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Where’s winter?

While the snow was falling in Whistler over the holidays, here in Europe the temperatures have been mild and it’s been raining. Where is the snow, and when is it coming? Unfortunately, in the sport of Alpine skiing we rely on the snow.

While the snow was falling in Whistler over the holidays, here in Europe the temperatures have been mild and it’s been raining. Where is the snow, and when is it coming?

Unfortunately, in the sport of Alpine skiing we rely on the snow. There isn’t any racing without it, or we end up racing in the same areas.

Race organizers have been working as hard as they can to get the races off – when a World Cup race is cancelled, money is lost. FIS officials also assess all options before cancelling an event.

In middle-Europe, the hills are bare. There hasn’t been any snow in over a month. Races on the World Cup circuit are being cancelled and rescheduled to areas where there is snow available – and even then the snow is generally only on the race course. At times like this, when the World Cup race schedule is constantly changing, it can be very difficult and stressful for the coaches to plan a back-up schedule that will best prepare us, and keep us ready to race. But sometimes there is nothing that can be done – you just has to go with the flow.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, the World Cup schedule took us to Semmering, Austria for giant slalom and slalom races. The race course was in great shape because it had been cold enough for the organizers to make snow. The training run was a different story.

As race day arrived, temperatures went up and the snow on the training hill disappeared. We could only free-ski on the morning of the race, jumping over the patches of rocks. Our ski technicians weren’t too happy at the end of the day!

On the race day it wasn’t easy to find my race feeling, but I’ve learned over the last couple of years that this can happen and you have to be able to deal with any situation and make the best of it.

For example, before arriving for the races in Semmering, the word amongst the coaches was that the races in Berchestgaden, Germany Jan. 4 and 5 might be cancelled for – you guessed it – the lack of snow. It was also understood that the races would not be rescheduled to another area or a later date.

This put the pressure on the coaching staff to come up with an alternative plan. Coaches from all the different teams were collaborating on possibilities and by the end of the giant slalom race we had tickets booked for Norway, with plans to train for 10 days after New Year’s with the Scandinavian teams.

The next day was the slalom race and the word on the hill at the start of inspection was that FIS officials would reschedule the Berchestgaden races to Bormio, Italy after all. By the end of the inspection it was confirmed that we would be racing on Jan. 4 and 5 in Bormio.

In just 24 hours the schedule had come full circle. Luckily we were able to cancel our tickets to Norway and refocus on the races.

As an athlete you need to be mentally prepared for these situations and accept them as they come. If you allow them to affect you too much, then you will have trouble adapting to changes.

We were all set to go and get in some good training in Norway, and I was preparing for that, but as soon as I found out the races were back on I had to erase that plan from my mind immediately and focus on racing.

In the end I’m really glad that the races were rescheduled for the same dates because otherwise it would have left a huge gap in the race scheduled at a time when my momentum is strong, and I am building on my results at every race.

The men have also seen changes to their schedule. This coming weekend they will once again be racing in Bormio because there isn’t enough snow in Chamonix, France to hold the race. So, as you can see things can get quite hectic and crazy, but it also makes for some excitement!

Over the Christmas holidays I decided to give myself a Christmas gift and post my best World Cup finish to date. Why not?

The giant slalom in Semmering was exciting. Going into the day my main goal was to start the day with a fast first run, no further than 25 th or 28 th place back, and build from there. My second runs have been fast this season, but to finish well overall I needed that first run to be fast also.

After the first run I achieved my goal and came down in 13 th place. For my second run I refocused and went out to try and be the fastest.

I finished only .02 hundredths from the podium, ending the day in sixth place. I was especially pleased because I had performed exactly the way I wanted to when I woke up that morning.

This past weekend in Bormio I finished a consistent 17 th in the giant slalom and Allison Forsyth regained some of her racing strength with a 10th place finish, once again showing our team power.

And Janica Kostelic? Wow! That is about all you can say about her these days. Having won five of the last six slalom events, she seemed unbeatable. But is she?

In the slalom race in Bormio on Jan. 5 – her fifth win of the season – I had my best slalom run of the season and finished just 0.3 seconds behind her on the second run. She is a tough racer and competitor, but nobody is unbeatable.

Keep on watching and the Canadian team will continue to make the season exciting.




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