Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Are, Sweden

Before heading to Europe we went to Panorama for a few Nor Am races. I raced these races for a number of reasons including lowering my points in GS, Super G and Super Combi, however I also switched to a different Rossignol slalom ski recently.
It was very fun racing the Super G. I had no pressure, and it was good to feel the wind in my face a little bit. I say a little bit because the Super G started quite a bit lower than usual and was quite short.
On the Super G, I surprisingly moved from 40th to 3rd! 
(photo credit for these 3: freshshots.com)

The slalom portion of the super combined was very tough! I ended up winning the super combined, which was the first one in 3 years that I finished! 

The GS days were filled with learning and trying to bring it what I learned from our training this summer. Panorama is an easy hill that becomes very hard to race due to the soft snow and fairly flat terrain. I raced hard and ended up 3rd on both of those days.

After our races in Panorama we headed to Are, Sweden! 

It got dark quite early in Sweden because it is so far north, but it's beauty never ceases to amaze me.

Before the race, I went to walk around town a little bit. 

I have always loved Are and it has always brought with it such an extreme of emotions.

Last year Mitch podiumed in Are for the first time in her career!!! It was an amazing day and she skied like a rock star.
However, last year in Are, I straddled. 

[Shattered glass and frosted panes
Alter the image beneath
Warped lines and distorted shapes
Morphing into one another
Unknowing, untelling, undefined
Blurry to the clearest of eyes]

(I wrote this when I couldn't sleep on the bus back from Are)

However, this year was a new season, bringing new things; new sun rises, fresh snow and beautiful places)
(photo credit for the next few: Eve Routhier)

Before the race we had a few days of training on the warm up hill.

Even though it was quite icy and difficult, we all had a lot of fun! .... photo bombing Martin

But then he threw my pole.

                                                                                                                See pole here >>

I started number 18 on race day. When I got into the start, I looked out at the lights and everything seemed so simple. There was a course in front of me and I got to ski it. I ended up 5th on the first run! 

I was a bit nervous on the second run, regarding my last two races, etc. I skied hard, but I held back the slightest little bit. I came through the finish line relieved; relieved and happy that I had come down with the green light, ensuring that I was guaranteed a 5th place finish.

My happy face is attractive, agreed?

Mikaela Shiffrin won her first race at 17 years old! It's nice to have her smiling face around pushing us all to be our best. Britt Phelan finished in the points yet again and experienced her first race standing in the leader corner! (photo: Eve Routhier)

Lastly, I want to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope you get to spend it with loved ones. It is hard for us on the road, but I know I am lucky to have amazing people waiting to celebrate with me in February when I head home. Hug your friends and family a little tighter today, because I wish I could! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Ski Story

Here is a video about my ski story that Alpine Canada made this summer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The 3 Factors of Success

Recently I was asked the question, "What characteristics/factors would you say are most important in young skiers to help them have success in skiing in the long term."

1) Perseverance: Many skiers that have been injured know a lot about this characteristic, as do all skiers. I don't think that a skier can become successful without this trait. There are so many factors that you have to persevere through in the world of skiing. I had to work through a lot to reach where I am today, and the struggles are far from over. I think that it is important to endure these struggles, learn from them and come out on the other side.
Sometimes it's okay to cry (although less often in my case would be better). 

 In every day whether good or bad, there is a lesson. A lesson of what to try, what to try again, or what to never allow yourself to do again. I don't want to be negative, however I feel the need to be realistic. Every athlete, whether young or mature, will struggle, and it is important to live through these struggle, never give up and learn. 

2) Hard Work: I don't know many skiers that don't work as hard as they can. I try to do everything I can to be the best that I can be. 

Fall down... but make sure you get back up. 
I watch video, I visualize, I train hard, even when I feel I can no longer train any more, I answer my emails, I fill out my training forms, I talk to a sports psych, but most importantly I try to learn.
I keep my eyes, ears and mind open to whatever tid bits come my way, whether they are about the new skis, how the rules work, what the new helmets are made out of, how to eat properly. etc.

3) Have Fun: Most importantly, have fun. I honestly cannot stress this enough. At a young age, having fun is easier to do. You are surrounded by family, friends, coaches and success. I disagree with pushing a child to the point that they are no longer loving what they are doing. Of course, I agree with tough love, hard work, pushing through pain, pushing past limits, however when an athlete finishes day after day with more frowns than smiles, they will not continue. They might ski for a few more years, but no matter how good they are, this will be a limiting factor. 
Now it is harder to have fun, stakes are high, limits are pushed, bodies are pushed and we have less people to turn to. However, countless races prove to me that I do well when I have a smile on my face knowing that I get to be the only person on the course, pushing the line as far as I can and skiing the way I am able to. Now my days are filled with hard work, dedication and fun. I know that I need this aspect in my skiing. 
(An amazing ending to a bad day.) 

I think a lot, I train a lot, and I need time to balance this out. I take it seriously when I don't do well. I get upset when I don't finish, but after that day is done I do something that I enjoy. 

I take a free run with my music blaring (I know, frowned upon), I dance on the chair, I talk to a friend, I read a book, or a let it go and know that the next day will be better.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Colorado: Highs and Lows

Before I left home, I went to Toronto for a function with my headgear sponsor, Polar Securities. Before the function, we hit the gym. I designed a program for some of the guys at Polar and we spent an hour squatting, sweating and breathing hard. After our workout we headed up to their office for a cocktail party. Many people were invited including many new people I had the pleasure of meeting and many of my family members! I gave a little speech, which seemed to run smoothly, although my heart was pounding the whole way through! It was an amazing evening, and I want to thank Polar for everything!
(And yes, my feet even hurt in these low boots) 

Our first destination in Colorado was Loveland, where we used the injected hill to get prepared for our World Cup races in Aspen. 
While we were in Loveland, it was American Thansgiving, so since most of us missed our Canadian Thanksgiving, we decided to celebrate as a team, with Mike Janyk cooking a 30lb turkey. 
We all dressed up a little bit, and headed over to the guys place to eat. 

We went around the table saying what the person to the right of us was grateful for; including Movember, each other and Cousi's new baby! Then we dug in! 

We trained hard to Loveland, and also had one day off, so Britt, Eve and I decided to walk through Frisco.

After our final day in Loveland, we headed to Aspen for the World Cup races. I was excited because my family came to watch, including my mom who doesn't get to come very often. 

On Saturday, I raced the GS. I tried to bring more aggression into my GS race, but I didn't go about this the right way. I can't put too much pressure on myself in GS, however I wasn't satisfied with the way that I skied. 

Yet, racing the GS is always a good way to prepare for the slalom. Although I didn't race the way that I wanted to, I still learned a few things. The first of which, was that I didn't want to hold anything back in the slalom. I didn't want to leave anything on the hill. I promised myself that I wouldn't hold back like I did in Levi.
I stood in the start gate, wearing number 14, and felt ready. I pushed out of the gate, and my rhythm felt good. I forced myself to move even more, and be more on it. After about 12 gates, I felt my ski move between the two close gates of the hairpin, and I realized that I had straddled. 

Britt Phelan moved from 44th to 15th first run and ended up about 21st in the race!!!! Her second time in the points (ie finishing in the top 30) 

I was very upset. I put everything into my skiing, leaving nothing on the hill, and it is very upsetting when days like this happen. 
However, in a sport that deals with inches and centimeters, straddles happen. I couldn't dwell on it. I was happy with how I started the race. 
I had to move on to the next day. I hopped in the car to drive back to Loveland for a Nor Am Slalom. I wanted to prove to myself that my skiing was still there. I wanted to push it, but most of all, I needed to bring fun back into skiing.
It had to be just me and the hill..

I ended up winning in Loveland for the first time by about 1.2s. I needed a day like that. I needed a day of fun, a day of loving what a do, and feeling the joy of the wind in my face as my hand blocks a gate. 
Britt came 3rd, and we all cheers(ed) on the podium! 

The next day I decided to take a day off (Britt won!) and I headed back to Aspen to prepare for the GS Nor Ams. 

Day 1: I ended up in a very precarious position near the bottom of the course. Something happened and I ended up with one ski in the air headed to straddle the next gate. I ended up just missed the next gate, but the tail of the ski in the air hit the gate and I fell. It was disappointing not to finish, however I was okay. 

Day 2: I held back again first run. I NEED TO STOP DOING THAT. I ended up quite far back in 15th. I decided to really go for it second run. I made some improvements, however I need to make a few changes in my gs skiing. I know what some of these changes are, but the tricky part is implementing these changes. I was disappointed with the way that I skied and also the way that I approached this race. 

We packed up the cars and headed to the airport to fly to Calgary. Tim's truck, which he drove back to Calgary, had no more room. I swear that the longer I stay on this team, the better that I will become at Tetris... and packing 

We have just had a few days off in Calgary. I am rested, and ready to go. (Although my Christmas shopping doesn't agree. I guess I am buying online this year). 

Colorado brought many highs and a great many of lows, but that is what our sport is... perseverance. 
And when that fails, I watch funny animal videos. 

 Whenever this family would leave, they would find puddles on their pool deck. They though that it was the kids next door, so they set up a video camera...