Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Uh, yeah... maybe I won't volunteer."

My friend Abby sent the following email to the volunteer coordinators for the 2006 Paralympics:


Went to to see about volunteering at the
paralympics in 06, but it's in italian and I am one of those
unenlightened people who can only guess at your beautiful
language. Also, when I click on essere voluntario, the page does
not load. Could someone send me info on being a volunteer? I'll
most likely be there to support a good friend on the US disabled
alpine ski team and I'm sure I could take some time to help out
in whatever way you need.

Thanks! Grazie!
Abby Drevs

Here's the response she got:


we are with knowledge of some problems which located it has but
our techniquex is with work to improve the service, would advise
reprouver to him and of controller which it version to explore
which uses is not compatible with the Form Application, in this
case it is necessary to use PC with a version of Internt Explore
5.5. or superior. Thank you for interest.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Aster the Snowflake!

In case you missed it (I did), the official mascot of the 2006 Winter Paralympics was unveiled earlier this month. Meet Aster! Apparently, he "comes directly from the sky, to represent, with his warm smile, the sports of the disabled." I laugh every time I look at the picture of this guy. If that was the idea, then well done, TOROC.

Whoa, I just discovered that there's a Windows Media video of Aster too! (highspeed) (dialup)

In other news, yesterday I completed a trifecta of third-place finishes at nationals with a bronze in the slalom. Sure, I had been hoping to move up a spot or two, but I skied two totally solid runs so I'm not really disappointed with the race at all. Chris won yet again, and Tyler took second. I made it into the Vail paper again with a pretty nice photo accompanying their story on the slalom race.

Here's the U.S. Ski Team's report on Saturday's GS. (They're a day or so behind in posting these.)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

GS day

Third place again today, although I was kind of lucky to even make the podium: Chris, Nick, and Roger all went down in the first run and failed to finish, leaving Tyler, Joe, Kevin Connolly (not yet a U.S. Ski Team member), and me to duke it out for the medals.

I had one big mistake on my first run, sliding on my hip for a second on the steepest part of the hill, and finished third: 5 seconds behind Tyler, 3 seconds ahead of Joe, and just 0.05 seconds behind Kevin. I figured I could easily beat Kevin on the second run with a decent run, but I decided to really attack the second course anyway. I had a good run with no big mistakes, just behind Tyler's time and well ahead of Joe's, but Kevin laid down the best run I've ever seen him ski and increased his lead over me by a second, keeping me in third. It was a fun race.

Here are some links to USSA's stories on the downhill and the super G. No story in today's Vail paper about yesterday's race, but they did run a pretty sweet photo of Nick on the cover.

Friday, March 25, 2005

some redemption

After yesterday's disappointing 5th place, I made the podium today for only the second time this season — 3rd in the super G here in Vail. I am pretty happy with my run, especially one section that I skied well where almost everyone else messed up. Chris and Nick had outstanding runs, though, and they deserved to beat me.

Here's an article from today's Vail newspaper about yesterday's race. It included this pretty cool photo of me.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

this is only a funny link

if you are easily amused by the poor quality of computer translation: a post from the blog of the Portland band Phantom Buffalo.

a bit of a disappointment

Well, the weather today ended up being just fine, alternating between sun, clouds, and light snow flurries. As a result, we were able to run today's 2-run downhill as scheduled. I had two totally decent runs, basically equal to my training runs over the past couple of days. Unfortunately for me, everyone else really stepped up their game. In the end I finished fifth, behind Chris, Roger Lee, Nick, and Joe. Definitely a disappointment after my string of second-place finishes in the training runs, but the first six of us were all pretty close, within a few seconds of each other after two runs. It's hard to be happy about my performance when I'm so bummed about my result, but I know I should be. I have three more chances this week to hit the podium.

Latest absolutely amazing song I've heard: "Maps of Egypt" by the Portland, Maine-based band Seekonk. (Listen to a sample on iTunes.)

Last incredibly depressing movie I've seen: Osama, a film about an Afghani girl living under Taliban rule who tries to pass as a boy in order to feed her family.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

March in Colorado: sunny to snowy in 3 minutes flat

I don't think I've ever been in this position before: I might have won the silver medal in the downhill at nationals, or I might not have... yet. Today was supposed to be the second day of training for the downhill race, but this afternoon snow clouds moved in and quickly erased the sunny, warm weather we had yesterday and this morning. We got the training runs off in time, but if the snow keeps up tonight as forecasted, we may be unable to hold the race tomorrow as forecasted. If we still can't run it Friday or Saturday (in addition to the other races already scheduled for those days), the results of the last two runs of downhill training will count as the race, and I will be in second place. (A further complication: downhill races are usually just one run, but because the Vail race hill is fairly short, we are running a two-run "sprint downhill" where the times are combined, like in GS and slalom.)

In any case, I'm mostly pretty happy with how I've been skiing in training. In yesterday's run I was second behind Chris, and I was second and fourth in today's two runs. My second run today was actually my fastest yet, but Nick and Roger Lee of Winter Park stepped it up and snuck in between Chris and me. Still, my combined time from the two runs today was second-fastest.

I'm listening to the new album by Queens of the Stone Age. It rocks.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Bode mania

Just some miscellaneous links today as I finish up packing the van for the drive east:

Even USA Today has jumped on the Bode bandwagon, running a cover story on him today. There's also a really cool photo gallery of him on their website.

According to the ornithologist quoted in a "Week In Review" article in Sunday's New York Times, an estimated one billion birds fly into buildings each year in the United States alone. My roommate, Josh, calculated that works out to 3.1 collisions per second. That sounds feasible enough to me, but Josh was skeptical, saying he has rarely seen it happen.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

March madness

So, my schedule for the rest of the month is finally starting to shape up...

The doc still says I can't ski until 3 weeks after my crash, so that would be just in time to for downhill training at nationals in Vail, which begin on the 22nd. That means I have like two weeks to kill however I please. I have to get my car back east during that time so I can fly straight back from nationals for the beginning of spring classes; I have decided to take the most circuitous route possible. This Thursday and Friday I'll drive from Colorado to Chicago and then spend the weekend with my friend Abby (and hopefully Shifra as well). Then on Monday and Tuesday I'll head down to Washington, D.C. and visit Will M. and Seth, and finally back up to Maine (with a possible stop in NYC). Then on Monday the 21st I'll fly back out to CO for nationals. Whew.

When is every airline going to have something like this? This is 2005, for Pete's sake; people need to get online. It should be free, even.

Friday, March 04, 2005

last day in Europe

We're packing up now and getting ready to head out at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning and catch a flight from Zurich to Washington DC to Denver. Hannah and I visited Ben in the hospital today and he was in really good shape, considering that he basically broke his neck... no neurological damage, luckily. Monte won the slalom today in the men's standing category — his first win of the season, and he really deserved it. I'll close with a great quote from yesterday's Word-A-Day email:

A man said to the universe: "Sir I exist!" "However," replied the universe, "The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation." -Stephen Crane, writer (1871-1900)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

off days (for me anyway)

Today was GS and yesterday was super G here in Klosters, and Hannah and I continued to sit out the races. Today we went up and watched the second run of the GS, which was a tricky course that claimed a number of the top skiers. Chris had problems but still held on to finish 3rd. Laurie improved her streak to an amazing 11 consecutive World Cup wins in GS, beginning last season with a win in her first-ever World Cup GS.

By now my face has turned a very interesting assortment of colors, and my cuts and scrapes have scabbed over. This morning my right eye was swollen almost shut, which made it really hard to get my contact lens in. It feels fine, but I wore sunglasses to breakfast. I think my vanity is injured worse than my face.

The injuries on the team just continue to pile up. In addition to Sandy, Hannah and me, one of our ski technicians, Ben Roberts, was injured today when he accidentally skied off a 5-foot drop and landed on his back. Good thing we only have one more race left — only one more chance for people to get injured.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


What a day... It started with me ready to have my best downhill run ever, and ended with me in the hospital. After inspection, I was warming up on the trail adjacent to the downhill. Suddenly I was lying on the ground with 15 or 20 people standing around me asking me in various languages if I was OK. I was really confused because I couldn't remember crashing. Thinking about it more, I could remember that I was in Klosters at a race, but I wasn't sure what time it was or whether today was a race day and, if so, what event we were skiing. At one point, Tyler skied by and asked if I was OK. I remember responding, "I can't remember shit." Ski patrol (or "SOS," as it's called here) showed up and asked me what happened. I was starting to piece it together. I remembered skiing down the final pitch on the hill, trying to carry a lot of speed down onto the flats. But on the far right-hand side of the trail, where I was skiing, there was a big compression at the bottom of the steep pitch, a sort of gully followed by a decent-sized roll. I was aware of the terrain, having crashed there during warm-up the day before when it caught me by surprise. This time I thought I was prepared for the compression and would be able to ski right through it by staying strong and deliberate. It didn't turn out that way. I remember staying upright as I hit the compression, but it must have thrown me off balance so that I flew off the next roll off-kilter and slammed into the ground face-first. Or so I can conjecture, based on the goggle-shaped pattern of the bruises on my face.

I felt fine apart from a little soreness in my neck and face. I asked if I could just ski down, but the toepiece of my binding had snapped off from the binding plate on my ski, so that was out of the question. (My watch snapped off my wrist too, but someone found it, luckily — it was a high school graduation present from my parents.) The ski patrollers must have gotten me out of my monoski and into their sled, but I don't remember that part. I just remember riding down in the toboggan — my first time ever — and looking up at the sky. By now I had realized that it was downhill race day and that I would miss the race. I got angry at myself for making such a stupid mistake and blowing my shot at what could have been my first World Cup podium. I think I started crying.

In the patrol room, Ralph stepped inside and asked how I was doing. I said I would be fine, and that he should "go get 'em." (He later told me it was like a scene in a bad movie. You know, like, "I'll be OK. Go win it for me!") A doctor showed up and introduced himself, and our team physio trainer Alison arrived too. They wanted to take me to the hospital in an ambulance since I'd obviously had a concussion. They also put a neck brace on me. At the time this seemed unnecessary, but as I'm writing this now my neck sure is sore. At the hospital, they let me get into my wheelchair. They X-rayed my neck and made me lie down in a bed for a couple hours for "observation." Alison left to go find our team doctor, Peter, who had been taking another injured athlete to the airport. A nice Australian-born nurse checked on me every so often; it was a comfort to talk to someone who spoke fluent English. A Swiss doctor arrived and introduced himself. My X-rays showed some stiffness in my neck but no fractures, he said. Even though I was showing none of the usual concussion symptoms like dizziness, nausea, or tingling in my hands, he wanted to keep me in the hospital overnight as a precaution. When Peter arrived, though, he convinced the other doctor to release me into his care and let me go back to the hotel for the night. By the time we sorted out all the paperwork and drove back to Klosters, it was 5:30 pm or so. (The accident had happened around 10:45 am.)

It turned out that there had been a lot of casualties at the race that day, with numerous holds to get injured racers out of the safety fencing. One guy even had to get airlifted to the hospital by helicopter. My teammate Hannah finished her run and then crashed into the fence in the finish area while trying to stop, injuring her knee. Nick crashed three gates from the finish, but was unhurt. Other than us three, it was a good day for our team, though. Laurie took second in her class, and Joe won the race in my category, the sitting men's. Chris took third. (results) In fact, the guys on the podium were the same three who had been fastest in training the day before, and in the same order. Since I had been fourth the day before, it was painful to realize that I certainly would have had a shot at a top-5 finish or even a podium.

Because of the concussion, I'm not allowed to ski for the rest of the trip, and maybe not for a week or two after that. There's just too much of a risk of a much more severe head injury if I were to crash again. So right now, the super G race is about to start and I'm chilling in the hotel for the day. I have plenty to do: books, music, DVDs, Internet, chatting with Hannah, getting my watch fixed. Tomorrow and the next day, I think I'll go up to the hill and watch the GS and slalom from the finish area. Then on Saturday, we'll fly home to Colorado.

My face is pretty bruised up — I should have someone take a picture — and my neck is sore, but I feel pretty much fine. I slept soundly last night except when Peter woke me up periodically to make sure I was OK. It's a huge bummer to miss these last four races, especially when I was skiing well and had a good chance of moving up to the B-team based on the final World Cup standings. But as everyone keeps reminding me, at least I'm not hurt worse.

If anyone else has any good concussion stories, post them in the comments section, would you?