Well, I’m back overseas racing the European circuit. Just before I left, I was in Sunday River, Maine, racing the Nor-Am tech series over there. I raced my first GS race of the season there as all the ones on my schedule before that had been canceled. I had been training GS and felt like I was making progress in the event and skiing well, but I wasn’t sure exactly how fast it was. The snow was good and hard and the conditions were still great for me with bib number 29, and after the first run, I found myself sitting in 5th place. On the second go-around, I was just going for a solid run and to ski like I had in the first leg. My plan worked out and I finished in 3rd place overall…my first Nor-Am podium and coming from a GS. I hadn’t exactly seen that coming as I have had success on and off throughout my career in GS, but this is by far my result in the event. I was very happy with the finish and it seems that my GS skiing is definitely coming along.
On the second run of that day, however, Charles Christianson, a friend and fellow college grad gunning for the US Ski Team, crashed through a panel and injured his knee, sidelining him for the remainder of the season. This shows how brutal our sport can be after putting in so much hard work and time just trying to get a glimpse of the dreams we are chasing. My thoughts go out to him for a speedy recovery.
The next day, I started in the first 15 with the Nor-Am points I scored, and with the confidence boost from the day before, I put a little more heat into my run. I had a fast run going until right towards the bottom, a silly mistake took me out of the race. I just got caught up and stuck on my inside ski and couldn’t bring the turn around to the next gate.
The slaloms were next and I had some solid runs each day, but also some mistakeseach day. I ended up with a 7th and a 5thplace. I accumulated enough Nor-Am points with these results to put me into the top 15 overall rank, ensuring me with a better start position and within great striking range for the next slaloms in Nakiska, Canada in early February.
Back to Europe it was and back to the bullet-proof, water-injected snow. I had couple of DNFs in the first difficult slalom series in Oberjoch, Germany. I was skiing pretty well though so I wasn’t too worried about it. After a 9 1/2 hour drive, I was in France ready to race another couple of slaloms. In the first race, the visor guard of my slalom helmet broke off and fell down directly in front of my eyes. I couldn’t see a thing and hooked the tip of my ski on a gate soon afterwards. Not a great day. The next day the slalom was a regular FIS race, but with the exact same European Cup field as the day before. It was a beautiful sunny day as well (my first race taking place in the sun all year), which definitely put me in better spirits. I put down two clean runs and finished in 7th place. I was a little too far off the leader to score a result, but it was a great confidence builder for me to take to the next race and a great feeling to mix it in with the skiers of that caliber.
I am now waiting out another canceled GS race, a Europa Cup in La Toussiere, France. It is dumping snow outside and it is supposed to keep snowing through tomorrow. They will try to get the race off tomorrow. Hopefully, we can get one more good race in before flying back home here the day after tomorrow.