Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A fresh start!

Since my last post much has happened!  January has been a busy month!  Zagreb was an incredible race for team Canada....and North America in general.  5 North Americans in the top ten and 3 Canadians!  Wow.  That is a first in a long time!  I unfortunately had a mistake early in the first run which costed me the race.  But despite me personal bad luck it was a joyous departure that night to Egypt!  Our team this summer decided to try a different approach for our short break in January.  We had five days off and it was actually cheaper for the team to send us to an all inclusive resort in Egypt then to send us home.  Not to mention the warmer weather and relaxation factor of a "mini vacation", it was a greed that we would try it this year.  I must say that it was a great trip.  Since we didn't have to travel nearly as far and didn't have to deal with jet lag it was time well spent.  We stayed in an area called El Gouna that was about 20 minutes outside of Hurghada.  This is on the eastern shore of the red sea.  Some of our adventures included riding camels. eating camel, driving dune buggies and ATV's across the desert, participating in a show that involved a man wielding and swallowing large dull knives and sun tanning.  We had a great time.  I would say it was also a great experience to travel with my team mates outside of a skiing environment.  We each have a very set routine on ski trips and on this mini vacation we were able to really just relax and enjoy each others company.  At the end of the trip we headed back to Austria for a few days of training before the Flachau night slalom.

Flachau this year had excellent conditions.  It is always a hill that makes me feel confident and excited to ski.  It it a rolly course with huge cheering crowds and a great atmosphere.  My thought at the top of the course was to ski like I had nothing to lose.  Starting in the mid 40's means that I have to beat 15 people to make it into the "flip".  You don't beat 15 of the top 45 racers in the world without putting your heart and soul into it!  I pushed out of the gate and really made myself attack the course from top to bottom and was incredibly happy when I crossed the finish line into 21st position.  I was thrilled to know I would have a second run and have a fresh course to ski on.  I wanted to not think about just finishing for the points but really racing the second run with the same attack as the first run.  I was thrilled to achieve my first top 20 result of my career.  I ended up 17th after a very interesting second run race.  I returned to the hotel after the race and immediately starting packing.  7 am the next morning I left to catch a plane back to North America to compete for my University team in Lake Placid, New York.  I arrived around 11 pm Wednesday night, attended my three classes Thursday (I currently am taking Differential Equations, Dynamics, Statistics for Engineers and Environmental Systems) and after class I boarded the team van and headed out to race again.  Friday we raced GS and I was pleasantly surprised to come in 3rd overall with UVM sweeping the podium.  The next day we raced slalom and I tried to ski it the same way I raced the world cup.  I figure every race is an opportunity to work on my "attack mode" and ski with precision and fluidity.  I was very happy to win the race and help UVM win the overall Carnival.  It is incredibly fun to race as a team.  The excitement of standing at the bottom and knowing we as a team need to perform makes it so exciting to watch and motivates everyone to really take care of their teammates.  Not to mention the amazing food brought to each race by each teams parents.  It is an incredible atmosphere and I found it an incredibly refreshing experience and a month of World Cup.  Sunday I again boarded a plane back to Europe.

We trained for a few days in Hinterreit, Austria.  I was happy to feel very solid on my skis.  I am happy with what I am working on and have a good idea of what I am working towards with my skiing.  As a team we headed towards Maribor, Slovenia with great spirit and feeling good on our skis.

Maribor was a great race this year.  It marked the first World Cup start for one of our young Canadian racers Mikaela Tommy of Quebec (watch out!  she's ripping in GS!)  and it was the first time in three years there has been enough snow to run the race.  The crowds were bulging thanks to how well Tina Maze has been doing this year.  It is always incredible to see over 20000 at the bottom of the course.  I started 46 first run.  I knew there were a few holes in the course but I felt that if I just stayed in the rut and really attacked like I had been training they wouldn't be a problem.  I crossed the finish line into 28th place which I was happy with but felt I could have skied a little better on the pitch and the bottom. I wanted to let it go a little more on the bottom and stand a little taller on my skis to take better advantage of the flats on the course.  Second run the snow looked amazing and standing in the start I knew how I wanted to feel on my skis in the course.  The actual skiing on my run felt not much different than how I feel in training.  I felt I let me skis run, I rolled my knees and ankles into the turn and I focused on moving forward the entire run.  I was very excited when I crossed the line into first but didn't think that would last for very long.  It was my first time standing in the leaders box.  I wasn't really sure what to do so I just watched the other racers skiing down and was a little incredulous as I managed to hold the lead for about 7 racers.  After I left the leader box I continued watching the race with the rest of my team and cheered with the crowd as each racer came down.  It wasn't till about 5 before winner that we realised that I still had the winning time for the second run.  I was once again slightly incredulous as my time continued to hold as the fastest for the second run.  When Tina Maze came on course as the leader after the first run the crowd went wild.  It is always an amazing thing to be in someones home town when they are in the lead.  The amount of excitement is palpable, the crowd pulses with energy and the sound decibels increase exponentially!  Tina had a super solid run and came down with a second run time that was 0.07 of a second ahead of mine.  Overall, she won over the second place finisher by 0.86 seconds and I ended 17th-tying my career best finish.  The first thing I did when I got back to the hotel was call my parents and let them know how well the race went.  There is nothing like sharing good news with your family.  We all got a little teary-eyed on the phone as we giggled at how crazy it seemed that I could have that kind of time on the second run.  I know that I had so much of an advantage starting early in the run but it still felt incredible.  After the race we packed up and got back into the van for the day long journey home.  I arrived home last night and the airline lost my skis.  I am hoping they will show up tomorrow.  I attended my classes this morning and felt the effects of jet lag as I sat through three one hour and 15 minute long classes.  I am so happy that I have interesting classes!  I am looking forward to resting, training, studying and relaxing for the next 10 days before doing one race for my UVM team then heading back to Europe for WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!  All very exciting!

Till next time,


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year

Hello Everyone,

Wow.  2013.  How easily time flies when your busy and having fun!  The year 2012 had many ups and downs.  Mostly ups.  Its been a year of schooling, lessons learned on and off the ski slopes and incredible friends.  I know I am extremely lucky to be able to race World Cup and complete University level schooling at the same time.  It has been no small task.  A few almost sleepless nights and many hours in the gym, classroom and planes later I am happy to say...according to my mom...that I am 37% of the way done my Civil Engineering degree AND I am happily competing in Europe.

I finished my final exams just before heading out to Panorama, BC for some NorAm races.  I showed up feeling almost light headed my brain was so emptied out!  It felt very good to race and relax!  The slope we race on in Panorama is demanding and steep.  It was a great race to get back into racing after a short break and really put the hammer down.  Though I was not completely happy with how I skied I came away with s 4th and 3rd place finishes in the Slalom and a 13th and 11th in the GS's (which I was actually happy about considering my lack of training and racing in that discipline lately).

After Panorama we headed to Sweden for a World Cup Night Slalom in Are.  Are is a seriously beautiful place.  The ski resort is on the side of a lake and at this time of year only sees light until about 3 pm.  It was basically like skiing in a sunset all day.  The race hill had perfect grippy snow and fun terrain.  I was incredibly excited to ski it.  I felt I had a good run.  I was very aggressive and clean but I was too round in the middle section of the course.  I ended up 31st.  One position away from making top 30.  It was a hard place to be in as I felt I had skied well and I REALLY wanted to race that second run.  Positively though it was my second best result ever in a World Cup.  From Are we flew back to Zurich and headed to our "home base" in Saal Felden Austria for some training days.  We struggled a bit with weather but we had some great training.  It was also Christmas while we were there which was very difficult.  I think being away from my family during the Holiday season may be the hardest part of our jobs.  I am a very family oriented person and so being alone in a hotel was pretty hard.  I feel lucky to have such great team mates and coaches to celebrate the holidays with.  We made the best of it by having a great Christmas dinner and exchanging small gifts and cards.  We trained both Christmas eve and Christmas day.  The training was excellent.  We went into our next race in Semmering, Austria feeling better prepared than the other teams that went home for Christmas.  Semmering was also a great race.  I loved the hill again and felt ready to ski with confidence.  I came down after my first run into 28th position.  I was very pleased with this as I started with bib 47.  My second run I also felt good.  My top interval was fast and I made it to the bottom with very consistent skiing.  I ended the night in 23rd position.  A tie for my best ever placing in a world cup.

We are now back in Saal Felden and just enjoyed the New Years eve festivities of Austria: FIREWORKS.  It sounded as if there was a war raging outside the hotel as every party group lit off fireworks!  It was an amazing cacophony of sound and light.  Today we had a very low key day off and will drive tomorrow to Zagreb, Croatia-the location of our next race.

Hope everyone is starting the New Year surrounded by family and friends,