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Go Michael!



Two weeks have gone by and in that time the North American World Cup races have wrapped up and circuit has moved on to Europe. I arrived a week ago after four quick days at home – well, my second home anyway.

I was shocked to arrive in Europe and find very little snow. Everything is man-made, and they’ve had almost zero natural snowfall in the last few weeks. Hmm. Maybe we should have continued on in North America!

But here we are, and we’re making do with what snow there is. I really only hope that there’s enough snow here around Christmas so I can get a few days of freeskiing.

As you read this I will be somewhere in Italy racing and training. Some of the women are in Val d’Isere, France, the men’s speed team is at Val Gardena, Italy, and others are racing in Italy as well. The next race for me will be in St. Moritz, Switzerland on Dec. 21, a giant slalom. I have been training all week preparing for that race but on Monday I got to watch my brother qualify in his first World Cup slalom ever. It was so exciting!

The race was in Sestrieres, Italy and the first run went at 3 p.m. We watched Thomas Grandi in his first run, but the coverage cut off after Bib 37 so we didn’t see any of the other Canadians.

The second run started at 6:15 p.m. and at this point I still didn’t know my brother had qualified for a second run. One of the first guys to run was Bib 72 – a really high start number for a World Cup, and a long shot to qualify for a second run. A tingle ran up my spine. I thought if this racer had qualified, maybe Michael had too.

That racer crossed the finish line and the cameras moved back to the start hut. There he was, my little brother, 24 th after his first and he was second racer out of the gate, wearing bib 53. He skied so strong and fast – I am slightly biased in this as you can understand – but it was so great to see him really going for it.

All of the other girls was glued to the television, intent on seeing where Michael and Thomas (Grandi) would finish overall after 28 more racers came down the course.

All of us were shamefully negative, yelling at the other skiers to falter in some way, feeling our Canadian pride.

It turned out we didn’t need to worry. Michael was 16 th and Thomas 13 th .

Now Michael knows he can ski with the big boys – he is in the show! It will still be a challenge to get a second run in the next race but he’s had a break and now he knows what it takes.

Ryan Semple also had a break in the slalom at Beaver Creek with a 26 th place finish, showing that the men’s team is getting strong, and they are pushing each other every step of the way.

Watching that Sestrieres race definitely gave me some energy and motivation for my own skiing.

Travelling in Europe is often lonely but a cool little incident happened last Monday. We had travelled from Altenmark, Austria to St. Vilgillio, Itay. I was in the van with James, one of our ski techs, and along the way we stopped for lunch at a pizzeria on the Italian side of the border. After finishing up with a coffee I looked up and to my surprise I saw what appeared to be some of the younger Canadian skiers. Turns out I was right – three of the guys who weren’t in Sestrieres were travelling to a Europa Cup race in Italy, and just happened to stop at the same pizzeria.

It was nice to see them. Moments like that sure make the world seem like a small, small place after all, and Europe a little more like home.

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