A temporary setback 

The training day before the first race of an Olympic season: new team uniforms, lots of small talk, and everyone checking to see who is skiing fast.

In the morning the women’s teams are scheduled to train from 9 to 9 and the men’s teams follow. Three giant slalom courses set on the training hill for all of the racers to use. Usually the Austrians will set a course, the Swiss another and maybe the French. At the top of the courses all of the physiotherapists hang out so that we are able to talk over the radios to our coaches; they are group number one.

The coaches are then dispersed alongside the courses, and when you ski any one course you feel like there are about a thousand eyes on you! It can be quite intimidating. At the bottom of the course, group number three, is where all of the ski technicians are gathered, watching and waiting for each racer to decide which pair of skis they will choose for race day.

The day before the first race is also the first time you see all of the other teams after summer training. It is fun getting back together. We spend all winter racing and travelling together. They are my competitors but I also enjoy the friendships that I have made with many of them.

The last day of training is the last chance to find the feeling on your skis that you will take into the race. The training is short and intense with everyone focused on one thing: moving from training mode to race mode.

With nerves running high the chance for on-course errors increases, which may affect an athlete’s ability to race the next day. On Oct. 26 I found that out the hard way. It was my last training run of the day and I crashed. It wasn’t a big exciting crash but nonetheless I ended up hurting my knee, and I wasn’t the only one.

I have had knee problems in the past so I was familiar with the feeling and the stiffness in my knee. This is a situation that every athlete goes through at some point in their career.

In a second my race preparation plan changed. I was now faced with the challenge of dealing with an injury and decided how hard I was going to push it.

That afternoon after training our team physiotherapist worked with me to get my knee in the best condition possible. My focus was on racing, and until Jim Pollock, my coach, and I made the decision not to race, I was trying to stay 100 per cent focused on running the race – knowing that on race day I would be dealing with a stiff and swollen knee, not knowing how much I could push it.

I ran the race and was glad to have gone out of the start. My result wasn’t what I had been hoping for but I also hadn’t planned to crash the day before the race.

I may not have had a great result in Soelden, but the Canadian team walked away with a great day. Allison Forsyth finished fourth overall, coming from a 14 th place finish after the first run.

For the rest of us this is nothing but encouraging because we can be just as fast as she is in training.

Britt Janyk’s column appears every second week in Pique Newsmagazine throughout the ski season.

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