November 14th. That was the date of my last blog post. Since I can't possibly adequately describe everything that has happened since then.. Here's a whole bunch of pictures to fill you in! I am writing from Canada where we will kick off a very important 6 day Nor-Am race series tomorrow. I am rested, healthy, and motivated to ski fast in the second half of the season. I am really grateful to have the support of such amazing sponsors and friends who have made this season a success so far. Thank you to:
Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic clinic. Alaska Frontier Constructors. Alyeska Resort. Girdwood 2020. Alaska Community Foundation and Alaska Winter Olympians foundation. Davis Constructors and Carl Swanson. The Odom Corporation. Oscar Ferguson. The Yarmon Family. Don Stevens. Art Davidson. Ken Eggers. Andrew Biggs, G'ma Faith and many more!
Also a big thank you to the best companies out there: The Tecnica Blizzard Family. Ruesch. POC. Swix. Ortema. Dainese.
Remembering Ronnie and Bryce
As many of you know by now, we lost two amazing members of the ski racing world to start the new year in an avalanche in Solden, Austria. We will never live down the sadness of this tragedy, or be able to move on as if it never happened. Instead we will remember what selfless positive energy each of these boys brought to the world. We will do our very best to support and energize those around us, as these boys did so well, and continue to do as their spirits live among us. The video below gives a good explanation of the feelings and remorse felt throughout the skiing community. Since the accident it has been amazing to see the support and camaraderie throughout the entire team and ski racing community honoring these boys. Ski in Peace Ronnie and Bryce. We miss you.
Link to Video:
For those of you interested in what I've been up to, and where I have been this season check out the photos below!
Levi, Finland Europa Cups- Nov 20-24
The sunsets and sunrises were just ridiculously beautiful, plus at a latitude of 67 degrees, 110 miles north of article circle, they happen at reasonable times of the day!
We got some awesome training in and it was fun to start racing again but my skiing wasn't quite dialed in yet, and my best placing was a 27th in the first GS. The main things to remember from Levi: how awesome the mustaches of my teammates AJ and Mark were, the american hot sauce rack in the grocery store, and how to kiss a reindeer.
Panorama, British Columbia, Canada Nor-Ams Dec 12-19
After Levi we returned to Colorado and took a short break to gear up for the opening Nor-Ams in Aspen. I promptly got so sick I could literally barely get out of bed and was forced miss those races, which meant I missed the opportunity to qualify for the Beaver Creek World Cup. My season was off to a slow start so I opted to go to Panorama for Nor-Ams instead of go back to Europe. Luckily things can go well just as quickly as they go bad in ski racing. Coming into the first Super G I had trained exactly 0 days of SG and had taken 5 freski runs ever on my race skis so I had absolutely no expectations to do well, all I could think about was feeling my outside ski, keeping my hands forward and going fast. I ended up scoring a career low Super G result and best Nor-Am place ever.After the race I realized...waitttt a second, I think we're onto something here! The rest of the series I kept my focus strictly to the movements of my own skiing, and I finished with a career low in GS and ended the week tied for 2nd in the GS standings among North Americans! Pano was a lot of fun, and I was ready to keep the good vibes rolling into more races but I was also very ready for some time at home!
Alyeska Resort, AK, Christmas at home!
It was great to get out on the fat boards and salvage what snow mother nature blessed us with for Christmas. Every year at Christmas I'm reminded how soft ski racers are when after few hours of non-stop freeskiing I'm ready to go eat at the bake shop. It was also great to take some runs in the gates with the Alyeska Ski Club Juniors and Masters.. I get asked where my favorite place is to ski a lot when I am traveling and the answer has always remained the same... ALYESKA remains the best mountain on earth!
Jan-Feb European Race/Ragefest
Every year January and the beginning of Feburary is crammed full of races all across Europe, and this year was no different. Because I would be bouncing between groups I rented my own car, a black station wagon aka The Black Pearl. It was super liberating to have my own rig and I got way better at driving stick shift! A HUGE dankeshon to Johannes Erhard for helping me get the car at a good price!
D-Teamer Addison Dvorcek and I arrived to Europe together before some of the other guys showed up so we spent a solid 12 hour day touring Munich by train and bus fighting jetlag and feeding the ducks..Next up it was to the U.S. Team base in Dorfgastein, Austria.. We don't actually train at Dorfgastein but it offers some amazing views and awesome freeskiing!
We spend most of our time training on small cow field serviced my a t bar called Hintereit, its 99% ski racers and you'd be hard pressed to find a ski racer in Europe who hasn't trained there. It's an ideal place to train because the snow is almost always in good shape, but personally I like going there to play with the cows..
Adelboden, Switzerland- World Cup
Adelboden was my first race since Panorama and my first World Cup since racing there a year earlier. It was definitely nice to have already been on the hill before, and I felt much more confident than I did last year in the starting gate. My two older brothers made the last minute decision to come and cheer me on again too, it was great to see them again! I came out of the gate charging, and had a few mistakes before leaning in DNFing on one of the infamous rolls in the middle of the course. I was pretty upset that I had squandered what seemed like a good opportunity to score points from bib 55. Once I made my way to the finish I learned that in fact bib 34 was the ONLY bib from outside the top 30 to finish inside the top 30 and get a second run. I thought the snow held up ok, the very top layer just softened enough to make the course much slower for the later bibs..
After the races we got to stay and train for two days on the race hill! It was an awesome experience and should prove very valuable for next year :-).. I'll have to say the hill looked a lot less intimidating without all of the nets and crazy drunk swiss fans cooking fondue along the side..
And then the race tour around Europe began..
Pila, Italy FIS GS Races
Radstadt, Austria FIS SG Races
After my good races SG in Panorama I wanted to continue to get some time on my SG boards so I raced two SG in one day in Radstadt. The course is very long at 1:35, and it is never super easy but never super challenging..to be fast you simply have to be consistent the whole way.. I had some good turns but mistakes cost me.. no podium pic here ;-).
Val D'Isere, France Europa Cup SG
I decided to take the black pearl and rally 10 hours by myself to meet up with the EC speed boys in Val D'sere for some EC and FIS SG races. I spent the night in a little town called Annecy on the way.. After a week in a France I can confirm the rumors, crepes are indeed the best part of the country.
The EC in Val D'isere was once again very demanding, but sooooooo much fun. It had everything from big technical turns, to fast sections, air, and gliding on the flats. I went to Val D'sere to get some miles on my SG boards on difficult terrain, and thats what I got!.. In the FIS race I actually scored a result too, which is always nice. Anywhere you looked the views were just ridiculous..
Lelex, France -Europa Cup GS
I was very excited coming into these races to try out a new racing format FIS is experimenting with at the Europa Cup level before possibly implementing it at World Cup to make viewing more exciting.. The first run is a full length run and a FIS race, and serves as a qualifying run for the 2nd and 3rd runs. The top 30 from the 1st run qualify for the "Europa Cup" and everyones times are erased entering the 2nd and 3rd runs, which are shortened to sprint style. Only the top 15 following 2nd run get a 3rd run.. This all sounded very exciting but the picture below sums up my feelings about the races.. the hill was very flat, the snow was very bad, and I didn't execute very well. Learned some good lessons from the guys who skied well. Onto the next!
Crans-Montana, Switzerland Europa Cup GS (and cancelled SG)
Crans is one of my favorite places to go throughout all of Europe. The views speak for themselves and the SG is super technical..Last year I almost exploded going too straight of a jump in SG so I had been waiting all year for redemption.. Unfortunately, the snow was absolutely terrible and after the GS basically none of the coaches were going to let their athletes race the following SG races, so the organizers were forced to cancel.. I was hoping they would hold the races anyway and we could have a race with just a few athletes, but alas... It was definitely the right decision, during the second run inspection for GS they had a cat literally grooming the line behind the racers inspecting in an effort to solidify the bad snow.. *spoiler alert* it did not work.. I had a really rough first run and was 31st by .01 a second behind my teammate Tommy Ford. 2nd run I hacked my way down and was very happy to be in once piece at the end of the day.
After a hectic month of racing we had a small break in the schedule before getting rolling again. Alaska is a long ways from Europe so i decided to go on an adventure to Budapest for a few days instead of flying half way across to globe just to return a few days later.. It was awesome to check out a part of he world that is totally removed from ski racing! I rented a bike and spent most of my time just cruising around town and taking in the views. It was really refreshing to a different side of Europe. Some of my favorite moments aren't the most perfect picturesque ones, but just glimpses of people doing things that seem like normal everyday things to them, but are hilarious to me. Catching these moments are really difficult if you're not traveling by yourself, as your attention is usually at least somewhat preoccupied with your friends. I'm glad I get to spend most of time traveling with friends, but traveling alone is really refreshing from time to time. I was also lucky enough to not be completely alone in Budapest, Alyssa, a good friend of my older brother lives there, and she showed me some cool restaurants and parts of the city I would have never of seen otherwise! Thanks Alyssa!
The baths shown here were maybe the highlight of the whole trip! I spent about five hours soaking in the outdoor baths and making my way through the labyrinth of saunas, steam rooms, and pools inside.
In conclusion I had a awesome month of January and after a little break, some rest, training and racing I am ready to get back at it in the second half of the season. Thank you again for everyone who has made it possible so far this season!