The first stop of the North American World Cup races was in Winter Park Colorado. This is one of my favorite race hills on the circuit and I was feeling like I had a bit of an advantage over the European and Japanese racers, as I’ve raced here many times over the years. First races of the week were a double header Super G – I finished 8th and 4th respectively. On one hand it’s not too bad, but the reality is that I was hoping to finish on the podium. The next 2 days were GS races and they went sour fast. I’m not really a good GS skier on the best of days – but even so I skied especially poor. For me it was a super tough start, the snow was really aggressive and it all went downhill after that (literally). I was eons off the pace and it was quite discouraging. Last race of the series was Slalom, and from what I remembered I was pretty good at it last time I raced World Cup. I finished my first run and felt good about it (only to realize I was in 9th place and way off the pace). I improved my second run and improved to 6th overall for the day.
It was a real eye opener for me to see the level at which everyone else was racing at… and for me to come in mid season with high hopes was like trying to run a car hard on a cold winter’s day. Colorado was far from being a bust; I left inspired and motivated to bring my best to the World Cup Finals, in Panorama.
The momentum had started to build up for me in Winter Park and I could feel myself getting charged up for Panorama. I love being back home in the Kootenay’s and feel so at peace in the mountains there. I came out strong and won the first Super G event of the week and was close in the second Super G, until I hit a nasty bump and lost traction, which sent me off course. The next event was Super Combined, which starts with a Super G in the morning (which I finished 4th) and then you race Slalom in the afternoon (which I completely blew and finished 9th overall, combined time). The final day of World Cup Finals was Slalom and I was motivated to do my best, and I did. First run I was in 4th position and in striking distance of winning… I started off my second run feeling smooth and aggressive through the tight turns and bumps, when out of nowhere I blew my ski off! I was perplexed and furious as to how this could have happened and so disappointed that I was disqualified from the race. I put my ski back on and raged down the rest of the course (the best I’ve ever skied Slalom, hand’s down); but it cost me dearly. I was fined for continuing down the track after I was disqualified and had to pay for my unsportsmanlike behavior. Not only did I pay the fine, but apologized to everyone for my actions (and I’ll tell you it was money well spent as I needed to blow off my frusteration in a constructive way).
I realized over the past few weeks how much I enjoy the action of ski racing, the pure beauty of flying down the mountain trying to balance on that fine line of skilled control and insanity. It is just on the perimeter of that line, just beyond your comfort zone and that’s where the magic lies… where you are free to explore you potential. Racing is also a game of attrition; whereas you need to be wise with how you push those boundaries and expand your experience.
After a tight few weeks of World Cup races filled with a few magnificent moments and some hard lessons learned ~ I wrapped up the season ranked 3rd overall in World Cup Super G standings. This is a super nice cherry on top of an already amazing winter.
Less then 24 hours later I’ve found myself in a nice little Euro chalet on the slopes of La Clusaz with the SalomonFreeski Team. It’s dumping outside and I’m sitting fireside eating cheese and drinking wine… LIFE IS GOOD.