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Damn bolts.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sunday was a crazy, hectic day.

The Dodge guys came over for the Hinterstoder World Cup as it was the same week as ISPO, an international trade show in Munich. They came over with a set of new cuffs that I used for the free ski day and was pretty happy with the way they felt. I decided to use them for the race because I had a nice feeling with the newer, crisper cuff that was a bit more reinforced. I took a few runs before the race and when I got to the start one of the bolts fell out. One of the Head boot start technicians, Bartala, noticed it and we immediately went into full panic mode at the start.

I’ve had this problem one other time without the bushing on the side of the boot and when this happens you might as well quit while you’re ahead and not even push out of the gate. That bushing is one of two main contact points that transfers the pressure from your ankle into your skis. Without it you have no canting, no power, and no chance. The first thing that came to my mind was, “Awesome. This is a perfect time to be totally screwed.” This race only decides who gets to race World Champs next week. I immediately redlined and was so angry knowing it was my fault; I don’t like to put lock-tight onto the bolts because I often change them and hate drilling them out when they’re locked in.

We had 10 minutes to find a solution. I fought off the anger and disappointment and tried to make good decisions in full panic mode. The Bartala was running around looking for a bolt that would fit. Since he’s a Head technician and I’m on Dodge boots he didn’t have anything that fit. I was running around doing the same asking Rossi techs and pretty much anyone close to me. We couldn’t find anything. Bartala had a couple really long binding screws he was trying to stuff in there haha. We started taking bolts off of the buckles – they didn’t fit that well – but at this point it was clear perfection wasn’t an option. He put the buckle bolt into place and it looked like I had a chance. He packed up his tools and said, “Good luck!” I did a couple little runs and was fired up. We had 4 minutes until my start. I look down and it didn’t work at all. Now the bushing was gone. Our level of sucking was outrageously high. I yelled over to the Bartala. A few of us, ran around and found the missing bushing in the snow. I think it was Robi Horvat, the USST tech for Tommy and Jitloff, that found it in the snow.

We were 3 minutes from the start when I asked him to take the bolt off the back of the cuff, which I knew would work. There are two bolts that hold the back of the cuff in place, but to have it on the bushing was way more important. He pulled it off. Heuy, the US Team start guy that is a professional yeller, looked at me and said, “You have to start worrying about what you need to do on the course and let them work.” Then he goes back and starts yelling for Bode as he leaps out of the gate. Bode starts 31 and I started 33 so there was exactly one minute 20 seconds before we were going to sink or swim. Bartala finished screwing my bushing in at about one minute out. I ask him to tighten up the rest if they’re loose and I’m in the gate. It’s go time!!!

I took a couple deep breaths, knew I had a chance, and spring out of the gate. The top section of the course is steep and rugged. Ted gave us a grest course report that we could arc the entire pitch so that’s what I was trying to do. I immediately was late running the latest line on the hill. I kept it going by mostly pressuring in the fall line, but damn it felt bad. Somehow I was 11th on that top split. I came onto the flat with a lot of speed off the pitch so that was good. On the flats, I skied pretty well and lost some speed right in front of Mike Day on a long right-footed under gate. I kept fighting and was exhausted at the bottom, but I knew I needed to snap off a few good turns into the finish. Hinterstoder is a painfully long course so you’re legs are completely immersed with lactic acid at the bottom. I crossed the line ready to see myself 4 or 5 seconds off the pace after the cluster at the start and the painful skiing on the pitch. Miraculously, I was in 21st, a little over 2 seconds off the pace. My immediate response was that couldn’t be right as my anger started subdued. I watched a few more guys come down and realized there was a very good chance I was going to have a second run (only the top 30 move onto second run). In the finish, I watched Tim Jitloff, bib 48, blow out four gates before the finish a good bottom split away from qualifying. That was a bummer for Jit. Then Tommy and I gave a course report to Biesemeyer and Nolan Kasper, but they both had some trouble. Ted, Bode, Tommy Ford, and I qualified for second run.

In between runs, the Dodge guy took the boots and put them back together, while I put some Podium additive onto my skis. There isn’t much time in between runs when you qualify so before I knew it I was back at the start to see Bartala and give him a big hug. He totally saved my day.

Second run, was much tighter with more swing. I pushed out of the gate and once again was immediately late. I didn’t keep it going quite as well as first run. Coming onto the I was behind the course and tried to lay it over, but it was on the only slick, icy gate on the course. I went onto my hip, but was able to pop back up quickly. Then I did it again on the next gate. With some more anger flowing, I went as straight as possible to the bottom trying to make up some time. I didn’t make up any time and ended up finishing 26th a little less than two and a half seconds off the pace.

Bode had a banner day. He made a big mistake both runs just before the finish, but finished 9th, his best performance of the season in GS. It was good to see him making good GS turns again. Ted finished 13th and Tommy Ford finished 19th. Right after the race, I drove with Jitloff to Innsbruck, which was a pretty silent ride for the first leg. By the end of it, we were both ready to party in Innsbruck and watch the Super Bowl, which we did until 4:30 when the Packers clinched the game.

Yesterday – one day after the race – I got a call from Sasha and the nod to race in the World Champs GS. I’m pretty psyched. This season I didn’t have any goals. None. I really loathe big performance goals. I really wanted to race in the Olympics last year and that didn’t work out so qualifying for World Champs, which is basically the same just the wrong year feels pretty damn good. Life isn’t about going to World Champs or getting married; it’s about the journey and being able to walk around with a smile knowing you’ve done you’re best. I much prefer my new strategy, it keeps me way more satisfied with whatever I’m dealt, and it seems to be working.

I’m off to Mt. Pora tomorrow. Jon is picking me up on his way thru Innsbruck then I’m going to meet up with the ski team to get ready for World Champs.

Keep smiling, I am. W

P.S. Hank McKee has a dark horse prediction article for World Champs that references Zorro when he talks about me. Hahaha. You can check it out here: http://skiracing.com/?q=node%2F9344

posted by Warner at 2/08/2011 01:18:00 PM


Anonymous Sven said...

Warner - what a day! Only in skiing, ...

Sometimes that is just what you need to get really fired up. Glad you made into the second run AND to Garmisch! So cool, ...

Now only Jon from Team TNT is missing in the Garmisch races - or is he racing?

Keep it coming


6:53 PM  
Blogger Warner said...

yeah Jon is the only core member of TNT not on the start list. The Swedes really like to keep their team small and limit their athletes experiences to when they have a good chance of being on the podium, not sure why. Seems a little silly to this guy.

8:16 AM  
Blogger escobarpeg said...

Congratulations on pulling through and even more on going to the World Championships!

1:05 AM  

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