I've been slacking with this thing lately — I know. So here's what's been going on since last time I wrote:
Monday: Giant slalom race in Park City. I felt great and the course looked sweet, but as soon as I went out of the start I began getting really late so it was harder and harder to make each gate. I don't know why it happened other than bad planning. Around the sixth gate, I hit a divot or rut that had been building up on the course, got knocked even a little later, and suddenly couldn't make the next gate. It just passed right by me and I threw up my arms and skied out of the course. That's about the most anticlimactic way to end a race, but sometimes it happens. The guy in the finish writes "DNF" (did not finish) on the scoreboard, and you have the rest of the day to go ski by yourself, watch the rest of the race, and beat yourself up for skiing out. It sucks.
Tyler couldn't continue his streak; Chris beat him both runs.
Tuesday: Super G race in Park City. Super G stands for "super giant slalom," but no one ever calls it that. I don't know who named the event anyway -- probably some Euro who was like, "Ja, ja, dis neue race, ist super, ja?" It's the newest of the four alpine disciplines, first run in the 1980s. It basically blends the high speeds of downhill with the technical turning skills of GS. Like downhill (and unlike GS), it is only a one-run race. Like GS (and unlike downhill), there are no training runs held on the course before the race. Like every event, you get to sideslip down the course, stopping wherever you want to inspect the placement of the gates and the terrain features of the hill, but that's all you get. It's pretty weird skiing 40 or 50 miles per hour down a hill you've sometimes never even skied on before that morning during inspection.
Adding to the inherent challenge, I had never skied on this particular pair of super G skis before today, either. Monoskiers only use one ski at a time, so I did get to take a few warmup runs (on another trail) on one of the skis before I had to race on the other. (We can't ski on our race skis before the race because they're carefully prepared by our technicians the night before and then carried up to the start in the morning, and even one run on them would rub off most of the wax they've applied.) Luckily, my new ski felt great during warmup, and the other (theoretically identical) ski ended up working fine during the race, too. Park City's super G hill is relatively flat, so the course is usually set pretty fast and wide-open. That's not really to my advantage, since I'm better at steeper, technical sections rather than gliding sections where aerodynamics and weight are important factors. I laid down what I thought was a pretty solid run, despite a moderate mistake during a crucial middle flat section. I figured it would at least be good enough for a spot on the podium, but in the end I was 5th among the monoskiers. Chris spanked everyone by two and a half seconds, with the next three skiers clustered close together and me not far behind them. It was a little disappointing, but sometimes you just have to be happy with your effort and try to figure out what you could do differently next time.
Tuesday evening: long van ride home to Winter Park with Kevin (our head coach) and a few teammates.
Wednesday: Slept in, and then Hannah drove me into Denver so I could finally pick up my van and my new monoski, which finally cleared customs and arrived at the distributor that very day. Elitsa is staying with Josh and me until the Steamboat races rather than returning home to Idaho, so she tagged along with me as I ran errands in Denver, like buying some new lacrosse shoulder & chest pads for me to wear in slalom. I'm getting sick of nasty bruises to the torso.
Thursday: Everyone has been asking me, "So what do you think of the new monoski? Do you like it? Have you gotten used to it yet?" Today was my first day riding it, so I guess the answers are: "It's weird," "I like some things about it but not others," and "No, not yet." But I'm feeling pretty optimistic. The big question is whether I'll be ready to race in it at the World Cups in Steamboat starting on Monday. I'm going to train slalom in it for the first time tomorrow and then GS on Saturday, and then I hope I'll be in some position to decide.
Today I collected the mail from when I was away. I got some great Christmas presents from my friend Abby, some nasty bills, and a CD-ROM of "Jeopardy" that I ordered. I'm going to go play one more game of that now and then get to bed. Computer Player #2, you better watch out this time.