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Val D'Isere, Alta Badia, and home.
Monday, December 27, 2010

Good morning to all,

Newport, RI - I just woke up from a deep sleep realizing it was time to finally get out an update. I was recently told that according to my blog I’m still in France, which is unfortunate because it feels like I haven’t been in France for eons.

There are a few things I need to go over.

  1. After scoring points in Beaver Creek, I created another spot for the US so that essentially I have my own spot to start in every World Cup GS for the rest of the season. Since I plan to score more I don’t need to get into the details of how that works.

  1. I have been working in with the USST and I’m really happy with it. I didn’t rent a car over there on my last trip and just traveled with the ski team, which was great because I would have gone crazy alone (I traveled alone around Europe after Roger Brown, my 2007-2008 teammate, blew out his knee and I definitely started going crazy). It was also nice because I saved some money. I’m getting along really well with all the coaches and athletes. Mike Day has turned out to be a great head coach as he is really open and supportive of my role within the group. Having Dane Spencer around feels like I have my own personal coach on the hill. It’s really sweet. Right now the ski team has a great group of supporting coaches and a really fun group of supportive athletes. It actually feels like a team when we’re all together. I’m really happy with how it’s working.

Val D’Isere, France: a terrible place to ski race, but a great place for après ski is the conclusion most of us GS guys came to.

I talked to Eric Schlopy yesterday and he called the current race hill at Val D’Isere “a miserable hill that should never be on the tour.” In 2008 he pulled out halfway down the course and retired. It’s a very painful hill. For me it went like this, I pushed out of the gate, hammered out about 6 or 7 arcs skiing ok on the upper flat. Then I rolled onto the pitch and didn’t arc another single turn until the last gate. I was skiing down hoping that it wasn’t as bad as it felt and when I crossed the finish line I quickly realized that hope was not the same as reality. I sucked and had no chance of qualifying.

However, there were two cool parts to the series. Jon Olsson got his first start, which meant that I had two athletes in the race since I’m his technician. It was really cool to see how psyched he was to be racing and frankly he totally killed it. He was on track to qualify before he got tired and in his words, “Couldn’t stand up any more.” As for me, I wasn’t tired at all. When you don’t pressure your ski you get to the bottom and feel like nothing happened and that’s when you know just how hard you’re sucking. And Ted blew the field away to won by 1.05 showing that he could win on two very different hills in two very different conditions, it was very impressive to watch.

Alta Badia, Sudtirol, Italy

Before Alta Badia we trained in Paganella, Italy at the US Ski Teams training center, where Ben Black injected the hill with water while we were in Val D’Isere. Ben did a great job. The ice came out perfect it was like pond ice most of the way down, which was exactly what Alta Badia was like. We knew we were ready for the race.

After inspection, I went in the gondola with Massimiliano Blardone, an Italian that won last year. He drew bid 1 just like last year. The night before Ted and I were watching his runs getting fired up for the race and seeing him with bib 1 again you could tell he was ready to attack the track and claim another victory for Italy. I was up in the upper lodge when the race started– there is a very nice upper lodge/restaurant in Alta Badia where they have TVs showing the race – with most of the field. We watched Blardone hammer out of the gate and almost immediately have trouble with grip because it was so incredibly icy. He was sliding on half the turns and I immediately thought, I’m going to put a little extra hanger on my skis before I run (making my skis bite harder on the ice). After winning last year and being on the podium in Val D’Isere, Blardone ended up not even qualifying for second run.

It was game time for me and I was ready to punch it in there. I wanted to destroy the course. Huey the guy that’s always in the background yelling at Americans to go go go! Was right behind me going nuts. I was hitting my chest with my fist similar to good ole Will Brandenburg from second run in Levi. God I felt good. The starter said 10 seconds, I planted my poles looked around, and hammered out of the gate. As I was opening the wand, I looked over to see that the clock said 7 second on it. Each racer has a window of 10 seconds to start. The countdown is a series of 10 beeps starting at 5 seconds with a louder beep at zero. You can start anytime within the 10 beeps. I heard the first beep when I was starting my second push. You can only image the amount of curse words I was saying in my head not happy with my toddlers’ mistake. My thoughts were, “Should I even keep going, this is ridiculous, damn it I’m an idiot, I guess I should keep going, awhhhhhhhhhh. Noooo.” All I could think of was Tim Jitloff from last year getting disqualified for skiing all the gates correctly last year, but losing his ski on the second to last gate. But, I kept going and skied well up top (I was 23rd on the top split), and then I didn’t have too much grip and didn’t pressure my skis early on the lower steep (it’s a 60 degree pitch). There is one gate coming onto the flat that you have to nail if you want any chance of qualifying. I got there and nailed it, but it didn’t matter because I was too passive and slid too much on the last pitch. I crossed the line and told Bode about my start shenanigans and he said, “ahhh you should be alright.” It wasn’t very reassuring. All and all, it didn’t matter since I ended up finishing 37th on the run. @#$%. But I don’t think I was actually DQ’d.

The best performance of the day goes to fellow Team TNT member Leif Kristian Haugen who started 62 and finished 11th. It was great to see him soo incredible pumped to score his first points of the season and best result of his career. He looked like an overjoyed Viking in the finish after winning an epic battle. It was cool to watch. It was also nice to see Bode put together a solid first run and great to see Ted win his 3rd GS in a row. After that we packed up left pretty much everything in Munich and caught a flight home. Ted’s serviceman Alex was really nice to take all of my skis, tuning stuff, and bench to the Head factory to store if for the week we’re gone.

Back in America, my dad put on a little World Cup Points celebration, which was great to see a bunch of people that helped me along the way. It was really nice to give them something back after all their support emotionally and financially. I went to Attitash where I gave away my points for a day, made some changes to my Dodge boots in the Essex factory, and took a few runs at Gunstock on the 23rd. Every year we, a bunch of 603 hasbeens, terrorize the rock in a rat pack. We did two tuck runs to the bottom Chinese downhill style just before it closed. It was so fun to rip a few runs at the home mountain with a bunch of buddies. I’m in Newport now and back up north today before I fly back to Europe tomorrow. It was a short trip home, but totally worth it.

I booked my flight back about a week ago as a one-way ticket because I have no idea when I might be coming back to America we’ll see how that works out; but either way, I need to spend some time away.

Happy Holidays to all and I plan to update more often in the New Year.


posted by Warner at 12/27/2010 07:35:00 AM


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