A white Christmas! 

Am I ever glad that I have come home this year

Everyone in Whistler is enjoying the holiday snow and it is so nice to see — I mean the snow that is! Wow, a white Christmas — am I ever glad that I have come home this year, because had I stayed in Europe it would have been green.

It’s a short visit home but nonetheless well worth it. Early last week, Christmas Day in fact, I was back on a plane to Europe for a giant slalom race in Austria! It’s crazy I know but somehow we can’t seem to convince the FIS that fitting a race between Christmas and New Year’s is not a good plan for the North Americans.

The World Cup season has had a bit of a shaky start, as I’m sure most of you know. Uncertainty of snow and lack thereof has caused quite a bit of juggling with the schedule but luckily we have only lost one of two events. As far as results go though, it has not been a shaky start at all!

The season began in Lake Louise where both the men and women got podium finishes including the first win by a Canadian male on home turf since Rob Boyd. Now that had to have been a while back because Rob is now one of my coaches! (No hurt feelings Rob!)

From Lake Louise we moved over to Europe. It was a quick visit for me, only eight days, but in that brief time I raced four World Cup events! On the men’s side they probably raced about the same number in order to get back on track with the altered schedule.

While over in Europe, I raced a super combined, a super G and two downhill races. The super combined and super G were held in Austria and at that point it was just great to be getting some racing. The hills were a little green around us but the race hill was in amazing shape and we were able to have two great events.

The super combined, a new event this year, is a super G run in the morning followed by a slalom run in the afternoon. It was the first time we had run this event and it was a lot of fun. The following day in the super G race the Austrian women showed their domination of their home hill by finishing with seven skiers in the top 10. We aren’t going to let that happen again!

From Austria we moved on to Val d’Isere, France where we had a training run followed by two downhill races. It was great to run the downhill in Val d’Isere as it was my first time skiing on the track there. Most of the courses this year will be my first time running them, but if I can adjust as smoothly to the other courses as I did to the one in Val d’Isere then I know I will be just fine.

I feel like I am adapting to the speed disciplines quite well and I am having a really good time doing it. It’s a busy schedule but different from doing giant slalom and slalom all the time. For one, at speed events you’re able to be at one place for at least five days in a row, which means I can actually unpack my bags a little! Don’t ask me how or why I choose to go down a hill at 120 km/h but I guess we just get used to it! Sometimes.

The men at this time were racing in Reitteralm, Austria, Val Gardena and Alta Badia, Italy and then in Hinterstoder, Austria. They had even more events than the women so I imagine most are a little tired this Christmas break. Throughout the races the guys saw some more great results including two more podiums. John Kucera was second in another super G and just last week Francois Bourque finished second in a giant slalom.

I had a dream just the other night that one of the girls stepped up onto the podium and I have a feeling it will be coming soon. It has been a very exciting start to the 2006-07 season and I think we can continue this excitement and energy into the World Championships at Aare, Sweden. Keep watching and a Merry Christmas to everyone in this beautiful white valley!

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