Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Baggage Fiasco and Leftover Pictures!

My bags turned out to be more of a nightmare than I ever thought. When I posted last, I was in high spirits while I waited for my bag. I alternated between wearing long johns that I left at Kevin's, to Kate Ryley's clothes and Kevin's clothes. My bags eventually made it to the Montreal airport where they sat for a few days. Then they were shipped to Vermont. However, all bags have to go through Tennessee and Maine before they reach Vermont.
Kevin told me two days before I left that my bag had arrived at his house... and I immediately asked, "Just one bag?" Yes, just one bag. The other bag was stuck in Tennessee. One person told me that it would arrive the next day, I felt better. The next time I called they said that it was stuck at customs, I was scared. The next time, that it was "lost". Finally, they said that when the bag was found, it might be in a shipment heading out on Monday. I left for Europe on Sunday.
The next morning, it was a relief to see that my bag had started moving again, and it ended up in Vermont. However, it was in a locked container that wouldn't be opened until Monday. Also, even if it could be opened Kevin's name (I'm not sure why) and address were on the bag, so unless I had an id saying that address, I wouldn't be able to pick up my own bag. But he was racing... and busy WINNING that day!
To back an even longer story, short, after a 3 way call between several people in charge they said that they would look for my bag and if I arrived after closing, but before 4pm, I could come and get it. I drove an hour and a half to the shipping warehouse, knocked on a back door, entered through the door that the trucks used.... and got my bag at 4pm the day before I left for Europe.
I am now in Europe with clean clothes in one bag, not so clean in the other. But I have everything!!

This was the view from out of my window in Kirchberg, Austria yesterday! It has been really warm here, so we are struggling a bit with the snow. It feels like it was just summer and we are already salting our courses!


Here are a few leftover pictures from Soldeu, Andorra and Sochi!
MP ripping it up through the wind!

Nice arcs

Mitch placed in the top 10 for her third race in a row!


Sochi!



Rosa Khutor, the village that we stay in. I'm not sure if I would pet the dogs in Russia.... I think that they are guarding the bridge. 

Rosa Khutor from the gondola. 

They are getting the athlete village ready.  It's in shambles now, but I am sure that it will look amazing soon.

More construction by our hotel. 

I have realized that most of the compliments I get about my clothes are about this one particular sweater.... But I stole it from Kevin. I will be the one asking him for fashion advice from this point forward. 
We will train here for two more days and then head to Ofterschwang, Germany!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Russia- An Iphone's Perspective!

I'm sorry that this is so late! I'll tell you the story/excuse of why I am a bad blogger, this time. - From the end to the beginning.
After the races were over in Russia we had to be downstairs ready to go at 2:40am the next morning for a 6:10am flight. I thought that this wake-up was bad, but things seemed to get harder from here. When we arrived at the airport, we discovered that we had to carry all of the bags over to the main entrance doors to the building, no carts included! Once we got to the doors we had to put each and every bag through an x-ray. I failed to mention that we had about 26 bags. From the x-rays we shuttled the bags upstairs and over to the check in. The check in counter was a disaster, people here, people there, bags everywhere! However, we ended up making the flight and it looked like it would leave on time. I fell asleep right away.
When I woke up again we were on the ground, but not in Moscow, we were still in Sochi. I had been sleeping for an hour and a half, my next layover was only 2 hours. When we finally did arrive in Moscow, I ran like a blind mouse towards my gate, distantly hearing them saying that boarding was now closed. I sprinted up to the desk just in time and gave them my boarding pass, while wheezing all the time.
I barely made my next flight from Paris to Montreal... and yes you guessed it. My bags did not make any of those last two flights. Now I am waiting... and waiting... and calling... and smelling, like I flower I mean.
Therefore, I am a bad blogger. I have been waiting for my card reader which is in my missing baggage, but after days without it, I will blog from my iphone's perspective!

So here we go!
When we arrived in Russia, Jenny and I decided to go up one of the gondolas to take a look at our surroundings. Everything is quite different in Russia, including the lack of coniferous trees! From this view you can barely see the finish line for the Olympics!
You have to go up two more long gondolas to get to the top of the mountain!

It is incredible the work that they have done in the past few years. Before... there was hardly anything in this little valley. Our hotel only opened 2 weeks before the races.

This is basically the only stretch along the river that is complete, everything else is under construction and is recognized by the "vivid" colour of cement. 

This means Rosa Khutor in Russia! Rosa Khutor is the name of the valley for the many of the events during the Olympics; including sliding, cross country, ski jumping, snow boarding, alpine skiing, etc.

Originally when I decided to go to Russia I was only supposed to race in the super combined so that I would get to ski on the Olympic hills. However, when I arrived in Sochi I decided to inspect the downhill and later... ski the training runs! 

The first day of downhill really took it out of me. I stood in the start with bib 69 on (yes, I was last) and I felt good. I was relaxed, didn't have any pressure and knew the course. However, when I pushed out of the gate and made my first turn, I immediately switched emotions. With my skis bumping under me, my eyes bulging out of my head and my boots feeling like they would fall off, I headed down the hill. I guess I didn't take into consideration how bumpy the course would be after 72 (including forerunners) other people skied down it. Also, speed feels much bumpier than tech to begin with. I got bounced around a lot, missed a gate and felt my mind wondering how I was going to pull this one off. Earlier that day they had decided that we had to stand up before the jumps because the jumps were quite big and it was windy, so they wanted us to be safe. Yet, for me this small amount of time out of my tuck was enough to help me get my bearings! I soared over the jump and finally felt good!
The second training day was canceled due to too much snow. 
On the third training day, I headed up to the top, with plans of inspecting the dh, training some slalom and then deciding if I would run the downhill. At times, I am not very good with backing off when it comes to skiing, so after inspection, my decision was made. I came into that final training run, feeling some fight come back into me. I expected the bumps, knew where they were and knew that it was up to my skiing to pull me through! I wasn't fast, but I conquered my first real downhill in a few years!

After all of that mental stress and brain rattling, we were invited to a welcome party in the other hotel (there are two at the moment).
After some amazing food and three tiramisus, we experienced some Russian culture!

This group sang us the Olympic song, keeping us entertained because we never knew what would come next; dancing, loud singing, yipping... who knows! 

It was nice to finally see some Russian culture and get into the spirit of the next Olympics!

I will update you on the rest of my adventure when I can upload the rest of my pictures!
I am now safely in Burlington enjoying some time off. I feel a little bit guilty as I lazily sit around reading my book, drinking tea and shopping, but it is what my soul needs.


Now I will leave you with this to melt your hearts as this day continues. Our puppy has now been named: Boulder!! Right now she looks more like a small pebble, but in 80 pounds, the name will stick as we walk down the road, call boulder and our 100pound puppy will sprint out of the woods. I haven't met her, but I love her already. Today I heard her bark while on the phone with my mom!

I should check on my bags again, so... until next time!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

18th in Andorra

This Thursday we flew to Barcelona, eventually making our way to Soldeu, Andorra!
Barcelona is absolutely beautiful. (Sorry about the iphone pictures through the window...)

On the 3 hour drive to Andorra we saw some beautiful sights! 

I should have slept, but couldn't take my eyes off of the windows, especially once I got car sick. \



We arrived in Soldeu and were in for a pleasant surprise. It is absolutely beautiful here! And the hill is steep and perfect.


The schedule for the weekend was supposed to be GS on Friday and Saturday and SL on Sunday. However, when Anna and I strolled downstairs after our sleep in on Friday, we found out that the winds had been 160km/h overnight. Everything blew away; the tv towers, the signs, the blow up Milka tent. The race was delayed for two hours to fix the damage.
Mp took advantage of the delay to sign a few autographs during breakfast.

Anna and I ventured up to watch the race.
This is a cool viewing area, and a little warmer I bet!


Looking back at the town.

My Mom wanted to name our new dog Rossi... I guess our family loves Rossignol more than some. 

Yet, it was delayed again and very windy, so we went to wait out the storm in a coffee shop.  (photocred: Anna)


We ran into Chemmy in one of the gossip magazines! (3rd girl from the left!) (photocred: Anna)

In the end the race was canceled, so Anna and I went to explore the small town.



A doorway with no gravity? (photocred: Anna) 

In the morning Tim sent me a text message and said that my name was on one of the gondolas, which confused me, so I went to check it out. I guess they put the name of the people in the top 30 on the gondolas! It's no Kitzbuhel gondola, but I still waited 15minutes for mine to come down. Tim won the bet that he made earlier in the day by saying that I would do just that. I guess I'm fairly predictable.

 In the end our slalom was switched to Saturday and the last GS on Sunday. Changes like this are sometimes tough, however for me it meant that I was allowed to race my first GS World Cup race! One of my goals for this year was to race in a WC GS race, and it feels nice to conquer even a small goal.

I felt ready for the slalom. The hill is my kind of hill, steep, and the snow was perfect. The top of the course was quite flat, which I usually struggle with, however on my first run I was only .40 off the leader, which is quite good for me. However, as I came over the steep part of the pitch I got back, late and thrown off of the line. I almost missed one gate, but just made it and then came flying into the next one. I threw my skis to the side to just make the gate, almost stopping. After this I just let myself go. Nothing mattered anymore, so I went as hard as I could.

I ended up 27th on that run, 2.5second off of the leader. I'm lucky I got a second run. It was a bad mistake, but an okay place to make this sort of mistake. My skiing was more characteristic before and after, which was encouraging.

I was ready to attack the next run on a clean, perfect course. I was determined to finally see a green light when I crossed the finish.

This run I felt better, however I still struggled a bit at the top and at the end of the course. However, finally I saw a green light as I crossed the finish line!
My fastest section was the middle section, in the wind storm!

*All skiing photos are from alpinecanada.org.

I ended up 18th! I now sit 21st for this years WC standings, and I am 25th on the World Cup start list.

Today, I fulfilled my goal of racing a gs race this year. I started 62nd, which gave Mitch and MP time to come back up and give me a course report. As I waited I was able to see them rock their runs! After first run MP was 14th and Mitch was 9th. I felt fairly solid on my skis, especially considering that that was my second day in GS gates since our races in Aspen. I ended up 48th first run, 4seconds back. I really want to train more GS and come back charging!
Mitch finished up 7th and MP finished 21st!

In case anyone missed it, Ben Thomsen came 2nd in the most recent DH race in Sochi!!

Now Mitch and I are headed to Sochi to test out the Olmypic tracks!! I really do have speed on my mind now!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Andorra Tomorrow

Since I last blogged, this is the 5th hotel that we have been in. Yet, now things really start getting crazy! Tomorrow we head to Andorra and on Sunday I head to Sochi.
But I will rewind quickly for a few seconds...

Most importantly.... our Canadian team has been kicking it recently! Jan Hudec won the downhill in Garmisch, Erik Guay came 3rd and Ben Thompson moved into 5th from 50th!! Canadians have been dominating in many snow sports these days. At the Skier Cross at Blue Mountain Marielle Thompson won the women's, Brady Leman won the men's and Chris Delbosco came 2nd. MP Prefontaine came 16th in the Garmisch Super G. Our other teammates are killing it at the Nor Ams in Colorado!
THE TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE


We trained for a few days in Val di Fassa in Italy in the Dolomites!

Although it was chilly, the views were spectacular to wake up to. They made Anna and I feel less cramped in our closet sized room. 

On our last night, the Italian girls took us out for pizza! I think Europe is the only place that it isn't ridiculous to say, "I ate a whole pizza on my own."

Maybe I should keep these things to myself...
Anyways that was one of the best pizzas I have ever had in my life. The insomnia that came afterward was definitely worth it.

We left Val di Fassa in good spirits and with pizza on the mind. Next up: San Candido, Italy for two Europa Cup races. I struggled in these races and had to address some issues I'm having with flat hills; obviously I come from Georgian Peaks! I think I learned a little bit every run, and my coach said it correctly, "You are not trying to measure myself up against the girls around you. You are learning during these races to catch the World Champion." To me, that makes a lot of sense and keeps me patient for a little longer!
The races were VERY cold though.  (photocred for next 3: MP)



MP made this new, amazing, tube-like Swagg to wear on cold days! It was the best thing in the world that day!

The Swagg that Mitch is wearing is in some stores now! Yay MP!! (Mitch won the slalom the first day)

After the races Anna, Jenny and I headed to the Stanglwirt hotel for a much needed day of relaxation at the spa. MMMM! I think it took me two days to recover from all my relaxing. (photocred: Jenny)

The last three days we trained slalom at our home base in Kirchberg. (photocred:MP)

The past few days have been filled with many loads of laundry in the sink (I'm not sure how clean those clothes are now), unpacking and sorting, eating and training. Now Anna and I are waiting for our flight tomorrow which is bright and early!
Everything on the home front seems to be going well.. but big news... WE ARE GETTING A DOG!!
It will look like this when she arrives...

And probably like this by the time I see him...

I am sad that I am missing the puppy days, but I guess they might be the equivalent of the "terrible twos". I guess my mom decided to get a female dog so that it weighs 90lbs instead of 140lbs. Good thinking Mom.... that dog might end up weighing more than you.

Until Andorra then .... before which I will figure out how to pack lightly... I hope