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The Circus!

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Welcome to the circus, where the action is constant and where the race schedule is ever changing.

I call the World Cup circuit the "circus" because sometimes that’s what it feels like. We move from ski area to ski area constantly. We stay just long enough for a couple runs and put on a show for the crowd. Then, in a flash, each and every team is packed up and moving on, and it’s like we were never there. Stranger, we’re never really sure just where we’re moving to.

Here’s how our schedule has changed in just these short few weeks:

The women’s circuit was scheduled to race a slalom in Slovakia and a giant slalom and slalom in the Czech Republic, but because of a lack of snow in both areas the events were cancelled. The FIS organization then began to scramble to find new venues that would be able to hold the races.

The men’s circuit also struggled with some race changes and we have ended up in the same areas racing one after the other. When everything was finally decided the new schedule had us racing a giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy and then going to Madonna di Campiglio for two slalom races, on a Tuesday and Wednesday, which followed the men’s night slalom on the Monday.

The first make-up race held this past weekend in Alta Badia saw the woman racing on the Saturday and the men following on the Sunday. It was really exciting because for once we got to race a classic World Cup hill, a course that has only be raced by the women once before. We also got to be there to watch the men’s race.

Alta Badia is a classic race on the men’s circuit because it’s one of those hills that twists and turns down the mountain, never letting up. On the Sunday we went and watched our men race and, of course, the rest of the field too. As a racer it is always good to get out there and watch the top level in your sport – so much can be learned just taking the time to watch others ski!

Whether it’s live or on TV, or from a taped video, there is so much to be seen. I for one like to watch the intensity in the skiing of the other racers. Also, when you’re watching a race live you can see who runs the fastest line and who handles the tough sections and carries their speed the best.

By watching the other racers, I can take what I have seen and learned and use it to help me with my own skiing.

Today was a great example. We raced a slalom here in Madonna di Campiglio and unfortunately I, along with Allison and Emily, did not ski fast enough to qualify for the second run. I was of course disappointed, but there was no sense in taking it too hard. Instead, the girls went out and trained some more slalom gates and returned to watch the second run from the finish area. It gave us another chance to see the speed in the hill.

I also took the opportunity to watch the men’s night slalom the day before. The men are of course stronger and it is good to watch their powerful skiing. Tomorrow we race again on the same hill, and I’m thankful that I took the time to watch and learn more about the hill from the fast skiing in today’s race.

Since I have been in Europe with the team, we have stayed in five different hotels and skied at five different areas – and I only left home a week and a half ago!

The first stop was Davos, Switzerland for two days of training with the Finnish team and the Spanish team. It’s a beautiful ski resort in the Swiss Alps, definitely one of my favorites, and the training was great. We then traveled across the border to Italy, the land of al dante pasta, delicious "vino" and the beautiful Dolomites. I have been in Italy ever since: two days in Alta Badia, three days in Madonna di Campiglio, and a whole four days in Passo Tonale. Oh, and I forgot about a one night stay in a small Italian town before Alta Badia! You see, the fun never stops… well maybe the constant unpacking and packing isn’t always fun, but it’s always neat to see a new area.

We will have a few days off just before Christmas to enjoy the holidays and then it’s back to work for the races in Lienz, Austria on Dec. 27-28. I will be spending Christmas in Switzerland, so to everyone at home, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. From what I hear the snow is falling at home and Christmas will be white. Hmm. Maybe you could send a little of the white fluffy stuff over to this part of the world!

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