Tuesday, February 28, 2006

GS in Artesina

A solid 10th-place finish today in a very fun GS. This is probably the hardest event for me to do well in on the World Cup; everyone is just too good. There are fewer good slalom skiers and even fewer monoskiers (especially Euros) who can let 'em run in super G and downhill.

I finished the World Cup season in 11th place (2nd American) in the slalom standings, out of 14 racers who scored points. You can view the standings here.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Artesina slalom

I finished 8th today in a World Cup slalom in Italy. I skied two solid runs, maybe could've found a little more speed in a few sections but I was happy with both the performance and the result. Roger was the top American in my class, finishing 7th, while Stephani clinched a tie for the overall World Cup title in slalom by winning today's race.

So far I'm loving the whole Italian experience. Everything is really laid back (some times too much so; as I write this we've been waiting two hours for today's race awards to start), and the gelato and cappuccino are better than I could?ve imagined. We're staying in an amazing hotel that occupies part of an old seminary/monastery across the courtyard from a seventeenth-century cathedral. Loading skis into our team vans every morning in front of the huge Baroque dome and the chiming church bells is surreal indeed... photos to come soon if I can get my own computer connected to the internet somewhere. (No internet access in the monastery!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

night before leaving for Italy

Frantically busy lately getting packed and organized for five weeks on the road: first World Cup Finals in Artesina, Italy (home of the (in)famous Pink Rabbit), then of course the Paralympics in Sestriere, and then trekking around Italy a bit with friends. Hence no time to write a long post I'd planned to do (actually started it but lost it to the electronic netherworld) about the experience of Paralympic "team processing" in Colorado Springs last weekend. Suffice it to say that they gave us an awful lot of free Roots and Nike clothing.

ParalympicSport.tv launched today. If anyone can figure out how to get this to work on a Mac running Safari or IE, please let me know.

My latest musical kick is a little band from my native Portland (Maine, duh) called X-Ray Actress. They make kind of loungey, layered electro-pop with a female lead singer, along the lines of Ivy or Portishead, minus the trip-hop vibe. Their singer, Shirley Moe, sounds a little like an American Isobel Campbell (formerly of Belle & Sebastian fame). If that sounds appealing (and granted, to many rock snobs, it won't be), check out the free mp3s on their website. (You have to click on the image in the middle column, third row down of that 5x4 matrix — stupid Flash interface.) The sound quality isn't perfect, but it'll give you an idea of the amazing production on their records.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sometimes pictures say it best.

What Ted Ligety's been up to this Olympics:

What Bode Miller's been up to this Olympics:

Thursday, February 16, 2006

slalom results

I put two solid runs together today in slalom, which is what I've been trying to do for a few weeks, so I'm happy about that. I was hoping it might result in a win, but I had to settle for second place behind Chris and Tyler, who both skied really well. It would've been tough for me to catch 'em today. One more race tomorrow, GS, before I head home to Winter Park.

morning post, for a change

Today at nationals we're racing what's currently my best event, slalom. I know I'm capable of winning, but I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. Whatever happens, I found out yesterday that I'll be racing in all four events at the Paralympics, so that's a load off my mind. I'm going to just go up there and try to have fun on the slalom course and let myself go. I've got nothing to lose and plenty to win.

In yesterday's downhill I took fourth. I was hoping for a podium, but I just couldn't catch Bramble (who is untouchable in downhill), Joe (who has almost a 100-pound advantage over me in a very flat course), and Chris (who I beat in training, but he's the smartest racer out there when it comes to figuring out how to get every last hundredth out of a course). I felt pretty OK about it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

definition of the day

I was pleased to find that the most recent edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary includes the word "McMansion," defining it as "a large modern house that is considered ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity. ORIGIN: from Mc- + mansion, with reference to the name of a restaurant chain." I'm not sure why I find this definition so satisfying, but I do think I might have to make the Definition of the Day a semi-regular feature of this blog.

U.S. nationals super G

The field for the first race at the U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships here in Park City, UT was disappointingly small, only 36 races between the men and women. I'm not really sure why — there are some Winter Park skiers who aren't coming over until the GS and the slalom, but even with them the field would've been pretty small. Sometimes it seems like the number of disabled racers is in decline, although not for my class. The men's monoskiers constituted the biggest field, at least 15 skiers.

The other issue with the races is that Park City, which has world-class giant slalom and slalom race hills, really has no good place to run speed events. That means we run super G and downhill on a really easy, flat trail called Payday. It rewards fast skis and very subtle skiing more than technical skill and aggression.

That said, I guess I skied pretty subtly today and my ski ran fairly well, because I finished 2nd, just 0.16 seconds behind CDY (and only a few tenths ahead of Nick). I made only one mistake, and it was a minor one but might well have cost me a tenth or two.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

adventures in Tokyo

So I'd been meaning to write something about our last day in Japan to go with my photos. But I slacked off and never wrote anything, and I just came upon my teammate Nick's post about that day on his blog. He tells it like it is, so instead I'll just do the slackerly thing and link to that post.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Yahoo Sports has picked up a whole bunch of shots of the Meridian Cup races and posted them in their Olympic alpine skiing photo gallery. Here's one of yours truly.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

stop hasselling the 'Hoff

I'm hooked on a feeling.

hilarious news segment about our team

Yesterday when the St. Anne's kids came up to Winter Park to watch us race in the super G (in which I crashed halfway down and DNF'd, by the way), the Denver NBC affiliate was up to shoot a story, which aired last night. Here's a link to a Windows Media file of the segment, which I found to embody every clichéd thing ever said about disabled skiing ("So inspirational!"). It's local-news feel-good telejournalism at its finest.

By the way, the guy who crashes in that clip is a Winter Park Disabled Ski Team kid named John Knudsen. It's a particularly awesome crash, and he ended up being fine, so don't feel bad about going through it frame-by-frame a couple times. I did.

Dartmouth athletes in Torino

A great round-up in the latest issue of the VOX newspaper summarizes all the winter Olympic and Paralympic athletes, coaches and staff with ties to the Big Green.

Monday, February 06, 2006

more great news

We just found out that, for those of you who can't make it to Italy next month, the Paralympics will be webcast in their entirety, live, free of charge, at www.paralympicsport.tv. This is tremendous news for us since U.S. television coverage of the Games has fallen through completely.

one large elephant pushed out of the room

One of the dubious distinctions I've had to bear ever since making the U.S. team back in '99 is that no matter how well I've been skiing, I've been one of the few team members never to have won a race, big or small. I've had literally dozens of second- and third-place finishes at Nor-Am races and U.S. Nationals, and more recently a number of World Cup top-10s as well. But I have no gold medals in the cardboard box where I keep my medals, at least none that I've won since I raced as a junior eight years ago.

Today that finally changed. The stars were in alignment, my chakras were synchronized, my chi was unblocked, whatever. I finally won a race, a Nor-Am giant slalom on my home hill of Winter Park. My second run wasn't pretty — I almost skied right out of the course after making a big mistake — but I held onto most of my speed, and my closest competitors made even more costly mistakes. The win did come with a bit of an asterisk: a couple of the top U.S. GS skiers in my class, namely Chris and Tyler, weren't here — attendance at this race wasn't mandatory. Nevertheless, I was not only the fastest monoskier in both runs, I also had the fastest overall adjusted time of anyone in the race, which earned me $250 in prize money. (Rock on.) And as an additional bonus, my roommate Gerald and my friend Nick took second and third.

Tomorrow we're racing super G, and the whole student body of St. Anne's school will be up here to cheer us on, which is cool.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


I'm getting fed up with making stupid mistakes in the race course. I'm skiing better slalom than almost anyone right now, but I keep failing to prove it. Today was the first day of racing in the Meridian Cup, here at my home mountain of Winter Park. I knew I had a good chance to do well today and maybe even win my first Nor-Am race, but I think I let that get to me. Three or four gates into the first run, I made a bad decision about how to take a gate, got spun around, and took eight or nine seconds to get up and get back in the course. The rest of my run was very strong, but the damage was done... I finished the run seven seconds behind the leader, Ronny. Man, was I pissed off after that run. I was in such a bad mood that the only way to fix it was to go out and win the second run — so I did, by almost one and a half seconds. Of course that wasn't enough to make up for my first-run mistake, and Ronny won, but at least I finished a respectable 4th.

The Meridian Cup continues tomorrow with GS and Tuesday with super G.

vonnegut on RHD, 1966

When is a review of a dictionary the funniest thing I've read all week? When it's written by Kurt Vonnegut, naturally.

Friday, February 03, 2006

narita redux

Back in the Tokyo airport now, only this time we're hoping not to be stuck here for 30 hours. Instead, we should be getting on a flight to Seattle in 25 minutes or so.

Our races wrapped up two days ago with a slalom. I was really excited about my potential in that race, and on my first run I laid down a solid run that left me in fifth place going into the second run. Try as I might've to keep unhelpful thoughts (e.g. winning, falling) out of my head before the rain-soaked second run, I was only about five gates into my run when I got thrown sideways and had to pick myself up, costing me a few valuable seconds. Aside from one additional bobble farther down the course, I skied much better than I had in the first run, but my mistake was too costly and I finished seventh or eighth instead of the podium spot I had been gunning for. But these things happen.

We've spent the past two nights in Tokyo; yesterday Nick, Hannah, Laurie and I explored the Asakusa and Shibuya districts of downtown Tokyo and had some great adventures... more to come on that when I'm not paying by the minute for Internet access.