Monday, March 29, 2010

Sun, Fog, Rain, Fertilizer and more

After the Nor Am Finals, we made a hasty decision to stay in the East for the US Nationals. After a warm, sunny day in Burlington (shopping included), Kevin and I headed to Lake Placid to get settled in at Brad's house (Kevin's friend from high school). And I might as well say that I was in a land of luxury. The house is beautiful, the food was amazing and we were able to use the gym at Northwood, Kevin's old school. It was cool to see the place where Baye, Kevin and Taylor spent some of the most important days of their youth. 

The slalom was our first race. The boys ran first because the snow was pretty soft. I borrowed Kevin's car/massive Denali, so that I could go to the hill later. I will have to say, it is not the same as my Mom's little Toyota. I had to stand of the brake and be careful around corners, I will not get into parking. But all in all everything went a lot better than expected. I ran 3rd in the first run of the slalom. Running early was definitely advantageous that day. There were already frozen bumps on the hill when I went, but at the end there were the biggest "girl" ruts I have ever seen! After the first run, I was sitting in 2nd behind Sarah Schleper by about 6tenths (I think). Second run was much different! The flats held up very well, but the pitch was a bit of a roller coaster. I felt my tips hitting the gates and my skis going every which way. I was able to hold my place overall and lessen the gap between Sarah and myself, after a lengthly time of over 1minute 4seconds -aka EXTREMELY long for a slalom. Waiting for me in the finish was Kevin and the drug testers. Test #1 of the 2009-10 season.

The next day the boys ran gs and we had a day off. However, calling that a day off is far from the truth. I was going to borrow Kevin's car to drive to the hill again, watch and pick him up. I got into the front set, turned the key and hurt k,k,k.... then nothing. Aka battery dead- story of my life. Brad and his girlfriend were luckily running late and still around (mostly because the dog had run off). Jump starting the car didn't work, so before Brad left they connected it to a battery. But, of course, it still wouldn't charge. Kevin told me I had turn the key once and fiddle with the clamps. Picture this scene: it is raining, the car hood is up, I am playing around with the clamps while sparks are flying.... eventually it started charging though!

The next day was the gs. I will admit that I don't particularly enjoy waking up in the morning, getting ready to race knowing that it has been POURING all night and is still pouring. However, that is our job. Elli, Eve and I packed Eve's car to the brim and set off to the hill only to find out the run was already delayed. We decided to leave our things in the car "just in case". Yet, they managed to run it. I ran 30th first run. The light was very flat making it difficult to see the bumps that had frozen either overnight or because of being sprayed with a fire hose and then fertilized. However, the course could not have been better prepared for the conditions. I have never seen a hill come together like that after so much rain. Second run they flipped top 15 (which I have never seen happen before). I ran 3rd out of the start. The forerunners were held at the start because of fog. Eventually they ran the forerunners, but it didn't seem promising when we heard, forerunner A says the visibility (ie fog) is very bad, followed by forerunner B says the visibility on the flats is bad, followed by "from the finish we can see 2-4 gates..... then the first racer will go in 2 minutes. That fog was the worst fog I have skied in, in a course, ever I think. It was even hard to see the dye and tell between the outside and inside gates. At the top they were holding the slippers because "the dye is more important". The visibility stayed pretty much the same for all the racers. It was a tough race to get off, but luckily no one was hurt. 

After the race, we dried our skis and shoved everything back in Eve's car. Then we drove, feeling like a can of sardines, to Montreal to catch a flight the next day to Canadian Nationals and see our fellow Canadians. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eastern US of Eh

1) Lost Camera= Zero Pictures 
2) I am not so great at this blogging thing
3) Orford-
After Closing ceremonies, I went home for about a week to relax, work out and see my friends! Kevin came at the end of my time at home and drove me to Quebec for 3 days of training in Orford. Every day we trained two events, while the sun shone brightly on us. It was amazing. Every day, skiing was incredible and so much fun!! Finally, my GS started feeling... better! 
4) Burke- 
From Orford we travelled to Burke for the speed portion of the Nor Am finals. The first day we got there, we free skied the hill. The first run I can honestly say I skied like a little girl. After that it was much better, and it felt good being in the air again. 
The next day was the girls super g and the guys super combined. We raced our super g after the guys. However, there was a bit of troubles during the race. The forerunners went down the first course and FLEW overt he rolls. They decided to delay the start and move a few of the gates out to slow the speeds down. The forerunners were sent again and still went huge, so they reset the course. That day I think I ran after 3:30, however I can complain because the guys had to race the slalom after that. My run was technically pretty good, but I was a little nervous coming into that super g without much training. I was excited to try again the next day.
However, it rained all night and the snow didn't freeze as well. The guys course was reset again because there was a tree stump in the middle of two gates, right on the line. While the girls warmed up, the guys started their race. About 10 guys finished and they cancelled the race due to soft snow. The jury met to decide what to do for the girls race and eventually decided to cancel also. There was a bib draw though!! And I actually won a pair of poles!! Good day at the office... sort of
5) Waterville-
Kevin and I headed to Waterville after our failed attempts at speed comebacks. The first day was a day off for the girls. I went up to free ski because it was such a wonderful day!! We didn't even wear downhill suits, which is big news for us. Yet, once we got to the hill we heard that we were going to do some gates. I guess we should have learned two years ago when Tim said, "Always come prepared." The day was amazing, but the gates were not so nice to us. 
The next day was the GS! I was really excited to race. Warm up was great and the day was amazing yet again. My run felt better than any race run this year, and I think my interval time was better too. I didn't make it to the end though. Towards the bottom, I fell and hit my chin on the salted snow.... Aka I looked (and still look) really good. A goatee on a girl is really attractive right? I thought so. My day ended very early, so I went back to the hotel and relaxed in the sun, before coming back and training some slalom. 
SLALOM! I love slalom. GS too, but the next day was slalom. I took myself and my really attractive chin to the hill to race some slalom. The guys ran first, so that the snow wasn't too soft for them. First run felt pretty good. I didn't have to think about much, but what I usually do in training. I made a bit of a mistake at the bottom, but ended up with a good start number for second run. Second run was a bit all over the place; I stuck my pole between my legs, my contact was trying to escape, my ski was really attracted to the gate, but between that, my run was pretty good. I ended up tied for 4th (which was good enough to place second in the overall Nor Am Slalom title behind Eve.... meaning I get my own World Cup spot in the slaloms next year- no more time trials for slalom (maybe)) 
After the race, Eve, Elli and I hastily decided to go to the US Nationals instead of doing the speed at our Nationals....
On the Road Again 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

OLYMPICS! Closing Ceremonies!

Sorry for the delay. Okay so CLOSING CERMONIES.
We went to the Whistler Athlete Village the morning of the closing ceremonies, and from there headed to the Vancouver Athlete Village. I was able to check in my bags at the Village for my flight the next day.
I will tell you quickly about my experience with this. I didn't have my flight info on me, so the lady checking me in searched my name and found that I was on the red eye the next night. I checked in all of my bags and headed to the closing ceremonies. After the ceremonies at 1:00am I decided I should check if my aeroplan number was entered. To make a long story short, they figured out that the lady had checked me in under my mom's name (and of course all of my bags too). AND they couldn't find me on any other flight. Finally, we found out that I had a layover in Edmonton, and I had to catch the bus to the airport in an hour for the early morning flight. THE best. Todd and Lisa Brooker were huge lifesavers- They waited for me to get in and drove me home!

So now that that side note is over, back to CLOSING CEREMONIES.
In Vancouver, we were able to experience some of the athlete village. The Canada house went CRAZY when Canada won the gold in hockey!! We were able to grab snacks in the Canada house and share a room with the skier cross team.
The view from their room was incredible!

Canada did an amazing job, "painting the town red".
put on our HBC gear and took a bus to the closing ceremonies. It was so cool to see all the athletes coming together, in a mass wearing the same thing.
Mitch, MP and I before closing.


People ask what my most memorable moment was. Of course racing was incredible!!! But being at the Olympics really only set in when I walked out for opening ceremonies; I saw the lights, the crowd, the teams. I thought about the many times I had watched this happen on tv, and it hit hard when I realized I was there.

My breath was taken away when I saw the flame.
Anna, Mitch, MP and I!!
The ceremony was amazing. We were all given white ponchos, moose antlers, flashing lights (of different colours), cardboard cut outs, etc. Our audience representative would tell us what article we had to use. The lights from above would shine on the white ponchos making designs in the shape of hearts, etc. The white and red flashing lights created flashing flags everywhere during Michael Buble's performance! The cardboard cut outs of multiple colours made other cool designs.
As the games were called to a close, the flame was extinguished and the structure started moving into the floor, the crowd let out very unhappy groans of protest.
The performers were very entertaining. The comedians were able to depict Canada so well:
- How Canadians always say sorry
- Canadians have to survive the harsh winter storms everywhere
- We were all taught as children not to eat the yellow snow
- Hockey helps to define Canada
At the end, all of the athletes were able to go out onto the floor and enjoy the bands/singers (including Avril Lavigne, Simple Plan, Hedley, etc)
Michael Buble (My mom must have been in Heaven)
After the ceremonies, all the Canadians came together one last time in the parking garage of the Canada house to eat pizza and socialize.
The closing ceremonies were amazing. I finally realized where I was and what I was doing/did. We were still in Europe during the opening ceremonies, so I am so... SO happy that I was able to experience the closing ceremonies. I was able to realize the extent of how powerful the Olympic Games are on a personal, national and world wide level!!
Thank you everyone who made this happen!! For me, for Canada and for the World.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

OLYMPICS! RACE DAY! Thank you Canada!

So I am a bit ashamed to admit that on the morning of race day, I woke up at 4:30 and didn't sleep all that well until the morning. But my monster bowl of cereal in the morning (with Shelagh Drury's granola) and an egg defiantly stepped up my energy level. I did my usual warm up and got ready in front of the tv where Joannie Rochette was doing an interview. She was talking about her mother and how supportive she was. And I'm sure we were all thinking the same thing, "How can we be nervous about this race, when this girl just lost her mother and still gave it her all?"
The slalom hill...
We headed out for a few warm up runs and inspection. Every gondola ride I had to take off my goggles and try to dry both the inside and outside. And no... I wasn't crying. But it wasn't raining, the visibility was comme si comme ca, and the race was running on schedule.
We packed a finish backpack at the bottom, with an extra jacket, hat, etc. and carried another bag with food, extra goggles, mitts, etc. to the top lodge. There was food at the top and two tvs so we could watch some of the first racers before we left.
Boyfriend of the Year award goes to.... (thanks Taylor for holding him up)
I started 37th and left the lodge listening to my ipod and ready to go. Other than having to find a dense forest to nervous pee in at the top (is that pg... hopefully). I stripped down to my downhill suit, put in my mouth guard, tightened my helmet, put on my dry, fresh goggles and stepped into the gate.
I was telling myself what I needed to do, finishing with this is just a normal race, which you have done many of this year. Of course at that moment I look down at the start want and see... Whistler 2010 printed on the posts. Story of my life. I thought about everyone at home watching, people who had never seen me ski, people that have supported me my whole life. As they said go, I thought, "This is it... Would I go at this time if they hadn't said go or would I have waited?" But after this, it didn't matter, my mind reset to everything that I had been working on. I heard the workers cheering and tried my best to just ski. Ski like I have trained to do almost every day of my life.

The course was pretty smooth, the visibility was quite good and the course was a lot of fun.
I got to the bottom and looked at the timing board. And I will say that is one thing that is VERY different from most of our races. There were so many times posted. It took me forever to find mine and I didn't even know if that was my time... or someone else's.... or what place I was in... or.. anyways that is why there was no smile on my face. I waved, but my face was saying... where am I, what is my time, how did I do.. (what my teachers would call my "confused face")
After my run I did a few interviews (one for a Polish radio station- I don't speak Polish... note to self: If I have a Polish last name I should at least know one phrase). Then I saw most of my family and friends! I saw Kevin,
wearing a Canada Jersey, with a flag tattoo covering half of his face and a big #1 finger. My mom was smiling ear to ear and my dad couldn't put down his camera. I think the best feelings that I have ever had came that day. Hearing the crowd cheering, hearing the unity of Canada, seeing the smiles and joy of my family, and just the feeling of my run.
I didn't stay at the finish for long, so that it would feel a bit like a normal day. I skied down the the bottom lodge for some food (obviously).
Then it was time for second inspection. The course was straighter at the top, but very similar at the bottom. The amazing steep, turny bottom!

I got ready again, feeling a bit more relaxed and waited for the started to shut the wand and say go. The fog was a little bit worse, but all in all the weather was very much the same as first run. I felt okay all the way down, but not incredible. When I got to the bottom and saw that I moved back and was behind the leader by 1.12, who I had beat the first run I was disappointed. We always joke around saying that that is one of the worst feelings in the world. And although it was one of the best days of my life, I was still disappointed about moving back.
However, all in all the day was incredible. Canada is amazing and I thank all of Canada for the amazing experiences all of the athletes had. We are such a strong nation! I had so much fun listening to the power of so many people united, feeding off the energy of my family and just skiing. The feeling of skiing... It is like nothing else.
My momma and I...
I finished 20th that day. Brigitte- 17th, Mitch (Marie Michele)- 31st (after a big mistake first run), Anna- 19th. Anna is another strong Canadian. She tore her ACL earlier in the year, and decided to do rehab, work hard and wait for surgery. Anna raced without an ACL, overcoming so much and still coming ACL. Standing ovation anyone?
After the race I saw all the people that stood in the rain watching. I saw my cousins, Kevin's family, the Bunston's, my Parent's, the Collins's, etc. Thank you to all of you for coming and watching and making my time so much more amazing.
Kevin came to watch!
That evening, many of us headed down the the Canada house for free food, candy and... dun dun da daaa.... K'naan tickets.
The boys stayed back to watch the semi- final game... which Canada won, while the girls yelled, "I love you K'naan!" (and Nathan and Ev... minus the love) The concert was amazing.
We all hung out that night and it was the bet night. Seeing my family and friends, and spending time with some of the people that have been there with me through everything!!
Thank you everyone for making my experience memorable and like no other. Thank you for the support and the many things that everyone has done for me.
Thank you Canada for the best experience of my life. I love you all!

Part 3: Closing ceremonies... coming soon.

Excitement is Contagious!

I will write about the rest of my Olympic experience in.. segments, so I don't forget as much, you all don't get bored and it will be easier to keep straight.
I will start by saying that I jumped the gun telling you about the girls second run. The rest of the day when the girls were supposed to race gs was foggy and wet and... not very nice. They kept pushing the run back until finally they decided to run the second run the next day. To finish one race in two days is almost unheard of. It has happened before, but I have never experienced it. 
Our girls raced the next morning with Mitch placing 5th on the second run! 
After the race, the slalom girls (ie. Anna, Brigitte, Mitch and myself) went up to train on the women's gs hill. The training was tough because of the soft conditions, but it was still a lot of fun. We did two runs and went back to our condo to prepare for the race the next day. 
 The amazing volunteers preparing the slalom hill. 

I relaxed, watched the Olympics, ate steak, and tried as hard as I could to forget about the race the next day. But of course, I didn't let that happen. I made sure my bag was packed, my bowl for cereal in the morning was out, my eggs were boiled for a snack the next day and everything was dry. Then we watched our women's hockey team WIN another gold, and the most courageous woman I have ever seen, Joannie Rochette, win bronze. It was amazing watching her skate. As if there was nothing in the world that could stop her, with her mom helping her soar. That is the definition of strength. You should have seen our condo watching, hoping that she would win a medal. I think I was more nervous sitting there watching that then my own race. I guess because I can control the things around me when I'm racing and I just had to watch and wait to see the outcome of her skate. 

(Part 2 to come)... race day.