Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Whistler - The Olympic Track

Great news, I LOVE the Olympic track! Bad news, so do all the other athletes!

Seriously though, the track was great fun with lots of terrain, jumps, and it was technical from top to bottom. You simply never stop turning in the 1min 45sec Downhill. I was lucky enough to have a few days off at home before heading up to Whistler for the big week. I took this time to get my body ready both physically and mentally. As excited as I was to race in Whistler it didn't change the day to day tasks of getting prepared.

I had many supporters out to watch the event which made it that much more special. My family was out in full force along with Walt Graziani and others. There were also many of my good girl friends out from Ontario but (other than speeding by them while I was racing) I didn't get to see them. It was sad to have so many people at the event who meant so much to me but be unable to see them all. There were many events I was required to attend and just the regular day to day activities involved with racing World Cup took up nearly all of my time. Someday I'll be the spectator and able to join in all the festivities, but for now I'm loving being the athlete and racing my heart out.

Still, with this schedule, I did get a few meals in with my family which was great! Also, after the racing I drove with my sister back to Chilliwack for some time together (and we did a bit of her wedding preparations together) before getting her to the airport. It was nice to spend some time with my sister.

During the week David came down with a tough Aussi bug that he couldn't shake (he had just returned from a 7 week camp in Australia the day before joining me in Whistler). This sent him home after the Downhill for some R&R. I was amazed how he didn't complain and played the perfect supporting boyfriend while I got set to race in the Downhill. He's feeling better now though, back training as he gets set for Beijing this August.

The weather was picturesque for Whistler and the week went off without a hitch. We had two training runs in which I finished 4th, and 14th. Race day was extremely exciting and I was happy to finally race. I was full of excitement and nerves. The good kind of nerves, the kind that feel like butterflies full of excitement. I just wanted at the course. I wanted to race.

I finished in 9th position 0.59sec from 1st and only 0.2sec from 4th position. It was a tight race and I made some errors that meant I wasn't on the podium. I am, and always will be, happy when I'm in the top ten in the world. Still, I wanted a podium more than anything and in 2010 that's where all my focus will be.

I'm leaving Whistler with many good lessons, a sound understanding of the hill, and a complete commitment to the steps I'll need to take to better prepare for my next race here...the Olympics.

With all my excitement and passion,


Sunday, February 10, 2008

2nd in Sestriere!

I finally got my podium in Sestriere! Although it was two years after the Olympics, and on the Men's track, it certainly was bitter sweet to see the Canadian flag finally raised during the awards ceremony. It had a certain sense of completion, I knew I'd hit the podium there eventually (and two times I came oh so close) but on Saturday I finally did it. I finished 2nd, behind Lindsay Von and notably fellow Speed Queen Britt Janyk finished in 7th. It felt great to stand on the podium again....I could get addicted to this! (I also think I like the mens' tracks....St. Anton, Sestriere...)

- This image is of Britt and I dancing in the finish area before the awards! Many, many laughs all around.

I came into this week with a sense of excitement and determination. So far this year both Emily and Britt have gotten their first World Cup victories, I've been told it's now my turn. And believe me, I want it more than anything. This week was filled with the kind of work that will get me to that top step, and I won't let up. In warm up and training I was skiing in a way that will get me the podiums I desire. I felt dominant, in control, and enjoying the feeling of racing.

Saturday was a very full day. After the race we had Super G freeskiing, I had a press conference, and finally I returned back to the hotel for some lunch at 3:30pm. I got to my room at 4pm and I had lots left to do; bike, conference call, meetings, awards, bib draw, interviews, video, etc. However, I think I did a good job sticking to the things that would help prepare me for the Super G the next day. Coming into the weekend I was most excited about the SG, I thought that was where I was going to shine. (So my podium in the DH felt like a great set up for Sunday!)

Going to bed that night I was full of excitement after the podium, nervous energy for the Super G, and total exhaustion. However, as tired as I was, I couldn't sleep. I was lying in bed awake till 1am and woke at 5am. Still, I knew this would only affect my performance in the Super G if I let it. So I focused on each step in front of me. Inspection was good, and warm up was great. Before I went there were several holds and I started feel doubts about sections of the course. Still, I started out well and was leading after the top technical, rolly section. However, I lost a lot of time from there to the finish. I felt 'ok' but looking back I realize I was just a bit to rigid because I lacked trust in myself and my abilities. I finished 18th.

Again and again I'm learning the lesson that I can win when I just ski and trust myself. Moving forward I will have to be diligent and tough with my mental approach, facing the fears that lead to my doubts. No excuses, just go, race hard, and see what happens.

After the SG we promptly hit the road since we had a 6 hour drive to Zurich. We are all very excited to get back to Canada, sleep in our own beds for a few nights, and more than anything, we can't wait to see the new Olympic track! I'm extremely excited to be going to Whistler feeling strong and ready to race.

Whistler here we come!

Big Smiles,


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

St Moritz

Well, St. Moritz was an interesting weekend! I was struggling a bit during the DH training runs to get a full run together but I was pretty positive with the majority of my splits. The final training run was cancelled due to fog and high winds. This prompted the 'Speed Queens' to go for a little sleigh ride! Crowns and All! We had a lot of laughs as we got some funny looks from people around us.

The DH race turned out to be a tough day as conditions drastically changed moment to moment until finally it cleared up and a tail wind carried the final athletes to the finish line. The athletes around Britt and I all had our year's worst results and had trouble explaining why exactly. Then the tides turned and nearly anyone who finished after the top 30 ended up in the top 10. With bib 47, Tina Maze, won the race and bib 34, a young swiss girl, finished 3rd with a crash through the finish line. (The first 30 bib numbers go to the top 30 athletes based on world ranking, it is unusual to have someone outside the top 30 finish in the top 10) Unfortunately these girls bumped my teammate Emily Brydon off the podium. It was hard to see but we all know luck goes both ways in this sport.

Emily came back the next day with the best answer possible by winning the Super G! It was so exciting for everyone and we sang the National anthem with pride! I started 4th and came down into first where I sat for a while until I finished up in 9th position. It was an extremely close race and a picture perfect day. I made one large mistake near the top of the course on two turns that caught many people off guard and having an early start number simply meant I didn't know about it. My splits were, 29th, 4th, and 2nd. I skied well and I felt great. This was my best Super G result this season and my skiing filled me with renewed confidence.

This weekend I also cracked out a new Helmet that I designed with the Teck Cominco colours. It's always fun to have a new helmet! I've been told this helmet looks 'meaner' and 'faster' than some I've had in the past. We shall see!

On my way out of St. Moritz I stopped to visit my old coach Peter Bassins' Aunt who still lives in that valley. She looked amazing and through broken German and English we did our best to communicate. She is a sweetheart and it was great to see her.

The next day we drove the 5 1/2 hours to Pragelato (just outside of Sestriere) where we'll stay for our upcoming world cup. We are staying in an amazing Kempinski hotel that is set up like a small village of wood cabins. It's certainly the most beautiful place we've stayed at this season, and certainly the best we've ever had in Europe. Only Britt Janyk, Emily Brydon, and I will be competing in this world cup since the rest of Canada will be competing at our National Championships in Whistler.

Here in Sestriere we'll be racing on the Men's Olympic track so it will be new for nearly the whole field. From here we'll get a few days at home before heading to Whistler for the first World Cup on the Olympic Track!!!! We are all Extremely excited to be racing there!

Big Smiles and Cheers,