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Croatians and the TT (Solden time trial)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The last few days training with the Croatians have been pretty entertaining. They are totally sweet and outrageously hardcore.

We went up a couple days ago to ski and it was miserable. It was dumping snow, zero degrees Fahrenheit, and windy. When the visibility was good you could see two GS gates and when it wasn’t – and the snow was sticking to your goggles – you were lucky to see the next gate right after you passed each one. We had taken a few runs slipping the course and running the lower section, where we were down to the black and blue glacial ice so you could actually what we were skiing on. The next lap we arrived to the top and one of the Croatians coaches said, “You have the same number as yesterday. Do you remember what it was?” My initial thought was what is he talking about there is no way we’re running – or “driving” as they say – from the top in this weather. But I kindly responded with, “Sound good. I’m number 20.” And just like that we were timing in these conditions. It was completely hilarious. On the next T bar ride laughing almost the entire way with Thomas Erhard, our coach here, I decided that this next run when we could still see absolutely nothing and the course was in terrible shape I was going to screw with these guys and go full strip. I was totally psyched with my plan to be more hardcore than the outrageously hardcore Croatians and as I pushed over to the start I saw two of them lined up just wearing their GS suits. Those bastards beat me to it. I ended up taking two runs fully stripped and then shutter down. By then, every other team was off the mountain and we were only allowed to load every third T bar (which didn’t matter because no one was there) because the lefties were nervous the lift would break since copious amounts of snow were sticking to each T bar.

Needless to say, skiing with the Croatians is great. Ivica Kostelic is one of the best skiers in the world and they’re happy to have extra bodies to beat up the course and make it more challenging. Seriously, they’re happy about it. Totally awesome.

Today was the time trail (TT). It was between my friend and only teammate of this season Dane Spencer, which turns out to be pretty brutal. Since Bode is not going to race Solden and Jimmy Cochran didn’t want to race it, there was an extra spot for someone from the U.S. ranked in the top100 so the ski team let Dane and me (the only other two guys in the US with a world rank under 100 that is not racing) hold our own time trial for the spot. Originally, we were both going to have to drive all the way to Saas Fee – 7 hours from here – to compete in a TT. The ski team set the format best 2 runs combined out of 3. Originally after our three TT the winner would be able to stay and train with the national team, while the loser would be sent home. So Thomas Erhard our savior talked to Sasha and convinced him it didn’t make much sense to send us all the way over there for three runs when both of us are here.

When we woke up this morning our day consisted of us being completely silent to each other for the entire time we scrapped our skis, the drive to the mountain, and most of the three gondolas to the top. It felt like eternity. Before we reached the top, I said to Dane whatever happens today it’s great that both of us are still skiing and I’m really psyched for this season. He agreed and it was nice to break through the painful silence of the last two hours.

We reached the course and the Croatians were almost done testing skis. They mentioned that the snow was pretty soft so we slipped down, took two free runs, and it was game time. I went first since my points are slightly better. I sat in the start, went through my routine, rubbed my knees, got my legs active, focused on bending my ski at the top of the turn, and pushed out of the gate. The Croatians weren’t kidding there were some big holes, but I put down a pretty solid run on the top and really nailed the line coming onto the flats. It looked like I over skied it because everyone else’s line was inside mine, but I was able to pressure my ski at the top of the turn and release it where everyone else had a high edge angle. I got to the bottom and had the fastest run of the day. My next two weren’t quite as good and none of them felt very good except for coming onto the flats in my first run.

Thomas Erhard brought over the results and my first and last runs combined were about two seconds faster than Dane’s so in a few days I’m off to the World Cup Season Opener in Solden, Austria.

It hasn’t quite set in, but I’m just psyched to still be skiing and ready for whatever comes.

posted by Warner at 10/20/2009 07:48:00 AM


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