Good-bye Europe, hello Canada 

My season in Europe has come to a close. As I sit here in the airport lounge in Frankfurt on my way back to Canada, I feel both excited to be getting home and at the same time sad that the season in Europe has come to an end.

The World Cup season will still be wrapping up next week with the finals in Sestrieres, Italy, but for myself the rest of the season will be in North America. It has gone by quickly but has also felt long at times.

It is now the time when I can start to look back on my season, learn from it and begin to plan for my training season. Although there are still a bunch of races to go, including the Nor Am finals in Collingwood, Ontario and the Pontiac GMC Cup national championships in Quebec City I am already thinking about a spring and summer training plan so that I can enter the next season at my peak.

This season has proven to be one of great moments and not so great moments. And, not only have I had great moments, the team has had great moments as well.

One to mention came two weeks ago in Are, Sweden in the women’s giant slalom race where we qualified five girls for the second run. It was history being made. Jim Pollock, our head coach, set the course for the first run – his first ever World Cup set. It was a highlight to be able to ski a course set by our coach, and for our team to be the only nation with five girls in the second run. How’s that for a strong giant slalom team!

Since the races in Sweden I have been doing some Europa Cup races where we also scored top rankings. In one race we had three girls in the top six, and out of three giant slalom races we won two and had a second place finish in the third. It is really exciting to be with a team that has so much strength in every race we enter. The wins were by Sophie Splawinsky and Genevieve Simard.

The men have also been keeping busy, racing both Europa Cup and World Cup over the past couple of weeks. The majority of them will now be heading to Mont Tremblant for the Nor Am finals where several of them are fighting for overall titles. A title will give the winner a spot on the World Cup circuit for next season, allowing for more Canadians to start in each of the World Cup events.

Before I leave you for this week, I have one final event to report on and it goes by the name of the "Miss Europa Cup" competition.

I reported on this event a couple of years ago and was back there again for it this past week. It is held in St. Sebastian, Austria every year.

St. Sebastian is a gorgeous little area about an hour west of Vienna, and they know how to put on a good show. The night starts with the day’s Europa Cup awards ceremonies, which are followed by a bid draw of the top 15 ranked girls for the next day’s race. There are several little juts serving Gluhwein (a hot drink made with red wine and other spices) and Kaiserschmarren (an Austrian dish made of pieces of pancake with a plum sauce on top). There are fire pits to keep warm and then there’s the show. Each nation, at random is called up to perform on stage for the crowd. There aren’t many rules either, you just have to get up there and try.

The Austrians won this year with their skit of a traditional yodeling song. The two girls that went up had these awful dresses on and a few of their teeth blacked-out with black eyeliner. They didn’t have any background music as they danced and yodeled up on stage.

As for the Canadians, we also decided to go for a traditional Canadian dance. It’s called the "line dance". We went up there, called up some of the FIS organizers of the races and taught them how to line dance. Well we tried. We had a great time, and finished in a close fourth place – just off the podium!

It was a great year in Europe. I am looking forward to the next races in Canada and I am excited for a little rest after that.

Look for the results at the upcoming World Cup finals where Genvieve Simard, Emily Brydon, Allison Forsyth and Thomas Grandi will be racing in the technical and speed events.

All the best and keep on watching.

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