Another season has come to an end, and what a season it has been. I always find that I reach the end of one season, look back, and wonder how I made it through the past seasons knowing and having learned what I know now.
Ski racing, like anything in life, is a constant learning curve – just when you think you have something mastered something new comes up and you have to adjust, forget about the old and learn the new way. We are always searching for the winning way – how can I go faster? How can I win in these conditions? Is it my equipment, or the coaching, or how we train that needs to change? And the lists go on. We are always assessing and reassessing every factor and variable to find those extra few hundredths of a second.
This past season the Canadian Alpine Ski Team had some great results and we came out of the season with our best ever ranking in the Nations Cup list.
We may not have had a medal at the Olympic Games but that fourth place finish has become known as the Canadian spot! What that fourth place says to me is that in the near future we will be moving up onto the top of the podium at the big events.
The season wrapped up for most of us two weeks ago at the national championships held here in Whistler. As usual the weather tested the racers’ and the workers’ abilities but at the end of the series all the races were run.
We started the week with the downhill and for the first training run it was beautiful, the sun was shinning and the snow was rock hard. But that didn’t last for long. The rest of the training runs were cancelled due to a storm and we went straight to racing the following day – only to sit around and wait and then have the day cancelled.
On the day the women’s downhill did run the snow was a little soft in places, there was fog and the course was rough. It was definitely not the most ideal downhill conditions but not every day can be clear and sunny when you are in an outdoor sport – Mother Nature is always in control! I had such a great time running the Dave Murray Downhill; it is such a great run. Even without gates it’s always fun to rip down, swooping from left to right and around the corners. Just don’t tell the speed patrol about it!
The week finished up with the technical events. The slalom races were won by Brigitte Acton on the women’s side and by my brother Michael on the men’s side. I don’t often get the chance to watch the men race during the season so it was really exciting to be able to stand on the hill and watch.
There is a lot to be learned by standing on the side of the hill. For Brigitte it was her first national championship title. And in the giant slalom, Christina Lustenberger won her first national championship title as well.
It is always fun to race at home in front of the home crowd and on my home hill, everybody in this town is so supportive and enthusiastic when it comes to ski racing, especially those Weasel Workers!
Speaking of the Weasel Workers – does it get any better? If you have not seen these guys work then let me explain a little about what they do.
They load early when the sun is just rising, or even earlier than that, and they get right to work! When it snows they are out there pushing and shoveling it off the track and out of the way so that we can race. They are constantly fixing the safety fences and adjusting things so that the course and track is as safe as it can be for the racers. They put the fences up well before the racers arrive and then spend time taking the fencing down well after we have left.
The job is non-stop, and completely volunteer. They do it for the love of the sport, the thrill of watching the racers, and, of course, for the fun of being with friends and hanging out in the great outdoors. Oh, and they also know where to find the beer tent and the Weasel Water!
So thanks to everyone for putting on such a great Pontiac GMC National Championships here in Whistler, the next Olympic site! Enjoy the spring and enjoy the skiing, I know I will be. Thanks for another great season.