Team USA

Team USA
Sloan's Lake

29 April 2010

Post Paralympic Reflection

Snow is still on the ground in Winter Park, CO but the mountain is closed and most people (including myself) have put the ski gear away. I sit here looking out at the snow and think about how I am not done ski racing just for this year, I’m really done.

It’s a very odd feeling knowing that the path you’ve traveled for the past 13 years has reached the end. The highlight reel that runs in my mind has so many highs and lows. I am so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had and the friends I’ve made! I have been able to do so much and see so many places I never imagined seeing. One part of me feels like the luckiest person in the world while the other side of me is somber with the reality that the ride is over. My family, friends and sponsors have stuck by me through it all and made it possible!

Ironically enough, two years ago today I had the PAO surgery on my right hip. I walked into the operating room knowing that there was possibility of my racing career coming to end that day. Obviously it didn’t end that day but in the many days to follow it seemed to slip away. Somehow despite it all I got back on snow. I didn’t have 2 more seasons of racing, but this last one was just fine. The fact that I persevered beyond that surgery and everything else I’ve endured since, to make it to my 3rd Paralympic Winter Games, is just short of a miracle. Maybe miracle is a bit strong but after lying in a hospital bed unable to move my legs just 14 months before opening ceremonies- it feels pretty miraculous to have made it.

The Vancouver 2010 Paralympics were fantastic! In comparison to 2006; I didn’t have to travel for weeks prior to leaving, it was a relatively short flight to Vancouver, it was a non-snowy and uneventful drive to Whistler where the village was actually complete, our housing was close to other athletes, the gym and the dining hall, and we had strong staff there with us. In addition; I had my parents, my boyfriend and a couple other close friends up there in the stands supporting me!

As far as the mountain and the competition, it was definitely not ideal. In fact it was probably the worst situation and conditions I’ve ever raced in. I always talk about ski racing being a winter sport and it being very weather dependent. When the conditions aren’t good the safety of the athletes is at risk so the organizers generally err on the side of caution. In this case the caution they used was to flip-flop the entire schedule. This does happen occasionally, but I’ve never seen them run the Downhill (DH) training runs to then run the Slalom (SL) race. It may happen but not at any disabled races I’ve been to.

What this meant for me was that I was racing my SL race on the 15th instead of the 21st and my Giant Slalom (GS) race on the 17th instead of the 19th. We’re athletes and we’ve training thoroughly for our events but mentally this was a big hurdle. We hadn’t been skiing or training SL because we all thought we had plenty of time. Plus, the schedule change was because of weather so we knew the conditions were going to be less than ideal. To top it off, SL is my better event and I really wanted to end my Paralympics and probably my ski racing career with my strongest event. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Not only did I not end with SL but I didn't end with the best SL race of my career either. I know that the fresh snow, the fog and the inconsistent conditions played a big part in this as my balance is worse when visibility is decreased and bumps are increased. I’m not making excuses it’s just the way it is. I raced two solid runs and reached the finish, but not the aggressive yet smooth skiing that wins medals. My goal was top 10 but I finished 16th, not what I wanted but 16th in the world isn’t too bad.

My GS race went about the same. We did not wake up to 10 inches of new snow like SL day but we had fog so thick that 3 gate visibility was pushing it and there was a sleet/ rain mixture on the bottom of the course that added to the level of difficulty. I skied as well as I could with the courses and conditions at hand, but again didn’t ski fast enough. I had a better 2nd run than 1st run but not the kind of run I wanted to end on. I know that I have the ability to ski better but I couldn’t ski to that ability on that day. I went, I raced, and I finished. Finishing isn’t a goal I normally strive for, but to end my ski career without crashing, without injury and to finish 15th place is just fine with me. I felt I could walk away with my head held high.

The Paralympics weren’t over after my races but the ending was about the same. Closing Ceremonies were a very rainy and cool, and maybe a bit of a let down. The truth is though; I enjoyed myself through it all as I really am happy and thrilled to have had the journey I did!

13 March 2010

Let the Games Begin!!

Opening Ceremonies last night was incredible! Being the United States, we of course were at the end of the Parade of Athletes so we waited in the wings and watched on the live feed as the other countries and many of our Winter Park teammates walked in representing their respective countries. It was so cool to watch my friends; Katja from Finland, the crew from Great Brittan, Erna from Iceland, Arly and Armando from Mexico, Adam and Peter from New Zealand, Jas from Serbia, Martin from Slovakia & Gal from Slovenia. Then it was our turn!

When you walk into a stadium filled with people who are yelling and cheering for you as you’re representing your country- it’s AMAZING! The emotion that welled up inside me as I walked through the stadium was almost overwhelming. The feelings of accomplishment and pride were so strong I cannot even describe. It made a lot of the struggles and worries from this past year melt away, even if just for a few minutes! I feel so fortunate to be able to be part of this one more time! Thank you to everyone who has helped me on my journey!

Now it’s race time. The schedule is up in the air due to weather and snow conditions but it’s looking like there is a strong possibility that I will be racing my Slalom race this coming Monday the 15th instead of the 20th. We’ll see what happens.

09 March 2010

Good things come to those who wait

Sorry I’ve been such a slacker who my blog. I’m usually very good but it’s been a bit of a roller coaster the past couple weeks. I was waiting for the 22nd and Team USA announcements, but it didn’t quite happen like that. The 22nd came and went with a few people getting phone calls and others like myself left to wait. I knew that I couldn’t change the decision, good or bad, but I wanted to know. Finally on the 24th I got a phone call saying that I was going to Vancouver!!! I was told I would be skiing the Giant Slalom (GS) and Slalom (SL)!

We left the 7th of March and I am now in the Paralympic Village. When we arrived it was raining but yesterday and today we were fortunate to have colder temperatures and a little sun. I will not be competing until the 18th so I will be training at the mountain until then. Opening ceremonies are the 12th and I am very excited!

I will try to be better about keeping my blog up to date. Thanks for all your support and encouragement!

16 February 2010


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“Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.” ~Woody Allen

This is how I feel that this last part of the season has gone for me.
There are some times when giving your all with the best with preparation and dedication just isn’t enough, but there are other days when finding the finish line gives you what you needed. It is bittersweet I guess. I feel like I’m sitting in that place right now. I’ve done everything I know how to do to get myself strong again and ski fast and yet race day still remains a gamble.

I went to the Europa Cup race in La Molina, Spain with the intention to get another SL and GS start and maybe some points. I walked away with some much needed GS points, a Silver medal in the SL and points to keep me in the running for my 3rd Paralympic Games. I was pretty pleased. I knew it wasn’t my best skiing but it was good enough.

I came home for a couple days, trained and headed off to Kimberley, Canada with hopes of going up there, skiing some fast DH and SG and leaving with less than 120 points in at least one event. Points under 120 would mean a possibility to go to World Cup Finals and a chance to compete in a speed event at the Paralympics.
Unfortunately, my goals and life aren’t always in agreement. I ended up dealing with a horrible stomach bug and fought with my body and my mind just to race the 4 races. I felt I had to try, because there was no chance to get my points if I didn’t start. I often repeat the phrase ‘you can’t win if you don’t try’ in my head when I feel like there isn’t much more I can do. I did manage to finish all 4 races, but probably because I didn’t push it. Don’t get me wrong, I put everything I had into each run, but I just didn’t have much strength, energy or concentration- all of which are very important for skiing fast in speed races. I got 2nd and 3rd in the DH races and 3rd both SG races. While I had some good turns and parts to each race, I just didn’t get it done and didn’t get my points. Part of me is broken hearted as this means unless I go to US Nationals these were my last speed races. It’s hard to think that my career as a ski racer is ending and this was the end for me and speed. It would’ve been nice to end it at World Cup or the Paralympics, but it is what it is and I have to move forward and focus on what is ahead.

Team USA for the Paralympic Games will not be announced until 22nd February 16, 2010. I've done everything I can do up to this point so I will wait and hope for the best!!!