier in the night and a line out the door of people trying to squeeze their way in. Absolutely nuts!! We got a ride the 5ks home with the Austrian Ski Team, and thank goodness because I was not really looking forward to that walk at two in the morning! I got to my room and started snoring before my head hit the pillow. Pretty sweet first euro-club experience!

Now we have 3 days off before the GS race, and one more before the SL. The GS spot went to my buddy Tanner Farrow after training today, but hopefully I can get the SL nailed down. It would be pretty bumpy, but I would love to see where I stack up! We'll see how it all plays out, but either way I'm getting a lot of good freeskiing in and having a blast with it! But of course, how could I not? ;)    

Friday, March 2, 2012

World Juniors DH

Today was the World Juniors Down Hill race here in Rocarasso, Italy. The last three days of DH training/racing have been awesome weather. 60 degrees and Sunshine all day long. Sure doesn't feel like winter!

Last night was the bib draw for the DH race today. Here's how it works:  The top 15 ranked racers (I was ranked 16th) get to choose any number 1-30.  Then the next 15 are drawn at random and fill in the vacant numbers up to 30. All 30 of us were standing in a group to the side of the stage as we were called up one by one. The top 15 guys picked the top 15 bibs because of the soft snow and the fast deteriorating conditions racer by racer. My name was drawn and I got number 30. Not exactly prime placement, but you take what you get try to make the best of it.

I skied the super-steep top turns like a champ,(I hadn't skied them the way I wanted to up to this point,) went off the jump perfectly on edge with good weighting and landed exactly where I wanted to, then hit the huge bumps that took out a large percentage of the field starting after #20 and got punched low. I fought it and threw it down into the next gate but caught the bumps there as well which put me extremely low and in slush/sluff coming into the compression right footer onto the flats. I almost went to the outside pannel of the second gate of that double, then almost missed the first left gate of the double off the jump.. I had to slide it on the perfectly flat takeoff to get the direction I needed for the gate following, and entered the 35 seconds of flats without speed. Over all I skied great but was still pissed of course when I got to the bottom. I ended up 29th at 2.7 out.. I'm looking forward to SG tomorrow though! Hopefully it holds up!