Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pre-Christmas World Cups in San Candido

After a small setback with a tweaked knee in Canada, I had my first race starts for the season last weekend in San Candido. It was great to be back in such a familiar place. This is the fifth consecutive year San Candido has hosted the Ski Cross World Cup event. So let's just say; besides knowing the course very well, I also know where to go for the best coffee and pizza. All important things.

Europe is struggling for snow this season; the Dolomites included. The course had the bare minimum of snow, meaning that features were small. For me, this doesn't necessarily make it easier. I generally prefer bigger, more difficult courses. It separates the girls who are willing to take risks, and go hard and fast on what can be a very intimidating 90-second course. One mistake on an easier course like this and you suffer severe consequences (it generally means not qualifying!).

I finished 21st and 34th respectively. I am disappointed with my performance, however I am looking forward to proving that I can in fact definitely mix with the best in the world at the next World Cup in Megeve, France, in the new year.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Also wishing my teammate Scott Kneller a very hasty recovery from his crash last weekend. Get well soon and looking forward to having you back on the team!

Jenny Owens, Marielle Thompson, Sami Kennedy Sim and myself enjoying the warmer weather.


Finals Day. From left; Katya Crema, Fanny Smith (SUI), Marielle Berger (FRA) and Julie Jensen (NOR).

Third place finish in my heat in finals... A little disappointed!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tweaked knee forces me out of the first World Cup

After two solid weeks of training in Nakiska, Canada, it was time to race. The week of the race saw an unusually extreme cold front pass through the area. Temperatures plummeted to -40 C on race day, despite it being sunny and blue skies. Quite a change from summer in Australia a couple of weeks ago!

Unfortunately for me, the first World Cup of the season didn’t quite go to plan! On the first training day, I had an awkward landing off the final jump. I didn’t crash, it was just an hard, painful landing. I felt pain rush through my heels and into my right knee. I immediately assumed the worst; I’ve re-blown my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). I had a knee reconstruction on my right knee after tearing my ACL just over four years ago now. Re-tearing the ligament at this stage in the season right before the Olympics would have been a disaster and my dreams would have been shattered. An ACL reconstruction takes you off skis for 6-12 months. You can get an idea of the anxiety and anticipation I felt in finding out the damage I’d done…

After an MRI scan in Calgary and the opinions of the Australian Olympic Winter Team sports physician and an orthopedic surgeon in Canada, the verdict was bone bruising and an irritation of an old injury. As painful as it is, bone bruising will usually heal itself with time. The timeframe depends on the severity, and fortunately mine was definitely not season-ending.

The bad news; I wouldn’t be racing the first World Cup of the season. The good news; I would be back on snow within 2-3 weeks. A huge relief!

Anton, myself and Scotty facing the cold.

Proof of cold temperatures.

Cheering my teammates on from the side lines on finals day...

After the race, the team and myself headed to Europe. Bad weather in Chicago meant our flight was cancelled after taxi-ing on the runway for over five hours. I spent the night clung to my suitcase, attempting to get at least one hours sleep on the floor at Chicago airport (definitely a first…). I then spent the next two days making my way to Milan. I think I had about 3 hours sleep in 48 hours. Let’s just say this travel experience was ‘character building.’

The team getting cosy on the floor at Chicago airport at 3am

I am now at the AIS European Training Centre in Varese, Italy, doing rehabilitation for my knee. Whilst the team is currently in Val Thorens, France, for the next World Cup, I’m getting my knee 100% before I race again (which looks like it will be the double World Cup event in San Candido just before Christmas). The knee is progressing very quickly, and I am feeling very confident on it now. I am back to full strength, and the pain has almost completely gone. The facilities here are incredible for training and rehabilitation. I have access to a physiotherapist, a brand new gym, recovery pools, and a supportive team of people who work here at the ETC… not to mention a stunning lake to ride around as apart of my training.

Lake Varese

Rowers on the lake at sunset

My cycling tour around Lake Varese. It was incredibly easy to get lost, but I made it in the end!

I wish the team the best of luck this weekend in Val Thorens, and I am looking forward to joining them next week for the races in San Candido.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Back in The Canadian Rockies

I am now back in the Canadian Rockies training for the first World Cups of the season in Nakiska.

I have been here for two weeks now, training out of Lake Louise, Norquay and Nakiska. Temperatures have been very mild in the mountains until today. The Chinook weather system is now long gone (a system of warm winds), and we are expecting temperatures as low as -30C this week for the race. Brilliant timing!

Nakiska is situated in the Kananaskis area of southwest Alberta, a couple of hours from the British Columbia border. The resort was home to the the 1988 Calgary Olympics, so has a great recent history associated with it. It is also the training base for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. 

Its great to back to this area. Not only did we race a World Cup here last season, I have also spent plenty of time here back in my Alpine racing days. 

Interestingly, yesterday I took my Garmin GPS device up to the training hill. In a very short 2.5hr training session, I covered 32.6km on snow, hit a max speed of 94.82km/hour, and skied 4780m vertical. And that was a short day. Can't wait to clock up the results after a full day's skiing!

Training for the World Cup commences Wednesday. Unlike last year, this season we have back-to-back World Cups; one on Friday 6th December, and another on Saturday 7th December. So plenty of World Cup points up for grabs! It is also one of seven Olympic qualifying events, so the pressure is on!

Loving the new "Crema Mitt" by XTM... Perfect for freezing temps in Lake Louise.

Celebrating American Thanksgiving in style..

The Rocky Mountain Bagel Company's famous bagels. Definitely a favourite lunch spot in Canmore.

Some inspiration for the bathroom at home perhaps?

Marcos taking some time out of the ski room

Thanks Garmin for the multi-use GPS device! Not only useful for training sessions on the bike...