Sunday, January 23, 2005

back home

Before I forget, there's a new website up for the disabled World Cup (replacing the defunct, which is It's still under construction, looks like crap, and seems to make Safari crash, but hopefully they'll fix that soon.

So I'm back in my condo in Winter Park now. Yesterday was a long travel day: a 4.5-hour drive from Kimberley, BC to Spokane, WA, a 2-hour flight from Spokane to Denver, a 30-min. bus ride from the airport to my car, and a 2-hour drive home to Winter Park. Today I pretty much spent reading the newspaper at the bagel shop and watching skiing and snowboarding on TV... yay for Outdoor Life Network.

The last day in Kimberley was a huge bummer for me. We had spent two and a half days doing basically nothing as our races got cancelled left and right, and we finally had a clear, cold-ish day with decent, firm snow. There was a good chance, though, that we would start breaking through the firm, fast top layer after several dozen skiers went, yielding a rough course with soft ruts in between icy sections. Because of this possibility, the race organizers moved the start up as early as possible (before the sun had time to bake the course), and an unusual decision was made to run all the monoskiers before the blind and standing women and then the blind and standing men. (Usually the order for downhill, super G, and GS goes: female blind skiers, monoskiers, and standing skiers; then male blind, monos, and standing.) Long story short, my class ran much earlier than normal, and on top of that I drew a very early start number within my class. Everything was set up for me to have a perfect, fast run. The first three-quarters of my run weren't quite perfect, but it was feeling really nice. The hill was running much faster than it had earlier in the week, and I had done a pretty good job of memorizing and visualizing the course. As I was skiing, the course was just unrolling in front of me like a video game, and my mind wasn't wandering as I skied like it sometimes does. I exited the most difficult, technical section carrying good speed, passed the final "coaches' knoll," and promptly got lost for a split-second. It was a blind gate, meaning I couldn't see where the next gate was as I crested a small knoll, and I suddenly couldn't remember from inspection exactly when I would have to start my next turn. I hesitated briefly, the gate came into view, and I started my turn, but it was too late. If I had stayed calm, I still could have easily made the next gate and then the final few after it without dumping too much speed, but instead I panicked and went into defensive mode, letting my shoulders drift out of parallel with the hill. I spun into my turn, and my ski threw up a huge rooster tail of snow. On our coach J.C.'s videotape of the run, just as I go out of view, you can see me starting to get thrown sideways, and you can hear J.C. say, "uh-oh." I tried to get my ski back into the fall line, and I made the next gate and soon regained some speed, but the damage was done. A mistake like that will cost you an eternity — 3 or 4 seconds. In racer terminology, I just "pooched it." I was so pissed off that after I crossed the finish line I didn't even stop at the scoreboard to see my time and turn in my bib; I just straightlined it to the lift. On the ride back up to go get my jacket, I calmed down a lot, but I couldn't shake the feeling of anger at such a stupid mistake. In the end, I somehow finished a respectable 7th, but without the mistake I would have finished probably 4th or 5th, which would've been my best World Cup result and would've probably secured me a spot on the team that will head over to Europe next month for the rest of the World Cup season. Now I'm waiting to see if I'll make it or if I'll have to pay my own way to go there. So you can understand why I'm still kinda upset.

Chris won the race by a mile, by the way. He had an amazing run. Full race results are here.

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