Friday, January 29, 2010

Current events (en francais!)

Salut les amis!

J’ai decide que je vais essayer d’ecrirer mon blog en francais! (Pardon the lack of French accoutrement I am writing on an English keyboard...English version will be included)

Apres le GS a Maria Alm, nous voyagons en Suisse pour quatre courses (deux SL, deux GS). Premierement, nous avions deux Slalom a Melchsee Frutt. Elles etaient des courses de nuit! C’est une experience tres interessante! Nous arrivions a la montagne a 2 h 30 pm. La premiere inspection etait a 5 h. Par 6 h le ciel etait noir et la piste etait illuminee. J’avais le temp de regarder les premieres coureuses. Mon dossard etait cinquante et un (51) donc je ne partais pas avant longtemps apres la premiere coureuse! Ma premiere descente etait bonne, mais juste a l’exterieur du flip. Je n’ai pas fini ma deuxieme descente.

Notre deuxieme jour a Melchsee Frutt l’horaire etait devance de trente minutes. Mon dossard etait dix-neuf (Le premier jour etait une coupe d’europe et le deuxieme etait juste une course FIS). Je n’ai pas fini ma premier descente mais je pense que je skiais bien.

OK! now the English version!

After our time racing in Maria Alm our schedule looked like this: 4 days in Switzerland (2 in Melchsee Frutt and 2 in Crans-Montana), 2 days in Italy, and now 4 days in France (2 in Courcheval and two in Chamonix).

In Melchsee Frutt I raced my first Europa Cup Slalom..and it was at night! It is very strange doing night slaloms because it means you get to sleep in and have a leisurely morning. I think we woke up at 9! You do a 10 minute flush on the bike followed by some agility and core then sit around until lunch. Lunch was big (usually our lunches are just snacks really). It was strange arriving at the hill at the time we are usually leaving the hill. It was all shadowy and dark when we were training in the warm up courses. First inspection took place at dusk and first run started almost the very minute it got dark. My start number was 51 so I had enough time to watch the first few racers. I was a little intimidated by the competition. I am ranked 81st in the world and I was starting 51st...the race was a very world class race. After the first run I was in thirty-first which was good but I was not the most thrilled with my skiing. I wanted to attack the course more and have cleaner skis. The second run I went out on the third gate..I was too amped up and over excited I think. It was a very good experience though and Britt Phelan my team mate came 5th and Erin Mielzynski came 10th. THe next day was a FIS night slalom and I straddled a gate on the first run. THe next morning we packed up and headed to the French side of Switzerland to a place called Crans-Montana.

Crans Montana was quite the ritzy resort. Gucci, Louis Vutton, Chanel were some of the shops lining the streets of the town. Yet despite all the glamour of the place we were staying in the seediest hotel of our trip yet. It was called “la chaperone rouge”...yup the red chaperon!!! Our shower had a punch hole in the glass!!! It must be said however that it had amazing food. The race hill at Crans was extremely flat and long. It was almost a minute and 20 seconds. This would have been no problem except the the steep difficult part started at about a minute and 5 seconds into it. It was actually fairly dangerous...I saw two Swiss girls straddle the last gate and blow their knees/ severely hurt themselves on the very last gate as the struggled to get around it. The first day was a Europa cup and we didn’t qualify for the second run. The second day was a FIS race and I came 39th my team mate Eve Routhier came 40th. From Crans Montana we headed to Gressoney, Italy for another night slalom.

In Gressoney we stayed in a beautiful hotel that was built in 1906. It was also by far not the oldest building around. It looked new in comparison to some of the buildings. We arrived at night then had the next morning to putter around before heading to the hill at 3 o clock. The food was AMAZING!!! The best lasagna, schnitzel, ice cream etc that I have every had. Nobody can say that Italians can’t cook! So as you can imagine we basically rolled to the hill. The slope was steep and injected-it was perfect. I felt I was skiing well just in a little pain. Back in Maria Alm I hit my hand on a gate and have been having trouble lifting, pressing, squeezing with my left hand. It is only a tiny isolated area to the touch that hurts but oh boy hitting slalom gates was tough. So I loaded up with tylenol and away I went. I started 47th and ended up 23rd. I was quite happy with this rresult but I also feel that I can step it up another few notches as i got conservative at the bottom of the course both runs. I should be noted here that my team mate Britt Phelan had a stunner of a night! She won the first run!! Watching her second run she was in a completely different league than everyone else coming down the hill. But alas it was not to be she fell inside half way down the pitch and hiked a gate but we all know she would have killed it! Congrats Britt! The next morning we were back in the van headed towards Courcheval, France.

Courcheval is part of “de trois vallees” which I believe has one of the largest skiable acres in the world. Today was a GS EC Race and I actually qualified for second run. I was really unhappy with how I skied and tried to make changes for second run. I ended up 52nd. I am racing again tomorrow and right now it is snowing hard outside! Should be good! Today I found out that my team mate Erin Mielzynski qualified for the Olympics. This is amazing news as they were able to expand our quota which was originally 15 to 19. The girls who are going to represent Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics are:

Britt Janyk

Emily Brydon

Marie-Michele Gagnon

Brigitte Acton

Anna Goodman

Shona Rubens

Erin Mielzynski

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! As for myself and other team members not on the list we will still be attending the games...only as forerunners!! Which means we will still be skiing and running the courses just as the testers instead of the racers. We will still get the Olympic experience and I am very excited to take in the Olympic atmosphere. It is the best possible second option as now we will have experience with such a massive scale of event before heading into the Olympic Games in Russia in 2014.

Tomorrow we head to Chamonix for a few days while my younger team mates race the World Junior Championships there.

Ciao for now!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Some photos from the road!

The Puzzle. The whole team was working on it for over a was a 2000 piece behemoth! Thank you Brad for the great buy!
My prize for 3rd!
Photo taken in Bolsterlang
The start gate in Bolsterlang Germany


A little update about how its been going!

After spending one night hanging out at our hotel in Kirchberg after coming home from Reiteralm myself, my coach Tim and our ski tech Speedy head over to rural southern Germany for two FIS slalom races in a little place called Bolsterlang. It was a very cute little town on a hillside and had great breakfasts!! The first day was beautiful and sunny (ok a little too warm at +7). I skied really well in warm-up but got too cautious in the race and ended up 3rd. The good news from that was that I received a clay pottery plate as a prize instead of a medal! I love it! My first piece of pottery! The second day it was just as warm but incredibly windy and snow/raining. I did not finish the first run. I got in the backseat and missed a gate. But because of how terrible the weather was I didn't feel so bad about leaving and heading back for Kirchberg and a dry environment!

In Kirchberg I reunited with my teammates who went to Maribor. We had one nice relaxing day off then yesterday and today we had GS races in Maria Alm. It was a pretty easy hill but very difficult racing for that exact reason. Within a few tenths of a second there were 30 competitors! Yesterday was a great re-introduction to GS after over a month out of GS gates! I was a little nervous about how the good ol' back would hold up...but it did just fine! When all was said and done I ended up 15th. As a celebration of one of our last days in Kirchberg we went out for pizza as a team for dinner. It was incredible! Nobody does pizza like the Euro's! To give an example my pizza had articoke heart, mozzarella, olives, ham, salami, and egg ( I think I am missing a few ingredients but you get my drift!). It was great to eat something other than pork for dinner (it would seem there was some serious over production of pigs this year in Austria...every dinner except for maybe one has been pork!!!)

Today, a very not so wonderful day, I ended up 37th! I skied aggressively but, not cleanly, a very important factor on flat courses! It was frustrating to follow a positive day was a not so positive one. But that is sometimes how it goes! No changing the facts now!

Tomorrow we are training some slalom before heading to Melchsee Frutt, Switzerland (pronounced Mel-chi Fruit!! ) ahem anyway...these are going to be my first Europa cup races! Plus they are night races. This should be a really good few days!

Notes about the team!
The plus side: the kitzbuhel downhill is this week!
The sad side: Gen Simard has announced her retirement after having difficulties with her knee this year. It was incredible to spend time with her this year. She will definitely be missed! Here's wishing her the best retirement ever with healthy knees!

Ciao for now!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hi Everyone! I have just reset some of my settings for my blog! It is now possible for anyone to leave (nice) comments! I'd love to know if anyone is actually reading this!

I am currently back in Kirchberg after a day and a half stint in Reiteralm...which is about 15 minutes from Flachau and right beside Schladming. Yesterday I freeskied GS and today....I did Slalom GATES!!! Felt great to be back in gates after a 12 day break due to a very upset back. It behaved itself all day today and I was able to do 5 runs in the course. It was excellent training conditions, sunny with injected snow. We were training with the Swedish team which is always good as well as Sarka Zarobska, a czech girl who wins WC slaloms.

Tomorrow I head to Bolsterlang, Germany for some slalom FIS races.

I am trying to make a video right now of what it is like being in Europe...haha however all I have so far is us driving!!! I am going to have to video the huge jigsaw puzzle we are working on downstairs and possibly grab my ski video...hmmm what else?

Until next time!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rest, Recuperation, Recovery, Return!

Room with a view-kirchberg
The hill in Kirchberg
My hovel

The past week has been one of the most boring and uncomfortable weeks that I have had in a really long time!

The GS races in Mont Ste. Anne were cancelled due to bad snow conditions. The first day I went up on the hill with the intentions of seeing how my back would react to freeskiing before the race and I was then going to decide if it would be ok to race. However we went up and immediately were told that the day was cancelled. I did one run (terrible grooming though so it was more like high speed sliding) before heading back to our condo. After that run I was having serious doubts about wanting to race the next day as my back was really not feeling great. I called my brilliant sports psych and he helped clear my mind. I already knew there was three options ahead of me.
1.Go full out in the race 2. Race cautiously to preserve my back 3. Not race. Given the circumstances it was impossible for me to go full out because of how sore my back was. The second option would leave me completely unsatified and well as possible hurting my back more. So after deliberation it was obvious that racing the one day would not benefit me in comparison to resting and hopefully getting better for the races coming up in Europe. It ended up not mattering as the next day was cancelled as well.

On the 7th we headed over to Europe. I got incredibly lucky and got upgraded to first class which was amazing for my back! Sitting upright is one of my more uncomfortable positions.
Upon arrival in Munich we immediately headed out towards the Austrian border. We stopped at a roadside gas station/food place and as I walked through the door I heard my name being called. I turned around and there was a friend of mine named Silvia from northern Italy who raced at Sun Peaks for year in 2005. I have not seen her since then so I was fairly incredulous that I ran into her in Germany four years later at a road side stop! It was amazing to see her! Unfortunately I was really feeling the jetlag at that moment so I don't think it was the highest quality of conversation on my part but all the same it was a coincidence and a half!

Once we reached our destination (Kirchberg, Austria-which in incredibly close to Kitzbuhel) I was able to get physio which was amazing. We had the next day off and I was able to get two physio sessions in that day. The next day (the 10th) we headed up to the hill for some gs and slalom training. I freeskied GS instead of hoping into the course. My back felt tight and unstable. My major problem when I have been skiing has been that my back has been making me nauseous. This was once again the case so I stopped early and went back to the hotel to rest up. In the afternoon I got physio from the WC tech girls physio who noticed that my SI joint was shifted up on my left side. I was not presenting signs of a disk injury anymore though which is good. My back was still pretty sore though. I took the 11th off as well and in the afternoon got physio from the mens tech team physio. Afterwards my back felt a lot better but it was still recommended that I take the next day off.

So now it is the 12th of January and I have skied three days since the 30th of December. My back is feeling pretty good today so hopefully I will get to ski soon! Tomorrow we leave Kirchberg for a place called Rieteralm(not sure if that is how it is spelled) which apparently has amazing training. Next weekend there is a world cup slalom in Maribor Slovenia that I am trying to qualify for. I am hoping to get in some good training before then!

In other news in the world of Elli yesterday I got an email from my Mom informing me of two pieces of news. The first was that my dog Benny, whom I received as a present for my 5th birthday, had passed away. It is going to be really hard to be at home without her! I feel very lucky that I was able to go home at christmas and spend time with her. She was the best dog ever. The second was that the day after that my Auntie Khara gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Sawyer. I am very excited to have a new cousin and can't wait to see him!

R.I.P Benny

I hope everyone is enjoying their winter and getting to spend time with the people (and pets) who mean the most to them!



Monday, January 4, 2010

And a new year begins!


Another year is fini and this time its the fabled 2010 that has arrived. After the Olympics were announced so many years ago "2010" always just referred to our home olympics. It is really hard to think about it as an actually year versus an event! I was very lucky to come through the ski racing system just as it was getting injected with funding from Olympic Programs such as Legacies Now. Without these games many young athletes like myself would probably not still be competing due to the high cost of becoming an elite athlete! So even if I don't get to compete in the 2010 olympic games they are a huge part of how I became an athlete. They provided the funding, the motivation and the programs needed to get to where I am today. I am eternally grateful! So now that 2010 has actually arrived it feels quite bizarre. I guess it is time to start planning new long term goals and thinking about the rest of 2010!

Before I start that though I guess I should give a little update on the past few days. ON the 28th of December we once again boarded planes and travelled over to Quebec. We drove to a place called Val St. Come about 2 hrs from Montreal. It is about 40 mins from Tremblant. But I still have really no idea where it actually is! It was incredibly remote for a ski race. There was no cell reception ( a VERY important asset to people who are CONSTANTLY away from family and friends) and it cost $20 for internet-so that was not happening either! I did two days of training on the race hill. On my third run on the second day I felt a sharp pain in my lower back and stopped skiing for the day early. 5:30 AM the next morning myself and my coach Tim drove an hour to St. Jerome to visit a physio. It turned out that I had slipped a disk at L5. No wonder I was so sore! At first they didn't want me to ski the races in Val St. Come in case I might re-injure my back which could take me out for 2-3 more weeks. However these races were incredibly important so instead I was told to take lots of pain killers and anti-inflammitories (all legal) and was shown how to tape my back.

In the middle of all this was New Years! It was a fairly mundane event. However it should be mentioned that we usually don't get to celebrate it anyway so it wasn't disappointing to not celebrate it. We bought a bottle of wine, chocolate turtles and marshmallows and played a game of Uno ( a card game) with the Alberta Team girls. THis was finished by 10 at which time we watched a little of the Canada-USA junior hockey game. Bored of that we watched part of Pirates of the Carribbean 3. We realized we missed the toll of 12 half way through the movie so we turned it off and went to bed! Very exciting yes?

I got through my races though I was a little disappointed with my results. I came 8th the first day and 5th the second. But I guess I should be grateful that I could ski at all considering the alternative! On the second run the second day I got shot into the backseat and twisted my back slightly. Anyway now my back is fairly sore again. Today I am taking a day off. Tomorrow we start our GS races in Mont. Ste. Anne and the rest of my team is out right now training some GS. I definitely wish I was out there training right now but I think the health of my back is number 1 right now. I am hoping to race tomorrow but I am also trying to make sure that I am making the right decision to keep me healthy for the rest of the year!

On another note over the past month we have lost 6 Canadian Team Athletes to injury. John Kucera suffered a compound tib-fib break in Lake Louise. While we were in Panorama there was a four day streak were we lost JP Roy, Francois Bourque, Larisa Yurkiw and Kelly Vanderbeek to ACL (and other ligament) injuries. Yesterday we lost Anna Goodman to another ACL injury. I don't think there has ever been so many injuries within such a short amount of time! It is really sad as all 6 athletes were medal contenders for this Olympics. Having been in the position of being the injured athlete I know how disappointing it is to have to take a season off. However I can't even fathom the extra hardship of missing out on the Olympics. Sending my best to all those athletes and hoping for a fast healing process for each of them!