Going for Gold 

A new benchmark for Canada

The last two weeks have been very busy and there has been lots of racing to report on. The most obvious is from the women’s technical team, which as many of you may already know was off to a great start to the season at the World Cup giant slalom race last Thursday in Park City, Utah.

On that day the Canadian women had three girls finish in the top-25 – a great day for Canada and Canadian skiers!

But before I fill you in on the details of the Park City race, I should tell you how we got those results.

It all started at the beginning of the month with Nor Am races in Loveland (Nov. 13 to 17) and Winter Park, Colorado (Nov. 17 to 18).

Our goal at those races was to show that, as a team, we mean business and are in it to win. Some of the top World Cup racers had the same idea and were also entered in the Nor Ams – you probably recognize names like Janica Kostelic, Martina Ertl, and Karen Putzer, to name just a few.

My advantage over them was that I was starting in the top-15 based on my Nor Am results from the past season.

We had two days of GS racing and on both days I led the field after the first run. In the second run, the top-30 racers race in reverse order, which put me at the back of the pack and in the ruts of 29 other racers. As a result I didn’t win the giant slalom on either day, but I held my own in finishing second and fourth.

At the Winter Park Nor Am, I channeled my success in the GS into the slalom event and was able to finish 10 th overall – the top Canadian in the race. I was up against a tough World Cup field, but I was able to show my European competitors that they were up against me, too.

Those races gave me the confidence that I needed to believe that I am just as strong a skier and racer as any other girl out there.

That’s the feeling I took into the Park City races.

The toughest thing about a World Cup race is that you are always thinking about making the top-30 cut in the first run in order to get a second run. When you are starting out of the top 30 as I did (35 th position), it is very difficult not to have that as your focus.

On my first run at Park City I skied well in the GS, but not with the same confidence that I had skied at the NorAms. It was good enough to put me into 22 nd though, and that was exactly what I needed. If you don’t race your best run at every World Cup, there are 50 other girls on that start list who will, and that’s when you find yourself on the sidelines for the second run.

For my second run, I skied just like I did in the Nor Ams – believing that I owned the race. I posted the second fastest run and that put me in the winner’s circle until the last nine girls came down.

So you ask, what is it like to be in the winner’s circle and to watch and wait as the other racers come down?

Well it is very, very nerve-racking. I am generally a pretty calm and relaxed person but that had my heart going. I was watching every interval of every racer who came down after me.

But it was also very exciting and I know that the winner’s circle is the spot that I want to be in. That is the spot I will now strive for whenever I leave the start gate.

At the end of the race, a 10 th place finish in hand, I also realized that I didn’t do anything extra special to ski as fast as I did and that tells me that I will be able to do it on a consistent basis.

Final Canadian results, besides my 10 th place finish, were Allison Forsyth in eighth, and Genevieve Simard in 22 nd . A new benchmark for Canada!

We are now in Aspen and will race a slalom World Cup this Sunday. The speed team will start its season on Saturday with a super-G race.

So far this month we have been achieving our team goals and we are only getting stronger. Keep on watching and we will continue to race our hearts out and strive for our dreams.

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