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A new season, a tough beginning

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Welcome to a new season of World Cup racing. The season is already underway and the excitement is new and fresh.

Last week we saw our first race of the year in Soelden, Austria, and the Canadians had a bit of a rough start.

Every year it proves to be a difficult race – the snow conditions are challenging, the hill is challenging, and everyone wants to see how he or she will race against the others. The tension is high because everyone, coaches, athletes and sponsors, want to see who will perform.

I went into the race with full confidence and a strong feeling.

Unfortunately, the women’s team came out of that race with a much different feeling, but that won’t determine how our season is going to be, I can assure you of that!

Let me first take you back to how we prepared for the season and the opening race. I spent the month of October in Pitztal, Austria where the team and I trained on some tough giant slalom, slalom and super G courses. Both the technical team and the speed team trained together, which was a first for us this summer.

We have acquired a new women’s team head coach, Stephan Kurz, who will also be the middle guy between the technical and speed team. What this means for someone like myself who races mostly technical events is that I will now have the opportunity to also train for speed events regularly. We will most likely be training more and more together with the speed team for the upcoming season, which helps the athletes who need both speed and technical attention. This will benefit team members like Genevieve Simard, Gail Kelly and Emily Brydon who race in all disciplines.

Bringing the two groups together will also benefit the whole team by building team spirit, something that will show in our results. I am excited about this new direction and have enjoyed working with our new head coach.

Prior to Pitztal, the women’s technical team was at Saas Fee, Switzerland for two and half weeks of training on the glacier there. We were a small group, just Allison Forsyth, Gail Kelly and myself with Jim Pollock and Matt Kerr, the World Cup technical team coaches. We had excellent training conditions, and for the most part excellent weather. The odd windstorm passed through closing the glacier but that was about all.

I felt strong on my skis all summer and feel the strength I’ve gained working out in the gym is giving me an edge on my skis. It takes years to develop your technique and power in the weight room, and this season I definitely feel my strongest.

I am very happy with my summer; I think mostly because I was able to spend the majority of it at home here in Whistler, which is always a good thing.

Last week at the first race, things changed a little for me.

I had a strong first run and was ranked 11 th going into the second run. I was happy with my first run but not completely satisfied; I knew I could ski faster.

In the second run however, I didn’t finish because of a problem in my knee. I ended up tearing the medial cartilage in my right knee and had to pull off of the course – not a great way to end the day, or to start the season!

I have since been to the doctor and went in for a scope in Squamish, and things are now healing. The injury will put me out for a couple of weeks, but I will be back on snow as soon as I am ready.

This injury is a challenge that I did not expect to be dealing with, but it won’t hold me back. It has simply given me the opportunity to catch up on my movies over the last week!

Injuries of any kind aren’t easy, even something as small as a sprained ankle, but I think that I have been able to stay strong through this one. I’ve learned from past injuries that things heal, and with time and hard work they can even get a lot stronger.

The next World Cup race is at the end of this month in Park City, Utah, one of my favourites. I am looking to be back for the race but won’t be pushing things.

Until then I’ll be training just as hard and thinking about my skis and the snow. Mental power, it can overcome anything.

The rest of the girls will be there and our men’s team also, who have also come off of a great training season. We have a lot to look forward to.

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