Racing through the holidays 

If it's Tuesday this must be Austria

So far this trip I have been through four different countries and before the end I will have gone to another two. My teammate and I calculated that we would have no more than three nights in each hotel over the course of the month! Wow.

The trip started with two races in Austria and then it was off to the Czech Republic – for three nights. Then we drove, stopped in Munich for a night, and then went on to Italy for Christmas – also for three nights. We went back to Austria for the races in Lienz, three nights, and are now back in Italy training for another three nights. This stage of the season will end with two nights in Croatia, two in Slovenia, and our final night in Munich before flying home. I have a feeling I’ll be asleep for that entire flight.

Our trip has definitely been busy, but it’s also been full of excitement and, of course, racing. We spent the holidays in a beautiful town in Italy called St. Vigillio in the Sud-Tirol Region. It was a small town and we chose it because we could get in some great training.

Yep, that’s right, we trained all through Christmas. No trees, no presents, no family, just some old ski racing. It was excellent if not exactly festive – we had the whole run to ourselves and the turn-around between runs was less than 10 minutes. I’m glad we did it. I’m not sure I would do it every year but when you have races on Dec. 28-29, you’ve got to make a few sacrifices.

We did have some fun over Christmas in the form of a very interesting dinner. We discovered that sturgeon is a holiday delicacy in Italy, and that it’s a disgusting and unappetizing fish. I would not recommend it to anyone. It’s a long way from West Coast salmon and it really made me miss my mom’s home cooked turkey dinner.

After training from Dec. 24 to 27 we raced two days and were back in training on Dec. 30.

When we were training in Italy we had some excellent conditions, before we trained on the race hill at Lienz. The first day there we trained with Kristina Koznick of the U.S., making eight runs of a 40-second slalom course, and the next day we trained both slalom and GS with some American girls and Tanja Poutiainen of Finland. It was great to be out there training with some of the top girls and to gauge our times off of theirs. Both Brigitte Acton and myself were skiing fast, and we’re definitely pumped up for the next races.

We took off two days for New Year’s, which could have been relaxing if I didn’t choose to go freeskiing.

I went to visit some friends who live in a ski town in Austria not far from Flachau (the hometown of Hermann Maier) and decided to go up skiing for both days. It was great fun just to go out and ski for myself and not run any gates. Just by chance I was also invited to go paragliding. It was an awesome feeling. I was way up there, floating with the birds and feeling like one too.

Now the holidays have come and gone, and we’re into 2006. The next races coming up for Brigitte and myself are in Zagreb, Croatia and Maribor, Slovenia. Both should be great events.

The men’s technical team will be in Adelboden, Switzerland, and the speed teams, for now, are still on a break. Be sure to watch for Thomas Grandi returning to the podium after his medals at Kranskja Gora, and my brother Michael and the rest of his teammates.

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