On the Brink of the Big Time

Hi Everybody!

Sorry for such a long wait between updates. It’s been a very exciting year and a lot has happened so far. To be brief, I had some great pre-season training with the US Team in Europe in October and at the November prep camp in Colorado. After my 6 point slalom race in New Zealand I was on the hunt for another one at some point this season to solidify my spot on the US Ski Team for next year.

The first races of the season were the perfect place to get it done. I ended up winning the Nor-Am slalom, beating out the near World Cup field and scoring that second 6 I was looking for right off the bat! I followed up the race with a third place the next day and another great result. I was skiing well. That series assured my place back on the US Team and brought my world rank in slalom down to 31, which will give me a great starting position in World Cups and Europa Cups this season. A great way to start off the year!

For the next two weeks of December, we flew over to Europe to jump into the World Cup and Europa Cup circuit. I got my first World Cup start of the season at Val D’Isere, France. It didn’t quite work out as I made few costly mistakes on the steep and tough course. I came down in 34th place, not qualifying for the second run after the top 30 cut. After that, we hit the Europa Cup circuit for a few slalom races. I started with bib 44 at Obereggen, Italy since basically the entire World Cup field showed up. I came down in 5th place with a good run and had a solid run in the second go-around to hold 5th place. It was a great result and gave me a nice confidence boost to let me know that I can ski amongst the best in the world.

To close out the trip, I got a World Cup GS start in Alta Badia, Italy, one of the classic GS courses on the tour. It was fun race, and I was actually doing pretty well on the ice rink of a slope that they prepared before going at the bottom of the course. At one of the mid split times, I clocked the 22nd fastest time. I have been skiing pretty well in GS this year too and this may be a sign of things to come for me in Giant Slalom as well.

I came back home for a short break during Christmas to get a little rest and some home-cooked meals. After a week we were back on a Europe-bound flight and began preparing for the next World Cup slalom in Zagreb, Croatia. After some good training on hard snow I was ready to take on the Zagreb course where I hooked a tip to take me out of the race one year ago.

This year was different. The course was in great shape and I fought through a couple of small mistakes on the way down and skied into a solid 22nd place from bib number 33. I was a little nervous at the start of the second run, considering it was my first time qualifying into the top 30 and having an opportunity to score precious World Cup points. I felt comfortable on my skis though and was focused so I came out of the gate pumped up and confident. I put down a smooth and solid run with minimal errors. I pushed past the final gate and across the dyed finish line with my heart thumping. It felt so good to cross through the finish and into the stadium set up for the some 30,000 fans watching and cheering. The night race atmosphere only intensified the energy. I looked at the huge video screen to see that I was 1.44 seconds off the lead, but I didn’t care. I still had my hands raised and threw in a couple of fist pumps. It turns out that I did have good reason to be happy. I ended up 10th on the second run and moved up to 20th place in the race and scoring those World Cup points that I’ve had my sights on the last few years. It just felt awesome and it was nice to have that weight lifted off my shoulders. Now I have that breathing room that I can just tell myself to charge.

The next day, we hopped on a plane for a short flight from Zagreb to Zurich and drove to the next venue in Adelboden, Switzerland. The weather was warm and the softening snow made it an even tougher race on top of the rugged and steep hill. My ski ended up getting away from me on one turn and I just planted my pole right on the inside of it, causing me to miss the next gate. It was a weird mishap and one of those fluky things that just happens sometimes in ski racing. Oh well.

Now we’re resting and training for a few days before heading up to Wengen to start off the series of “glory” races, as I like to call them. Wengen, Kitzbuhel, and Schladming are the next races in the schedule and are considered some of the classics of the ski racing world. Schaldming is the super-bowl of slaloms, drawing crowds of around 50,000 crazed Austrian fans, and the race I’ve always dreamed about racing. It’s going to be a fun few weeks!

Punching into the top 30 in Zagreb was amazing. That feeling is very addicting and getting those tastes of glory only make you hungry for more. I guess that’s why I’ve been pushing myself in this sport for so long. I am skiing well right now and I’m ready to keep the momentum rolling and pile on some more points to get my world rank into the top 30 and into the big time!

New Zealand 2010

I put together a little video of my New Zealand trip for the debut of my video blog.  I hope to keep adding more video blog posts throughout the year as I get more proficient and when I have the time.

I got the inspiration from Jon Olsson, arguably the best free-ride skier in the world.  He is currently, and successfully, going back to his roots as a ski racer on his mission to make the 2014 Swedish Olympic squad in Giant Slalom.  You can find his blog here: www.jon-olsson.com.  It took me a while to grasp all the details of video making and posting, and it is not quite professional grade, but here it is.  Enjoy!

Scoring Big

Sorry for the summer absence, but I’m back and amped for a new season.  The days are definitely getting shorter and the aspen color progressions are now in their final stages.  That means it’s time to start getting giddy about the ski season, which I feel is coming soon here in Colorado.

This August, I spent the month training and racing in New Zealand, already preparing for when the snow does start to fly in the northern hemisphere.  It was a great camp with amazing snow and relatively good weather throughout the duration of the trip, save for a few rainy days as usual.  Since I was not officially named to the U.S. Team this year, I had to organize my own trip.  I teamed up with college rival Charles Christianson and found some great training at the beginning of the trip with the Treble Cone Race Academy, a summer training program set up for racers of all skill levels to hone their abilities.  We moved from this venue in Wanaka to the neighboring ski and adventure town of Queenstown.  All the races took place there at Coronet Peak and since it was the home base for the U.S. Team, I was able to jump in with them for some training as well.

I found a good racing rhythm from the start and got some results beginning with the early GS races.  At the New Zealand National Championships towards the end of the trip I placed 3rd in the GS and 2nd in the slalom the following day.  There was one more slalom race and one more chance to score before my flight out.  I took advantage of it and had a great race.  I won by 0.7 seconds and scored a 6.00 point result…the lowest result attainable outside of being top 30 the World Cup.  This means, with two 6 point results, you will be ranked 31st in the world, and with my one, I should be ranked around 45 in the world in slalom on the October list, my best ranking yet.  That result was a huge help for me as it will drop my starting order for the World Cups, Europa Cups, and any other races I enter, giving me a much better chance to move up and score big.

Season’s End…Hello Spring!

Another season comes to a close as I finished out the year racing a few FIS races in Mission Ridge, WA this last week to help out the race point penalties and help younger kids drop their rankings.  The last big stretch of races happened on the east coast throughout March, beginning with Nor-Am finals.  I raced the whole series including the super-g, in which I scored a decent top-15 result.  My slalom skiing was reinvigorated with a great second run at Nor-am finals and placing my in a respectable 6th position.

After that series, we moved from New Hampshire to New York as U.S. Nationals got under way in Lake Placid.  The warm weather and intermittent showers rolling through made for less than ideal racing conditions.  It began with the super-g.  I skied pretty clean run and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th place.  The next day in the slalom, I put down a solid first run to set me up in 4th position.  The second run proved to be pretty difficult with the reverse top-30 positions starting format, battling with huge ruts and really soft snow.  I skied well and made it down the course cleanly.  I moved up into second place, but I wasn’t fast enough to beat out winner Tommy Ford and defend my slalom title from last year.  With the good run I had in super-g and my 2nd place finish in slalom, I also took home the silver in the combined event, in which the times from both events were added together.  Although a back-to-back win would have been nice, I was pretty happy with a double podium from U.S. Nationals this year.

A few days later I raced in and won the second annual Cochran’s slalom at the famous Cochran’s ski area in Vermont.  It’s a great event where most of the US Ski Team members show up to have a good time racing together and with 140 young local racers who are excited to get a chance to race against the U.S. team.  As last year, it was a huge hit and I’m happy to have my name put on the first place trophy for 2010.

March closed out with the Eastern Cup finals FIS series where the rain and salted snow conditions continued.  I stayed with my returned form though and won both the slaloms, giving me a couple of solid point results that I needed to keep my ranking low.

After the eastern tour, I made my way out west to Washington for a mellow end to the season to help out the point penalties and help the younger up and coming skiers score results in their spring series there.  It’s been a long season and I am very ready for some down time and warm weather.  It’s time to let the lingering injuries from this season heal for the next on snow camp and time to fire up the barbecue.  Thanks to everyone following my season for the support!