Its been a strange couple weeks…after a decent start to the season with some solid results in Lake Louise that got me up and going again in racing World Cup to the frustration of being close to a really good result in Val d’ Isere if not for a couple small mistakes! It's always the little mistakes that make the difference between smiling with a top ten result or leaving the finish area dissatisfied and wishing for another go at it.
I am really happy with the way I am skiing, I have come a long ways in the past six months technically and have met a lot of my goals but there are still many goals that I am reaching for. Many of them results based of course, as with any profession a lot of what measures your success is what makes it down on paper. At the same time though (for myself at least) the other goals I have are no so results based and are more focused on how I live my life as an individual.
At some point the ski racing life will be over for me and I will be left looking back at how I was as an athlete and what I learned. I have learned many things over the years, almost too many to list but some of the basics are; how to be patient and take one day at a time; as in relation to being injured or waiting for hours on end for a Downhill race that has the continual 15 minute delay till the next decision while the whole time you are trying to maintain a positive and excited attitude in case the race actually happens and when it finally does or does not happen it’s a relief because you can actually get off your bum and do something other than sit and wait! I have also have learned accountability; I can’t really say that I have had one result or another because of a specific person or situation, what it all really boils down to is myself, it can be easy to blame others for slow skis or a bad inspections but it really has been up to myself the whole time to make the appropriate decisions about where my day and life is headed. At my great moments I know in the end that even with the help and support of my whole team what really made the difference on those great days was myself. I've learned how to “follow my own path” and that there is no one way to do things, my journey through the world of ski racing is different than others and I don’t need to follow the same rituals and training regimens of older, more experienced, or more successful athletes. Yes, I can learn from them but I really found that my own way was the best way after a time. We all have different experiences in life that shape us into who we are and we have to try and do the best we can in whatever we are striving for. In the same genre of thought trying not to be judgmental of others and how their path differs from own, I may not be able to relate to other athletes or people in their own experiences but however they choose to live or prepare and compete as an athlete might be the best “path” for that individual.
One of the many things I have learned is that there are many things more important to life than just ski racing, that there is family, friends, and all the people near and far from that us that support us, our ski racing community and our country. At times It can be easy to fall into the trap that many athletes succumb to and think that what I do as a professional ski racer really matters, but it doesn't really matter one way or another what I do in ski racing in the grand scheme of things. It’s really just for me that it matters and it is key to keep it all in perspective.
For a couple weeks I would wake up and have a pit in my stomach, that sick feeling you have when something terrible has happened, it would take me a moment to realize what it was for. But then I would suddenly remember some of the recent tragedies that have had a large impact on me and so many others. From the accident with Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack, two young men that I liked and thought well of. They had already achieved some of their dreams and goals and were surely on the way to reaching more of them, two young men that were certainly taken from this world too soon. We can all at least know that they were lucky enough to see some of their dreams realized and were still living those dreams.
To another tragic incident involving Will DuBois a young man in the U.S. Air Force that I grew up with and remembered so well from my childhood. A boy that could be mischievous at times as many people who knew him can attest to, but all around a good kid and someone that showed kindness to a young girl like myself when it probably would have been easier to torment a young girl like so many boys do. Although I didn’t know Will very well in his adult life from what I know he was also lucky enough to also be living out his dreams as a pilot in the Air Force. Not to forget the amazing service and sacrifice he was giving for his country.
All these people and sad events recently and from years ago have reminded me again that’s it not so-so important the things you do for yourself in life, what’s really important is the things you do for each other and the experiences you share with each other. Not that every experience will be a good one, there are always bad experiences and many of them never leave us but that we try to learn from all experiences so we can continue to grow as people for ourselves and in our relationships with others if it’s family, friends, coaches, teammates, strangers, or even lifties!
I am also reminded that each day is precious, and even though that might be a cliche we hear all the time but each day does matter in some regard or another. That we can’t let them slip by one after another without taking the chance to try and be better as a person, sister, brother, mom, dad, relative, dog walker or whatever. Or take the time to have new experience wherever or whatever that might be. Or an old experience or activity that we love. Or to take the risk to push for your dreams and goals to be realized even if it scares you.
Anyway, all these weeks off from competition have certainly given me a lot of time to think! Some of it comes out clearly onto paper, some not so much and it a confusing mess of thoughts, but at least it’s all there. Hopefully we get back to racing this weekend in Cortina but you never know…still have to take one day at a time!
Ski in Peace Bryce and Ronnie
It’s finally here! The race season has begun and my first World Cups are in just a few days! I am so excited and thankful to have made it back to the place I want to be the most, back on the mountain racing! At times it still seems so unreal when I look back to where I was a year ago or even a few months ago.
We had a solid last training camp at Copper Mountain that finished up just before Thanksgiving. It wasn't without its difficulties from arriving with no snow and 50 degree temps to ending up with too much snow and temps in the negatives. Overall we still managed to get in some great days of full length Downhill and Super-G although I wouldn't have minded a few more… I think my total days of running full length Downhill this prep period is around four or five. But that’s neither here nor there, it’s time to race and go with what I've got and I feel confident regardless!
We even got to do a few Super-G FIS races at Copper! I was certainly the most excited person at the race, it was a little awkward to hear other racers complaining how they didn't feel ready to race…like um… yea me either; I was thinking “I just started carving all my Super-G turns again like two days ago because I finally felt comfortable and like I might have enough control to stay in the course and not go zooming off in the nets”. So that was a good feeling to have, the feeling that I wanted to go fast and not just make it down alive and sketchily stivot in places where no person in their right mind would want to stivot. When I was racing in Copper I felt the “race feeling” again, like I wanted to push with everything I had, to curl my body into a tighter tuck, to release the ski directly down the hill and squeak by every gate as clean as I could, and to finally send myself off the jump with no speed check, with total confidence and that I had it dialed in the air and that I would land smoothly. It was an amazing feeling to know again, I had a big smile at the finish and a few tears of happiness and joy came streaming out my goggles. Just like in the movies…sounds horrifically cheesy I know, but it was awesome! I had some solid results in a tough World Cup field and it was great start to my return to racing.
After a few days at home with family for Thanksgiving we flew up to Calgary yesterday and are enjoying some downtime at the Chateau Lake Louise. I guess the accommodations here could be worse…hehe it’s so amazing here! Man, we are so spoiled. It’s gross.
Anyway it’s off to the races tomorrow (or training run I should say), I’m excited to go out there and enjoy every moment of being back on the World Cup and to have some fun!
We are just finishing our Switzerland training camp in Zermatt and Saas Fee, it has been an awesome camp and I am very excited on the progress I have made! We got in several days of Downhill (yippee!) and even more days of full length Super-G. Being my first camp of being fully integrated with the team I had to make some big steps to jump back into training with the rest of the team. The training in Zermatt was challenging with the snow conditions (gotta love that frozen glacier snow, eeeek!) and with some of the other athletes that trained with us…having some of my first days back running top to bottom Super-G and comparing my times to the likes of Lara Gut, Anna Fenninger, Tina Weirather and of course all my teammates was both overwhelming and exciting at the same time. It felt so good to feel my competitive edge coming back; sure, I don’t mind being a bit behind for a couple days but after that I really felt the desire to win some runs coming back again!
One of the tough things about returning from an injury is breaking through that threshold of when it’s ok to be a bit behind, skiing conservatively and just working on the fundamentals and to when it’s time to step it up and really start analyzing each turn and movement and to even be hard on yourself and demand more out of your skiing and performance. There comes a point when it’s not ok to lag behind and it’s time to race like yourself again. I feel like I am at that threshold and even the last two days of Downhill training I started to feel more like my old self again and was attacking instead being “safe” and conservative. It is amazing the difference of what your mindset is and how it correlates to your training times on course, it’s like flipping a switch from slow mo to full speed.
After the first block of training in Zermatt we missed some days of training due to weather so we spent a few days in Thun, Switzerland while we waited for the storm system to pass. It was a refreshing break to see a different part of Switzerland and explore a new city while still enjoying some summer weather. We did a lot of biking around the city which was fun and terrifying at the same time as the bikes we had were electric bikes and would go up to 40km an hour… I am not sure how many times I accelerated too fast and almost hit a car, a human, a tree, a fence or another bike. As a group we were a pretty sweet biker gang, very intimidating and tough looking. Sort of like a Swiss version of the Hells Angels. On electric bikes.
We are finishing up camp in Saas Fee, a town I came to when I was 10 years old, which was 15 years ago! It’s a little frightening to say things like “oh yea I was here 15 years ago” I feel like my father saying things like that…like I might be getting a bit older and I’m not sure how much I like how fast each year goes by. The training was excellent and we even got a few turns of powder one day during Super-G training, a little awkward trying to turn the Super-G skis through powder but I imagine I looked like real pro…
Once I am back in the US I have a few days off, hopefully squeeze in a trip to Moab then back to work in Park City for a two week training block where I will surely get my butt kicked in the gym and come home every afternoon and curl up in the fetal position for an hour or so while I regroup mentally and try to physically. Always good times at the Center of Excellence…
It will be worth it though as I get to ski again in less than four weeks in Colorado! Pretty excited about all the skiing I am getting in this prep period! Then it’s the last training block in Copper where it will be time for me to break through all my barriers mentally and physically and start being competitive and fast again. A camp and feeling I can’t wait for!
That’s it for now…Chow chow!
As my first on snow camp in New Zealand draws to a close I have been reflecting on
where the past six months have taken me and what lies ahead...
After making the incredibly tough decision to pull out of competition last season to give myself a real chance at healing and to be fully prepared to return to skiing I now know the decision I made was the correct one. Looking back to how I felt skiing last November and December and how I feel skiing now it is hard to make comparisons. The positive difference I now feel in my leg and joint is miles ahead of where it felt last year. That being said I am still finding out what my new “normal” is. Some of the damage done to my leg will be a constant reminder for the rest of my days and learning how to work
with my new “normal” and leg will be a continual learning process at what works
and what does not. It’s a new challenge and one that is both rewarding and frustrating at times, but seeing the forward moving progress lets me know that the challenge is worth it in the end.
The training in New Zealand has not been without challenges, we have had some of the worst weather anyone can remember with rain, wind and even power outages! It has been frustrating to miss days on snow when I feel like I have missed so many but we have filled the canceled days with ridiculous ways to entertain ourselves, I might just get off the plane in Denver in a few days with some pink hair... Not pointing fingers but it was an idea of a certain persons’ name that rhymes with “Gulia”. We also had a “team building/mental training” Nevis bungee jumping day. I had done the 134 meter jump before but it was still no less nerve wracking getting up onto the platform and heaving myself off the edge. It was actually terrifying, thinking you might actually plummet to
your death for the first few seconds of freefall…other than that it is a blast! We have a really brave team as even though the whole group of staff and athletes talked about how scared they were not a single person hesitated. So watch out next season! We are
fearless! Or just a little crazy/on the edge/out of our minds/reckless.
Overall I am very pleased with the training and progress I have made this camp, I have progressed much faster than I anticipated! I started out running ten gate sections of Giant Slalom to now integrating almost fully with the rest of the speed team in running almost full length Giant Slalom and even a few days of mellow Super-G! It was really fun to get on the long boards again and feel the speed again! It will certainly take some time to work back into feeling comfortable on speed skis again but every run is starting to feel a bit better and like I am “there”again. I can’t wait till we go to Zermatt in September and can really get back into Super-G and Downhill again.
After this camp I’ll get a few days in Colorado to celebrate my 25th birthday (yikes!)
and to hopefully get a few days on the river to put my fly fishing skills to the test. Then it is back to Park City to continue training at the Center of Excellence with a few of my teammates. I am looking forward to actually working out with my team, after working out so much on my own the past couple years focusing on one injury or another it will
be awesome to get some motivation and encouragement from the group. I’m also starting to get pretty bored with being on my own…turns out the antics of group environment are hard to beat!
“It might not be your fairytale ending right now, but who’s to say you won’t get your fairytale ending down the road?” My teammate Stacey Cook said that to me the other day when I told her I would not be racing for the rest of the season. I certainly hope she is right!
After a agonizing few weeks of trying to decide if I should continue pushing the limit and try to reach Sochi or take a step back and look towards the future I have chosen to look towards the future. This has been the toughest decision I have ever made with my career, it was painful and still is. At times I thought I had decided fully what I was doing only to have doubts about that decision 45 seconds later.
I have pushed everything as hard as I could to get back on snow months before anyone anticipated, pushed myself to get back in gates and racing but one thing I can no longer push is my body. I have reached a point where the issues in my leg caused by the plate and eleven screws in my leg are preventing me from reaching the level of skiing I
need to be at to be a contender this season and to be part of the Olympic team.
As much as I want to continue racing this season and risk everything I have realized that my career and life isn’t just about Sochi. I have many years left ski racing and a career I hope to have in the ski industry when I retire, and it does not make sense to put everything on the line for something I am not ready for.
“What if” has run through my mind constantly the past few weeks, driving me to tears
and sleepless nights. The “what if” choice I have decided upon is thus: WHAT IF
I get healthy, for the first time in three years I actually have a full prep period, I am able to train like my teammates instead of playing catch up, I get stronger than ever instead of just barely reaching the number I need to be at to ski, and finally what if all these “what ifs” end up making the difference in my career? Maybe if I am healthy, strong, and prepared after a full summer of training I will end making that next step and become a consistent contender for the podium…that is my hope and goal by stopping for the season. That I will be able to make gains, make the changes I need in my skiing if I give myself the chance instead of pushing it too far.
I have no regrets of what I did this summer and this season, I worked as hard as I could and did everything possible to make my goal of competing in Sochi happen. People might think I am “giving up” and if they were in my position they would make a different choice, but no one else is in my position so they cannot know the difficulties I have had in skiing and in making this decision. I am sure there will be people that are going to question why I pushed things so hard in the first place, question if I did all the right things, and question if my coaches and I made the right decisions. The reality is that no one can know the complexity of all these choices and decisions but me, my coaches, trainers, doctors and my family. I would not change anything given a second chance.
For now I will take a few weeks to myself and do some of the things I have wanted to do for years but have been unable to do, freeski as much as I can, do an overnight hut trip in the mountains of Colorado, take a trip with my sister, allow myself to relax for a few weeks and even take some time away from the gym, unheard of for me in the past three years. Then I will get surgery end of January to remove the plate and screws from my leg, get started with my recovery and aim to get back on snow in May with a camp solely focused on fundamentals and technique through drills and freeskiing.
I need to thank my wonderful sponsors who have stood beside me through it all, Coldwell Banker- Mason Morse, Atomic, Shred, Leki, and Aspen Snowmass. My family and friends have been great and I could not have made it this far in my journey without
them. Last but not least I need to thank all my fans, the support from people across the globe that I don’t even know always amazes and inspires me.
It aint over yet… onwards to 2015!
I don’t normally express my inner thinking and try to keep my
blog light and entertaining but since today marks six months since my injury I
have decided share a little bit more of what goes on in my brain….so here we go!
Looking back to where I was six months ago gives me chills as I remember what a horrible day it was. At the same time I feel so blessed to be where I am today. It is unbelievable that I have made so much progress in the amount of time it has been. After injuring my leg so badly I don’t think anyone anticipated that I would be where I am. I
made a goal of skiing by November back in April and it might have been met with
some skepticism and I think people might have been humoring me at first till
they realized that I was serious. As of right now it looks like I will be making
that goal and be on snow late October!
I have worked hard and eight hour days in the gym are the norm for me nowadays, it’s almost like I have a normal job where you go to the office for eight hours a day! As the days in the gym tick by the winter is getting closer and I can’t wait for it to be here. Any normal summer I would be sad to see it ending but it feels like winter is almost here and it gives me motivation by knowing that there are less and less eight hour days ahead of me.
At times I feel like I have been too obsessed and possessed with getting strong and healthy again, and I sometimes feel trapped within my own obsession to get strong and back to racing that I forget to relax and enjoy life outside of skiing. I feel like that as an athlete it can be easy to be selfish and have a one track mind that can’t
fathom doing something that might not pertain to getting stronger or ski racing. I have sacrificed so much time with my family and loved ones, and missed out on numerous exciting adventures and I finally came to this realization this summer; ski racing might be my life and as much as I love it there are other things in life that are important to enjoy too. I have tried to find a balance this summer with taking trips away from Park City even for just a few days to give myself a break from my obsession and spend the time with the
people that matter most to me. One of the hardest things about being injured is there is no time to take time off, everyday counts towards being 100% so the trips have been short and they still included long days at the gym but I am so glad I was able to make them happen.
My favorite trips this summer have been going home to Colorado (of course, duh!) to see my sister, 3 year old niece and father. Even spending a night or two back on The Farm in New Castle and walking around the place and remembering my upbringing has been remarkable. Thinking about the summer days where I would be at the barn from morning till dusk with my ponies and chores brings a smile to my face.
Aside from trips home I went with my roommate and teammate Leanne Smith and her special man friend Dusty to Jackson Hole for the 4thof July to visit Resi Steigler. It was one of the highlights of my summer! We had so much fun biking, floating, concert going, dancing, and all day activity doing. It was great. I will be making a trip to Jackson every summer no doubt. I also took a road trip with my boyfriend Pat across Nevada to Lake Tahoe for a friend’s wedding. Although the drive was less than exciting Lake Tahoe was sure was exciting. Never having been there before I loved venturing out and exploring the place. Very cool, another spot I will return to in the summer. The wedding was also good fun and spending time with so many new people and making new friends outside my normal ski world was great.
For now I am in Park City till mid-October finishing up my conditioning, doing a little fishing and counting the days down till the snow flies!
After reading my last blog post it is nice reminder of how far I have come since early March...after a not so quick 12 weeks on crutches I now have been walking around on my own two legs for about ten days now! FREEDOM! It is so glorious to be walking around and doing things for myself. Simple things like going to grocery store and even filling up my car with gas seem like wonderful novelties. You don’t realize how much you miss doing the small things for yourself till you can’t do them.Enjoying the pool at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas
I have been in Park City for a week now training at the Center of Excellence. It has been great to see all my ski friends and be surrounded by other athletes that are driven to do their best. I admit I envy so many of them that are crushing themselves in the gym; I envy people doing box jumps and power cleans even though I despise both of those exercises. I still have a long way to go till I am recovered but I am getting closer each day! My main focus the past ten days have been simply learning to walk again without a limp and getting my stamina up again on the bike. It feels so good to sweat and start working again!
I spent the 12 weeks on crutches at home in Colorado living in Aspen doing therapy at Aspen Sports Medicine and staying at a wonderful place known as 1050 Waters Ave. I have to extend a huge thanks to all my friends at 1050 Waters who kept me sane and didn’t let me wallow too much in my own self pity. They kept me laughing and always entertained. Living with my boyfriend Pat who did an excellent job of taking care of me and bunch of other manly men was interesting but I will always have many fond memories of 1050 Waters…haha!
I was able to take a few short trips one of which was out to Laguna Beach with one of the manly men
from 1050 Waters Ave who grew up in Laguna and my boyfriend Pat. We road-tripped out from Colorado leaving in blizzard, took a short overnight pit stop in Las Vegas and spent a week in the Laguna Beach area.
Even though my activities were very limited I still had a great time being a “caddy” by simply driving the golf cart and spending some time on the beach putting out a serious vibe.
A day at the races!
One of my favorite things about going out to California was being able to go to Santa Anita Park and watch some ponies run. I LOVE horse racing. When I was a kid I had dreams of being a jockey for about a year, then I grew 6 inches and surpassed the 110 weight range very easily. So that dream ended pretty quickly. Still so fun to go to the races. Someday I am going to put out a serious vibe at the Kentucky Derby, I can’t wait!
I also went to the pre-Sochi NBC Olympic media day in West Hollywood. It was a crazy experience. Make-up, hair, the whole nine yards. I have never spent so much time talking about myself. It was exhausting and even I got sick of my own story. It was a great chance to meet other athletes and see the different aspect of the media world and I really enjoyed it. Staying at the Beverly Hills Hilton wasn’t that bad either…
For now I am Park City thru October training and taking a few classes at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. As much as I want to run and play having classes is really good for me right now because it forces me to come home from the gym actually sit down and rest while doing some studying. By the time I finish classes it will be around the time when I can start crushing in the gym and start doing box jumps and power cleans. Can’t wait!
Thanks again to everyone who has supported and helped me over the past few months. I couldn’t have done it on my own!
In the Garmisch Hospital...nice teammates came to visit!
Here I am again. Flat on my back icing another broken leg. Sweet.
Just when things were starting to feel really good again after my first broken leg, after my first World Cup victory and when my skiing was at its best I managed to destroy my other (right) tibia plateau into 30 plus pieces. UGHH.
The screaming and crying and is over. Well, for the most part. I’d be lying if I didn’t expect a few more meltdowns before this whole thing is over, I’m a woman so it’s not my fault if I get emotional... Surgery was a success and each day the pain is a little less. Now it is the looming months ahead of physical therapy, gym time, return to snow and finally racing again that lie before me. It is no small task and is daunting I’ll admit. The thought
of returning from an even more severe injury than my last one scares me at times. Can I do it again? Can I force myself to maintain a positive outlook and never have any doubt in my mind that I will be fast again? That I will want to go fast again? That I will be ready in time for Sochi? All of these questions run through my mind daily…but there is only one answer and one choice. YES.
I will put myself through the grind of physical therapy day after day, and maintain the positive attitude. Yes, I will want to go fast again, finding the trust will be hard but I have
done it before so I know it’s possible. I will do everything in my power to be ready for Sochi, I can only hope and have the faith that I will be ready. The rest is beyond my control.
I hear from people every day that injuries “just happen” and it is a “bump in the road”, “you will learn so much about yourself”, “you can do this” yet it still doesn’t change the fact I am upset and angry that this has happened to me again. Not just a simple blow your ACL which I would trade for in a heartbeat for my pieced back together leg with 11 screws, a plate and 35 staples holding my flesh together at the moment. I always thought I had paid my ski racing “injury dues” by breaking my other tibia plateau and even then I did not think I would finish the rest of my ski racing career unscathed. I expected bumps and bruises along the way but nothing this severe.
But enough is enough, I could elaborate on my sad feelings for pages…but the reality is I am hurt, and I will recover, but there are people in much worse situations all over the world. I am sure some of them would trade for my broken leg any day compared to whatever they might be suffering through.
To educate everyone a little more on the injury it is thus: my right lateral tibia plateau was fractured into 30 + pieces while being pushed laterally 1.5cmm. I also had a fracture diagonally/straight down the tibia which required the plate. Lucky for me all my ligaments were intact. Some miracle I guess! I keep obliterating my tibia plateaus but both times my ligaments had been uninjured. Crazy… There are more medical terms and smaller issues as well but since I’m not a doctor I’m not going to get into those details since I don’t really know what I’m talking about.
For the next eight weeks I will be on crutches doing a whole lot of quad sets, wall slides and other unexciting physical therapy stuff while also melting my brain with numerous TV shows and Movies. Don’t worry I actually have some online college classes planned in the meantime so I’m hoping to keep the brain melt to a minimum. For now I am focused on the next eight weeks and will move onwards when the time comes to release me
from the crutches! Thanks for all the love and support...the kind words do lift my spirits when I feel they can't get any lower!
One day at time…
Bib draw at Schladming! photo credit: Mitch Gunn
It has been some time since I last updated everyone on my skiing
adventures so here we go…
The past month and half and been a whirlwind. After making short trip back home to the US after Cortina it was back to Austria for World Championships. Having been injured during the last World Championships I was very excited and had high hopes for my first World Champs. Unfortunately I left
Shchladming disappointed and frustrated with the way I skied on race day. Most days I feel that I am on it and even if I have a mistake that cost me in the race I can leave the finish knowing that my skiing was good that day and confident in the steps I have made to become a better skier. Schladming was not one of those days, I skied conservatively and my skiing technically wasn’t what it had been all season. It might have been nerves, the expectations of doing something great, or the huge build up during the three weeks since the previous race and waiting anxiously to finally race in the “big” event of the season. I could make a lot of excuses as anyone can when you have a bad race, what it boils down to is I skied poorly. Dang. Moving on though in the big picture it is just one race in my career and I can learn from my mistakes as we all try to do.
After Schladming I was able to make a solo trip to Venice and Verona while the rest of my teammates still had events to compete in during World Championships. It was a great trip and I am really glad I was able to see some of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It was also nice to get a few days alone away from all the ruckus of World Championships and reset my mind and body for the rest of the season. I think I took a couple years off my life withall the anxiety and anticipation I had before Schladming! I felt like a new woman by the time we got to Sestriere for our pre- Meribel training camp. It was quite nice to feel rejuvenated and relaxed again.
Meribel was such an incredible place. Wow. I have been to some sketchy places in France as far as accommodations (yuck) and on some of the ski hills but Meribel is not one of them. The free skiing and views were some of the best I have experienced. The race hill was also really sweet, lots of terrain with a couple big swooping turns and perfect hero snow. It was challenging race for everyone, coaches and athletes alike because the last downhill race that was held there was in 1992 during the Olympics. So finding the right line took a couple days and even going into race day I was running a line that I hadn’t skied in either of the training runs.
It was an extremely close race…being less than a second out I still ended up in a three way tie for 14th. Not a result I am ecstatic about but after watching video of the race my skiing was good, it was a couple turns where I didn’t hit the line right on and that cost me. I still left Meribel with a good feeling that my technique is getting more and more solid and that there are still a few more races to go…
Not having a spot to race the Super Combi on Sunday I was able to freeski 10-inches and more in some spots of fresh powder with my boyfriend. A couple of the steeper chutes we got into were honestly some of the best powder runs I have had. The great thing about Meribel is that most of the skiers are quite novice in their abilities so venturing off into the powder is not on the agenda for most of them. We were able to get fresh tracks at like 12pm, something that is unheard of at home in Colorado when powder days turn can into an all out battle to get first chair.
Onwards to Garmisch-Partenkirchen!
Wow. What a weekend I just had in St. Anton, Austria. In our first race after our Christmas break I earned my first World Cup victory! Even writing these words it is hard for me to believe that it has actually happened. After all the years of hard work, dedication, sweat, tears, frustrations, injuries, wins, losses, and all different levels of ups and downs I finally
made it to the top. It was worth every second of work I put in to get there. I wouldn’t change a thing!
St. Anton is not a regular tour stop on the World Cup, every four years or so a race is held there, so like many of the younger racers I had never been down the track before. It is known as one as of the most difficult courses on the Women’s tour. It was designed for the Men’s World Championship Downhill in 2001. As one of my coaches put it later, “Alice you pretty much just won Kitzbuhel”. Well, not quite. Let’s be real here. For the Women’s tour though it is the closest thing we get to running Kitzbuhel. I guess somewhere along the line I learned how to turn, I have been known as glider to only do well on the flatter courses but I think I can safely say that I can put that reputation behind me.
Our first training run was quite eye-opening…for everyone. The course was in your face every second of the way and never let up with the most challenging section being the bottom six turns below the “eisfall” – a narrow chute cut through the trees that is too steep for even a winch cat to make up. You throw yourself over the edge pick up another 20 mph then head for the final six turns while your legs are screaming for you to stop and you are hanging on for dear life. Your legs feel like tree stumps at the bottom, pretty much totally useless. With the course being so bumpy it felt like you were rolling down a potholed dirt road on a Vespa. With no brakes. What a relief to finally cross the finish line!
The second training run was cancelled due to a foot of new snow. Powder skiing! I went and took a few runs with my Dad instead of staying cooped up all day. Pretty sweet skiing and the best way to take my mind of the race ahead.
Finally race day was here and it was bluebird. I had an early start number and my main
focus that day was to start skiing like a dude. No more ladylike, passive, pretty skiing. Brute force and commitment. When I finally kicked out of the gate it was like I was possessed by a crazed devil woman. Sending it as hard as I could and skiing my heart out. I had the best run of my life, no doubt. It was AWESOME! Such a great feeling. As soon I as I crossed the finish line I actually did think to myself “I just murdered that course”. I spent the next hour watching the rest of the top women race. It was the most agonizing hour of my life. Sweating, shaking, crying, cottonmouth, desperately trying and failing to play it cool. Generally it was very uncomfortable and I was barely able to watch any of the other ladies race. Finally it was over and the win was mine. Unbelievable.
Standing on the top step of the podium hearing the national anthem has to be one of the best moments of my life. Something I have dreamed about since I was little. Having my Dad there for my first win was so special. As with 99% of all athletes I would never had made it this far without him and my sister Kendra. Ski racing may be an individual sport but it takes a team of people to get to the top.
We now head to Cortina, Italy for races this weekend and then I return home for a short break before the World Championships in Schladming, Austria. Thank you for all the support everyone! All the kind words I have been hearing really mean a lot. It is almost still too much for me to believe. So thank you all.
On to the next one…