Friday, December 30, 2005

park city, day one

I've gotta start posting regularly again.

I got back to Colorado Wednesday evening after a restful few days at home in Maine for Christmas. But yesterday I packed up my stuff again and Ralph and I drove nine hours through a snowstorm, mostly in the dark, to Park City, Utah. (There are some pretty desolate stretches of road between Winter Park and here, let me tell you.) We have races here Jan. 3–5, but we decided to come over a few days early to get in some training and free skiing and help out a little with the Park City Disabled Ski Team's training camp, which starts tomorrow. Today we slept in before taking a half-dozen runs in the afternoon. Park City is a great place to be if you're a U.S. Ski Teamer: since USSA's headquarters is here, we get treated well and get free season passes to the ski area. Through disabled skiing connections, we also get to stay really cheaply at the National Ability Center's beautiful, recently built bunkhouse at their ranch outside of town. The rest of the team will be joining us here on Sunday, and we'll also be sharing the place with disabled ski teams from Australia and Canada.

After a day of pretty wet snowfall here today, I'm very thankful for my new electric glove dryers. Thanks, mom & dad!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mortgage Capital

That's what it says on a sign outside the second floor of the building I live in. I don't know much about mortgages, but I'm guessing the kind of "capital" they mean here is "wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available or contributed for a particular purpose such as starting a company or investing" (thanks, NOAD!). Nonetheless, it makes me think of the Jay-Z song "Lucifer," where Jay raps the line, "I'm from the murder capital, where we murder for capital." I think there should be a Herbert Kornfeld-like white rapper from, like, Connecticut who raps about how he's "from the mortgage capital, where we mortgage for capital." I have this thought every time I see the sign as I'm entering my building.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

race results, etc.

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.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

why ski movies are like pornography

Last night my roommate and I went to see a screening of Matchstick Productions' latest movie, The Hit List (watch the trailer). It was a sweet movie, full of amazing skiing footage, and I even ordered the DVD. It occurred to me only later that evening how much ski movies have in common with porn:

  • Probably 90% of the audience for them are men.

  • They can inspire you to try something new that you've just seen on the screen and never realized was even possible.

  • You usually watch them as a substitute for the real thing. Or when you're not getting enough of the real thing. If you're doing a lot of amazing skiing of your own, you have little use for ski movies. But in the middle of the summer, you can watch ski movies to satisfy a craving.

  • Sure, you can always fantasize about being that good. But the people in them are way better at what they're doing on camera than you'll ever be.