A Happy New Year from Salzburg 

Over the last two weeks I have been racing in Europe, building and improving on my results from the States. I raced on Dec. 22, and again on Dec. 28, and as a result I couldn’t make it back home to Whistler for Christmas.

Instead, I spent my Christmas at Claudia Riegler’s apartment in Salzburg with a good friend of mine from home. Claudia races for New Zealand and the Canadian team has spent quite a bit of time training with her over the past year.

She had a third place finish in the last slalom race on Dec.22 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, where I also had my best slalom result of the season, finishing 19th overall. So the atmosphere there was great. I enjoyed discovering the city and experiencing my first Christmas in Europe.

We started the month off in Val d’Isere, France, where the women had a super-G and a giant slalom (GS) race. The men were also there for a dowhnhill, super-G and a GS.

Because the men and women run on two different hills, the races were run at the same time.

While the women were racing the GS and super-G, the men were doing their training runs for the downhill. It definitely creates some team excitement, especially with both teams doing well.

On the women’s side we would have liked a couple top-10 results in the GS but didn’t get them, though Genevieve Simard and myself made the seventh and fifth fastest times in the second run. So the ability is there.

For myself, I just need to put together two fast runs. It’s just as simple as that!

On the men’s side Eric Guay picked up his first World Cup points of the season. He also picked up some more points up this past week in Val Gardena, Italy. It is a very difficult course and it was his first time running the track. In other words, it was a great result for Eric!

Our next races were slalom events in Sestrieres, Italy and Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

In Sestrieres we raced the slalom in a new format. They called it the KO Slalom and we had a qualification round on Saturday at 2 p.m. It ran like a regular run at the beginning, with the top 30 girls from that first run qualifying for the knockout rounds. Unfortunately I just missed the cut in 33 rd position, and watched from the sidelines.

The following day the qualifiers would race three rounds, with each round knocking out half the field. The slowest girl would run against the fastest girl and so forth down the line until there were nine girls left in the final round, including the top losers. The final round determines the overall winner the usual way.

There were some mixed feelings about the event because of the way the rules were set up.

Personally, I think that the event is great because it is something different and new, but I don’t think the results should count for World Cup points. It would be a great prize money event to have during the season but I feel that the races that count for World Cup points should all be run in the regular two-run format.

From Sestrieres we went to Austria and trained for a couple of days. We were in a small town in the Arlberg region called Elbigenalp.

The hill that we trained on had one T-bar and one run. However, the turn-around was fast and the hill had some good terrain to offer. We would get about 10 slalom runs done in just over an hour!

We would then take a break and switch to GS. The guy who ran the hill had a top-of-the-line snow cat and stayed up all night one night with his buddy to make the hill perfect for training. Sure enough the next day the hill was perfect. A timing system was also hooked up from top to bottom and a time board would show your time as you crossed the finish. It was an unbelievable set-up and the guy running the show was so excited to have us there.

The Olympic super-G gold medalist from Calgary 88 also lives in the town of Elbigenalp and has a gym in her house which has everything that a ski racer needs for off-hill training.

We set up agility obstacle courses, lifted weights, and were able to spin on the bikes. To be honest, the town is a little small and in the middle of nowhere but for training facilities it just doesn’t get much better.

Next week I’ll tell you all about my sixth place finish in the GS in Semmering, Austria!

Happy Holidays to everyone at home and have a very happy New Year!

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