Journeys through Europe 

Since I last wrote from the World Cup races in Bormio, Italy, the women’s World Cup technical team has been on the go. This past weekend we had a World Cup giant slalom in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, but between races we had almost two weeks of down time.

I will come back to our results from the weekend, but the interesting stuff is what happened between the two World Cup races.

We started with a couple of days training at a little hill not far from Bormio, called Santa Catarina. It was just the Canadians and the Croatians training, and it was great!

I also had the chance to ride the world’s longest Poma lift! At least that’s what it felt like. It was a good 30 towers long, and it wasn’t the only one on the hill; there were Poma’s everywhere.

The food at the hotel was also amazing, you couldn’t ask for anything better. I wouldn’t want to stay much longer than a couple of days because I knew I would be leaving with an extra 10 pounds on my waist. For example, dessert was a full buffet of the best Italian desserts complete with a self-serve gelato ice cream freezer. One of the coaches ate a record nine desserts in one night! What more can I say?

From there we travelled a little further north to a place called Ratschings, which is in the Sudtirol area of Italy, close to the Austrian border. Here we raced in four FIS races, two giant slaloms and two slaloms.

The U.S women’s team was also there so the competition was strong. This proved to be a very interesting hill as it offered a lot of different terrain and was high in the alpine and clouds so the visibility was not great.

It definitely challenged our inspection skills; to ski fast you had to know where you were going and half the time you couldn’t see anything. Kind of like Whistler on some days.

In both GS races I finished first, with Genevieve Simard finishing second. We were hoping for a podium sweep!

On both days of the GS I was leading after the first run and was the 13 th racer down on the second run. It isn’t easy being the leader and holding the lead in the second run to win the race. No matter what level of race you are in, be it World Cup, NorAm, Europa Cup or F.I.S, the pressure is still on you to perform.

As I stood in the start for those second runs, holding the lead and wanting to win, I was nervous. There were a lot of strong competitors in the race who could be very fast but I had to believe that I could be faster and just focused on what I needed to do.

These races were a good opportunity for me to practice my race focus. The intensity is still just as high but the pressure is a bit lower than it would be at a World Cup event. Everything is a bit more relaxed. That is what I try to carry into future World Cup events.

Our team plan was to run these races without a lot of pressure to give every skier on the team an opportunity to practice our race plan both on-course and off-course.

After the races we enjoyed a couple of days rest in Innsbruck, Austria before heading to Cortina. And of course the girls did some shopping, making my bags even heavier than they already are. Maybe I could lighten the weight of my bags by getting rid of some ski stuff!

In Cortina the women’s team had some great results starting with our first podium finish of the season with Melanie Turgeon taking third in the super-G event. In the GS, Allison and Genevieve posted some solid results finishing eighth and 13 th respectively.

I on the other came down with a case of the flu and couldn’t do much. My energy was low and my body just didn’t want to deliver any strength. I can’t stand being sick! But sometimes there just isn’t anything you can do about it. I am getting better now and looking forward to the next race this weekend in Maribor, Slovenia. I am also looking forward to a week of rest at home right after the races. It’s about time. The travel and racing has been great but home is home and I’m ready for a break!

Be sure to watch out for the men’s side also. In the downhill Eric Guay is closing in on the faster boys every race. In the technical events Julien Cousineau is doing more than just closing in on the faster boys, he’s playing with them! It’s great to see them doing well; it elevates the spirit and the atmosphere of the whole team.

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