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.
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!
After 7 long weeks in Europe, it feels good to be back home in the US of A. I finished up the Europe tour with a couple of Europa Cup slaloms. I finished 20th in the slalom in Oberjoch, Germany with a fairly large mistake in the second run so a decent result. My knee is feeling good now and it seems to be healed well enough to push 100 percent in the course. After a couple of races starts, I had some good training here in Park City with the US guys and Swedish team on hard snow. It was just what I needed as I got some good repetition and fast runs to bring my confidence back up where I want it! It felt good to bring myself back up to speed and good form.
Now I’m headed off to Aspen for a couple of Nor-Am super-Gs and a super combined. I haven’t raced a super-g in a few years and I’ve never raced a super combined, which is a super-g run and a slalom run, so that should be exciting and something different. Then a little down time to watch the technical Olympic events. Just watched Andrew Weibrecht throw in a great run and take the lead in the Super-G. Go team USA!
January was a very happening month, but the results I was looking for didn’t really come. It started off with the Zagreb World Cup slalom in Croatia. I came out charging and had a great run going, on pace to make the top 30 if I could have kept it going, but I let a small roll in the hill push me low on a turn and ended up hooking a tip on the next gate. I was definitely bummed out, but the experience of racing there was so amazing that I was happy to have had that opportunity. Thousands of fans lined the slopes of the night race and as soon as I broke over the first roll, I heard the airhorns and cheers as I was skiing down, even at my later starting position. It was a very cool experience I haven’t seen before. Even as we were going up the chairlift, the crowd was cheering and waving at us. Europe is really the home of ski racing.
Next was Adelboden, Switzerland, also a place with a very enthused crowd. The conditions there broke down a little bit compared to Zagreb, but they were still great. The top of the course has a moderate pitch and I skied that pretty well and clean, but I started to get ragged towards the bottom as the slope dropped off onto the steepest pitch I’ve ever seen in a race. I made one small mistake and on a pitch like that, it’s difficult to get a solid form back. I made it to the finish, but it was too late. The mistakes were made and I was too slow for qualification; I knew it before even crossing the finish. I came down in 38th place and was pushed back a spot or two afterwards.
Next, I got a chance in Wengen, Switzerland where I again didn’t finish. I had a decent run going at the top and down the first pitch, but leaned inside a little over a roll towards the bottom. The softer snow there peeled right away from me and I slid off-course.
I tweaked my knee a bit after the Zagreb race and at a very inopportune time as all the World Cups were happening. It wasn’t serious enough to keep me off snow and I could ski pretty well on it, but I definitely still felt it and didn’t have full strength or confidence in that leg. It was unfortunate and I pushed through the injury during Adelboden and Wengen and the next couple Europa Cup races, but I just didn’t have the power in it to perform at my best. I’ve been resting it now for the last 10 days or so and it feels much better so I am hoping that I’ll be close to 100% by our next training camp in a few days in France before our final couple of Europa Cup races during the next 10 days before the flight home. It was a bit frustrating over the last few weeks since I felt like I was skiing at the top of my game at Zagreb, but things just didn’t come together for me. Unfortunately, the World Cup season is over and the Olympic selection has been made with my name not on the list, but there are still races left. I just have to keep fighting for the rest of the year and score some good results to set myself up for next season. I’m not done yet.
I had a nice break away from competition, but it’s time to fly over-seas again and go back to work.
My first World Cup experience was great! Of course, since I didn’t finish by hooking a tip in a flush half way down the first run, it could have been better, but it was still amazing to be there. The scene was definitely bigger than at any other races with hoards of people and helicopters buzzing around. When it came to race time, though, I really wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. The field was pretty similar to that of the Europa Cups that I’d just been racing and I was starting right at the end of a Dartmouth trio, behind Paul McDonald and Pat Biggs, so that was pretty neat. I felt like I had a good run going and then just hooked the double-gate of a flush somehow. Stuff like that happens sometimes so oh well. I just have to shake it off and look forward.
I have another start coming up at the next slalom being held in Zagreb, Croatia so I’m pumped for another shot. It’s a night race so it should be pretty thrilling, and I hear the crowd there is quite a sight. We’re training over in Austria for the first few days of January before driving to the race so we’ll get a good warm-up in beforehand. I’m rested and ready to roll. January is also packed with races so it’s going to be an exciting month!