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.