Team USA

Team USA
Sloan's Lake

20 December 2007

Still Going

The ski season is in full swing. It’s been snowing, the mountain is almost all open and the race season has begun. We have had 2 races now and a big road trip to come.

Our first races were a SL and GS in Breckenridge, December 6th and 7th. This is normally a good warm-up race and a gentle way to begin. This year it wasn’t exactly like that. We got over 10 inches of snow the first day and several more inches the next. While I was pleased to see the desperately needed snow, it is not what we as alpine ski racers want to see. Fresh snow makes the course very soft, uneven and holes are created almost immediately. These types of conditions are a test to even the most experienced racers.

I had two decent days of racing with 2 solid finishes, but I definitely did not ski the way I wanted or expected. I told myself that it’s the first race of the year and I’d just take the good things and build on them.

I spent the next couple of weeks training here at home in Winter Park and trying to ready myself for the races here. We had one GS and two SG races the 17th-19th. Prior to the races, I had finally gotten all my new skis, had been training well and the snow was good. I felt very prepared and confident. It was the first time in a long time that I felt comfortable on my Super G skis. I guess confidence and performance do not always match up. At the end of the 3 days, I had 3 mediocre finishes at best. Once again, I had skied parts of each course very well, but then made mistakes here or there that ended up costing me a lot of time. It only takes one wide turn, a poor line choice, a few skidded turns down the pitch, and you’re way out of the mix. Ski racing is an unforgiving sport.

For the next week, I’m going to go over video, reflect, ski and try to figure out how to make it better the next race. I’ll be headed to Park City, UT on the 31st for races the 1st-3rd. From there it’s off to Europe for some World Cup races in Abtenau, Austria.

14 November 2007

Opening Day at WP

Well Winter Park Resort has finally opened. I have to say that the snow pack is the worst I've ever seen for opening day. The only snow that is up there has been man made. There is only one run open but, hey they're open. We were fortunate enough to be able to use the resort before it opened to the public the past few days but it's nothing spectacular. With only one run open our "training" is very limited, so we're free-skiing and doing drills. As disappointing as the snow situation is, I'm still happy to be on the little snow that's here, at my home mountain.

29 September 2007

The snow is almost here

I was hoping when I arrived home from my African adventure that there would be snow on the ground. Unfortunately I'm not quite that lucky. We did have a dusting on Monday night but when it warms up during the day it doesn't really do much. I guess I got a little spoiled last year when we had snow early in September. At this point I can just hope when it does start snowing it doesn't stop so the skiing is fantastic!

24 May 2007

Fantastic news

I just found out that U.S. Paralympics wants to be a big supporter of my latest adventure. Including myself, there are 4 female ski racers that are going to climb Kilimanjaro this September. By climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, we want to not only raise awareness about female athletes who have a disability, but also raise money to create two scholarships for female athletes to attend the NSCD race program. Having U.S. Paralympics on board is a huge deal! I am so excited!

Unfortunately, it's has still been snowing up here. The past 2 days we've seen nothing but snow and rain so I haven't been able to play outside. That's Winter Park for ya!

I also got some other good news the past couple days. Rudy Project USA has been sponsoring me for sunglasses for a few years now. I just got an e-mail from them saying that they want me to use their goggles as well. I love everything that Rudy has done for me and I feel special to be a fully sponsored athlete! Thanks Paul, Avi and Molly!

21 May 2007

Next adventure

I've decided that I'm not going to be skiing much this summer, if at all. I could really use the break mentally and physically. Time off the hill will also give me time to do other things, like work on the ambulance, going to a cycling race that I want to attend as well as doing as much hiking as I can.

Three girls that I race and train with and I have decided we are going to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa in September. I don't know exactly how this all came about but we’ve decided we're going to do it to raise money for the NSCD. It's going to be a lot of work and a lot of fun. We have been working out the details and setting things up. We actually have a blog for it if you want to check it out.

13 April 2007

End of the season

Photo by Ken Watson
For Winter Park, the season comes to a close on Sunday. You wouldn’t know that from looking outside as it has been snowing for days. That’s okay though, we need the snow. In some ways it’s hard to believe the mountain is closing but in other ways I’m ready for the break. It feels like it’s been a long hard season. I guess all of the changes and ups and downs, has just taken a toll on me emotionally.

Our racing season ended at Waterville Valley, NH with U.S. Disabled Championships. Because we couldn’t run the speed events they ran 1 Nor-Am race and one National race for GS and SL and then the last day we did a dual GS for fun and prize money. I skied well. I had two of my best SL races of the year and I actually beat my friend and teammate Liz Miller in a few runs of GS, which usually doesn’t happen. In the Nor-Am GS I took bronze. For the Nationals GS I came back from being behind first run to taking silver! The Nor-Am SL was a heartbreaker for me. After first run I was sitting 3rd. Second run the leader DNF and I won the run, but it wasn’t enough and I lost by .58 of a second- OUCH! For the nationals SL I was down by 2 seconds after first run, had another good second run and made up time but it wasn’t enough and I ended up 3rd. The final day was the duel GS and I had another good day. I skied fast in the qualifying and then throughout the day to take 4th place behind my teammate Laurie Stephens. Not bad.

All in all I had a good week but it was bittersweet. At the end of the week we had our individual meetings with our staff and made decisions about next season. The decision was made that I will not be part of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team next year. This was really tough and I wasn’t quite ready to deal with it. I think I’m going to take a step back and focus on training and maybe just local races, I don’t know. I’m not sure how everything will work out but I’m going to stay in Winter Park and WILL be training and racing. There are a lot factors that have affected my skiing but the bottom line is that I want/need to race faster, whatever it takes. Photo by Kurt Smitz

04 March 2007

More changes

We have yet more changes to our schedule. We are no longer running any speed races at U.S. Nationals this year. Apparently it isn’t legal for Waterville Valley Ski Area to hold a downhill or super G at their mountain. Somehow this had been overlooked until this week so they’ve changed the races to 2 GS races and 2 SL races. I don’t mind too much because there were rumors that the speed races would not have been scored with ASD points (so they wouldn’t have done us any good.) Plus as of right now, one of the each of the tech events will be for the national title and one of each will be scored as an ASD scored Nor-Am race. This is good news because that means the penalty should be lower and it could help us keep our points down. We’ll see.

27 February 2007

Wells Fargo Bank Cup

This past weekend was one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the Nationals Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), the 32nd Annual Wells Fargo Bank Cup. It’s a weekend full of sponsors, fun and racing. For the athletes that train here in Winter Park, we get a chance to “show our stuff” to the NSCD sponsors and open eyes for others about our program. The NSCD is one of the best outdoor recreation programs for people with disabilities in the world. Thanks to this event, Wells Fargo Bank, the Denver Post, Denver Broncos Alumni and Denver’s Channel 4 we are able to show sponsors and the general public what that really means.

For me, this past weekend really was a lot of fun. On Saturday I participated in the Frontier Cup which is triple SL team race. I want to send a special note of thanks to Don Marshall a member of the NSCD board of trustees and long time supporter of me and my racing. I had the privilege of being on his team “Wellskis” in the Frontier Cup and helping them advance to the second round of racing for the first time in years (maybe ever.) Yeah!

On Sunday I raced in the Disabled Invitational. This was the first time I’ve raced in this race because in the past, the Disabled Invitational was only open to men. This was because it was based on the pro-race format that was only open to men. Last year our head coach here in Winter Park, Erik Petersen, changed that and created a women’s category. Unfortunately for the NSCD most of the women who train here (including myself) were in Italy racing World Cup and Paralympics.

The race format is very different from our usual races. This race is a dual GS course with 3 bumps in the course that send us into the air. It’s exciting for spectators but really exciting for us. The weather didn’t cooperate as it was snowing really hard throughout the day but it didn’t dampen the excitement. During the qualifying runs I raced really well and actually won the qualifying round. I thought that set me up pretty well to win the race but I had to face my British teammate Liz Miller in the semi-finals and she edged me out by .12 seconds. That put me into the consolation round to race off for 3rd or 4th. I skied well against my teammate Ricci Kilgore but she ran into trouble both runs, and I was able win and take 3rd place. Liz took 2nd after my U.S.D.S.T teammate Elitsa Storey beat her by only .11 seconds in the finals. It was great day of racing and an overall great weekend!

26 February 2007

No Go...

…Our Austrian World Cup was officially cancelled Friday. This was not unexpected but disappointing none the less. I had been checking the weather almost daily only to see warm temperatures and rain. Just a few days before the announcement the IPC organizers had posted a “worst case scenario” on the website. It gave us a new schedule for the races, implying that they could just move some things around and we’d be all set. I guess this was not only to give us a little hope but them as well. As it turned out, the conditions in Abtenau just weren’t very good. We are still scheduled to run our races in Italy but as always it depends on the weather. So instead of leaving this Thursday we will now be leaving next Thursday for 1 Slalom race, 1 GS race and for those with the proper points, 2 Super G races.

08 February 2007

Trials and tribulations

There are definitely days that go your way and days that don’t. Tuesday didn’t go my way. I just wasn’t “feeling it.” During inspection I knew the course was going to be more difficult for me than the day before, and that’s how the race went. Sometimes in ski racing you have to take chances, and I’m not always really good at that because I have to trust myself and my legs. The course was a lot of fun but I sacrificed a lot of time to try to stay on line. I know better, I knew I was doing it while I was skiing, but knowing and being able to change it are WAY different. Needless to say, I didn’t have the best race and I didn’t get the Super G points I needed. It’s over now so I can’t really be sad. I did what I could at the time and that’s all I can really ask of myself. Now if I can just get my confidence back up I’ll be grand.

05 February 2007

Racing at home

I’m having a rough time at the moment. I feel like I’m skiing well and I’m trying to keep my head held high but each day I face a new challenge. It started on Friday this past week. The weather has been horrible and because of a 50 mph wind gust during early morning training, I had a bit of a crash. I strained a muscle in the upper part of my leg and around my hip. It’s not bad enough that I can’t ski but very bothersome during racing. I skied Saturday in a race course and just didn’t feel that great. Instead of pushing it I went home and tried to stretch and rest. A good friend Nancy Chang worked on me and tried to loosen up that leg. I felt better afterward but come Sunday morning I still felt a bit unsure. The first run of my SL race just didn’t go well. I didn’t feel like I could get on and off the edge quickly and I straddled a gate. I hiked to stay in the race but that’s not fast. Second run was lots better but my movements still weren’t very quick. At the end of the day I was a bit discouraged but optimistic for Super G since the key to that discipline is subtleness.

Today, for the first time in a very long time I felt comfortable on my speed skis (despite the sore leg.) This was a huge confidence builder. After a couple good warm-up runs and a thorough inspection I knew I could have a good run. Super G is one of the hardest events for me because at the higher speeds my legs don’t always cooperate. Today was no different and I definitely second guessed myself toward the bottom of the course, but, I hung in there and placed 5th. I’m not disappointed with where I finished, just with some of the unnecessary technical mistakes that I made in my run. We have another Super G tomorrow and I’m sanguine (I used a Thesaurus to find that word {smiley face}) that I can build on today and can have a better race.

01 February 2007

Winter Park

After many days on the road I have finally returned to Winter Park.
I took a few days off the snow to give my body a break. It’s nice to be home and to have some down time. It’s brutally cold up here right now making training a challenge. I’ll be toughing it out because we have a race starting Sunday. We have Slalom and 2 Super G’s.

I’m excited to be racing on my home hill. I know I need to ski well but I also know I need to relax and not think about that when I’m in the start gate. There’s a fine line between ready to go and over anxious. I’m shooting for ready to go.

28 January 2007

Kimberly, Canada

We finally made it up to Kimberley, B.C. after a long and trying day in the airports and on the road. We didn't arrive until 0600 the morning of the 23rd so we didn't get a lot of sleep. The Super G race was the 24th and because I was only a spectator due of lack of points I had an easier day than the rest of my team. GS was the following day and I skied well but not without mistakes. There were some really good things about my runs and I have definitely made some positive changes in my GS and it’s starting to show. Unfortunately, I didn’t do such good things on the pitch both runs and I ended up in the back of the pack. It’s frustrating in a lot of ways, but it’s also encouraging to stick with it and finish 2 solid runs.

I was hopefully for the SL the next day but that didn’t work out as planned either. One of my teammates got hurt in a training run before the start of the race and even though I tried not to worry about how she was doing I still had a hard time finding my focus. I thought I had it together in the start gate but halfway down the course on my first run I ran into some trouble and had to hike to make a gate. I’m terribly slow at hiking but I was having a really good run before I messed up and I NEEDED my second run for my mental health. Going into my second run I knew I didn’t have a chance so I just relaxed and laid down a solid run. Sometimes you just have to ski smart and get the finish, and it’s one of the hardest things to do as a ski racer. I needed to get the World Cup SL finish more than trying to win the run and possibly blowing out. I walked away feeling good about the day and my skiing. Right now Europe is in rough shape as far as snow pack so I’m crossing my fingers that this wasn’t the last World Cup race of the year.

21 January 2007

Aspen SL

The SL in Aspen didn't go much better for me. The first day I had a good first run and a great second run until the last gate. There was a very tricky combination at the end of the course and I didn't make it. I tried to stop to stay in the course and that just didn't work. I was extremely bummed but I was optimistic for the following day. Unfortunately, the second day didn't go much better. First run I had to stop to stay in the course and that is not fast. I was ready to have a great second run and score some World Cup points, but again the last gate became a problem. I was almost finished with a long hard run, but again there was a difficult combination at the end of the long course and I couldn't convince my feet to be fast enough to make it around the end of a 3 gate flush. I was crushed. It's one thing to have a tough day; it's extremely difficult to miss the last gate 2 days in a row.

20 January 2007

Tough week

Well it's been a tough week for most of the US Team here in Aspen, myself included. We haven't had the races we were hoping to have. Today is going to get better because it's SL! Hopefully I have something great to write tonight. You can check out the results at asdracing.

11 January 2007

Skiing on the Brain

World Cup starts next week and that’s all I can think about. Our World Cup opener is next week in Aspen, Colorado. We race 17-21. We have 2 Super G races, 2 GS races and 2 SL races. I won’t be racing the Super G because I haven’t been able to start any Super G races since last February, so my ASD points low enough. I’m hoping that I’ll be able get my points down before the European World Cup races. For now I'll focus on skiing really fast in GS and SL.

Park City

Last week we were in Utah for the Huntsman Cup. I was so excited because I had been training really well and I really wanted show myself and my coaches that my hard work had paid off. The race began with GS and I had one of the best races I've had in a long time. I skied well but made a pretty big mistake 2nd run. I placed 4th and I was very pleased. I really couldn't wait to for the next day for another GS race. Unfortunately, I didn't get to start the next day. I got really sick and couldn't race. I tried to rest so I could race the SL but it didn't work out. I'm beginning to think I should stay away from Park City- because I haven't had much luck there the past 2 years. I guess that's life.

Let's Race

The season has been going really well so far. Our races started at Breckenridge, CO at Ski Spectacular. We had a GS and a SL. I placed 7th in the Giant Slalom and took the silver medal in the Slalom! I feel like it was an excellent start to the season.

I was hoping to carry that momentum with me as I left for Pitztal, Austria for a Europa Cup race. We were intended to race Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom but things changed. Due to the lack of snow on the glacier we were unable to race the Super G. We had a SL and 2 GS races on the training hill, which is very flat. I skied a great first run of SL and was sitting 5th. I really wanted to move up so second run I really went for it. Unfortunately, sometimes when I do that I don’t make to the finish line- DNF. Bummer! I finished both the GS races I skied well but I lost a lot of time on the flats. I placed 8th the first day and 6th the second. These weren’t the results I was hoping for but I did make some very positive changes in my skiing.

New Blog

Well, for some crazy reason racegirlusa.iblogs no longer works. I cannot even access my old information to update this blog. But I’m going to try to keep this updated best I can.