Going for Gold 

Now it’s time to race

I cross the finish line in the first run of the giant slalom race in Cortina, I look up and see 27 th place beside my name. "Okay maybe this one will hold, maybe today I will get a second run." And it did.

Once I realize that I have qualified for the second run, I take a deep breath, calm my nerves and say to myself, "Now it’s time to race!"

Usually, on every race run that I have, during the split second from the last gate to the finish line a thought passes through my mind. I think over my run and ask myself what I thought of the run before I look at my time. Before crossing the finish line on that first run in Cortina I knew that I had skied to my potential on that specific course. If it wasn’t enough to get me into the top 30 then the other girls just skied better. It’s quite amazing how much can go through your mind from that last gate to the finish line!

In that race I finished 23 rd overall, my first World Cup points of the season. In the second run one of our coaches, Mark Sharp, set the course. Cortina is the longest women’s giant slalom course on the circuit and one of the most technical. Mark set a true GS course; one that follows the terrain of the hill and makes you work right to the last gate. It was great to ski a course set by one of our coaches. The highlight of that day though, was that we had three girls finish in the top 30, a milestone day for the Canadian women’s technical team. This day would prove to be but the beginning of some great results over the course of the next week.

From Cortina, Italy we flew directly the next day to Are, Sweden for the last World Cup races before we would be returning home. In Are, I raced a night giant slalom, the downhill combined and the slalom. With me racing in Are, were Allison Forsyth and Anna Prchal.

Of all of the races that week, the night giant slalom race was the most exciting. The hill is completely lit up with lights and everything surrounding the race course is pitch black; you are the spotlight. As the start time nears and it begins to get dark, the excitement begins and a different kind of energy builds up inside you. We, the racers, become the entertainers under a huge spotlight. We put on the show!

While in Are I was also able to take in a few other sights – it wasn’t all racing. When we arrived in Are it was snowing like crazy. To my excitement on our first day of skiing there was fresh powder everywhere; training was useless. So instead, with the help of a local to the area, who coaches for the Swedish women’s team, I went out for an afternoon of powder skiing. The sun was shinning and I was getting face shots as I skied down some amazing bowls. This also happened to be the afternoon before the giant slalom race the following night. I think that the powder skiing calmed my nerves down for the race – hey, it has always worked for me in Whistler.

In Are we had a great time, the great results helped, it kept our spirits up but overall I was very impressed by the whole resort. And our coaches and technicians would be able to tell you that the night life in Are is also excellent – almost as good as Whistler. It’s definitely one of my top three picks for ski areas to go back to.

Over the past two weeks I realized more than ever that hard work and perseverance do pay off. I especially realized this with my 17 th place finish in the slalom race in Are. I started 58 th and the course conditions were very far from perfect. I simply just focused on how I needed to ski the course to make it to the finish line. Not only have I realized that my hard work has gotten me to where I am but these results have driven me to continue to work just as hard with lots of fun on the sideline, which is also important. Who knows where it will get me, but I know that it is in the right direction.

I will finish by wishing all of my teammates who will be competing at the Olympics Games the best of luck and, not only to the alpine skiers but to all of the Canadian competitors going to the Games. Canada is a special country; we’ve got passion and drive. It would be an honour to be able to race at the Olympics Games and represent Canada. Who knows, maybe my results this past week in Are and Cortina will be good enough to get me to Salt Lake, but if not, I won’t be discouraged. My season has already been a great one.

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