Monday, December 21, 2009

First World Cups of the season

Things have been go-go-go since Norway. After a long journey home (this time I managed to catch a lift with the Swiss ski team back to Oslo as opposed to catching two trains), I arrived back in Molltaler, Austria. The team spent the next two days training on the ski cross course high up in the glacier, working on starts and head-to-head racing. Although it was very cold (around -20º C), we managed to get some very effective training done. It was fun to do some ‘risqué’ passing on the course, as you would in a race.

On Saturday we began training on the course. We were given an hour and a half, so I managed to squeeze in 5 runs on the course. This course was a little different to others. It is set like a super G, with big fast sweeping turns. Then within the course are some aggressive rolls and some large jumps with, unfortunately, very flat landings. Because of the cold weather, the snow is super hard and compact, making the landings bone-rattling. There is one jump in particular where we launch 20+ metres, with nothing but a spectacular view of the village in front of us. Unfortunately there’s no steep landing, so it feels like you’ve just jumped off a 3-storey building onto concrete. By the end of training, my heals, knees and back had taken a severe pounding.
Yesterday was qualifications. I started with bib 50 out of a field of 68 girls; the largest world cup field ever. I felt like I had a decent run; one mistake off one of the jumps (I got back and therefore caught a lot of air on my chest…not so fast and aerodynamic). I finished in 34th, a bees dick away from qualifying. Only the top 32 racers go through to finals, and I was only 0.15 of a second behind 32nd place. Pretty devastating. At least I beat half the field! 4 Aussies were racing in total. Jenny qualified in 23rd and Scott in 22nd, so they made it onto finals. Sam finished in 48th.

On Friday afternoon after training, we packed up all our stuff (including over 20 pairs of skis), and headed for San Candido, Italy, around 2 hours drive. San Candido is in the heart of the Dolomites, right on the Austrian border. This is where the world cup SX season kicks of, with two back-to-back world cups.

(Watching finals in San Candido)

After tomorrow’s race, we have a break for Christmas. Although I would love to come home and see the fam and friends (and enjoy some summer!), it’s a little far to come home for just 5 days. I’m doing the next best thing and jumping on a train to St. Moritz where I will be spending Christmas with some Australian friends. I’m taking my fat skis and hopefully we get some fresh snow. I’m not going to think about ski racing for a full 5 days. I need a mental break! I’m just going to relax, free ski, enjoy some après-ski drinks, drink hot chocolate and indulge in cheese fondue and raclette. Aaah, I love Europe.
I have another chance to prove myself. Tomorrow is another day and another race. I’m feeling positive. I just need to put it all together to have the run of my life; and hopefully finish in the top 32.