Thursday, December 21, 2006

what makes bode different

If you've been following the current World Cup season, you may know that Bode Miller already has three wins this year, more than he won all last season. He's still as unpredictable as ever — winning one day and missing a gate five seconds into a course the next day — but he's still one of my role models in ski racing, for one simple reason: he races for himself and no one else. He wrote a whole book outlining his philosophy on this, but I think it's summed up well in something I just read in his online diary:

"The best run I've ever laid down was in Val Gardena back in 2001 — I came in 6th, but to this day it stands out in my mind as nearly perfect. "

Is Bode Miller just delusional, or does he have a bad sense of when he's skiing well and when he's not? I don't think that's the case. There might be a hundred reasons he didn't win that day (bad wax choice, a strong gust of wind while he was on course), but if he's never felt better on his skis than he did that day, and he can recall that feeling and harness it for future performances, that's something significant. For 99% of athletes, if you ask them to recall their best day, it will be a day they had their best results. But not for Bode: he has that rarest of abilities, the power to separate his own feelings about his performance from the outcome associated with it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

bramble in n.y. times

As astute NTAA reader Botice has pointed out, the sports section of yesterday's New York Times featured a profile of my teammate Kevin Bramble, Paralympic downhill champion, monoski designer/builder, and lover of cannabis, alcohol, and women. You can read the story here (free registration required).

The article begins with the observation, "Kevin Bramble is a madman." This is not inaccurate. The whole profile, in fact, does a pretty excellent job of deconstructing one of the most intriguing and self-contradictory people I've ever met. This is a guy who, at times, literally seems not to care whether he lives or dies, and yet seems to survive incidents no one else could; a guy who tells a story about getting banned from a particular California town for an incident involving an underaged girl, an empty wine bottle, and a video camera, and yet has told me, passionately, about his desire to meet a woman to settle down with (he's now engaged, apparently); a guy who gets more media coverage than anyone on the team except maybe Ralph and who bragged to the Times that he has "taken [my] sport to a place it had never been" and yet is easily the most down-to-earth person on the team; a guy who never trains and has atrocious technique, yet regularly wins downhill races by full seconds; a guy who wants to be a successful businessman and yet missed an appointment to meet with me so I could try his monoski and perhaps purchase one — because he was in jail. As a result, I'm one of the three current U.S. team members who doesn't ski on his equipment, but somehow I still like the guy.

There are a few facts the article doesn't get quite right. For starters, a caption implies that the accompanying photo shows Bramble building a monoski; in fact it appears to be some kind of wakeboard. And the story says that he "left" the team in 1999 because he wanted to go powder skiing instead of racing, while my impression on that trip was that he was kicked off the team for telling a staff member to go fuck himself. And Bramble himself is wrong when he dismisses the accomplishments of Bode Miller, saying "He didn’t invent the skis. He hasn’t redefined the convention”; in fact, that is pretty much exactly what Bode did at the Junior Olympics in the late 1990s when he became the first racer to have significant success using new super-sidecut skis. But the article's only egregious error is one of omission: it doesn't mention Bramble's significant "lifestyle-related" health problems, which (combined with his distaste for training) have kept him from attending any team training camps or competitions since the Paralympics. Given that there are no downhills scheduled on the disabeld race circuit this year, I'll be surprised if we see him show up to a single race this year other than the X Games sit-skiercross at Aspen in January. For all intents and purposes, Kevin Bramble seems to be retired.

coincidence? OK, yeah, probably.

Who knows, maybe the art director of Jay-Z's 2006 Kingdom Come was a fan of Warren Zevon's 1978 Excitable Boy. (Or maybe Hova himself is? Now that would be odd.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


USSA got around to putting out a press release about Friday's GS in Breckenridge. Our head coach Ray had some nice things to say about me, and they put a very unflattering photo of me at the top. I like these better, althought I'm still making the same weird constipated face in the action shot. You can see and download these photos and others here.
From the New York Times:

BAGHDAD, Dec. 12 — At least 56 people, most of them laborers looking for work, were killed today when a pickup truck packed with explosives was detonated in a crowded square in the city’s center this morning, Iraqi officials and witnesses said. At least 220 more were wounded.
American military officials have described the battle for control of Baghdad as a steady stream of individual killings of Sunnis carried out by Shiite death squads, punctuated by bombings and larger attacks carried out by Sunni insurgents or Al Qaeda members against Shiites
The speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mahmud Mashhadani, a Sunni, also denounced the attack, saying it was the work of “outlaws and those without a religion.”

Riiiiiight. This sure sounds like the work of the Iraqi Militant Atheists' Brigade. We just need to teach the bombers to be more passionate Muslims and this will all be solved.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Wikipedia has a category for almost everything. They should have a category for "People whose names and biographies sound like they should be fictitious, but aren't." Then they could include 47-year-old Mexican ski racer Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who raced in the World Cup super combi race held yesterday in Reiteralm, Austria, placing last — about 24 seconds behind winner Ivica Kostelic and 16 seconds behind the second-to-last-place finisher.

Free U.S. Ski Team pin to the first reader who posts here with the correct pronunciation of the name Hohenlohe. (And I don't know the answer, so you better also convince me you're right.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

sometimes you win by not losing

I managed a win in today's GS, even though I skied better yesterday. A mistake in the first run left me in third place, two seconds behind Tyler and one behind Nick after CDY and Gerald both crashed. My second run was solid but I didn't think it'd be enough to move me up to first or second. I didn't count on both of my remaining teammates crashing, giving me my second career Nor-Am win.

Here are some links to a press release and photos from yesterday's slalom. Both of those sites should have updates for today's race pretty soon.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

close, but no cigarillo

First race of the young season today in Breckenridge, Colo. We raced slalom first and I've been feeling pretty positive about my slalom these days, so I felt a lot of pressure from myself to perform well. On the first run I totally did, winning the run by about a second. I didn't make any real mistakes, but I didn't feel outstanding either so it was a nice result to beat some of my perennial rivals like Tyler and CDY.

I'd only been in that position after the first run once or twice before, and it's tough. It's way too easy to start picturing myself on the podium when the race is only halfway over. I had to keep refocusing myself over and over again as I waited a couple hours for my second run. Sixteen male monoskiers had finished the first run, which meant that that after the top fifteen were reversed to determine the second-run start order I'd be starting second-to-last — way too much time to sit at the top and think about how I could win, how I could crash, and that I really had to pee. When I finally pushed out of the gate I skied just as well as I had in the first run until I got to the course's only flush. I bobbled coming out of it, and while I recovered almost immediately, I had lost a little bit of momentum. The rest of the run was smooth, but when I crossed the line I knew I had given too much away. Sure enough, Tyler beat me by 0.4 seconds or so.

Despite that, I certainly learned something today about being in the lead, and I was stoked about my skiing.

Monday, December 04, 2006

USSA press release

Disabled Alpine Tunes Up at Keystone Team Set for Hartford Ski Spectacular

KEYSTONE, Colo. (Dec. 4.) - The U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Team capitalized on the recent training agreement with Keystone Resort, scoring five days of unparalleled training on the U.S. Ski Team's exclusive Starfire training run on North Peak.

"It was the best training we've had in a long time," said Coach Ben Roberts. "It was great for us to be on a steep, challenging hill with hard snow. We are expecting these conditions at our Aspen World Cups (Jan. 17-21) so it was great preparation for those races. Everything the Alpine Team has been saying about how great the training is at Keystone was is true."

It was the third and final on-snow training for the Team before the competition season opens Dec. 7 with the 19th Annual Hartford Ski Spectacular at Breckenridge, CO."The opportunity for us as members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team to train on the same hill as the U.S. Alpine Teams was invaluable," said 15-year veteran Chris Devlin-Young (sit-ski; Campton, NH). "We had very hard snow and steep terrain, just like at our World Cups. We almost never see conditions like this during training, only at our races."Devlin-Young was joined by George Sansonetis (standup; Fraser, CO), Ralph Green (standup; Brooklyn, NY), Hannah Pennington (standup; Denver, CO), Sandy Dukat (standup; Chicago, IL), Carl Burnett (sit-ski; Cape Elizabeth, ME), Brad Washburn (standup; Highlands Ranch, CO) and Gerald Hayden (sit-ski; Fresno, CA). Also on board for the week were development athletes Ian Jansing (Granby, CO) and Ricci Kilgore (Reno, NV) of the Winter Park National Sports Center plus their coaches Hiro Taniguchi and Erik Petersen along with volunteer coach Matt Weiler from Aspen's Team Summit.

"The training was incredible," added Coach Kurt Smitz. "It was really nice to catch up with John McBride (combined coach for the men's Alpine Team) and the other alpine coaches who were on the hill with us and at the NorAm. Our athletes are really stepping up in preparation for our first races."

To continue that preparation, the team now heads to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, to wrap up their series of physical testing sessions before opening the season at Breckenridge.

19th Annual Hartford Ski Spectacular Schedule:
Dec. 7 - Slalom
Dec. 8 - Giant Slalom
Dec. 9 - Corporate Challenge

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Disabled Alpine World Cup to Open in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo. (Nov. 22) - The U.S. Disabled Ski Team is set to open the 2007 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine World Cup tour Jan. 17-21 at Aspen Mountain. Hosted by Challenge Aspen, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Aspen Skiing Company, the U.S. Team joins more than 15 nations in the quest for the Nations Cup.
Over 80 athletes will compete in super G, giant slalom and slalom for a total of six out of 17 World Cup races on the 2007 schedule

"Challenge Aspen is very excited to host the fastest disabled skiers in the world this January and show the town of Aspen how incredible they really are," says Kevin Jardine, Director Of Skiing.

Jardine and Bryan Peterson, both residents of the Roaring Fork Valley, were coaches for the 2006 U.S. Paralympic Team and the U.S. Disabled Alpine Team. They have been instrumental in securing the bid for the Disabled World Cup and are working for a successful event as members of the local organizing committee.

Following the Aspen races, the World Cup will move on to British Columbia for three competitions before taking a short training break. Five more races will then run in early March in Abtenau, Austria, before the World Cup finals slated for Arte Therme Zoncolan, Italy on March 14.

Aspen/Snowmass, considered one of the worlds top ski areas since the Aspen Skiing Company hosted its first FIS World Championships in 1950, has become an international hub of sport and culture. The picturesque ski resort was chosen to host this years event based upon the excitement and support of area residents during prior World Cup events. World Cup racing events have helped build Aspen/Snowmass' reputation as one of the top ski resorts in the world.

Volunteers interested in working with the World Cup races are asked to contact Evan Zislis at Challenge Aspen at 970.923.0578, extension 17, or via email at

Friday, November 17, 2006

Raich, Schild to join mile-high club?


Sunday, 12 November 2006
LEVI, Finland — What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. Benjamin Raich kick-started his defense of the overall World Cup title with a runaway win in the opening men's slalom, matching the result his girlfriend Marlies Schild had registered one day earlier. ... "It is great to win like this after what Marlies did yesterday,” Raich said. "Marlies will fly back with me on the plane and we'll get a chance to celebrate this together. It's really nice."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

tux article & photos

I just discovered this press release about our Hintertux training camp the U.S. Ski Team website. The article has a quote from me and a photo of me skiing slalom. If you want to download a full-res version of the photo and see pictures of some of my teammates from the camp, head right over here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

update from WP

I made the move from Boulder back up to Winter Park last week, just after getting home from Austria, and now I'm getting settled in up here. (The Comcast guy was here this morning to set up broadband, and damn is it fast.) I'm living in the same apartment I was in last winter, with my teammate Gerald. There's been a foot of snow on the ground here for a couple weeks now, and the ski area is making a lot of snow, too. We racers get to start skiing here this Wednesday, and then the resort opens to the public on the 15th.

If you need to write to me here, my address is the same as it was last year:
P.O. Box 3090
Winter Park, CO 80482

And my physical (shipping) address is:
21 Kings Crossing Road, Apt. 302
Winter Park, CO 80482

As a side note, this week's New York Times Magazine has a nice primer on how neologisms enter the OED.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

last day in Tux

Today was supposed to be our last day of training here in Hintertux, but lots of rain meant the snow was too soft to set a course. (Click here, here and here to see the view up there on the glacier at the moment; as I write this, it's a whiteout on the upper two cams.) So we're back at the hotel packing up our stuff and relaxing a bit. Tomorrow morning at 4:45 a.m. we'll leave for the Munich airport and then back to the States.

This has been a pretty productive couple of weeks for me. I haven't made any major advances in my skiing, but I've become more consistent, especially in my slalom skiing, and I've relished the chance to do plenty of skiing on sub-optimal snow conditions. In particular, it's been helpful to get out on some of the glare glacial ice, the real hard stuff that I used to train on back in Maine but don't see very often — OK, ever — in Winter Park. In fact, the skiing here during this camp has reminded me how helpful it is to ski on that stuff, so I'm thinking about taking my ski equipment home to Maine with me when I go back for Thanksgiving or Christmas and doing some training with my old ski team at Sunday River.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Today I rode up the gondola with a guy in sixties named Hans. He lives half an hour away in Mayrhofen and has spent his whole life here in the Zillertal valley. He learned to ski as a small boy in these mountains. His family owns a farm in a village he pointed out on the other side of the mountain, but now Hans works in the mountaintop lodge on Hintertux Glacier, serving tourists. I might've thought he'd be bitter about having to make his living from tourism after his ancestors made theirs from working the land, but he saw things differently. Before tourism and modern farm machinery came to Tirol, he said, people had to work too hard just to survive. In the early 1900s, he said, lots of people in Zillertal left Austria for more prosperous places; his uncle emigrated to Chicago, where he opened a schnapps distillery that counted "all the important people" among its clientele. The uncle married an American woman but died childless, so Hans no longer has relatives in America.

I asked Hans if the glacier used to be bigger than it is now. "Oh yes," he said. When he was a child — before the Gletscherbahn, when you could only get up to the glacier on horseback — they used to have to struggle to keep the glacier from tearing down the Spannagelhaus. Now, that building is separated from the glacial ice by several hundred meters of rocks and dirt.


When operating a European TV remote control, why in the hell are you required to press "1" instead of "Power" to turn the TV on? If someone could explain the origin of this utterly ridiculous practice, I would be eternally grateful.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

the push

First of all, check out this sweet 360-degree panorama image of Hintertux Glacier that I just found on their website.

Today was our fourth day on snow here in Austria. The last three days we've trained GS on the same narrow lane. One of the things about training in Europe is that teams set their courses very close to one another, and it can be a nerve-wracking experience skiing 30 m.p.h. down a course, with another skier two meters away skiing a parallel course at the same speed — not much room for error. It's funny how much has been made lately of the American trend toward doing everything faster and more recklessly, when it's the Euros who seem to be faster and ruder with everything they do.

A prime example is the phenomenon known — on our team, anyway — as "the push." The push happens every morning around 7:45 in the parking lot of the Hintertuxer Gletscherbahn gondola, when several hundred junior ski teams crowd into a small area between metal barricades, vying to be one of the first on the gondola when it opens at 8:00 a.m. It's one of those sights that has to be seen to be believed: something happens to make one or two people decide that the gondola might be about to open and pandemonium breaks loose, every kid and coach grabbing his or her equipment and pressing forward against each other to try to get as close to the lift entrance as possible. It's a free-for-all that's simultaneously hilarious and pretty disturbing. I'm sure people have been trampled in the push; this is exactly how people die at rock concerts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kildow's Spirit Award Enables Six Physically Disabled Female Skiers Chance to Compete at The Hartford Ski Spectacular in December

U.S. Paralympics // October 17, 2006

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, has announced that it will sponsor six aspiring female Paralympic skiers at the 19th Annual Hartford Ski Spectacular in December, thanks in large part to the generosity of Lindsey Kildow, 21, (St. Paul, Minn./alpine skiing) two-time Olympian and winner of the 2006 U.S. Olympic Spirit Award Delivered by DHL. DHL provided a grant of $5,000 on Kildow’s behalf, which was to be donated to a qualified Olympic or Paralympic-related non-profit organization of her choice. Kildow chose U.S. Paralympics. Excited by her gesture, U.S. Paralympics has chosen to match her donation in an effort to reach out to as many prospective Paralympic skiers as possible.

“Our goal in assisting six women to Ski Spectacular is twofold,” said Stacey Wooley, Associate Director Winter Sports, U.S. Paralympics. “We want to create a developmental outlet for middle echelon skiers to compete, in hopes of developing a direct feed to the National Team. We also want to boost the number of elite female athletes vying for a spot on the team.”

Athletes will be chosen by U.S. Paralympics based on their previous participation in local skiing programs and coach recommendations. The top six will participate at The Hartford’s 19th Annual Ski Spectacular, Dec. 3-10, 2006, in Breckenridge, Colo.

Paralympic-eligible disciplines include sitting, standing and visually-impaired. Applications can be found online at Once there, click on the link in the left-hand column of the page. All completed applications should be faxed to Stacey Wooley’s attention at (719) 866-2029. The deadline to apply is November 6, 2006.

Kildow became the first athlete in the history of the award to win despite not winning a medal at the Olympic Games. Despite being hospitalized after a spectacular training run accident on the second day of the downhill practice, Kildow returned to the slopes to compete the next day, finishing eighth. Still struggling with the injuries, she demonstrated incredible courage and commitment and went on to compete in four of her five events which resulted in two top-ten placements.

During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, DHL honors two individual athletes (one male and one female) and one team with the Olympic Spirit Award for best representing the Olympic Spirit through their courage, commitment, performance, perseverance and vision, both in competition and in pursuit of their Olympic dream.

For more information, please contact Beth Bourgeois, U.S. Paralympics, at (719) 866-2039 or

bis Hintertux

It's great to be back in the Tux Valley in Zillertal, Tirol, Austria. This is a really special place that I've been lucky enough to visit for three years in a row now. To get here you take the highway to Meyerhofen and then drive 20 km up a narrow mountain road that passes through half a dozen small villages. Each village has several classic-looking, family-run hotels and restaurants and a bahn (gondola/cable car) that takes you up the surrounding peaks. Some of these are closed this time of year, but others continue to shuttle hikers up throughout the off-season. At the end of the road you come to the town of Hintertux and then the bottom station of Hintertuxer Gletscherbahn, the series of three gondolas that take you up to the glacier. Our hotel, the Hintertuxerhof, is near the gondola station and surrounded by green, pungent-smelling farmland. There is really nothing like going outside at 7:30 a.m. into cold, sunny air that reeks of cow manure. The three Gletscherbahn lifts take you up 1750 vertical meters (5740 feet) in about 45 minutes; when you get to the top you're in what Zillertal's tourism board calls "Die Gletscher-Welt" — the Glacier World — and it's a really appropriate name. You feel like you're on another planet, with blinding white everwhere, dotted by huge rocky outcroppings, gray and blue cravasses in the ice fields that lie in between the groomed pistes, and then lots of green farmland, houses, barns, and hotels far, far below. From one of the T-bar lifts you can see a swatch of farmland, with a house and a barn, down in an otherwise uninhabited valley over a mile from the town of Hintertux. The dirt road to get there is insane, winding up over an imposing peak; in winter there must be no way to get there except by snowmobile or on skis. This is the way the people here still live, old Tyrolean farmers living alongside flashily dressed ski coaches from Innsbruck.

Actually, the coaches and athletes training here right now are from all over the world. It's common to see ski and snowboard teams here from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Korea, and all over Europe, especially the Eastern European countries that don't have strong alpine skiing traditions but are getting more and more competitive on the world scene: Russia, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria... last year I even saw teams from Greece and Israel. In addition to our team, there are also disabled skiers training here now from Finland, Slovakia, and the U.K. Everyone is busy up on the glacier from 8 a.m. till noon or 1, running courses, riding T-bars and generally failing to notice what an amazing place this is. Then in the afternoon everyone comes down off the hill, goes back to their hotels, and then goes outside into the 60-degree weather to go hiking, play tennis and soccer, and just generally enjoy the sunshine.

Today was our first day on snow, so we were mostly on our own, getting readjusted to skiing and riding T-bars and trying to remember all the things we were working on improving at Mt. Hood in July. We have two weeks of training here, so in a few days we'll start running courses and by the end we should be taking timed, race-like runs.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

getting ready for Tux

It's October, which means that Northern Hemisphere ski resorts are starting to get new snow. (Some American resorts, like Loveland in Colorado, should be opening pretty soon.) It also means it's almost time for the U.S. team's annual training camp on the glacier at Hintertux, in Austria (live cams: 1 2 3). We depart next Monday, the 16th, and will be there until the 30th. I'm looking forward to being back on snow for the first time since July, and also to being back in the Alps. Most of us on the team have certain things we've come to love about central Europe; for me it's the coffee and the chocolate, and of course the mountains themselves. The only things I'm not looking forward to: (1) the heady manure smell that dominates the Tux river valley until it starts snowing down there, and (2) not being able to watch the World Series on TV.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

USDST bios

The 2006-07 U.S. Disabled Ski Team still has yet to be officially announced, but I noticed that USSA does have our new bios up over at (If you're a regular reader of this site but some of the names look unfamiliar, that's because they lumped the disabled nordic team in with us on that list.) I guess mine is okay, but they always seem to think I've been on the team for a year less than I actually have. (They forgot to list me as a 2002 Paralympian, too.) And then there are a few of the usual typos, of course...

In other news, I've been doing some contributing to Wikipedia lately. Some of the articles written mostly by me are Paralympic alpine skiing, United States at the 2006 Winter Paralympics, Mexico at the 2006 Winter Paralympics, IPC Disabled Alpine World Cup, Disabled Alpine Skiing World Championships, Monoski, Chris Devlin-Young, Seekonk (band), and Phantom Buffalo.

Monday, September 18, 2006

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

The whole pirate meme does seem to be getting a little bit played-out, but here's one cause to rally behind: Tomorrow, September 19, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. A note on pirate speech from holiday co-founder John Baur, courtesy of AWAD:
I've often heard people talk about pirates' "cockney accents." Wrong! The stereotypical pirate has a Cornish accent, based on the performance of Long John Silver by actor Robert Newton in the 1950 Disney version of Treasure Island. He was from Cornwall, and his over-the-top performance and native accent are the reason people think that's what a pirate sounded like. Of course, pirates came from all nationalities. But the pop culture image is firmly embedded, and Robert Newton is the reason why.

VANOC unveils 2010 emblem

I'm getting a good feeling about the organizing committee for the Vancouver Paralympics and Olympics. They seem to be treating the Paralympics as every bit the equal of the Olympics — case in point: the launch ceremony for the Paralympic logo was a big celebration with performances from some big names in Canadian pop music. Another good sign: the Vancouver 2010 website has no separate Paralympic section like the Torino and Salt Lake City sites did; the Paralympic news and content are fully integrated in the main site, and the Flash photo gallery on its home page mixes shots of Olympians and Paralympians. In fact, the site's current top story and its featured web poll are both about the Paralympics at the moment.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

autumn sweater

Fall arrived in Boulder yesterday.

When I woke up, sun was streaming in my window but I could hear the wind howling outside over the noise of the neighbors' kids playing outside. The leaves don't turn lots of different colors here like they do back in New England, but they are starting to dry up and blow around in parking lots like the plastic bag in American Beauty. Jeremy and I went to the farmer's market on 13th Street in the afternoon and I felt like I was back in Maine or New Hampshire. It dawned on me that the reason I felt that way was that that was the first time I'd really experienced autumn, in the way I conceive it, in Colorado. Up in Winter Park, fall seems to be nothing more than a three-week period during which it could be sunny and 60 or it could snow. There is really very little in-between time up there. Now I'm looking forward to more beautiful fall days here in Boulder on my bike. I think one of the reasons I have such positive associations with this time of year is that it means ski season can't be far off.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

very large wine bottles

There are names for them. Except for 'magnum,' they are the names of biblical people, mostly kings. You probably knew this already, but I didn't:
  • A magnum holds the equivalent of two normal wine bottles (1.5 L).
  • A jeroboam holds the equivalent of four normal wine bottles (3 L).
  • A rehoboam holds the equivalent of six normal wine bottles (4.5 L).
  • A methuselah holds the equivalent of eight normal wine bottles (6 L).
  • A salmanazar holds the equivalent of twelve normal wine bottles (9 L).
  • A balthazar holds the equivalent of sixteen normal wine bottles (12 L).
  • A nebuchadnezzar holds the equivalent of twenty normal wine bottles (15 L).
  • A melchior holds the equivalent of twenty-four normal wine bottles (18 L)

If anyone would like to send me a melchior of champagne for my birthday next year, that would be cool.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

modern times

In case you've been living under a rock, Dylan's new album, Modern Times, came out yesterday. I love it and will have more to say about it in the future, but today I was pleasantly surprised to read that my current favorite track, "When the Deal Goes Down," is the first single. Today Sony launched a streamable video for the song on their website, starring Scarlett Johansson in a gorgeous clip shot on old film stock or with old-school lighting or something. (You film snobs out there can tell me what exactly they did to get this effect.) I would love it if there was a way to watch this on my roommate's 50" TV. Watch it here.

Update: Thanks to SJR, here's a link directly to the video file so you can download it and enjoy it in its full sun-washed glory.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

interesting obit

Dartmouth College consistently produced the best American skiers (alpine and nordic) of the early twentieth century. Many of them served in World War II and went on to distinguished careers both in and outside of the skiing world. Only a few of those pioneers of American ski racing still survive; Aug. 18 marked the death of one of Dartmouth skiing's standouts, Warren Chivers. You can read his obituary from Ski Racing here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 preview, part 2

The first entry I posted here from my forthcoming dictionary of ski racing terminology seemed to generate some buzz, so I might as well post another one today. (No citations for this one yet... if you come across one, please let me know.)

bib•bo informal
in sequential order according to bib number: After racer 15A, the race will be run bibbo.

arranged in bib order: a bibbo start order.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

2006-07 schedule

We just found out our preliminary training and racing schedule for the upcoming ski season, and it looks something like this. Let me know if you want to come watch a race somewhere or visit me in Winter Park in between events.

  • Sept. 8-12: U.S. Olympic Training Ctr., Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Oct. 16-30: Hintertux, Austria (team training camp)
  • Dec. 2-6: U.S. Olympic Training Ctr., Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Dec. 7-13: Breckenridge, Colo. (Ski Spectacular, Nor-Am SL/GS, speed training)
  • Jan. 2-8: Park City, Utah (Huntsman Cup, Nor-Am 2xGS/SL)
  • Jan. 16-22: Aspen, Colo. (World Cup 2xSG/2xGS/2xSL)
  • Jan. 25-29: Aspen, Colo. (Winter X Games XI monoskier-X, event date TBA)
  • Feb. 1-6: Winter Park, Colo. (Meridian Cup, Nor-Am SL/2xSG)
  • * Mar. 1-10: Abtenau, Austria (World Cup SL/2xGS/super combi/SG)
  • * Mar. 10-15: Zoncolan, Italy (World Cup Finals SL/GS/SG)
  • Mar. 19-25: Waterville Valley, N.H. (U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships DH/SG/GS/SL)
  • Mar. 29-Apr. 1: Vail, Colo. (SkiTAM team fundraiser)

*selected team members only

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Today I have been learning some interesting things about junk foods. For instance, I was fascinated to learn how Necco wafers are made and also which knock-off brands of Dr Pepper are best (and worst).

Monday, August 14, 2006

coming soon(ish)...!

As some of you may know, for the past six or eight months I've been working on a dictionary of ski racing terminology on historical principles — that is, following the lexicographical method (popularized by the OED) of including only words that have appeared in print and of including these print citations within each entry. (Yes, web pages count as print now, too.) So far I have a few hundred entries with preliminary definitions written for most of them, along with citations for many, drawn from such sources as Ski Racing, rec.skiing.alpine, Bode Miller's Bode: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun, and Hermann Maier's The Race of My Life. Next on my reading list are Mike Wilson's Right On the Edge of Crazy and Bill Johnson's Ski to Die.

Here is a little sneak preview of a sample entry for you NTAA readers:

verb [ intrans. ]
bend sideways at the ankles, knees, or hips so as to tip the skis on edge : 1994 From what I remember, they recommended somewhere between 1-2.5 degrees of angulation, making you slightly knock-kneed. This allows you initiate a turn instantly without having to angulate to get your ski on edge first. I had a race instructor cant me for this, and it makes a phenomenal difference. (rec.skiing.alpine, “Boot cant,” 12/18/94) • 2002 “Gretchen [Bleiler] is one of the few women freestylers that angulates real well,” [Pete DelGuidice] says. (SR, 12/27/02)

[ trans. ] 1994 Top racers are stuffing amazingly thick shims under their bindings to elevate the boot and improve their ability to angulate the ski. (rec.skiing.alpine, “new Ski Manufacturer wants input!,” 10/24/94)

ang•u•la•tion noun : 2003 [U.S. Ski Team coaches] also talk a lot about snow contact, pressure distribution and balance through angulation. (SR, 11/12/03)

Feedback welcomed in the comments section...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

language wars

It seems that Iran has joined France as the latest country making a futile attempt to rid its language of so-called impurities. It would be nice if all the politicians trying to make English the "official" or "national" language would read that little AP story, make some offhanded comment about the futility of trying to prevent "pizza" from entering Farsi, and then have it pointed out by an impartial observer that they are trying to legislate something just as un-legislatable. (There, I just made up a word. Come and get me, language purists!)

Friday, July 28, 2006


The name of this airport has always reminded me of the bacteria giardia. Assuming you find bacteria distateful, the comparison is apt. I sat on my plane from Portland for about 35 minutes before the people showed up with the ramp and aisle chair to get me off the damn thing. (Fortunately, I have lots of time to kill here before my flight to Denver.) They have the weirdest system of transferring between the different terminals here; you have to take a bus that's not wheelchair accessible, only comes every 15 minutes or so, and leaves not from the gate area but from baggage claim... wha??

After I get in to Denver, I have to pick up my monoski from Aspen Seating, go home to Boulder and pack, and then head back to the airport tomorrow to fly to Mt. Hood for a one-week training camp. I'm looking forward to it though.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I've been home in Maine for the past 8 days or so. I figured I should mention that, although I don't have much to write right now. Been hanging out with Jared, Elise, and the fam... went to a couple Sea Dogs games; they're kicking ass right now. Heading back to Boulder on Friday.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

tapioca time bomb

The following is a genuine news story from 1972:

CARDIFF, Wales, Sept. 14 (AP) — The biggest tapioca pudding in the world is cooking in the hold of a fire-swept Swiss freighter and threatening to split the vessel at its seams.

"It's like a huge tapioca time bomb," said an incredulous fire chief today as he watched the smoldering 12,165-ton Cassarate at the Cardiff docks.

Firemen earlier controlled the fire which started in timber stacked in the upper holds 25 days ago at sea. The crew kept the smoldering timber dampened until the ship docked here late [on September 12].

But the water from the Cardiff hoses seeped down to the lower holds where 1,500 tons of tapioca from Thailand were stored.

The water swelled the tapioca and the heat from the flames started to cook the sticky mess.

The swelling tapioca — enough to serve a million plates — could buckle the ship's steel plates, fire chiefs warned.

"It's got to burst somewhere," one said. "It will take dockers a couple of days to clear the smoldering lumber before we can reach the tapioca."

The plan is to load the gluey mess onto a fleet of trucks and dispose of it. One report said there was enough to fill 500 trucks.

But where do you dump 500 truckloads of tapioca pudding?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

grass skiing

This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen in my life.

For a while now I've been vaguely aware that the Fédération Internationale de Ski governs "grass skiing" as an official discipline — in fact, on the FIS website you can view grass skiing race schedules, results, competitor biographies, and official rules (even though nary a mention is to be found there of disabled alpine or cross-country skiing, both of which are administered jointly by the FIS and the IPC and which have hundreds of competitors and THEIR OWN FREAKING WORLD CUP CIRCUITS). (Not that I'm bitter.)

Nevertheless, until today I had never really investigated this "sport" or fully grasped how truly asinine it is. If you want to learn more about grass skiing history or technique, the place to start seems to be this website, the online home of Grass-Ski France. (Why doesn't it surprise me to learn that the French are really into something this dumb?) From that site I learned that the only place to go grass skiing in the United States is apparently Bryce Resort in Virginia, where its introduction is the brainchild of one Horst Locher, a German-American who says of the "sport": "It's kind of my baby... I still dream that it will grow big."

Keep dreaming, Horst. Keep dreaming. I can think of no better way to bastardize my favorite sport than by removing the essential ingredient: snow. Why not try swimming without water or playing baseball without a ball? Those might be fun, too. I bet grass skiing involves way too much friction, a much greater potential for injury, and a lot of overheating due to wearing too much protective gear in the hot sun, with a dose of hay fever thrown in for good measure.

But OK, I can hear you critics out there already: "How can you knock it if you haven't tried it, Carl?" This may or may not be a valid point. So here's what I'm proposing: if anyone reading this can find me a place to stay within one hour of Bryce Resort and arrange with the mountain's management for visiting U.S. Disabled Ski Team dignitaries or potential disabled grass-skiing pioneers to receive grass-ski rentals and lift tickets free of charge, I will be on the next plane to Appalachia. Because to tell you the truth, I'm kind of curious.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

joe buck

I'm a little confused... earlier today, I watched the 1969 movie Midnight Cowboy, starring Jon Voight as Joe Buck, a tall, blond, hickish male prostitute in New York who dresses like a cowboy. I liked it pretty well. But now I'm watching the MLB All-Star Game, and Fox has a tall, blond, annoying commentator named... yep, Joe Buck. Weird.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

new toy

I decided to use some b-day cash to buy a new stereo for my car. I wanted several features that I didn't have in my factory-installed stereo:
  1. a CD player that works
  2. a way to hook my iPod directly into the stereo without needing a terrible-sounding cassette or FM adapter
  3. satellite radio. I've been curious about it for a while, and after taking a few trips with Ralph in his Sirius-equipped Subaru, I can't deny how nice it is: 175 channels of commercial-free music, NPR, baseball games, stand-up comedy, and just about anything else worth listening to. (They even have a left-wing talk-radio channel!)

After mulling it over for a week or so, I bit the bullet today, bought this stereo and signed up for Sirius. At first the controls were really confusing, so I parked outside my house, turned off my engine and spent over an hour reading the manual (yes, I actually do that), figuring out the controls, and setting my pre-sets. Then, abruptly, it turned off. I had drained my battery and my car was dead... d'oh.

In other news, I'm going to a Rockies game tomorrow and hope it stops raining. What's up with this? It never rains in Colorado.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

tour de france

I'm really getting into watching the Tour de France. When Lance was still racing, I never had OLN, so I couldn't watch their daily coverage — which, incidentally, is fantastic. Now I'm glued to the TV. Today's first full stage finished in an exciting sprint, with a Frenchman winning for the first time in 20 years and George Hincapie becoming just the fourth American ever to wear the maillot jaune. Yesterday's prologue winner, Norwegian Thor Hushovd, got a nasty gash on his arm after getting clipped by a spectator with a giant green foam hand during the final sprint.

(video highlights here)

Friday, June 30, 2006


This is one of the coolest commercials I've ever seen, even if it is for a fruit-flavored vodka. If you're interested in how they made it, click here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

vote for Laurie and Steve

Two USDST athletes are nominated for ESPYs, ESPN's sports awards, in 2006. Alpine sitting skier Laurie Stephens is nominated for Best Female Athlete with a Disability, and XC standing skier Steve Cook for Best Male Athlete with a Disability. You can vote for them here. (If you don't want to vote for all the categories before them, you can select their categories from the scroll bat on the right-hand side of the site.) The awards ceremony, hosted by Lance Armstrong, airs July 16 at 9 p.m. on ESPN, although I kind of doubt they'll televise the disabled categories.

Oh yeah, you can also vote for Ted Ligety or Julia Mancuso for Best Olympic Athlete.

music to hate

In case you're unaware, a band called Wolf Eyes is at the forefront of the movement known as "noise rock." This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: people with traditional rock instruments (plus some electronics) trying to make the biggest godawful racket possible. (My dad thinks most post-'60s rock music sounds like this, actually.) I won't claim to actually like this stuff, but it is pretty intriguing to listen to/watch for a minute or two, kind of like a gruesome car accident or American Idol.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

biking after the hailstorm

Just got back from an otherworldly bikeride. The sky cleared very quickly after the storm, and by 7 p.m. the sun was shining. Knowing I still had an hour and a half of daylight left, I set out on a bike path I discovered yesterday near my apartment. The path wound its way through residential streets soaked with rainwater and coated everywhere with mounds of green and white. The green was leaves and branches blown and ripped from the foliage above; the white was weird piles of conglomerated hail, looking more like cotton than snow or ice. And yet everywhere, people were outside — barbecuing, biking, walking dogs. I even saw one proud homeowner spraying the plant debris off his driveway with a garden hose. Ten or fifteen blocks from home, on a fast downhill, my front tire found a rock or pothole under the leaves and flatted. As I limped home northward on 28th Street, I saw the main thoroughfare to my apartment as if for the first time. At bike speed, I noticed a dozen businesses I had somehow missed from my car: a Korean restaurant, a copy shop, a Belgian bakery. I was grateful for the details that my slowed pace brought to the surface.


Now it's hailing.


I need a job. Or some sort of regularly scheduled activity. Otherwise I'm inclined to stay up late, sleep in, not go to the gym, and just generally be lazy and unproductive. True, I've spent the better part of the afternoon retooling my resumé and applying for jobs and freelance writing gigs. But I told myself I was going to go for a long bike ride today, and that hasn't happened yet — and won't, judging by the fact that it's currently pouring rain, the temperature has dropped 15 degrees in about 20 minutes, the wind is howling, and lightning just struck so close that it just about scared the crap out of me. I guess I'll make some dinner, and maybe go to Kinko's to print resumés if the rain lets up. Hmph.

Friday, June 23, 2006

new head coach

USDST news: You heard it here first — Ray Watkins, longtime (though intermittant) assistant coach for the team, has been named Head Alpine Coach, replacing Kevin Jardine. He will officially start July 8th. For the last couple years, Ray has been a golf pro in Mt. Shasta, Calif., although he was with the team as an assistant coach for the World Cup Finals and Paralympics in Italy last winter. Last year he married Gwynn Albee, a New Hampshirite who was the head coach of the Winter Park Disabled Ski Team a couple years back. It'll be interesting to see if Gwynn comes back into the disabled skiing world again as well.

Ray is a short, super-fit, friendly dude who does a spot-on Eric Cartman impersonation. (I once spent an entire chairlft ride listening to him sing Styx's prog-rock opus "Come Sail Away" in Cartman's voice.) He can be a little more no-nonsense than Kevin, which could be a good thing for the team now. If you get a little too self-congratulatory, say by talking about how many miles you biked yesterday, Ray's likely to respond with "Whaddya, want a cookie?"

Our first training camp with Ray as head coach is tentatively scheduled for late July at Mt. Hood.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

2856 Kalmia Ave., Apt. 102, Boulder, CO 80301

That's my new address down here in the Front Range, until I move back up into Winter Park in November. The name "Kalmia" was foreign to me; it sounds like a made-up word from a sci-fi novel. But it turns out that it's actually the name of a plant — a poisonous, flowering shrub. Pretty enough name and flower to justify naming a street after it, I suppose. But as far as I can Google, there's only one other Kalmia Ave. in the U.S., in Virginia.

The name of the condo complex I'm living in is "The Boulders," which strikes me as a little odd, since it's in Boulder. It's not like there are many big rocks around here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

mt. hood

Apologies for not being more diligent with the blogging lately. It has certainly been a while since I rapped at ya, as Jim Anchower would say.

I'm writing from Welches, Oregon. We've been staying here since last Thursday and skiing on Mt. Hood. And by "we," I mean the four of us — two athletes, Ralph and me, and two staff members, Ben and Willy — from the team who decided to show up to a last-minute optional training camp. The weather up on Hood can be iffy, especially this time of year, but we've had pretty good luck. The first three days were misty and rainy (the third day so much so that we had to take the day off), but since then it's been sunny and bluebird-clear up on the mountain even when it was raining down below. There are few things cooler than driving up through the clouds into a glorious, 35-degrees-and-sunny June morning.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Found this email from our team manager in my in-box this morning:


The IPC has just confirmed that there will be no World Championships for Alpine in 2007. Klosters, Switzerland pulled thier bid about a month ago. The IPC Race Director found a new site in Sweden, but the new site was unnaceptable. They only had a FIS homologated GS and SL, no DH or SG. It would have been a very low level World Championships.

I know it is very dissapointing. The Race Director, Michael Knaus, is working to secure a site for 2009 so that this will not happen again.

I will send you a full update from the FIS and IPC meetings in Portugal in the next few days.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

simply hilarious

Thanks to Uncle Frank for this.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"A slut nixes sex in Tulsa"

...and other great palindromes can be found here. (I particularly like all the various absurdist riffs on the well-known "A man, a plan, a canal — Panama!", such as: "A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal — Panama!")

Thursday, May 11, 2006

back from south carolina

From Monday through Wednesday, I traveled to Greenville, SC to help my sponsor, Charter Communications, kick off a new sales initiative. Dubbed "Selling for Success"("S4S"), it's a program to improve their customers'experience by training their customer sales representatives to follow a carefully researched call-flow procedure -- or at least, that's what I got out of it. Charter flew call-center managers and other middle-management people to Greenville from regional offices all over the country to spend anywhere from a few days up to three weeks learning from an outside consultant group how to teach their CSRs the new procedure they'd devised.

My job? First of all, to address all the assembled managers, introducing myself and my relationship with the company as my sponsor and trying to draw parallels between what I do as a ski racer and what they do as a company: "Goal setting is important," "You have to be open to changing the way you do things," etc. People were generally pretty nice and forgiving of the fact that I don't have much public-speaking experience, and they listened to what I had to say and asked good questions even though what I was talking about seemed marginally relevant, at best.

Then I had to give a similar presentation six more times to groups of CSRs who work at the Charter call center there. This was a substantially tougher job. Imagine a 24-year-old upper-middle-class white kid in a wheelchair and an Oxford shirt talking to a room full of mostly working-class, mostly-African-American phone operators of varying ages about a sport whose existence they're barely aware of and trying to explain to them why they should try and make more money for the multi-million-dollar corporation they all work for. I got better at it with each talk, but to be honest I've never felt so much like the Man in all my life. I'm only trying to do what Charter asks me to as a way of saying thanks for funding my whole ski season, but the experience left such a bad taste in my mouth.

Swiss people, gender dynamics, and unhealthy aggression

The inexplicable murder of retired Swiss World Cup skiing champion Corinne Rey-Bellet by her estranged husband has raised some issues about gun control and the role of women in Swiss society.

Friday, May 05, 2006

gasket schmasket

My poor Montana! It has blown a gasket. Specifically, the head gasket. Apparently, this is a big deal and necessitates at least eleven hours of labor. They have to basically take the engine apart to replace the thing and then put it back together again. I will be happy when my van is all better again... until I get my VISA bill.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I just got back from Coachella and I'm too exhausted to write anything now, but all my photos and videos from the festival are online now.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

interview with Laurie

This interview with my soft-spoken teammate, Laurie Stephens, appeared in the latest monthly e-mail newsletter from USSA:

SPOTLIGHT ON 'THE BEST': Paralympic Champ Laurie Stephens
The 2006 season was another successful year for highly decorated
sit-skier Laurie Stephens (LW-12/1; Wenham, MA). She won seven of
12 World Cup races and collected three more World Cup titles. At
the Paralympics she won two gold medals and a silver. Born with
spinal bifida, Stephens recently was honored by the U.S. Olympic
Committee as 2005 Paralympian of the Year, the first winter sport
athlete so honored.

USSA: You did it again - walloped everyone on the World Cup
schedule, including six wins in a row, then dominated the
Paralympics, too. How do you do it?

Laurie Stephens: I don't really know. I just go out - it's kind
of the same each time, just go out there and ski, and whatever
happens happens. ...I'm definitely competitive. I've always been
competitive in the sports I did.

USSA: Is it sports psychology stuff, mental training and imagery
to get yourself revved up before each race?

LS: Not really. I like skiing and like going out there every
race and trying to ski better. It's kind of my main focus. I
don't know how it works, but something works. ...I tend to
listen to music at the start. Nothing in particular, but it
helps me get ready. It blocks out the distractions and anything
that would get to me before a race.

USSA: This was your third season on the Ski Team, and you had
plenty of success, thumping everyone again. What was the coolest
part of this season?

LS: The Paralympics were probably the highlight. I'd never
competed in the Paralympics and getting that opportunity was
such an honor. The racing was cool. Everyone was at a really
high level, everyone was pushing it. Borgata was an awesome
course and the snow was really good.

USSA: You're at such a high performance level to maintain. Any
surprises about the season and your skiing?

LS: The whole Paralympic thing was kind of a surprise. I figured
the pressure would have gotten to me. I know a lot of things I
need to work on and change for next season - slalom, in
particular. I hope to work on that stuff this summer.

Monday, April 24, 2006

more bad news

We recently found out that Klosters, Switzerland has backed out of its bid to host the 2007 Diabled Alpine and Nordic World Championships, which were scheduled for next January or February. This leaves the organizers with very little time to find a new host resort. I'm really bummed, because I was looking forward to racing the downhill there. I really hope the event isn't cancelled altogether.

it's official...

Actually, it's been official for a week, or so, but now it's public... Kevin, our head coach, is leaving the team. I thought this might be coming now that Kevin and Ashley have had their second kid, but it's a big loss for our team. He'll be hard to replace.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Perform LASIK surgery on yourself, in the comfort of your own home!

amazing Paralympic photo site

George forwarded me a link to the photo-sharing website of this guy named DSUSAken5, who I guess must work for Disabled Sports USA. He was apparently on the hill taking literally hundreds of photos of each run of the slalom and GS races in Sestriere. It takes quite a while to sort through them all; here are some links to the pictures of me:

slalom run 1 slalom run 1 slalom run 1 slalom run 1 slalom run 1 slalom run 1 slalom run 2 slalom run 2 slalom run 2 slalom run 2 slalom run 2 slalom run 2 GS run 1 GS run 1 GS run 1 GS run 2 GS run 2 GS run 2 GS run 2

Saturday, April 08, 2006

new look for spring

I realized that I wanted to add a links section to my blog, but I realized I was totally inept at changing the template myself, and I was in the mood for a new layout for my blog anyway, so I just spent hours looking through every damn Blogger template on the web, only to conclude that some of the best designs out there are the default options they give you on Blogger. So I picked one of those... this is called Jellyfish. Let me know what you think.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I went to the weekly local-band night at the Rocky Mountain Roastery in Fraser, and the guys who were playing were really good, playing a mix of originals and covers spanning the gamut from alt-country to prog-metal. When it came time for an encore, the singer asked for requests, and predictably, everyone shouted "Free Bird!" (Winter Park music fans have clearly gleaned most of their expected rock-fan behavior knowledge from TV, or actual Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts.) The singer just smiled, but after quite a bit of noodling and tuning, he announced, "I'm going to fulfill an adolescent fantasy of mine" and with that he actually launched into a cover of "Free Bird". And I'll be damned if it wasn't a great rendition.
R.I.P., Doug Coombs.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

more photos up

I've finally finished tagging and captioning all my photos from Italy and Spain. You can view the second batch of Paralympic photos here, my Florence photos here, and my Barcelona photos here.

Monday, April 03, 2006

new opening ceremonies videos up

I just posted a few videos that I took during the Paralympic opening ceremonies in Torino. They're over on my YouTube page. I think they came out OK, considering that I took them with my little Sony still camera.

Paralympics finally to air on obscure cable channel

We found out at SkiTAM that ESPN-U (a college sports channel?!) will be airing nine hours of coverage of the Paralympics (thanks in large part, no doubt, to SkiTAM organizer and ESPN exec Steve Raymond), beginning TONIGHT at 6 pm ET. (That's right after a program called "The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Georgetown for Losing to Villanova in the 1985 NCAA Final.") The full broadcast schedule can be found here; according to the press release, it sounds like you might be able to get the channel if you have DirecTV, Dish Network, or Adelphia cable. If you're looking to see me race, your best bet is probably to tune in between 7 and 8 pm ET tonight, which is when they should be showing the men's sitting downhill, in which I finished fifth.

2014 Winter Olympics & Paralympics

I won't still be racing in 2014, but I was curious to see which cities have applied to host that year's Winter Games. So I did some research and found that unless the Games are awarded to Salzburg, they will be held in a country that's not at all well-known for its skiing prowess. At this point, the candidate list looks like this (in descending order of plausibility):


Got back yesterday from Vail, where we had our annual ski team fundraiser, SkiTAM. It's attended by bigwigs from the cable TV industry, involves a team ski race and lots of partying, and raises around 60% of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team's annual budget.

One of the corporate teams always ensures victory by bringing in ringers like Pam Fletcher, Chad Fleischer, and Picabo Street. I'd met Chad and Picabo briefly a couple times before, and we chatted a bit at the start of the race on Saturday. Then afterwards, I was down in the base lodge, having just taken advantage of a free lunch buffet at the posh Larkspur restaurant and having some issues with carrying a full plate of food and a glass of iced tea up a ramp to my team's table. Who should appear to offer her assistance but the 1998 Olympic super G champion? Picabo followed behind me as I weaved through the tables and up to the ramp, and of course I obnoxiously made a point of stopping at each person I knew to point out who was carrying my drink for me. Celebrity must be such a bitch.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Everything is expensive in Switzerland, and despite this being one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, that includes Internet access. Earlier today in a Pakistani-owned cell-phone-store-cum-Internet-cafe in Barcelona I paid 50 Euro cents for a half-hour of access; tonight in my hotel in Zürich I'm paying 8 Swiss francs for a half-hour on their wi-fi access. Such is the price of Internet addiction.

But enough bitching. I have two things to be happy about: I get to go home and sleep in my own bed tomorrow after over a month on the road, and I just finished up three days in one of the best cities I've ever visited. Barcelona really does have it all: art museums, punk clubs; historic churches, Richard Meier buildings; youth culture, old men's cafés; the ocean and the mountains; Catalunyan pride, international flavor. If I had a good reason, I would move there in a minute. Highlights for me included the modern art museum, the MACBA; a great little indie record store called Revolver Records (I picked up a reissue of a 1960s Skatalites LP as well as the latest Belle & Sebastian single); a cable-car ride across the mouth of the harbor to a little mountaintop café overlooking the whole city; and of course spending time with the inimitable Tracy Brooks Landers. Brooks and I stayed in a divey ho(s)tel just off the Rambla, the main pedestrian corridor through a very pedestrian-friendly town. The Rambla is like a three-lane highway for walkers bordered by one lane of motor vehicle traffic on each side, and it's full of street performers, vendors, and sidewalk cafés. As great as it is, it's full of tourists and you hear as much English there as Spanish and Catalán, so you definitely have to hit the un-beaten path as well. By this afternoon, I felt like I knew a 20-block radius of my hotel as well as I know Boston or Denver.

Zürich is just a brief stopover, the place I stored my luggage while traveling and the United hub I had to fly home from. I've just about finished my drink in the hotel bar, so it's time to sign off for the night and get some sleep in my post-modern Swiss hotel room.

Friday, March 24, 2006


I'm sitting in an empty train car that bears a striking resemblance to a jail cell, except with green curtains. Apparently the only wheelchair accessible car on this Trenitalia local from Florence SMN to Pisa Centrale is one that's completely empty except for a desk and an office chair — no other passengers, no seats at all, so I'm stuck in my wheelchair. And I was looking forward to a nap, too. At least the trip is only an hour or so.

The conductors just passed through my car on the way to the cockpit (or whatever it's called on a train — the engine room?). I guess this must be kind of their lounge area. I hope we start moving soon; the gray, trash-strewn, rainy railyard is depressing as hell.

I just said goodbye to Abby and Kate, who got on another train bound for Milan. They'll spend a night there before flying home to the States. My plan is to stay the night in Pisa by myself and then take a taxi to the airport, where I have a flight tomorrow morning to Barcelona. I can't wait to see Spain.

I'm listening to the Raconteurs, the new Detroit supergroup comprising the White Stripes' Jack White, singer/songwriter Brendan Benson, and the rhythm section from the Detroit Cobras. If the lead single is any indication, their debut album will be quite a listen.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Writing this from a hotel computer in Florence, where I've spent the past two days with friends Abby and Kate. Lots of the usual tourist activities: traipsing around museums and churches, shopping, and eating gelato. A very relaxing time after three long weeks (well, three long months, really) of racing. Saturday it's over to Barcelona to hang out with Brooks for a few days, then I head back Stateside.

Monday, March 20, 2006

last day in Sestriere

Last night the Paralympics ended with the most spectacular closing ceremony imaginable. (Photos will be up soon on my Flickr page.) The athletes paraded through a piazza in Turin, the route lined with tens of thousands of spectators. We sat in the main square in front of the Olympic Medals Stage and watched a two-hour choreographed show that was at times bizarre but consistently engaging. At the end of it all, legendary NYC folk-punk heroine Patti Smith played a one-hour set with her band, rocking out even more than she did 30 years ago.

My races concluded yesterday with the slalom. After the downhill, I knew that slalom would probably be my best chance for another good result. Sure enough, I fell in the super G and skied too conservatively in GS, but I gave it my all in the slalom and finished a respectable 16th. The field is just way too big in slalom and GS for many unheralded skiers like me to get a top-ten finish; one who did was Poland's Jaroslaw Rola. CDY was the top American in eighth. A sizeable mistake in my first run might have cost me a few places, but the top three skiers were just unbeatable — especially German Martin Braxenthaler, who came away from these games with an amazing three gold medals in four events.

[View the official results from the slalom here.]
[View the performance analysis data here.]
[Read about the race and women's champion Stephani Victor here.]

Now I'm off on a whirlwind tour of southern Europe: bus to Zürich tonight, train to Florence tomorrow to meet my friends Kate & Abby, flight to Barcelona on Saturday to meet my friend Brooks, back to Zürich next Tuesday and then home to the States the next day. Whew.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

redemption for USA

On their last day of competition today, the standing skiers finally won two Paralympic medals: Allison Jones gold and Sandy Dukat bronze: [story] [results]

tech events

I have one event left here at the Paralympics, tomorrow's slalom. Today we trained a bit of slalom in the morning, and things felt really good. I feel as confident for this race as I did for the downhill, although my competition will be considerably stiffer — the Euros and Japanese bring their A-game on slalom day.

I wish I had been as confident going into yesterday's GS. I had had some really bad runs of GS training the day before, and I definitely held back on the first run. I skied pretty stiff, like I was just trying to make it down safely rather than actually attacking the course. After that run I was in a miserable 32nd place. But in between runs I realized I had to change my approach, so I loosened up on the second run and just went for it. Plus, the course was faster and more open — much better suited to my skiing style. I was 19th in the 2nd run, so I moved up to 22nd overall. Not a great finish, but a decent one. Chris and Tyler, both very strong GS skiers, had a disappointing day, finishing just off the podium in 4th and 6th respectively.

If I let the ski run well tomorrow and don't make too many mistakes, I think another top ten isn't out of the question. Since downhill and slalom are feeling like my best events right now, I really wish disabled skiing had a Combined event, like the one Ted Ligety won at the Olympics. Running a downhill during the day and then a slalom in the evening under the lights — that would be tons of fun.

[View the results of the GS here.]
[Read about it here.]

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

the halfway point

Two Paralympic races down now, two to go. By now you may have read elsewhere that I was only 31st in yesterday's super G. What happened is that on just the third gate I leaned in a little bit, caught an edge, and went down. I spun around 360º on my side and then popped back up. I hadn't missed any gates and was still on line, so I continued my run. There were a few minor things I would've changed about my run after that, but it was good skiing. Sometimes in ski racing that stuff just happens, and after my good finish in the downhill, I wasn't too angry with myself. In the finish area I just shrugged and raised my outriggers like, "Hey, what are you gonna do?" I was in 20th place at the time but of course got bumped back as other skiers came down. As the commentator on put it, at least it was a good warm-up for Friday's GS. Besides, my friend Nick had one of his best finishes ever by finishing 4th, just 0.08 off the podium. Unstoppable German Martin Braxenthaler won gold.

[Read the USOC's press release here.]
[Read Ski Racing's story here.]
[View the complete race results here.]
[View the performance analysis report here.]
My brother Will makes an excellent point: the Torino Paralympics' mascot, Aster, looks a lot like one of the characters in the ridiculously awesome music video for the Danish dance-pop band Junior Senior's "Move Your Feet."

Monday, March 13, 2006

downhill fast

I had a really fun day yesterday in the downhill, and I finished fifth — my second-best international finish ever, 0.28 seconds off the podium. For a time I was sitting in third place behind my teammates Bramble and CDY, but a fast young Japanese skier named Takeshi Suzuki (haha! look how funny his head shot is!) and a fast French veteran, Denis Barbet, came down and slid in between Chris and me. Of course I immediately began second-guessing where I could've found more speed, but in the end I'm very happy with my run.

[Watch the race here by clicking "Highlights" and then "Men's sitting downhill."]
[View the official results here.]
[View the performance analysis data here.]
[Read the USOC's press release here.]
[Read the U.S. Ski Team's story here.]

A few tidbits about the race:
  • Austrian medal contender Reini Sampl (the photo caption is wrong) was yellow-flagged twice, meaning the racer before him crashed and he had to go back up to the start for a re-run. On his second re-run, Reini crashed. I felt really bad for him.
  • The U.S. also won the gold in the women's sitting division, with Laurie Stephens smoking the field as usual. These are the only three U.S. medals of these Games in alpine skiing thus far; the standing skiers were shut out in Saturday's downhill and today's super G.
  • The race course was 2325 meters long, and my raw time was 1:39.68. That means my average speed was about 84 km/h, which works out to 52 m.p.h. — slightly faster than my clocked speed at the second interval, 82 km/h.
  • Before the race, Tyler provided Nick, CDY, Bramble and me each with a hit of pure New Hampshire maple syrup, which he brought to the start with him in a pocket flask. It was a nice little reminder of home and as well as a good sugar buzz; I guess it worked for me and Chris, if not for Tyler and Nick, who both had trouble on their runs.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

downhill training day #1

I had a really solid first training run and am ready to give it more gas tomorrow. Here's a link to today's training results and statistical analysis. (The other classes' results can be found here.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

downhill inspection & training

Today was scheduled to be the first of three days of official, timed downhill training. Organizers of all downhill races are required to schedule at least two downhill training runs (and actually hold at least one) on a course identical to the one used on race day. (Not only is this not the norm for super G, giant slalom or slalom, it would actually be ILlegal if racers were permitted to train on the course prior to the race. Downhill is different because the high speeds involved and the long, difficult-to-memorize courses can make it unsafe to go all-out on one's first trip down.)

From 9 to 10 a.m. was course inspection, the time allotted for racers to sideslip through the gates in order to note terrain features and the placement of gates, to plan our optimal line through the course, and to memorize the whole course. The memorization part is especially crucial in downhill, and most racers usually use the full hour for their inspections — unlike, say, GS, where I find 15 or 20 minutes is often sufficient. The downhill course here at Sestriere Borgata looks really great: a mix of high-speed gliding, technical sections, and some interesting terrain features; it's challenging but not too intimidating. (All downhills are a little bit intimidating.) It has 40 gates marking 23 turns and follows roughly the same route as last month's men's Olympic super G. I already know it by heart, thanks to having run it probably 15 times already in my head.

Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until tomorrow for my first chance to run it for real. After inspection today, I went inside to stretch, grab a snack and use the bathroom. When I came back out, all the other monoskiers were sitting around in a little cluster at the bottom of the hill, and Nick said, "Did you hear? It's cancelled today." It turns out that wind speeds at the start of the race course had been steadily increasing, and an errant gale-force gust managed to rip the aluminum poles that were holding up a large start-shelter tent right out of the snow. The poles hit several team staff members, breaking a Japanese physiotherapist's leg and hitting a German coach in the neck as well as bonking one of our team's ski technicians in the head. The Japanese woman and Baloo, the German guy, had to be taken down the mountain in sleds for treatment, and the organizers made the decision to scrap the day's training run — a drastic step, but perhaps a good one for the teams affected. It will also give the organizers more time to deploy the army of course slippers, rakers, and groomers at their disposal to remove some of the excess soft snow that's continued to fall recently and could make the course dangerous. (They've already done a tremendous job of making the course ready to go once.)

Downhill is fast when you actually run it, but until then it's a hurry-up-and-wait sport. Tomorrow we take another crack at it, so I better get some sleep.

Monday, March 06, 2006

in the Paralympic Village

OK, I'm in Sestriere now, getting ready for the Paralympics. We moved into the Athlete Village here two days ago, and I took a few runs this afternoon on our race hill. It's looking sweet. All our races are on the men's Olympic downhill & super G run, if you happened to see that on TV. It's long and rolly, with some steep pitches, flats, and small jumps. It's going to make for a fantastic Paralympic downhill, I think, and the weather and snow right now are totally ideal — sunny and minus 5 to 10 Celsius, with firm but grippable snow.

There's so much to write about, so I guess I'll take it in chunks. For now I guess I'll try and describe the Paralympic Village experience. This year I think all the teams are staying in the Villages, the official housing provided free to athletes, coaches and staff. The hockey players and the curling team stay down in the Torino village, while the alpine and nordic skiers and biathletes stay up here in Sestriere. There are five residential buildings here, most of which were built for the Games. If you saw the three cylindrical towers on TV during the Olympics, those are part of the village, although the U.S. team isn't staying in them. We're in a low building almost immediately adjacent to the ski hill. It's great, you don't even need to get in a car to get to the race course. (The nordic skiers have a 20-minute drive to Pragelato each day.)

Inside the Village, there are all kind of amenities you might find in any neighborhood: general store, café, florist, dry cleaner, souvenir shop, Internet lounge, hair stylist, etc. Of course there's also a huge 24-hour dining hall with some good food and some really awful. Strangely (this being Italy and all), the pizza there is truly terrible. At least they have tomatoes and fresh mozzarella at every meal, along with plenty of olive oil and balsamic vinegar of course. They also have surprisingly passable egg rolls.

Anytime you want to re-enter the Village, or go in the dining hall, or do just about anything else, you have to show your credential. This is basically your proof that you are an athlete and you are who you say you are. It's a bad thing to lose, because then you basically don't exist.