Monday, March 22, 2010

Thank you for your support!

Dear family, friends and sponsors,

I want to thank you for all your support this season. I loved receiving your emails and feedback, even though I couldn't respond to all of them! It made me happy to know that you were enjoying my updates, and were interested in what I was doing overseas.

I am glad that you enjoyed the experience with me, and hope that you felt just as involved as I was in what I was doing; Olympics and all! After all, you all helped me in one way or another to get there.

I am now back in Melbourne, straight back into architecture at uni and catching up on three weeks of work! It's a struggle but I'm sure I'll manage.

At the moment I'm taking a bit of a break from training. I need some time to re-coop from that long, busy season. I will get back into it once I know what is happening with our ski cross national program. Hopefully some good things are to come, seeing as though the sport was such a hit at the Olympics!

I'll be in touch, and thanks again for your on going support!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Not what I hoped for in Switzerland but still a fantastic experience...

So, Switzerland didn’t go quite to plan, but I guess nothing ever really ever does in this world!

Finals in Grindelwald were postponed and held the following day due to heavy fog.

Unfortunately I didn’t make it through the first round. It was basically a straight skating start to the first turn which is not my forte. I perform better when there are some technical features right at the beginning of course, as seen in Cypress and Lake Placid. So it was a little disappointing not to progress to the next round; especially given that I had qualified 5th. I finished up in 18th.

(Being awarded with bib number 5 at the bib presentation)

(Course inspection in Grindelwald)

(A jump with quite a view...)

(Table jump, Grindelwald)

My final race of the season was Meiringen. I’m not super keen on this place seeing as though it is where I blew my knee out two years ago. Luckily I didn’t have to face my demons. They had built a new course on a different part of the mountain.

Because of schedule changes, we had training and qualifications in the same day. Training went well. I felt confident and ready race. Unfortunately in quali’s I made a big mistake in the most crucial area of the course. I overshot the jump and lost all of my speed on the next part of the course. I qualified 24th.

The following day for finals, things didn’t really get off to a great start. On the way to the gondola in the morning we had a bit of a bingle in the car. A Swissy decided that he’d race up the mountain taking the tightest possible line. Of course that meant that when we came around the blind turn, he was in the middle of the road. He clipped our side and we were left with a flat tire and a slightly banged up rental car. Great start to the day! I managed to hitch a ride with the Slovenian team to the race while Scotty stayed back to deal with insurance. Luckily he made it to the race just in time for inspection.


I was in the very first heat with Ophelie David (France), Caitlin Ciccone (USA) and Aleisha Cline (Canada). I pulled out fast and was in second place until Ciccone collided in the first turn. I went down just before the first large step up jump. Luckily I didn’t launch off the jump in the air… that could have ended badly!

(Pumped and ready to race)

(Meiringen, Switzerland)

So, not the results I was after in Switzerland (my goal was a top 8), but still a great learning experience. One large positive I can draw from the trip was my 5th place in qualification. If I can lay down some solid runs next season in qualifying, it will put me in a much better position to get through the heats.

I have just arrived home from an unimaginably long trip. Over 30 hours of actual flying! Unfortunately I had to go the long round home from Europe, via America. It's great to be home and I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Olympic Games experience makes me stronger. 5th today in World Cup

Today I qualified 5th at the World Cup here in Grindelwald, Switzerland. My best qualification result ever by far! It seems as though I am improving at every single race; with each event giving me more experience and confidence.

(Spectacular views from the top of the mountain. Behind is the Eiger)

It is crazy to think that I have gone from not qualifying in the top 32 in the first world cup of the season (San Candido, Italy) to now, 3 months later, qualifying in 5th place. It’s the same field, the same girls, just much faster skiing!

Last week all I wanted to do after the Games was to go home, see my friends and family and have a well deserved break from anything skiing-related. Now I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come to Europe for the final world cups of the season. In the long term, it was a good decision to come in that it will set me up for next season. More experience, better results and a better overall world ranking.

When we arrived here in Grindelwald a few days ago, things were looking a bit grim. However, the clouds opened up and we had an amazing day free skiing. Not a single cloud in the sky. It was great to just free ski again; something we don’t actually get to do very often believe it or not, during the racing season. We usually go from one race to the next. The only skiing I get to do is on the course or next to the course for warm up. On this day however we had the entire mountain to ourselves, free to do whatever we felt like (seeing as though we have no coach here…)

(Jean-Noel, Scott and I)

(Thumbs up to skiing in bluebird weather)

(Scott and I)

Yesterday was training; another blue bird day. Qualifications today. Finals tomorrow.

Tomorrow after the race we drive to Meiringen, just on the other side of the valley. Then the following day is training for the next world cup. It’s all go-go-go this season! One race to the next; not even a day off. However, I’m quite pleased with the schedule. The sooner we finish these world cups, the sooner I can go home!

Here are some video's from the Olympic Games. Enjoy!

Training video from Mt. Washington before the Olympics

Ski cross footage from the Olympic Games

PS- I was just charged 119 Swiss Frances for a small load of washing. Isn't that the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard? Umm...I'm think I'll bail instead!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beautiful Switzerland!

Excuse my rant from yesterday. I was just a bit frustrated that I missed the world cup I traveled all the way to Scandinavia for.

It's all good though! I'm back in a positive frame of mind after all, I'm in Grindelwald, Switzerland, one of the most beautiful and picturesque places I have ever been on this Earth. The infamous Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains surrounding this small town are absolutely breath-taking. From my room I have an incredible view to wake up to each morning. It does not get much better than this!

(Grindelwald in Summer. Reminds me of the Sound of Music)

Joining us at the next two world cups is French physio Jean-Noel. He helped us out in France earlier in the season, and has kindly jumped on board again with Scott and I. We are here without a coach, Matt is working for the Australian team at the Paralympic Games.

I'm in good sprits and am looking forward to the races ahead!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Disaster trip to Norway

After the most amazing three weeks of my life living it up in Vancouver, I ventured back to Europe to finish off the World Cup season. My plan was to do three world cups and then fly home, missing the final world cup in Sierra Nevada, Spain. I think bailing on the first three weeks of Uni is cutting it pretty tight already!

After one hell of a journey and a series of bad connections (Vancouver – Chicago – Washington – Stockholm – Oslo), I arrive in Norway jet lagged, cranky, homesick and with no bags. Not even one! This was not good news as training for the next world cup in Branas, Sweden, starts tomorrow. Cutting it a little tight, I know, but I couldn’t miss the closing ceremony and the finals hockey match! Scott, my team mate, is also missing all of his bags, so we’re not in the best position.

We decide to stay the night at the airport hotel, and seeing as though Scandinavia has to be the most expensive place on the planet, it sets us back quite a bit. Every minute spent in this country feels like more money is being drained from my bank account. The following day we get good somewhat good news; my will arrive in the morning, Scott’s in the afternoon. There is still time to drive the 4hrs to Sweden and make qualifications the next day (with perhaps only one run training). However, when I go to collect my bags, one is missing! Great! It’s the one with all my race wear, helmet, gloves etc.

My bag finally arrives at 8pm, but by this stage I’m so frustrated and exhausted that there’s no way I was in the mood to drive 4 hours on a desolate road, in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, on the wrong side of the road all the way to Sweden, where I will arrive past midnight, have to prepare my skis (not knowing what to wax because I have no idea about the snow conditions), probably get to bed past 2am, wake up at 6am the next morning, do one training run (note that I haven’t skied since my event on the 23rd of Feb, so over a week!), and then race qualifying! Hell no! It would be dangerous to race in such an exhausted state. I had to draw the line, so we decided to fly back to Zurich. I'm going to try to claim what I can on insurance (flight, car rental...). Hopefully I get something back! It will soften the blow of missing the world cup!

I am now in Interlaken, Switzerland, having a rest and a free ski. Training for the next world cup in Grindelwald starts on Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Golden Ticket

This morning I pretty much won the lottery! My name was one of four drawn out of a hat of 40 Aussie athletes to go to see USA and Canada in the gold medal hockey match. I sprinted to the stadium, and who do I find sitting next to me? Teammates Scott Kneller, Ramone Cooper and young Scott James. Things couldn’t get any better!

(Scott, Ramone, Scott and I having the time of our lives at the Hockey final)

(The golden ticket!)

(It doesn't get much better than this! Olympic Games hockey final)

Seats were extremely hot property as you can imagine. Tickets were being sold for as much as $15,000 USD on eBay for two seats in prime position. Standard tickets were averaging $4,500 each; $1,000 more than the superbowl. Crazy! I could have lived off that one ticket for months! Haha. But it was so worth going to the game; a lifetime experience, and something I’ll never forget. Definitely a highlight of my Olympic Games experience. It’s not every day you get to see Canada win Olympic Gold in the hockey…on home soil…with your friends…against their ultimate rivals, the USA! Does it get any better than this?

(Anticipation before the game started)

Following the Game was the closing ceremony. It was a great ceremony to wrap things up, yet I was sad that it was all over. The past 16 days have flown by! And I have had the time of my life. My parents attended so that made it even more special!

(Craig Branch and I before the closing ceremony)

(Sarah from Great Britain, Sophie from Denmark and myself before the ceremony)

(The colourful and bright closing ceremony)

(Chumpy and I getting involved at the ceremony)

We were very proud to have Lydia Lasilla as Australia’s flag bearer. Our whole team is extremely proud of our performances. This has been Australia’s best ever Winter Olympic Games, with two gold medals, one silver, nine top 10 finishes and another 6 top 15 finishes (including mine!).

(11 of the 40 Australian Olympic athletes)

A huge party followed the ceremony in the village. It was great to celebrate with all of the athletes from every nation and every sport.

Tomorrow morning I fly to Europe for the remainder of the World Cup season. I have 3 more world cups, one in Sweden and two in Switzerland. Although it would be nice to go home and celebrate my Olympic success with friends and family, I feel that I’m performing very well at the moment, so why not finish off the season with a few more great results?

(Dad, Mum and I at the Inukshuk in Vancouver)

Olympic Games Ski Cross. The day we've all been waiting for...

Wholly guacamole! I think yesterday tops the opening ceremony as the best day of my life! I finished 15th in the first ever Olympic Games ski cross.

Everything was amazing from start to finish. I saw my family (about 20 of them) before warm up, so that made me super excited. It just kind of hit me all of a sudden that this was actually happening and they were all here to support me. They were all dressed from head to toe in their Aussie kit which was great.

(My entourage going wild in the crowd)

In the start gate ready to race my qualifying run, the nerves hit me. I was so nervous that my legs were shaky and my arms were numb. But I managed to use this energy to drive me even harder down the hill. The adrenaline rush I felt was incredible, and when I crossed the line in 16th position (from bib 27), I was fuelled with excitement and relief. It was hard to miss the 20 Australian lunatics cheering like mad in the crowd! I couldn’t stop smiling. Finally I got to show everyone back at home watching at 5:30am what I’ve been working so hard for over the years.

(Enjoying the crowd after my 17th place in qualifying)

Once finals came around I was raring to go. I drew heat number 2, and had the third choice of gate because of my qualification time. In my heat were two Austrians (Katarina Gutenson and Karen Huttary) and a Swiss (Katrin Muller). I had a fast start and took the lead, which surprised everyone I’m sure, including myself! Half way down the course Karen made a pass on me. Shortly after I avoided huge crash when Katrin Muller flew over my head and almost took me out. She went down hard and I finished in second, qualifying me for quarter finals. One of the most exciting heats of the day!

(Heat 1 - On my way to the quarter finals. Photo taken from the internet)

(Excited to get through to the quarter finals after finishing second in my first heat.)

(Soaking up the atmosphere at the bottom)

In the quarter finals, again I had a fast start (thanks to all the training I had on my backyard start gate) and pulled into second behind Anna Holemund from Sweden. Huttary again made a pass, so unfortunately I finished in third. An extremely close heat, and great skiing from all the girls.

(A very very close heat in the quarter finals. This is the second last jump, coming into the finish area. Photo taken from the internet)

(Sasa Faric of Slovenia and I at the bottom after quarter finals)

I was so close to making the semi finals, however I can’t be disappointed with my result. It ain’t gold, but 15th place (out of 35 girls) in my first Olympics isn’t too shabby! Matt, my coach, was very happy with my performance. I think I exceeded everyone’s expectations, including my own!
I feel like everything has just fallen into place. After qualifying at the very last race, and now finishing 15th, I couldn’t be happier!