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Countless challenges at the Nationals GS
Monday, March 22, 2010

On our drive to the hill Terrance Fogarty, one of our hosts in Saranac Lake and course worker, sent me a text, “they are fire hosing and salting.” I read it to Dane and Jon and Dane responded with, “Man, that’s old school.” By the way, it was around 38 degrees out. Since I drew bib 1, I couldn’t have been happier. The worse the course, the better my advantage was so I was pumped. When we went up for inspection, the snow was terrible. It was absolutely bottomless. And they were getting ready to water the top.

After pushing the start back a few times and then lowering the start it still didn’t look promising. Frankly, I still can’t believe that we actually raced today. At 12:00 we were back up at the start, the organizers called for the forerunners, and just like that it was on. Before I knew it, I was in the gate and just couldn’t get my rhythm up top. I skied well in the middle of the course and took a pretty conservative line at the bottom not sure how the snow was going to hold up, but it was fine. The snow was surprisingly good. It was watered and salted and it kept raining on it so it became quite dense. David Donaldson came down after me into the lead and then Tommy Ford moved into the lead by 8 tenths. I was angry. I had an epic opportunity starting 1st and completely sucked. The snow was good, but starting 1 was definitely a huge advantage. I quickly had flashbacks of the last two times I raced GS on this hill. Two years in a row, I lost the Nor-Am title on this hill and I could not think of a single thing nice to say about it.

I stewed for a few hours. Talked to my personal coach, Cody Marshall, who told me to chill out, take a nap, and race for the money (there is prize money for the top 3). I took a nap. This is now day 6 in a row of racing so mentally and physically I was pretty cooked. I really didn’t think we’d have a second run. It took over two hours to get through the 87 starters. I was mid nap – at 2:20 – when I heard inspection was between 2:25 and 2:45 with a 3:00 start. So I throw on my wet clothing and hammered outside into the rain. I went up the lift alone each time stewing the entire lift ride. I inspected quickly; it was basically the same course moved to skiers right 3-5 feet, but had a bit more swing.

I then put some additive on my race skis because I knew I needed every possible advantage. As the race organizers continued to push back the start time, I just stood at the bottom of the hill under covered TV scaffolding staring down at my poles. A number of people came by and said hi, but I had nothing to say to them. I didn’t care who they were and I certainly didn’t want to talk to a single person. After I saw a couple forerunners ski the bottom section, I went up the lift to get some retribution. Up top I didn’t want to talk to anyone so I didn’t. I knew I didn’t have anything nice to say so I kept my distance. All I wanted was to annihilate this hill and course.

It was finally my turn to go, it was pouring rain, I pushed out of the gate, and immediately became a bit late on the upper section. Then I just pinned it all the way to the bottom. On the flats, I was going as far as a few feet inside the line and occasionally T-boning the rut, but kept it going. I crossed the line and won the run. I ended up finishing 2nd behind Tommy Ford and ahead of Chris Frank. They’re both great guys and it was fun to be on the podium with them. Dane finished 5th and Jon finished 6th. I was pretty impressed with how I was able to harness my anger and disappointment. It’s certainly not the most fun way to ski, but occasionally it’s the best or only option. The only other time I was remotely fast on this hill I felt and skied it the exact same way.

Now it’s time to get some rest and go to the best ski race of the season, the Cochran’s “Thank God for Snowmaking Race.” It’s way past my bedtime.

Before I go, I have to thank the organizers and the course workers for all of their diligent work today. There determination pulled off a miracle today.

Good night. w

posted by Warner at 3/22/2010 10:11:00 PM


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