Here I am, a week after writing my last blog post and I haven't even been able to post it yet. I'm now in another metal tube, heading from Italy back to Colorado, only this time for some reason we're heading much farther north than usual, up over Greenland. I suppose, barring any unforeseen difficulties, I'll be able to post this tonight when I get home to Winter Park.
It's been a worthwhile trip. We drove about four hours from Munich down to Arta Terme, Italy, which is tucked up in the Dolomites in the northeastern corner of the country, very close to both the Austrian and Slovenian borders. We had two days to ski the race hill and settle into our hotel before the first race, which was a slalom on Monday.
That morning I felt really great, ready to turn in a good performance... maybe that should've been my first clue that things weren't going to go my way. As soon as I got onto the course for the first run, things felt weird. The snow outside of the race course had been really soft, starting to turn slushy by 9 or 10 a.m.; on course, it was a different story. After sliding around on the first few gates, I started to find a rhythm on the next few — only to lean in badly on the entry to the first hairpin and slide off-course. After maybe 15 seconds of racing, my day was over. Even worse, in the second run all three of my male monoskier teammates went down and out as well.
I finished the GS the next day, and while at the time I was pretty disappointed with my 12th-place finish, I think finishing two solid runs built up my confidence a bit. It was also pretty encouraging to see Gerald and CDY have better races, finishing 6th and 7th. On the morning of the final race, a super G, I didn't have much motivation: I hadn't had a decent finish yet in Italy, the course didn't seem well-suited to me, and my warm-up runs just felt off. Before the start I told Nick, "If I have any success today, it will be a fluke." I didn't make any major mistakes in my run, and got to the bottom having thoroughly enjoyed it. It's nice when ski racing is actually FUN, even if "fun" doesn't always correlate well with "successful." Somehow, though, I crossed the line in second place, and only three more skiers who came down after me were able to beat me. Suddenly I had my first top-5 World Cup finish of the season, in the last World Cup race of the season. Not only that, CDY gave our men's monoskiing team its only podium of the season, finishing third.
For the U.S. Ski Team's press release on the races, click here. For complete results, go here.