Sunday, January 16, 2011

The dreaded 17th position in Les Contamines

17th position in ski cross has to be possibly the most frustrating position to end up in. It’s like losing the AFL grand final by 1 point. You’d almost rather lose by 100 points than lose by 1 because of the utter frustration. I finished in 17th position in the Les Contamines Ski Cross World Cup this weekend. In reality, it’s a great result and my best finish this season, but to miss out on finals by only one position hurts!

Going back a few days, we took the drive to Les Contamines, France, from Alpes D’Huez the day after finals. What was meant to be only a 3 hour drive turned into a 7 hour drive due to an unfortunate car crash involving our ski technician, Marcos. Driving alone in his own car, somehow he collided with another car from behind. The result was not pretty. Fortunately no one was hurt, however the 12 pairs of race skis that were sitting in the roof carrier system came rocketing out the front, sprawling across the bitumen road. Not ideal for our equipment to say the least!

(Spectacular drive down Alpes D'Huez, the famous Tour De France hill climb) 

(Marcos' car after the accident... notice the gaping whole in the roof coffin)

The training day on Friday ran smoothly, and I managed to squeeze in four training runs on the course in the allocated 1-hour session. Come qualifications day, I was feeling reasonably confident and comfortable with the course. Courses vary greatly from World Cup to World Cup. They range from long, fast with big jumps like Alpes D’Huez, to steep, icy and at night like St Johann, to fast and super-G-like here in Les Contamines. You really have to adapt your race approach and type of skiing to suit the course. 

(Launching myself off one of the jumps) 

I had a solid qualifying run with no major mistakes, and came down in 16th position from bib 25. I thought I was reasonably safe with only another 8 or 9 girls to go, however I was just pipped by one of the back runners; a French girl. It was a blow to the heart. I was so devastated that I just missed out on racing head-to-head finals; something I thrive on and am good at. A positive way to look at it is that my results continue to improve, and my confidence is getting stronger and stronger.

Once again I watched finals today (when I'd much rather be racing in them!). Scotty finished in 7th place; another great result for the Aussie. Anton finished 29th, and Sami 26th. 

(Scotty happy with his 7th place finish)

(Aussie physio Cassie and our Spanish ski technician, Marcos)

(The athlete VIP pass... Thank god I'm allowed in the "Kiss and Cry" area!)

We now head to Verbier, Switzerland, for three days of big mountain skiing. We’re planning on getting a guide to show us around the spectacular mountain, and hopefully get some powder turns in! Then we’re onto Zweissimen, Switzerland, for a Europa Cup Ski Cross at the end of the week.

Will keep you posted!

Plus, a few more photos from the past few days...
(The French and their love of cheese...)

(Yes... ALL of those wheels of cheese plus more, and about a tonne of potatoes were used in the tartiflette at the bottom of the race today. The diet of real athletes!)

(Interesting. The French call is 'Steak Tartare'. I call it raw mince with raw egg that probably should be thrown on the barby!).
(Our cute, cosy mini hotel in Les Contamines)