The past two weeks have been a great start to the 2013-2014 ski season. It started at the Center of Excellence (COE) in Park City, Utah where I was able to do physical testing and find out what kind of shape I am in… Turns out I wasn’t in as good of shape as I thought so USSA set me up with a trainer for the off season and I’ve already seen some positive physical changes. The COE is an amazing facility and I am really looking forward to training there this summer to prepare for the upcoming season.
After a week at the COE I flew out to Mammoth Lakes, California for a ten day on snow camp. We had a start section set up and a lower training area with a short course and some different kinds of features. One of my main training focuses this summer is to work on my starts which has been slow in the past. I spent most of my days here practicing and trying different techniques. I feel a lot more confident in my starts after hours of practice here. I definitely want to take this momentum into our next training camp in Mt. Hood next month.
We also spent some time training heats in the course which is always productive as it increases your comfort level skiing in traffic. We did some head to head stuff as well as heats of four. Tomorrow is the last day of camp and then back home for a couple weeks. I’m really looking forward to getting back East and having some family time.
Last week we had our National Championships at The Canyons Resort in Utah. It was such a great course and we really lucked out with the weather. Congrats to Teller for winning the race. I felt like I skied pretty well, winning the first heat by a mile, however, I had some trouble with my start in the semi final round. I ended up third out of the gate so I knew I had to make something happen to at least finish second and move on to the finals.
My first opportunity was at the first big jump where people were checking speed before the take off. I decided to just send it over the jump and see what happens. I ended up clearing the landing by a mile, passing a guy in the air, but then landed so hard I lost all of my speed. The next opportunity was midway down the course in the only straight section. I got in the draft and made my move around the guy in second, however, the course deteriorated and as I moved out of the draft to pass I hit some soft snow and completely bogged down. I was able to maintain the third position and at this point got a little impatient. Coming into the last banked turn I just stuck my body on the inside line hoping to push out the skiers in the lead. I was successful getting myself in the right position but then the forces completely squashed my body in the compression and I launched out of the course face first.
I didn’t get too hurt but my face took quite a beating. I had some serious road rash on my face from the safety netting and a nice shiner. I skied the small final heat with one eye as my right eye was completely swollen shut. Even though I didn’t get the result I was looking for it was a great experience and an excellent training opportunity.
This week we are in Voss, Norway for the FIS Freestyle World Championships. This will be my first time skiing in Worlds so really looking forward to taking home some hardware here. We arrived last night and spent a few hours skiing at the resort today. They only have one chairlift and two pomas but the runs are very long and the scenery is amazing. We get to ski the course in a couple days which should be a blast. My plan is to get as comfortable with the course as possible and then spend the rest of the time practicing the start so I can get out front and stay there when race day comes.
We are about midway through the season and so far USA Ski Cross has had a solid year on the World Cup. John has had several top tens along with a win and I have a 3rd and a 7th. All of our best results have been in France so it must be something in the water. Here is a Go Pro video from training last week in Megeve, France. This World Cup was one of the best American finishes ever with a 1st and a 7th place.
My first two heats in the race were great. I was able to get out front and stay out front both runs which made my day a lot easier. In the semi-finals I landed on a Finnish guy’s skis and got a bit tangled up, I tried to catch up but ended up 3rd in that heat and ended up going to the small final to race for the 5th to 8th positions. I had a tough time mentally in that heat because I felt like I had a really good shot at winning the overall race and skiing for 5th isn’t as exciting. However, if I get into that position again I really need to maintain focus and race it like it is the Finals.
Teller and myself are really pumped with the race and are taking that confidence into the next series. We are currently in Hinterstoder, Austria training with the Austrian Ski Cross team in preparation for the Red Bull Kronplatz Team Race which is next week in Italy. It is a three person team format which I’ve never done so it should be a pretty cool experience. We have a couple weeks until the next World Cup so it’s a great time to do a fun race like this and try to get a little extra training in at the same time.
For the past week I’ve been skiing in Nakiska, Alberta. We had several days of training with the Aussies and Americans as well as the Canadian National Championships race. The training days were very productive and it was a lot of fun to pull some starts and do some practice heats. I still have a ways to go with my starts as I am still inconsistent but I feel like I am making some serious progress.
I attached some video of the qualification run and the top part of the course. You can see I am just getting burned out of the start every single run in the race. I think I was just too excited and pulled out instead of down to match the slope of the first feature. Since I’m used to being in fourth out of the start for most of my ski cross career I’ve been forced to learn how to pass and I was able to work my way up to the front of the pack by the end of most runs.
I ended up 7th place so I was happy with that as a good starting point to the season. The real race starts tomorrow with training on Thursday, Qualifications on Friday, and the Finals on Saturday here at Nakiska.
I’ve been in Saas Fee, Switzerland for the past two weeks skiing with the Canadian and Swiss ski cross teams. The training venue is a perfect place to prepare for the upcoming FIS Ski Cross World Cup season. There is a full length course with lots of rollers, banked turns, fall away turns, and a hip jump. The Swiss have also set up shorter course with a start gate and a feature called a Wu Tang which is basically a quarter pipe with a gap on top to a quarter pipe landing zone. This is a feature I’ve always had trouble on so its been great for me to get a lot of laps in on that. We have another four days left of training camp so hopefully the weather holds up and we can make the most of it.
The plan for after Saas Fee is to head out to Copper Mountain in Colorado and get in some giant slalom and super-g training to work on turning technique. It’ll be nice to get out there with my teammate Pat and get in our last preparations for the first world cup race in Nakiska on December 7th and 8th. Here is a video I put together in my free time today.