On the (snowy) road again 

Janyk challenged not by Prague ski hills, but by Czech roads

I write to you this week from my hotel in the Czech Republic. We have traveled here through Prague and will have two World Cup races here at a small hill in Spindelruv. A few years ago we had races scheduled here at the same time of year, but they didn’t have any snow so the races were moved. This year it’s a different story.

I arrived in the Czech Republic from Austria, after skiing in two Europa Cup slalom races. The drive took seven hours after those races, in some pretty gnarly weather, before we finally arrived in Prague for the night. I mean it’s not everyday a ski racer gets to spend a night in Prague!

That next day, with a few hours to myself, I took the metro downtown with a few of the girls from the U.S. team and we did a little sightseeing. Prague is absolutely gorgeous. Because we only had a few hours we moved fast, took lots of pictures and now we can say that we have seen the city! As luck would have it we even found a little café that served bagels – toasted. Boy, was that a find in Europe.

Later that day we continued on our journey and the drive was much the same as the day before, with small roads, snowy conditions and even smaller roads! On the map most of these roads are "autobahns" (highways) but that is definitely not the case – there are NO passing lanes or even a shoulder.

I left Austria in a snowstorm and arrived here in Spindelruv to another snowstorm. As I look out my window in the hotel right now, the day before the GS race, all I see is a whole lot of white. If the race is cancelled this year it won’t be for a lack of snow. Maybe because there’s too much!

So far so good for everywhere in Europe as far as snow – something my mother tells me is needed in Whistler.

We trained earlier today and had freeskiing on the race hill and the conditions were quite soft.

The men were racing in Kranska Gora for their final technical races before the Christmas break last week and I hope that they had better race conditions than we have here. Of course I am keeping my eye on my brother.

Last weekend in Val Gardena and in Alta Badia our men’s team had some very strong results. Eric Guay had two podium finishes in the speed events and Francois Bourque had a podium in the GS! And, to top it off on the women’s side Emily Brydon had her first podium in super G, and two other girls finished in the top 10. But, I’m sure that all of you read about those results.

The energy right now around the women’s team is really good and I’m sure it is the same on the men’s side. Each one of us believes more and more that we can stand on top of the podium, in any discipline. I know I believe it.

Although my results have not been there recently, my confidence is growing everyday. The races in Aspen were disappointing for me, but I learn and I move on. It has helped to have the support of my coaches and that of my teammates.

My coaches have always been behind me 100 per cent and that has meant a lot. In the last few weeks I have been watching a lot of video, analyzing what needs to be better in my skiing and have been talking with my sports psychologist. It is important to use all of the tools available to me, every day.

This sport, as is the case with all sports, we always need to be looking for how we can be better or how we can do something differently, if needed.

The next stop for us will be a brief Christmas holiday in Italy before going to the races in Lienz, Austria on the 28 th and 29 th of December. I will be spending the holidays in a small town near Cortina D’Ampezzo called St. Vigillio and we will probably be training on the 24 th and 25 th this year. Such is the life of a ski racer.

Anyways, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year filled with lots and lots of snow as we are having here in the Czech Republic. See you in 2006.

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