We got up to Whistler Creekside this morning and did some freeskiing, though not on the race hill. That slope, Franz's, was closed a few days ago so the Paralympic downhill course could be set. Our head coach, Ray Watkins, set it. It's very similar to the course we ran here a year ago for World Cup Finals. Tomorrow is the first downhill training run, and I'll be inspecting and running the course even though I'm not scheduled to run the downhill race on Saturday. The downhill is the only event I'm not going to be racing, even though it's probably my best race. This is because the United States has a lot of strong downhillers in the sitting men's class, and we're only allotted three start positions. I'm ranked #4.
Despite the clouds and light snow falling, the view from the Creekside Gondola this morning was prettier than any mountain vista: a world-class, race-ready downhill track, all dyed and prepped for a few forerunners to test out today. At the finish is a good-sized temporary stadium for spectators, as well as a dozen or so temporary buildings for media, timing, logistics, concessions, doping control, et cetera. Everything is spangled in VANOC blue and green and looks just as splendid as it did on TV during the Olympics. The only thing out of place is the giant green Olympic rings erected slopeside, next to the final pitch of the downhill. The Paralympics don't have permission to use the five-ring logo, so they have been covered with a giant white tarp in hopes that no one will notice them, I suppose. All that was missing today was spectators. They'll begin filling in the stands tomorrow, and Saturday's race is sold out. I'll be sitting there watching then, but for the next few days — weather-dependent, of course — I'll be out there maching down that white ribbon.