Saturday, January 27, 2007

from the x games athlete lounge tent

...which has free wi-fi, naturally, as well as many diversions and much free food.

I guess I am now officially an Xtreme Athlete, having competed in my first X Games and made it to the semifinals. Now it's time to go party like an Xtreme Athlete.

Tune in to ESPN tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon beginning at 2 p.m. ET and maybe you'll catch me racing, although they might only show the finals. I wish I could be more specific about the time of the broadcast, but alas...

If you want to cheat and peek at the results now, head over here for the results and here for the full story.

Friday, January 26, 2007

spokane, wash.

Racing in Kimberley finished up today with a slalom. I had two solid runs (my second run was fifth-fastest) and finished eighth — not my best result, but I was satisfied with my performance. As soon as we got off the hill, five out of the six U.S. monoskiers on the trip loaded into a van to drive down to Spokane and catch a flight to Denver for the X Games.

Halfway there, though, we got a phone call: our 6 p.m. flight out of Spokane had been cancelled, and we would be stuck here for at least the next 12 hours. We considered our options and decided to take our rescheduled 6 a.m. flight to Denver tomorrow, then hop on a United flight directly to Aspen. If all goes as planned, we should make it into Aspen around 10:55 a.m., just in time to get on snow around 1:00 for the preliminary rounds of the monoskier X competition. Fingers crossed, I'm going to try and get some sleep...

Today's results are here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

GS in kimberley

Booooo. I made a big mistake on the top, flat section of my first run in today's giant slalom, and then a few gates later I went down, making a foolish mistake by leaning into a turn on the steepest part of the course.... DNF.

Slalom tomorrow... one more shot at a decent result.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

super G in kimberley

This afternoon finds me asking myself that most frustrating question in ski racing: "Why wasn't I fast?" Today's super G was a fun course on a fun hill with soft snow, which is what I'm most accustomed to these days. Despite a foggy upper half of the course that severely limited visibility, I thought I had a decent run, maybe good enough for a top-5. But I was already in fifth when I crossed the finish line, and soon slipped back to 10th. At least I was still the top American finisher in my class — although by all accounts Nick and CDY both had great runs going before, respectively, falling and DNFing. I guess hopefully we'll see on the video of today's race why I was so slow.

One bright spot was that my friend Shannon Dallas of Australia got his well-deserved first World Cup win today. Full results can be found here, and USSA's press release is here.

I'm currently listening to music by a Dartmouth acquaintance of mine, Eric Lindley. He makes introspective, spooky acoustic music along the lines of Iron & Wine or CocoRosie. If this sounds interesting you can listen to some of his songs on his MySpace page or buy his new CD here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

aspen world cup wrap-up

I'm on an Alaska Airlines flight from Denver to Seattle; from there I'll transfer to Spokane, where we'll all pile into rented minivans and drive four hours or so up to the faux-Austrian village of Kimberley, British Columbia. We'll get to sleep in tomorrow and perhaps freeski a bit in the afternoon, and then we have three more days of World Cup racing — a super G on Wednesday, a giant slalom Thursday, and a slalom Friday. Immediately after the slalom, five of the team's six monoskiers will hightail it back to Spokane, fly back to Denver, and drive up to Aspen (which we just left last night) for the X Games' Monoskier X event on Saturday afternoon. It seems a little illogical to go to so much effort to compete in a crazy, somewhat dangerous race, but what the hell. You only live once.

Sorry I've neglected to post the results of the later Aspen World Cups... I'll give you the rundown of the last four days:
Tuesday, GS #1: I put together two solid — but not stellar — runs, finishing as the top American (seventh place) in a race that features a slew of DNFs (did not finish) thanks to a difficult hill and variable snow conditions. Germany's Martin Braxenthaler wins the men's sitting category handily, repeating his feat from both super G's.

Wednesday, GS #2: The rest of the field starts to figure out the hill — but not the Americans. I fail to finish the first run after misjudging a big knoll in the middle of the course. In the afternoon I join a posse of fellow DNFs (Gerald, Ricci, CDY, and two Italians) to explore the rest of Aspen Mountain. It is Gay & Lesbian Ski Week in Aspen, and we manage to catch some of an event called "The Drag Race," which features costumed (though not necessarily all cross-dressing) participants showing off their style on skis and snowboards before a panel of judges. We see four men dressed as poodles, a female "priest" performing a same-sex mock matrimony, and a close-to-seven-foot snowboarding queen who we hear won the event last year. Then I ride the gondola to the top of the mountain with a screenwriter who wrote Air Force One and who uses his cell phone in the gondola to reschedule his appointment with his personal trainer. At the top, we take pictures of each other and, following the Italians' sensible lead, order beers and drink them on the mountaintop lodge's sun-drenched terrace.

Meanwhile, Braxi wins again, and Nick has the Americans' best (and only) male monoskier finish in seventh place.

Thursday, slalom #1: This is the event where it seems like I could be starting to become a contender, but I make a major mistake in each of the two runs. Still, it's good enough for another seventh-place finish — just behind Gerald, who has a stellar second run. Braxi wins his fifth straight race, although Austria's Jürgen Egle is close behind.

Friday, slalom #2: I go down in the first run but finish the course. Starting the second run in third-to-last place, I have my best run of the week. Only four skiers are faster than me that run, but I was so far behind in the first run that it doesn't matter — I still finish at the back of the pack. Still, my final race run of the Aspen series is encouraging, giving me a morale boost going into the Canadian races, not to mention valuable World Cup points. I now stand in fourteenth place in the season-long overall standings (PDF), the top American in my category so far.

Better yet, Jürgen wins the race, finally knocking Braxi to the second step of the podium.

For full race results, click here. For the full text of the USSA press releases, head over here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

World Cup super G's in aspen

Well, I can't really say that today went how I was hoping. I made a really unacceptable line mistake in the first run that led to me blowing out of the course and not finishing the first race. In the afternoon, I skied a decent line but was just plain slow... I finished tenth. Perhaps the worse news was for the U.S. team in general: Laurie was the only one on the podium in either race, and in the second one my finish represented our team's top placing in the men's sitting class... not a good start to the season.

To make matters worse, I was just informed that I've been fined €100 by the IPC for "failing to report to the yellow-flag zone" after blowing out of the course... maybe tomorrow I'll explain what that means. Maybe then I'll have some good news to report as well.

USSA press release here
Official results here and here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I'm comfortably ensconced in a room at the Silvertree Hotel in Snowmass, Colo., but tomorrow morning sometime around 11 a.m. I will be racing down Aspen Mountain — the region's old-school, steep, hardcore ski area — at around 40 m.p.h., hopefully on my way to kicking some Austrian ass.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

congrats to chris k.

Chris Klebl is a really nice guy who is quickly becoming one of the world's top disabled nordic skiers. It's really nice to read about his success:
VUOKATTI, Finland (Jan. 13) - Paralympian Chris Klebl (sit-ski; Heber City, UT) added a World Cup podium to his resume Saturday, finishing second in the 10K to open the Disabled Cross Country World Cup season in Finland.

"This is kind of a surprise," said Klebl, who became a four-time national champion earlier this month in Houghton, MI. "I really didn't plan on peaking until Germany (the second World Cup), but I'll take it, I'm stoked - this was a good way to start the World Cup season."

Klebl credited time-on-snow for the victory, saying that he's had over 70 days of training in Utah prior to starting the competition season.

"I've been really fortunate because I've been able to get in a lot of training. The Europeans have been hurting - it can't be good when you have Paralympic champions saying they've only been on snow three times. So physically, I'm feeling good."

Head Coach Jon Kreamelmeyer couldn't have been more excited for Klebl's first World Cup top-3, praising the second year Team member for his outstanding work ethic. "I'm extra proud of Chris, he's put in a lot of time and work into this season and he deserves to be up there," he said.

Read the full press release here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

monoskier x: what is?

On January 27 at 2:00 p.m. MST, I will compete in the new Monoskier X event at Winter X Games 11 in Aspen, Colo. has this to say about the rules of the event:

Mono-Skier X debuted as a demo event at Winter X Nine and now makes the jump to a medaled event at Winter X 11. Mono-Skier X is modeled after Winter X mainstays, Snowboarder and Skier X with one key difference that the event features the top disabled mono-skiers in the world.

Mono-Skier X is a fast and furious course race that features disabled sit-skiers racing over tabletop jumps, banked turns, rollers and gaps. Like the other X course disciplines at Winter X, Mono-Skier X is a fusion of motocross and downhill racing on snow.

In each of the qualifying races, the winner advances to the Final, while the 2nd place finisher goes to the last chance qualifier. In the LCQ, the winner advances to fill out the 4 racer final. In the final, the first racer to the bottom takes home the gold.

Competition Format: Men and Women

Qualifying12 (3 heats of 4)1Winner advances to Final, 2nd place goes to LCQ
Last Chance Qualifier3 (1 heat of 3)1Winner advances to Final
Final4 (single heat)11st thru 4th place

Got it?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

huntsman cup wrapup

Writing this from Park City, Utah, where we just finished up three days of racing at the annual Huntsman Cup. I didn't manage a win but did land on the podium every day, making it five straight this season. I'm happy to be skiing so consistently although I'll admit I was a little disappointed not to finish better than third in today's slalom. Rather than try to recap all the races for you, for now I'll just post links to the relevant press releases and result lists.

GS 1 (Fri. 1/5): release | results
GS 2 (Sat. 1/6): release | results
SL (Sun. 1/7): release | results

bid on my race suit

If you're reading this and you or someone you know is a ski racer, this may be of interest... I donated my race suit from the Paralympics last year to Gould Academy, my alma mater, for a fundraising auction they're doing. Bidding is open now through Feb. 4, and as of now you could pick it up for a song at $100. Go here to view the auction listing.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

rough day

I'm writing this from Park City, Utah, where we're getting ready for the annual Huntsman Cup races, which run this Friday through Sunday. The rest of the team skied at Deer Valley this morning while I stayed behind tinkering with my monoski. At noon I joined the others at Park City Resort to run some slalom.

We were training on CB's, a long, steep hill that used to host men's World Cup races every year. (I usually like the trail, and I like to say that they named it after me.) The course today was on the steepest part of the run, and the snow was mostly man-made, a contrast from the stuff we've been skiing on in Winter Park. What's more, I was skiing on a new shock absorber and my monoski just didn't feel right. These factors came together to foreground some of the weaknesses in my skiing, and the result was that I had an absolutely awful day of training. I didn't make it through the course once, blowing out or falling several times each run. The coaches kept offering advice, but all I wanted was to be left alone and try and work my way out of the hole I was digging for myself. On days like today it's really hard to make yourself keep skiing when you know it's not going to get any better. All I can do is put today behind me, be glad it was only a training day, and redouble my efforts tomorrow.

(The linguist in me wonders: why redouble? It's not like I've already doubled them...)