Sorry, I've been slacking a little on the blog recently — no Internet access at our condo here in Breckenridge. We had our first two races of the season on Thursday and Friday, a slalom and a GS. I came here feeling pretty prepared but not really knowing how things would turn out. I felt like I could win a race or just as easily come away without finishing either one. In the end it was somewhere in the middle.
On Thursday it was super-cold (around zero), which is kind of the norm in Breck, but at least there wasn't much wind. The hill we race slalom on here is longish but pretty flat, with just one moderate pitch in the middle. I usually tend to do better on more difficult hills; on Thursday I felt like I carried good speed in the first run but found myself in 5th place. I tried to let things run downhill a bit more on the second run, but I think I ended up jamming it in a few places where I should have been arcing. I think I was 4th in the second run and ended up 4th in the final results. Not a bad start at all, and room for improvement the next day. My friend and training partner Ronny Persson got a much-needed win in his first race back after missing a year of racing with a torn shoulder. He's now well on his way to getting his points back down to the level he needs to qualify for the Paralympics. My U.S. teammates Roger and CDY were second and third, respectively.
Friday morning was a little warmer but also windier, especially at the start. The GS course here is easy too, and also fairly short, the start being only a few dozen meters above the slalom start. On my first run I made a small mistake near the top of the pitch, but it wasn't too costly. I did probably lose some time near the bottom by trying to "cheat the line" a bit — i.e., aim straighter at the gates than I should have. I was 4th for the run, about two seconds behind the leaders. In the second run I resolved to lay it on the line — I'd rather crash than end up 4th or 5th again, since I knew I was capable of winning the run. I nailed the flat top half of the course and came onto the pitch with big speed. But a few gates down the pitch I got a little rotated into the hill — a bad habit of mine — and the tail of my ski slid out. I found myself skiing backwards out of the course, heading straight for one of my coaches. I managed to stop right next to him, and he turned to me and said, "Get back in there!" It was possible for me to traverse back into the course and still make the next gate, so I did. Of course I was pissed off, so I skied the bottom half of the course really aggressively and fast. I wish I could channel that kind of energy every run without messing up first. I ended up way out of the picture, time-wise, in 9th place. The bright spot for the day was my friend Nick, who picked up his first-ever win in a technical event. He's had trouble putting together two solid runs of GS despite skiing really well, but yesterday he nailed it, winning both runs. We're all really psyched for him.
Today we stuck around in Breck for a fundraiser race for DS/USA. Tonight we'll go to the closing banquet before driving 3 hours to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where we'll do our quarterly fitness testing on Sunday and Monday.