Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Carnage in Blue Mountain, Canada

After a disappointing end to World Champs, I once again packed up my 120kg worth of gear, clothing and equipment, and flew to Toronto, Canada, for the next World Cup. This is the second time I have raced in Blue Mountain, last year being the first. The tiny resort is just two hours from Toronto (the fifth largest city in North America), making it an extremely popular ski area.               

As per usual, things didn’t run as smoothly as we would have liked when we arrived in Toronto. Car rental “issues” forced us into hiring three Toyota Corolla’s. With 5 bags and 120kg of luggage each, you can imagine how difficult it was to squeeze all of it into the cars. Somehow we managed, and we set off in our fleet of Corolla’s.

(Just part of our 750kg worth of gear!)

Training kicked off on Wednesday, and the course ran smoothly. We had qualifications on Thursday, where I qualified in 13th place. The top 16 women and top 32 men progressed to finals on Thursday, so I was excited to once again have a chance at racing head-to-head.

(The start)

(The Australians in course inspection)

(The track)      

On Friday, the course froze overnight and sped up considerably. In my first training run, I was not expecting to hit the speeds that I did. There were crashes all over the place right from the get go! People were overshooting jumps, landing on the flat or even on the upside of the next jump.

When finals started with the men, I had to stop watching after three heats! In each heat, men collided and crashed before the first turn. There were injuries all over the place, and my heat was still yet to come.

I have to say that although I tried to convince myself that everything would be okay, there was still an element of fear in the back of my mind. Usually I am able to switch that ‘sane’ little voice off in my head and just race, but every now and then, watching people crash and being carted away in the bucket by paramedics brings me back to bad memories of my own injury two years ago (torn ligament in my knee). I guess it is a mental issue I still need to overcome, particularly when conditions are difficult like they were on Friday.

Once I got to the gate, I think subconsciously my body had already decided to ski in safe mode. And at this level of competition, if you’re not willing to give it 100% right from the start, you’ve got no chance of progressing through to the next round… unless you do a Bradbury of course!

Besides the fact that I am safe and well, skiing safe didn’t pay off this time, and I didn’t manage to progress to the semi finals. I finished up in 13th place, which was still a great result (my equal best result for the season).

(13th fastest qualifier)  


(Skis and more skis....)  

(Marcos making my skis nice and fast for the race)


The race ended with Chris Del Bosco from Canada winning the men’s, and Ana Woerner of Germany winning the women’s. Sadly there were a large number of injuries by the end of the race, including a few blown knees, concussions, a torn elbow, torn ankle, groin injury, and I’m sure a few more I don’t know about!

(Three cripples still in high spirits after the race)      

(Sami's battle wounds after her crash in training)    

The team now has a 5-day break, which I’m very excited about after a difficult 6 weeks of racing. I am heading back to Europe and spending 5 days in London. It will be nice to get away from snow and the mountains for a little while, and spend some time in the city.