Where’s winter? 

While the snow was falling in Whistler over the holidays, here in Europe the temperatures have been mild and it’s been raining. Where is the snow, and when is it coming?

Unfortunately, in the sport of Alpine skiing we rely on the snow. There isn’t any racing without it, or we end up racing in the same areas.

Race organizers have been working as hard as they can to get the races off – when a World Cup race is cancelled, money is lost. FIS officials also assess all options before cancelling an event.

In middle-Europe, the hills are bare. There hasn’t been any snow in over a month. Races on the World Cup circuit are being cancelled and rescheduled to areas where there is snow available – and even then the snow is generally only on the race course. At times like this, when the World Cup race schedule is constantly changing, it can be very difficult and stressful for the coaches to plan a back-up schedule that will best prepare us, and keep us ready to race. But sometimes there is nothing that can be done – you just has to go with the flow.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, the World Cup schedule took us to Semmering, Austria for giant slalom and slalom races. The race course was in great shape because it had been cold enough for the organizers to make snow. The training run was a different story.

As race day arrived, temperatures went up and the snow on the training hill disappeared. We could only free-ski on the morning of the race, jumping over the patches of rocks. Our ski technicians weren’t too happy at the end of the day!

On the race day it wasn’t easy to find my race feeling, but I’ve learned over the last couple of years that this can happen and you have to be able to deal with any situation and make the best of it.

For example, before arriving for the races in Semmering, the word amongst the coaches was that the races in Berchestgaden, Germany Jan. 4 and 5 might be cancelled for – you guessed it – the lack of snow. It was also understood that the races would not be rescheduled to another area or a later date.

This put the pressure on the coaching staff to come up with an alternative plan. Coaches from all the different teams were collaborating on possibilities and by the end of the giant slalom race we had tickets booked for Norway, with plans to train for 10 days after New Year’s with the Scandinavian teams.

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