Monday, December 08, 2008

first race of the season

We ran a slalom race today at Copper Mountain in Colorado as part of the Ski Spectacular disabled ski week.

I took third place behind Sean Rose of Great Britain and surprise winner Josh Dueck of Canada. I suppose Josh wasn't a surprise to anyone who watched him ski last season — he just kept getting better and better, and it was only a matter of time before he "put two together," as we say.

It worries me a little that I was the top American, because I wasn't all that fast despite my podium finish; I was six seconds behind Josh and two behind Sean. I know how fast my teammates Tyler Walker and Chris Devlin-Young have been in training (namely, faster than me), but Tyler had a lackluster day, finishing just behind me, and Chris skied out in the second run after placing second in the morning run. I predict they'll be back in form tomorrow for the giant slalom, an event that I've not felt very good in during recent training.

Monday, November 17, 2008

notre dame de paris

I'm back in the States now. Sorry for the lack of posting for the rest of the trip; I was hoping to add photos but I lost my camera at the Cold War Kids concert in London.

I did have a great moment that perhaps bears relating while eating a brie-and-cucumber sandwich in the churchyard behind Notre Dame. I was listening to my iPod on shuffle mode, and the R.E.M. song "1,000,000" came on. This is a song from the band's first EP, Chronic Town, which features a picture of one of the very gargoyles I was looking at:

A neat coincidence.

The next song to come on after that was "Roforofo Fight" by Fela Kuti. Kuti was the leading figure of the Afrobeat movement, without which "world music" as we know it almost certainly would not have existed. Paris is the de facto capital of the world music scene, and it owes Kuti (and Africa in general, for that matter) a great debt. Hearing the ordered chaos of Fela's music while gazing at Notre Dame, the enduring monument of Europe's rapidly fading Christian colonialist past, was a great juxtaposition.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

merry olde england

I'm writing my first real blog post in months from the Sanctuary House Hotel in Westminster, London. M. and I are on a little trip around England (and ending up in Paris) with the intention of seeing friends in various parts of the country and (for me) relaxing a bit before the ski season gets into full swing.

M. spent her early childhood (age 1 to 3) in the tiny village of Great Chishill, not far from Cambridge. She and her family have maintained their friendships there over the years and often returned to visit, so we were able to stay for our first few nights with M.'s friend Sophie, who lives in a modern townhouse half a mile away from the 500(!)-year-old house where she grew up — and where her parents still live — under a thatched roof.

Sophie's house is only a year old, and England is decidedly a first-world country, so I was really surprised to see how many, er, modern conveniences it was lacking. It began with the bathroom sink, which has separate taps (not just separate knobs) for hot and cold. This means that hand-washing requires either (a) filling the sink with the right mix of hot and cold water and then washing, (b) using exclusively ice-cold or boiling-hot water, or (c) rapidly alternating between the two. As I reflected that I hadn't seen a sink like that in an American house with plumbing less than fifty years old, I decided that option C worked best.

Another plumbing-related surprise was that the house had no shower, only a bathtub. As much as I enjoy a relaxing bath now and then, I can't imagine getting ready for work every morning by trying to wash up as quickly as possible in a bath instead of a shower. According to Sophie, it costs much more to put in a shower in her part of England because a pump has to be installed to compensate for the inadequate water pressure.

Yet another annoyance (well, it would be to me, anyway) was that the house had a washing machine but no dryer. But I began to realize that this one was part of an overall energy-consciousness that's not to be found in American homes, where efficiency is only beginning to be embraced by both builders and consumers. Dryers use a LOT of electricity, so it's both cheaper and more environmentally friendly to dry your clothes on a rack. (In England, I imagine outdoor clotheslines are only an option for a few weeks out of the year.)

There were other energy innovations, too. I soon found out that all electrical outlets in England have an on-off switch next to them; that way you can easily eliminate your electrical appliances' "phantom power" draw without having to unplug and re-plug them all the time. Likewise, Sophie's hot water heater was of the instantaneous (a.k.a. "tankless") variety, meaning it has to be turned on before you take a bath, but it saves lots of energy. Overall, of course, the house was quite a bit smaller than most American living spaces, too, meaning that it requires less energy to heat, clean and maintain.

That's all for now — time to go see some more sights in London and go to another show. (We've already been to concerts here by Al Green and the Cold War Kids.) Next post: London and points beyond, possibly with some photos

Sunday, September 07, 2008

the five-dollar newspaper

For a while now, the newsstand price of a Sunday New York Times (outside of NYC, anyway) has been $5. Purchasing one in the Salt Lake airport today brought to mind that milkshake scene from Pulp Fiction, so with apologies to Quentin Tarantino... here goes:


Harsh fluorescent light. Bleary-eyed business travelers and tourists mill around looking for caffeine and reading materials. Vincent Vega (JOHN TRAVOLTA) and Mia Wallace (UMA THURMAN) approach the check stand. The clerk is dressed as a 1950s newsie.


How 'bout you, Peggy Sue?


I'll have this package of Tic-Tacs here -- orange -- and a five-dollar newspaper.


How do you want that paper, New York Times or USA Today?


New York.


Did you just buy a five-dollar paper?


Sure did.


And that's newsprint and ink?




It costs five dollars?




You don't get bonus Web content or nothin'?




Just checking.

Vincent hands the clerk a ten, the clerk hands Mia the newspaper and $3.08 in change, and she and Vincent walk out into the busy airport concourse. Mia brings the newsprint to her nose and inhales.




You mind if I read a section of that?


Be my guest.


I gotta know how a five-dollar paper reads.


We can share this section if you like -- I don't have cooties.

She hands the front section to him. Vincent smiles.


Yeah, but maybe I do.


Cooties, I can handle.

He skims a few headlines.


Goddamn! That's a pretty fuckin' good newspaper.


Told ya.


I don't know if it's worth five dollars, but it's pretty fuckin' good.

He hands the paper back to her.


Naturally, I will be optioning this to all interested studios.

Friday, August 15, 2008

dogs in super-slow-mo

Totally awesome video. (I suggest downloading and opening in a media player so you can make it big — that means option-clicking on this link if you use a Mac.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

the eight kinds of drunks

I recently read Ammon Shea's Reading the OED, his chronicle of the year he spent reading the Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover (well, covers to covers). Shea finds a lot of great words along the way, but my favorite was his entry for goat-drunk. It turns out that this word is just one of eight terms that an Elizabethan writer named Thomas Nashe came up with hundreds of years ago to describe the different ways people act when inebriated. Shea lists them all, even though they didn't all make it into the OED. How many of these people do YOU know?

  1. Ape drunke: “he leapes, and sings, and hollowes, and daunceth for the heavens”

  2. Lion drunke: “he flings the pots abut the house, calls his Hostesse whore, breakes the glasse windows with his dagger, and is apt to quarrell with any man that speaks to him”

  3. Swine drunke – "heauy lumpish, and sleepie, and cries for a little more drinke"

  4. Sheepe drunke – "wise in his owne conceipt, when he cannot bring forth a right word"

  5. Mawdlen drunke – "when a fellowe will weepe for kindnes in the midst of his Ale, and kisse you, saying; By God Captaine I loue thee, goe thy waies thou dost not thinke so often of me as I do of thee, I would (if it pleased GOD) I could not loue thee so well as I doo, and then he puts his finger in his eie, and cries"

  6. Martin drunke – "when a man is drunke and drinkes himselfe sober ere he stirre"

  7. Goat drunke: "made lascivious by alcohol"

  8. Foxe drunke: "when he is craftie drunke, as many of the Dutch men
    bee, and neuer bargain but when they are drunke"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

new photos

There are lots of new photos up on my Flickr account, including some from camping in Idaho, an R.E.M. show at Red Rocks in Colorado, a Drive-By Truckers show in Bend, Oregon, and visiting a houseboat in Seattle.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


First of all, sorry I haven't posted in so long. Since I am such a slacker in the USDST news-reporting department, many of you will want to add the following to your blogroll: This is the blog of our trainer/coach, Jess, who does an awesome job of posting words and photos just about every day that we're on snow.

Now, on to what's on my mind at the moment: the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

(Why does the USADA logo contain an Austrian flag?)

This might be long, and almost certainly will contain some vitriol, so reader beware and all that. Plus, it'll probably get noticed by USADA and get me "randomly tested," but what the hell. (I'm only half-joking.)

Last fall my teammate Roger Lee was selected for a random, out-of-competition drug test, which was conducted by USADA. This happens now and then to all Olympic and Paralympic-level athletes. On this occasion, Roger tested positive for two "prohibited substances," chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide. The reason for the positive test was that Roger had been taking a medication prescribed by his doctor during his recovery from a shoulder injury.

When a doctor deems it medically necessary for an athlete to take a medication containing a prohibited substance, the doctor must sign, and the athlete must submit to USADA, a Therapeutic Use Exemption form (TUE). Roger had done this prior to his test, and USADA should have had his TUE on file. But for some reason they didn't. His doctor sent the form to the wrong place, or someone misplaced it, or it got lost in the mail. In any case, Roger took all the steps he was supposed to take, and was not guilty of breaking any law. He played by the rules in every way.

That notwithstanding, if you visit the home page of the USADA website, you will notice a link to a press release titled "U.S. PARALYMPIC ALPINE SKIER ACCEPTS SUSPENSION FOR DOPING VIOLATION." If you read it, you will come away with the impression that Roger never submitted a TUE, and you will learn that Roger has been suspended from competition for one year.

As unlucky as Roger is that he is being sanctioned for something over which he had essentially no control, he is also lucky, because his lawyer managed to make his one-year suspension retroactive to September 14 of last year, meaning that he will be clear to train and compete with the team this upcoming ski season.

Nevertheless, this is not an acceptable outcome. Roger does not deserve any blame here. What's worse is that USADA is trumpeting its decision to the world, proudly proclaiming another victim of its perversely misguided arbitration process for doping violations.

The bottom line is that doping trials do not work like normal criminal or civil trials. There is no presumption of innocence until one's guilt is established. Instead, as soon as a positive test is recorded, for any reason, you are labeled guilty. You will have to spend thousands of dollars in an attempt to clear your name, but if one goes by the numbers, you will not be successful. Like a big corporation or a tyrannical government, USADA always wins. (My friend Steve, a lawyer, described it to me as a "kangaroo court.") USADA's official policy is that there is no such thing as "extenuating circumstances." To them, an unintentional violation like Roger's is as severe as an intentional one. And a violation for a "specified substance" (one that's not performance-enhancing but banned nonetheless, like cannabis) is just as bad as a violation for anabolic steroids.

Crazy? Absolutely. But that's what we have to endure in the name of catching a few cheaters, right? I don't really think so, actually. We need different systems for different sports. Doping is just plain not as much of an issue in, say, curling as it is in cycling or track and field. As far as I know, there has never been a documented case of real performance-enhancing drug use in alpine skiing, disabled or able-bodied. Instead, USADA wastes everyone's time and money busting people for improper TUEs, smoking pot, or using Propecia. We need a less paranoid, more just system. It's time for the madness to end.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

north american scum

Some of you might enjoy this slide show I made from photos my compadres and I took last season. The music is by LCD Soundsystem. (For a better viewing experience, I recommend clicking the "view high quality" link below the video window.)

UPDATE: fixed a problem with sound in the video, and un-embedded it for better viewing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

my latest obsession

is The Onion AV Club's crossword, which you can do for free online. It's just as smart as the New York Times puzzle, but much snarkier. For instance, one recent puzzle called "Double Hung" featured long clues whose answers all involved two synonyms for "penis" (e.g. "ANDY [ROD][DICK]," "[PETER] O'[TOOL]E").

Monday, April 07, 2008

queen rock montreal

My girlfriend M. and I have an ongoing game, inspired by The 40-Year-Old Virgin, called "Know How I Know You're Gay?" For the uninitiated (watch the linked video, which is NSFW unless you work somewhere really cool), this involves witty banter about just what it is that indicates that one's interlocutor is gay.

Anyway, M. recently had the best occasion ever to ask me if I knew how she knew I was gay: I bought the DVD Queen Rock Montreal and am currently watching it. I saw an abridged version of this rock doc on a plane to Europe in January, and it rocked so hard it almost blew my mind. So when I was in Best Buy the other day and saw the DVD on the rack, I knew I had to throw down for it. This is a Queen concert from November 1981, just a few months after I was born, in which the band runs through all their greatest hits. If there is an arena-rock band active today who is as energetic and tight as Queen and who has as charismatic a frontman as Freddie Mercury, I want to know about it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

the cuts

In October of 1988, a Burlington, Vt.-based rock band called the Cuts released their second album, Straight Path. Their first album, a self-titled LP, had been a local favorite in 1985, and the band was doing their own promotion for the follow-up, sending it to DJs, promoters, anyone who could expose their music to a wider audience.

The Cuts never broke big, and if you Google them, the only mention you will find is in the recollections of ex-Burlington scenesters like this guy. In fact, the only reason I know about them is that the band's guitarist, Frank Egan, is my uncle.

For a few dollars, I recently bought a vinyl promo copy of Straight Path on eBay. It came with a great promotional poster of the band and a press release with a hand-written note to someone named Mickey, signed by Dave Daignault, the lead singer and bass player of the Cuts, and to this day one of Frank's best friends. After the Cuts, Frank and Dave moved to Boston and then New York, playing together under a variety of names: Lisa Rock, Coffee, Penny, and most recently Louder Daddy. Now Frank is a financial analyst with a wife, an ex-wife, and two kids, soon to be three.

But I digress. Here is my copy of Straight Path:

While the cassette version of the album (which I listened to repeatedly as a kid) had ten tracks, the vinyl edition has just six — "to insure [sic] greater fidelity for radio airplay," as the press release explains — making it more of an EP than a bona fide LP. My intention here is to re-expose the world to an album that very few people ever heard, and that probably I am the first person to listen to in a good 10 years. I managed to figure out how to digitize the EP, and I present it here (with Frank's pre-approval, of course) for your listening pleasure, complete with analog pops and hisses.

Click here to download the whole EP, or click on the track names below to listen to or download them individually:

01 Straight Path (lyrics)
02 In a Different Part of the World (lyrics)
03 Pig (lyrics)
04 Rain (lyrics)
05 Hard to Pretend (lyrics)
06 People Solving Problems (lyrics)

I recommend starting with the title track — the one the most deserves the title of "lost gem." This one's got it all: some kick-ass guitar lines, some oh-so-'80s synths, an anthemic chorus, and an even better verse melody that Dave milks for all it's worth. My favorite part is the fourth time through the "My roots..." verse, when Frank joins in on backing vocals. I also love the rhyme of "avoid" with "Freud." Classic.

Some of the other tracks maybe haven't aged as well, particularly "People Solving Problems" and "Pig," which are ruminations on world peace and American greed, respectively. (In particular, the sax solo on "Pig" reminds me how glad I am that that instrument is no longer prominently featured in many pop songs.) "In a Different Part of the World" is another topical song, but it's interesting for a number of reasons: first, the production, which is very Talking Heads-y in its world-music flavor and its female backing vocals; and second, the lyrics, which are frankly hilarious. The verses totally throw the feel-good message of the chorus on its head.

"Rain" is an interesting atmospheric piece that feels a bit longer than it is, but the production is fantastic, with synthesizers, backing vocals and distorted guitars used to spooky effect. This should've been in a movie.

The sleeper hit on the record, for me, is "Hard to Pretend." The synth line that opens the song would've fit right in on pop radio in '88, and the song is brooding, dark and moody as hell. Plus that guitar solo — damn, uncle!

When I was a kid listening to this stuff, I guess I didn't realize how many of the Cuts' songs were about messed-up desire and illicit romance, although I guess they did make the sex stuff more overt in one of their later songs, which was titled "Take Me Down." (I wish I could've been able to post an mp3 of "Esther," one of the cassette-only songs from Straight Path, which was about Dave's "Domino's pizza girl" and contained the awesome line, "There isn't anything that I wouldn't give just to munch-a-munch-a-munch on her pies.")

OK, so have a listen to these tracks and post reactions in the comments section.

Friday, March 28, 2008 re-launched

The website just got an overhaul, and the interface is a little easier to use. (If you're using a Mac, you'll need the Flip4Mac plug-in, which is a little cumbersome.) The site has footage of the Torino Winter Games as well as the Athens Summer Games, and there seems to be some new content also.

If I may make some recommendations, check out the footage of the first Winter Paralympic Games, from Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, in 1976. The narration's in Swedish, which is kind of amusing if you find Swedish as funny as I do. And then maybe you'll want to relive the glory (heh) of my 5th-place finish in the Torino downhill, which you can watch here. The problem is that you have to watch a very large amount of pre-race coverage, plus the visually impaired classes, the women's sitting division and some extensive course holds, before you get to the men's sitting category, and on a Mac at least, there's no way to fast-forward or jump to the segment you want to watch. Still, it's worth waiting for Kevin Bramble's awesomely balls-to-the-wall winning run and subsequent obscenity-laden trash-talking in the finish area.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

SR article

The Ski Racing article about my lexicographical pursuits is now online, thanks to my alma mater, Gould Academy. You can read it here (PDF).

Friday, March 14, 2008

back on snow

Yesterday I went to see my doctor for a follow-up visit about my back; it's now been more than six weeks since I injured (or possibly re-injured) my back while competing at the X Games. While the broken vertebra was still apparent on the films, my doc was confident based on my pain level (zero) that my spine is healing well, and since it's already essentially immobilized by the spinal fusion that I had in 1999 to correct for my scoliosis, he cleared me to ski, race, and do whatever else I feel like doing.

Obviously, this is awesome news. Today I took four runs at Winter Park in choppy new snow, some of the more challenging conditions I could have asked for, and my back felt great — no pain. I feel ready to head back east next week to get in a couple races before the season wraps up. There are three races at Waterville Valley, N.H., that I will probably skip, and then three more at Sunday River, Maine, that I will attend. They are the first Nor-Am/Level II disabled races to be held at Sunday River, my old home mountain for six years, and I am super-psyched to be able to go, even if there are not too many top skiers racing there. I can't wait to ski the old race trails again — T-2, Monday Mourning, and Right Stuff, here I come.

Monday, February 18, 2008

If you'd asked me a month ago, I would have thought that today I'd be in South Korea, getting ready to fly to Japan. Instead I'm sitting in a cafe in Ontario, Oregon. Things can change fast.

As some readers know (despite me not blogging about it), I competed in my second Winter X Games this year, in the Monoskier X event. I did about as well as I could have hoped, qualifying for the semifinals and then failing to advance to the final, but taking second place in the consolation round, for a 6th-place finish overall and a nice little paycheck. But every run I took on the course really did a number on my back. Every time I'd land a jump — of which there were many — I'd feel the impact all the way up my spine.

A week and a half after X Games, after taking plenty of days off snow to rest, I was training at Winter Park and my back still wasn't hurting any less, so I decided to see a doctor. They took some X-rays and found that my T-8 vertebra was kind of crushed or compressed — it appears to be only about half as tall as the other vertebrae. There have been some problems trying to get a diagnosis as to what exactly that means in terms of time off-snow, but for now it means I didn't get to make the trip to Asia for the last two legs of this year's World Cup circuit. So instead I'm here in Ontario visiting my girlfriend, M., working on some lexicography projects and waiting for the final word from my doctor. My season might be over, or maybe I'll be able to race at our U.S. nationals at Soldier Mountain, Idaho, next month.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

some queyras photos

...can be found here.

european world cup wrap-up

You know what has been the best part of my day over the past week? The three seconds after I cross the finish line and before I see my time. Things are just not feeling right for me in the technical events, slalom and GS. We raced two of each here in Queyras, France, and tomorrow we drive back to Munich, then fly home to the States on Monday. I finished both giant slaloms, but I never felt like I was skiing cleanly except on the flattest parts of the course, and I finished each run over five seconds behind the leader. I thought the slaloms would go better, but instead they went worse: each day, I finished the first run outside the top 15, then resolved to get more aggressive for the second run but skied out and failed to finish.

Today has been a good off day. We hung out at the L'Eldorado Restaurant adjoining our hotel and watched Lindsey Vonn (nee Kildow) win the classic women's downhill at Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy. That was just a warm-up for the even more classic men's downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria, the Hahnenkamm, which Bode almost managed to win — he tied for second behind Switzerland's Dider Cuche — despite making the majority of one turn with both skis off the ground, running along a safety fence, a good meter above the snow! We watched in horror as the second racer on course, our countryman (and for some of us, good friend) Scott Macartney, crashed badly off the final jump of the notorious Streif course. Scotty Mac, who was celebrating his 30th birthday today, landed so hard on his head that he broke his helmet in half and then slid, unconscious, across the finish line. Ironically, he still managed to finish in 33rd place — just 0.16 seconds away from scoring World Cup points. The mood in the finish area looked somber on TV as medics airlifted the still-unconscious Macartney to a hospital in Innsbruck. We all hope he suffered no more than a concussion and that he gets back on his feet again soon.

When I get back to the States, M. and I will spend two nights at my place in Winter Park before heading to the X Games in Aspen to begin training for the Mono Skier X competition.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

day off in Queyras

Today most of the Americans and Canadians are sitting around the hotel restaurant here in Molines en Queyras, France, drinking coffee and eating croissants, enjoying the free wi-fi and watching lots of live skiing on TV. (Today is the 78th annual running of the famed Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen, Switzerland — the longest, oldest and quirkiest downhill on the World Cup circuit.) In other words, it's the perfect day off after a solid week on snow and a 12-hour drive yesterday from Abtenau.

We were originally scheduled to race downhill and super G here, but the organizers announced last week that they were scrapping the speed events and scheduling some slaloms and GS's instead. It's a real bummer for me, and for most of the U.S. team, since speed events are a strength for us. It seems as though every disabled World Cup downhill they schedule always ends up getting canceled for some reason or another. In this case, the excuse is not enough snow, but you wouldn't know it now; there's about two feet of fresh new powder on the ground, all fallen since the decision was made to cancel the races. To be fair, it would've taken a tremendous amount of manpower — which the organizers probably don't have — to pull off the races after so much new snow fell on what had been essentially a bare slope. Still, it's a disappointment.

Friday, January 11, 2008

abtenau, days 2-5

The less said about Tuesday's GS race, the better. All of our team finished the race, and yet not one American ended up on the podium. I had a really mediocre run, followed by a run that was going better until I hip checked on the flats, dumping all my speed. I popped right back up and kept going to the finish, but I was way off the mark, finishing 12th. As usual, Martin Braxenthaler of Germany was the winner in my class.

The last three days have been a different story — well, not for Martin, who's continued to win every day, but for us Americans. We had three super-combineds, the newest event on the disabled World Cup circuit. Each race consists of one run of super G and one run of slalom in a single day; the winner is the one with the fastest combined time. It's a fun race because it allows the speed specialists to compete against the more technical skiers in a sort of jack-of-all-trades battle. For more about combined races, see this Wikipedia article (which I wrote a lot of).

ANYway, my teammate CDY did extremely well, winning the super G portion of all three races — which were also scored independently as super G's, so he's now won three World Cups this season. Slalom is not his specialty, but he managed to do well enough in the slalom legs to take 2nd, 5th, and 3rd in the super combis. As for me, I am struggling with super G right now. I feel great during my runs, but when I look at my time I always seem to be blindsided by how slow I am. Slalom is a little better...

I was 5th, 13th, and 10th in the super Gs. I didn't finish the slalom portion the first day, but ended up 9th overall in yesterday's race and 8th in today's. Complete results can be found here, and you can read some U.S. Ski Team press releases here.

Tomorrow, we're off to Queyras, France — a 10-hour drive — for more World Cup action.

Monday, January 07, 2008

tough day of slalom

Today was the first World Cup race of the season, a slalom in Abtenau, Austria. I was the only sitting male finisher from the U.S. today, in 8th place in race won by Austria's Harry Eder. The race was held in weather that ranged from mist to pouring rain... it was pretty lame. The organizers put chemicals in the snow to keep it firm and try to create a consistent surface, but large holes developed in two places on the first run, taking out a large percentage of the male sitting skiers, who run last in slalom. I made it through with a solid but unambitious run. On the second run I charged a bit more, but when I reached the final pitch, where big ruts had again developed, I went for quite a rodeo ride. I hung on though, and by finishing cleanly I moved up a few positions, from 11th to 8th. Not the best slalom finish I could have hoped for — but not the worst, either. Only one other American guy, Brad, finished both runs (he was 9th in the standing class). In the women's race, Jonezy took a respectable third place among the standing skiers, and Laurie turned it up, winning the sitskier category the way we used to expect from her every day, regardless of the discipline.

Complete results can be viewed here, on the IPC website.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

park city wrap-up from munich airport

I'm writing this from the Munich airport, where there's no wi-fi at the moment, but hopefully I'll be able to post this in the not-too-distant future. We just arrived here for the opening World Cup races in Abtenau, Austria, which begin in a couple days.

We raced Nor-Ams on Tuesday and Wednesday i Park City, Utah, and I had mixed results. I felt awful on my GS skis, and I made a lot of big mistakes on the first run of the GS before crashing and failing to finish the second. But the next day in slalom, I put together two really solid runs and finished second, about one second behind.

Just getting from my house in Winter Park to Park City on Dec. 31 was a real challenge. I was scheduled to fly from Denver to Salt Lake at 6:10 in the morning, so my girlfriend M. and I set out for Denver around 6 p.m. the night before. The plan was to drop her off at the airport that night for her to catch her flight and then spend the night at Brad's parents' house in Highlands Ranch. But unbeknownst to me, a winter storm had been brewing, and by the time M. and had all our stuff packed into my van, Berthoud Pass was closed. Berthoud is on US 40, the main route in and out of Winter Park, and it's a twisty, tortuous drive that only takes 25 minutes in good weather, but it's possible to be stuck up there for hours during a blizzard. Thankfully, that didn't happen to us, since they had already closed the pass. I would almost certainly me missing my 6:10 a.m. flight out of Denver, so at that point, there was nothing to be done but go to the store for some veggies, tofu and wine, go home and make a stir-fry, and play some Guitar Hero on Wii. (I kick ass at "Anarchy in the UK," but I'm still struggling with the solo on Tenacious D's "The Metal.")

The next morning, New Year's Eve Day, periodic checks of the CDOT website revealed that the pass was still closed — and that key portions of Interstate 70 were shut down as well, meaning that the alternate route out of Winter Park — west through Kremmling, south to Silverthorne, and then east to Denver via I-70 — was also a no-go. M. suggested an alternate alternate route, heading south from Silverthorne down to Fairplay (of South Park fame) and then back northeast to Denver:

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Google Maps pegged the route at around five hours under normal conditions; with the roads in such a condition, it was sure to take even longer, but it seemed like our only hope of getting to Denver before the dawn of 2008. So M. packed up some snacks, and around noon we set out on the road. By now it was mostly sunny, but fierce winds still kicked up snow and blew it across the road, making it difficult to see very far during the stronger gusts and requiring a driver to use a firm grip just to keep the car going in a straight line.

We made it to Silverthorne with no trouble, but it seemed like all of Colorado was stuck in that strip-mall, outlet-store town and trying to get out. There was quite a queue of cars waiting for I-70 to reopen, and another heading south out of town on Highway 9, our route. We inched our way through Breckenridge and then up over Hoosier Pass, which somehow remained open. By the time we reached Fairplay, it was nearing five p.m. — two hours before the day's last flight to Salt Lake on Delta, the airline the team had booked me on. M. and I frantically started calling other airlines and found a flight on United leaving at 8:48 p.m., which seemed within reach. I sped toward DIA as fast as I thought I could get away with, and M. and I talked through the logistics of how we were going to get me onto my flight with my five checked bags, her onto her flight home to Boise at 9:40, and my van into some sort of parking area. We pulled up to the curb at about 8:00 — three minutes before the check-in deadline — and I went straight to the United desk and said, "One one-way ticket to Salt Lake, please." (I have always secretly wanted to buy a last-minute plane ticket that way, although I never knew they charge you an extra $20 for the privilege.) I made my plane, wasn't charged for my excess bags, and even got upgraded to first class, while M. made her flight home as well.

I later found out that Berthoud Pass reopened mid-afternoon, which means we could've taken a much more direct route to the airport and arrived there earlier, in time for the last Delta flight — but also found out that I would have almost certainly have been charged at least $225 in excess baggage charges, which United waived. Missing my flight and buying a last-minute ticket for $150 ended up saving me $75... how about that.