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I'm ready to go home.
Friday, September 17, 2010

The last week and change can be described as a challenge. Weather has been our greatest friend at times this camp, but during the last week it’s been our nemesis. Sean and I drove up to Mt. Hutt – a four hour drive – a day early to race slalom due to a weather scheduling change. At the start super coach, Sean McKenna, said, “You better either win or blow out.” This pro bono coach was not amused with the three hours of delay and the pelting rain at the start. We had been waiting there for 20 minutes letting the wetness permeate our bodies before they finally started the men’s race. I looked down the hill wondering what I was doing in the start. Pushed out of the gate charging and as it turns out going a bit too straight on the steep section. A few gates later the all out tactic turned into failure as I blew out. I think I made it six gates. Damn it. On our drive up there, I was thinking I could have done pretty well. I guess I followed Sean’s inspirational speech. Thanks buddy. As I was standing on the side race course with Sean, he said, “Mission accomplished.” We stood there to watch a few other guys and watched Max Hammer squeegee his goggles twice during his run. His squeegee tactic was really impressive.

The next three days we hung out around Hutt waiting for the final GS of the ANC season. They decided that super combined (a run of SG and a run of slalom) was a higher priority so we watched them ski two days of that while Jon and I free skied waiting for the GS. The last day they decided to run GS. We were psyched there was one more opportunity for Jon to score a 9 or better. We had a bet going that if he scored a 9 or better Team TNT (Team Team No Team) is flying to the desert for a three day all-inclusive trip with Red Bull passes to the Abu Dabia Formula1 race in November. Game on. Unfortunately, the race was cancelled due to gale force winds they never even ran the lifts it was blowing so hard. Jon was incredibly bummed since he only came up for the GS as for me at least I had 6 gates of slalom.

Once we arrived back in Queenstown it was jump time. Spending a couple extra days at Hutt certainly didn’t help the jump program. During the last couple weeks Jon was having Treble Cone Ski Resort build a massive kicker for him to hopefully do a triple flip. We were at TC on Monday and Tuesday for 6 hours shaping the jump and the wall of the landing, while two cats pushed snow onto the landing. Shaping is a nice way to say shoveling. We were shoveling and trimming up the sides of the jump and wall of the landing to make it smooth to look good for filming. The jump is sixty-five feet from the take off to the wall another 15 feet to the landing, but the landing is12 feet high than the takeoff making it a step up jump, a huge step-up jump. The idea is that step up jumps make the downward landing speed quite slow so that it’s less painful to land on the body. Wednesday was our first big window to hit the kicker with weather.

We flew up to the jump via helicopter at 6:30 AM with hopes of hitting it right away during the sunrise. However, there was work that needed to be down to the take off and some shoveling – that’s where Sean and I came in – on the transition over a cat track. Everything was taking forever.

After spending all morning with around 250 people watching, 10 filmers, a few photographers, and about 20 people working for the mountain in ski patrol, crowd control, cat drivers, and snowmobile drivers, all the three jumpers – Colby West, PK Hunder, and Jon Olsson – did was test the in run for speed. With the slow fresh snow, their slow twin tip skis, and their ridiculously baggy clothing, it was a question of whether or not they were going to clear the wall. It looked like they were close; however if any of them hit it, it would have been a question whether or not they would have made the gap. Nothing happened.

The highlight was definitely the chopper ride. And hanging out with the most sarcastic guy I have ever met, Paul Ripka, a big time German fashion photographer. He’s been living with us for the last six days and when he arrived all he could talk about was “how our lives are so blessed to be down here doing this.” After two days of shaping, no one hitting the jump, and hanging out as a storm the size of Australia hits New Zealand all he can do is swear and talk about “how cool and awesome it is to hang out down under” in a hilarious German accent. He left our apartment for the first time in 48 hours today. The weather down here is terrible. It’s dumping and extremely windy all day. For this jump the weather has to be perfect. The snow needs to be hard so the athletes can make it to the landing. The backdrop needs to be perfect so there can’t be any clouds in the sky. Not to mention, there can’t be any wind so that they aren’t blown into the wall or to outer space. This brings relying on the weather to a new level. Usually they get a jump built and give themselves a two week window to hit it. Here we have three days left with mostly gale force winds expected, awesome. There is a chance there will be a clearing tomorrow so we have our fingers crossed.

On a positive note, I have been hot boxing our skis (leaving waxed skis in a box at 60 degrees Celsius for hours to permeate the bases with wax) at Tim Kafe’s house. And there is a pretty good blog in ski racing by Greg Neddell about scoring 6 points: http://www.skiracing.com/?q=node/1864.

I’m ready to go home. See you all soon I hope. w

This is a pic of Sean and the jump while we were waiting for the clouds to clear out.

posted by Warner at 9/17/2010 10:12:00 PM


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