So I didn’t get to blog yesterday because the day never ended and I wanted to get some sleep. So starting on the morning of the 8th, which started way too early at 3am, I was ready for the GS. I thought I was ready at least. It snowed up here but it is really humid so the snow is full of water. Well at night that water froze and made the slope slick in spots, not New England boiler plate frozen, just slick. My head got in the way once I saw that. I knew I could ski it but for some reason I thought, as Ian my coach put, I needed to micro manage my foot instead of trusting what I can do. The first run was horrible. I made it but it was slow, so slow that I was last. So, on the second run I thought I would redeem myself by just going for it and doing what I know I can do. It was going so well, I kept my foot in the fall line and I trusted the ski on both turns and I was nailing it. Just as I thought I was out of the woods for the truly slick spot I tipped in and slid on my hip, no big deal usually I just pop right back up, well I slid into a mashed potato burm and my ski and outrigger were stuck. After I floundered for a while I got back up and finished the run, again skiing really well. I wasn’t necessarily disappointed not thrilled. I know that I have it in me to do really well and I showed moments of brilliance so I will bring what I know I can do in the GS to Abtenau to show everybody that I can be more than a one event racer.
We didn’t get off the hill until really late and had to be back up the mountain for an opening ceremonies banquet. We had about one hour to shower and change and pack for today. At the banquet we quickly learned that we were way too early, by like an hour or so. We ate dinner before the rest of the world and proceeded to head outside so that we could be announced back inside the tent. It seemed in a matter of minutes though that the whole place was filled with smoke and I felt and smelt like an ashtray. Austria has yet to catch up with the rest of the world with where and where one can smoke, even France has made changes. After a long awards ceremony, Stephani and Chris both made it up on to the podium, and Danelle and Rob were recognized for their 4th place finish. Once the awards were over we headed back to the hotel where I got a quick treatment on my IT band, pack the rest of my bag, and went to bed. That night I slept like a rock in between waking up at 3am where I forced myself back to sleep.
The morning of the slalom came with no new snow, which was fantastic. I quickly proceeded up the t-bar to go ski the newly groomed run. Unfortunately but what I am grateful for is the run I went to ski was groomed last it seemed. The snow was too soft and my ski was prepped for the boiler plate stuff. I was having a hard time trying not to ski to hard which just isn’t a good warm up. I gave up just after one run and proceeded to make the journey up to the start of the course. To get to the top of course it required going up a 12 min chair lift, skiing a thousand and one slalom turns down the Olympic downhill course and then skiing through a tunnel. The hill was fantastic to ski down, a great mix between hard, man made, and soft. The fog made it even more interesting partially because I hadn’t skied to the start yet and I had no clue where I was supposed to be going. I made it on the first try. I accidentally skied off without Kevin, our physio, and Jared, our tech, oops. I was having way too much fun to wait for them.
I inspected the course where I quickly forgot the majority of the course and barely remembered where the key gates were but, makes me look ahead when I race. I didn’t have that much time to hangout before the race started but, I tried to procrastinate as long as I could. When I got to the top I thought I had timed it right but, I still seemed to have way too much time to waste at the start. Kevin did a nice little message and stretch there in the start on my IT band, I did my jumping drills, stretched some more, and I tried to help the moral of my teammates who are still trying to get over the whole world cup skiing thing. What seemed like a life time but only took a couple of minutes I was done with my first run. Somehow without my complete understanding I was sitting second after the first run. When I came through the finish I would have sworn I was not at the front of the field, for that run was poop. I ran the upper section in the low and late line and half way down I had to remind myself how to ski, not that I was skiing that bad but I wasn’t skiing up to my full potential.
For the second run I definitely didn’t remember any of the course except for three parts, I knew the pitches were straight and fast with sucker gates at the bottom of both, there was a flush into a delay after the roll somewhere, and the last thing to remember was the hairpin into another hairpin. I rode up the chairlift with Karo and she was asking about all of the combinations and I couldn’t answer because I didn’t know where they all were. After a quick turnaround I was back up at the start for the second run. This time around everything seemed rushed but there was no fire to put out. Caitie and Gwen were up first then quickly followed by Rob and Danelle. I got to wait for the rest of the VI field and almost the entire standup field. After Rob and Danelle left the start Kevin rushed up to the ready area, quickly massaged and stretched my hip out, I got undressed, rushed into my ski, kicked the burm that had formed, launched into the air, landed, scared the pants off some random guy, and then just hung out in the start. Once I was on course I realized how fast the course was. The first 5 or 6 gates were gone in seconds, from there I just remember telling myself to go faster and faster. I couldn’t have been on a single edge for that long because I all I remember was thinking about keeping my ski going straight down the hill. All of the combinations and crazy gates came and went very quickly and without any difficulty. At the finish the announcer confirmed that I had a great run. Next I had to wait for the last standing racer to come down. I waited and waited, until finally she finished and the announcer took his sweet time to announce that she had won by two one-hundredths of a second, .02 seconds. That was so, so close. Even though I lost the race, I knew that I had won that run. After a lot of hugs, euro kisses, and congratulation to and from everybody we were off the hill and headed home by 1:45. Awesome compared to yesterday’s 4:30.
We were to set off for the awards banquet at 7:30 that night so I managed to do a recovery workout with Caitie and Danelle on the stairs and in the hallway, cleanup, have Kevin put my SI joint back into alignment, and take a nap, all before 7:30. I didn’t even start to pack really. The banquet seemed to go forever with a fashion walk of an Austrian brand of ski clothes and skis. Not all that impressed. I got my award and Danelle and Rob, 4th, Caitie and Gwen, 6th, Stephani, 4th, and Alana, 5th, all got recognized for their top 6 finishes. Once back Rob, Danelle, John, and I went to a Karaoke bar and enjoyed each other company for a couple of rounds and a couple of horribly sung songs. Overall I had a great race and good company to share it with.