I have been planning my return to Alpine Downhill for just over a year now. It was in September last year that I decided I’d like to give it another go and finally, I got to ski my very first “official” downhill over the past week in Lake Louise (LL), Canada!
LL is a tough hill… not many people are fans of it! It’s one of the easiest on the World Cup tour, terrain wise, but that is what makes it soooo tough to be fast on. One mistake and in the wrong area and it’s basically over! My best World Cup result at Lake Louise was a 38th in 2002 (I hope to better that next year!).
On top of LL being a hard hill to ski, downhill is one of the most frustrating alpine disciplines by a long shot! Not only do you need to be a shit hot skier and nail all crucial turns, jumps, gliding areas, you need to have fast skis and nail the wax all on the same day to bring it all together, not to mention your mental state!!
After all these years of looking after my own skis, I still make mistakes and I certainly feel like I don’t know much most of the time! The hours that go into skis is crazy, one day I should actually start to calculate the hours per season but that’s a scary thought!!
Day 1: I used a totally different ski to what I had been using the previous days, plus re-wax in the morning because I freaked out with the air temp being colder than I expected… bad mistake and rookie error for both decisions!! I finished 14th that day – I had some ok splits but not where I should have been when I crossed the finish line.
Day 2: I totally nailed the ski set up and I knew it too in the start! I could feel my skis slipping around ready to rip down the mountain. All I needed to do was nail the important turns. I felt I did well on the top section (I was .32 ahead at split 1) and ok in the middle section (I was.57 ahead at split 2) but unfortunately my race ended right before split 3 through a super bumpy section causing my ski to pop off…
It was strange… I was sort of on a massive high when I finished sliding and stood up… maybe because I knew I’d skied ok or maybe because I crashed and walked away after all the injuries I’ve had lately (3 broken ribs, tweaked knee and now frostbite on my nose!!), I’m not exactly sure what the rush was from…
My goals at the end of the racers were to finish in the top 10 both days to qualify me to a start a World Cup and/or hopefully World Champs!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make any of those goals! It doesn’t mean it’s over, it just means things are delayed a little. These were my goals, mostly because I just wanted to qualify early so I could focus on my season and not worry about qualification criteria’s!!
Five years ago, I’d be stressed to the eyeballs and freaking out because I am behind here I wanted to be but one thing I have learnt in my time, there is no point worrying about things you cannot control. As Matt (my husband) would say, “it is what it is!” and now I need to adjust my plans a little and refocus. There have been many set backs this year; lack of snow, funding and now some small injuries… All of which are very normal in winter sports.
I would be totally naive to think that trying to do what I’m trying to do is going to run smoothly! If I wanted safe, I’d row a boat down a lake ha! No offence to the rowers of cause 😉
I am skiing really well on the gliding sections which is super positive, I just need to work on my turns which never used to be a problem back in the day. I believe it will come with some more focus and time. It has been 12 years since I’ve skied real alpine so I can’t be too hard on myself and I have to give it a chance! I have only been back skiing speed now for 3 weeks so I can’t expect miracles even though I want it all yesterday haha #PatienceGrasshopper
I am flying home today to rest the body a bit and will fly out again on 1 Jan back to Europe to get ready for the next part of the northern winter.
As usual, many people have been involved in my return to alpine so a massive thanks to International Racers (Jeff, Luc and Kitzie), a HUGE thanks to Rich Lepage for taking his time out of his life to come to Copper Mtn in Colorado and get me some of the best pre-season speed training there is! Everyone who donated to help support me, long term sponsors – Southern Alps Ski Club, Event & Sports Projects Australia, Peter Forras; owner of XTM, Leki, Smith and of cause WinterFit! To my husband Matt, my biggest fan, my partner in crime, who will support me to the moon and back no matter what 🙂 Mum, Dad and Jan and my sister’s Jacqui, Claire and Liv for their continued support, putting up with me and my dreams for the past 38 years! My extended family and friends… I couldn’t have made it here without you all 🙂
It was cool to see Australia’s younger up and coming (YOG) athletes competing too: Katie Parker and Louis Muhlen-Schulte. I’m really excited to see where they go in the next few years, they both have a lot of potential.
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