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Thursday, January 27, 2011

To clear the air,

Yesterday, I was named to the U.S. World Championships Team in Garmisch, Germany next month, which is cool. However, if you look closely there are 5 GS skiers named (Ted, Bode, Tim Jitloff, Tommy Ford, and myself). Ted and Bode have automatic starts there in GS. Since Jitloff and I didn’t score too many WC points so far this season (8 and 7, respectively), we do not have guaranteed starts in GS (Jit has a guaranteed start in Super Combined). After Hinterstoder World Cup GS, in early February they will make a decision on who will actually start. There are two spots up between the three of us. Hopefully that makes some sense.

This puts more emphasis on tomorrows Europa Cup GS here in Meribel, France and on Hinterstoder. Sasha wants to send whoever is skiing fastest going into the series so it will be a last minute call. I’ll keep you all posted.

We, Tommy Ford, Nolan Kasper, Colby Granstrom, and I, just drove from 10 hours from Schladming to France yesterday after watching probably the most intense race of the season. It’s a night-slalom with 50,000 drunk Austrians having a grand ole time. They had to put the race on hold multiple time because too many people were using flares on the side of the hill right when the best Austrians were on course. In one section it looked like a war zone. Nolan Kasper had a great second run to move from 29th to 12th. Chowder finished 22nd with a little trouble on the bottom second run and Ted finished 19th. The Swedes owned the day, with four of them in the top 7 and two on the podium (Myhrer and Hargin finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively). Jenns Byggmark won the second run and was absolutely killing it. He’ll be back on the podium after a three-year hiatus soon. He put up a facebook status of, “finished 7th at Swedish Nationals today!” right after the race. It was a fun race.

Earlier that day, a couple hours away I raced in a FIS race in Zell am See, Austria where I won first run and had a little trouble second run to finish 3rd. It was nice to get a couple extra starts in. Being a GS skier in January is somewhat painful trying to find FIS and Europa Cup races. The GS season is nearly over after New Year’s; there are only two more World Cup GS races this season, not including World Champs or Finals.

I slept in until 9:00 AM this morning and it was amazing. I haven’t slept that late since Christmas. I just had breakfast with Jon Olsson and now we’re going to hit the mountain. It’s a beautiful day here in Meribel, France so it’s time to get off the Internet and go skiing.

Hope all is well and thanks for all the congratulatory notes about World Champs.

Cheers, w

posted by Warner at 1/27/2011 04:26:00 AM (permanent link to this post) 0 comments

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adelboden, Switzerland is probably my favorite hill on the circuit. Alta Badia is cool too, but the rolls and last pitch at Adelboden are impressive and really fun to ski. Not to mention, the 29,000 people lining the course from top to bottom (this year was their biggest turn out on record).

The damn föhn wind is reeking havoc on the Alps right now. The föhn wind a warm, humid southerly breeze that comes off the Mediterranean Sea that brings warm weather and painfully destroys the snow in the Alps. And it’s been working hard for a week now. On Saturday – GS race day in Adelboden – the snow was spring conditions in the sun with temps in the 50s. Across most of the Alps it feels like an eastern January thaw, not sweet at all.

With these warm weather conditions, the organizers cancelled free skiing on the race hill and pushed back inspection to water down the hill and throw salt. During inspection we were told, if use your pole or ski to test how hard the snow is, you’ll be disqualified. Needless to say, they were very concerned about the snow conditions.

Sasha Rearick, head coach of the USST, set the first run. Dane referred to it as “the easiest set I’ve ever seen here.” To me it looked really good. There was some serious swing right out of the gate then 26 to 27 meters with swing to the bottom without anything crazy over the rolls. The night before the race, I trimmed up a nice mustache for the king of Adelboden, Michael Von Gruenigen, so I was fired up. I even got to say hi to the legend during inspection. Leif and I said hi to him. That dude is so sweet. And it turns out my mustache was somewhat of a hit over there as I swear lots of Swiss guys were hitting on me, not awesome. However, one did give me a nice knit hat he made hahaha seriously.

Before my run, I was going up the lift with Bode that goes directly over the piste. Hirscher was on course and there was already a grove. I look at Bode and said, “That’s no sweet. What number is Hirscher today?” He laughs and responds, “Exactly.”

It was time to get after it. I was up at the start listening to Huey yelling, heard the starter say 10 seconds. I slowly stepped into the gate taking my time because it seems like ages to reach the 5 seconds beep when you can push out. I waited until the allotted time, leaped out, and set up the first few two turns. On the third gate, I was a little back and a bit late, which set me up nicely to snap off some turns because it was either that or going out. The snow felt really good, way better than it looked and my set up was working well. I slid the top of the turn a couple times, but skied really well most of the way. I got a bit late coming onto Mike Day’s section on the flat before the final pitch and once again it set me up to snap off some nice turns. I came into the fall away, basketball turn without enough direction, but made it work. The final pitch is steep, really steep. I made two decent turns on it and then was able to let my skis run to the finish. I crossed the line pretty happy with my run. I looked over at the score board to see 31 next to my name. Noooo. That really sucks especially when you start 34. I ended up being 2 tenths of a second off qualifying. Only 2 guys outside of bib 30 made the second run (Bode and Goergl both have won World Cup GS’s and started 31 and 36, respectively). Everyone came down thinking they had a good run and couldn’t understand what happened. You wanted to yell at the timer, “fix it! Your timer is broken!!” Ted won first run and then in his second run he came over a roll on the upper middle section, got back and blew out. He skated back in the course to finish 28th. Not a great day for the Americans or TNT. Leif blew out and Jon Olsson made it to the bottom, but didn’t ski that well.

The next day, Will Brandenburg scored his first points in slalom, which was great to see. Will is a great slalom skier and definitely held back to make it through both runs, but he scored points and there will be more in his immediate future. Also, Dave Chodounsky a fellow college skier, scored for the first time in Zagrab on Thursday, which was also awesome to see. He is skiing really fast right now and it’s fun to watch. Actually, the entire US Men’s slalom team is skiing really well right now. Nolan Kasper had some trouble on the pitch and just missed qualifying.

John Teller an American from Mammoth, CA won a World Cup Skier Cross last weekend in St. Johan, Austria. Last year at this time, I did a little skier cross action and got to hang out with those guys. Teller was skiing really well - at this time a year ago - but he just didn't have the speed so it's great to see him and Nick Zoricic be 1st and 2nd in St. Johan. I've spent some time traveling with both of those guys so it's good to see them crushing their sport.

Well it’s nice to be back in Austria for a while. We’re in Patsch for at least a week and have quite a few Europa Cups lined up. It’ll be great to hammer out a bunch of races and some free skiing. Tomorrow I’m going to Kutai with Killian Albrecht to rip around. Apparently, the skiing isn’t terrible there.

Cheers, w

posted by Warner at 1/10/2011 08:01:00 AM (permanent link to this post) 3 comments