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Raining in Europe

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I’m having a hard time trying to find something to write about this week and I’m not sure exactly why that is. It’s raining outside today, Jan. 9 th , and we are in the mountains in Austria. At this time of the year it should be dumping with snow, or there should at least be some on the ground from a previous snowfall. Needless to say, it’s all becoming a little depressing.

This week we are in Altenmarkt and Zauchensee, Austria for a downhill, super combined and super G race. Wednesday and Thursday are the training runs and races start on Friday. But as I said, it’s pouring rain so anything can happen.

The men are in Wengen, Switzerland, where it was also pouring rain early in the week. Hopefully it won’t affect the races. Where we really should be is in Whistler for some powder skiing! Or maybe the valley could ship some of that nice, white, fluffy snow over here. If only.

This next month will be very busy on the World Cup circuit. Last weekend we were in Kranska Gora, Slovenia, this week we’re in Austria, and next week we head to Cortina, Italy, and then back to the Olympic downhill and super G track in San Sicario for two races. This will bring us to the end of the month, where we will finally get a day or two to recover before heading up to Sweden for the world championships! All of this is, of course, hanging on the fact that there will be snow, but I really hope that there will be enough.

In the last two weeks we have had some giant slalom and slalom races and both regions had snow only on the race hills — most of it artificial. This meant that there wasn’t an opportunity to run a warm-up course prior to our race runs.

In an ideal race warm-up situation we would inspect the race course and then warm-up on some training courses for at least three to four runs. This is important because you get an opportunity to feel your skis, to get your body moving, and to wake up so that you are feeling sharp when it comes time for your race run. But, so far this year we haven’t had a single GS race where we have been able to do that; all three race hills have not had enough snow.

In recent events we would get just one run of freeskiing down the race hill, followed by an inspection run, followed by the start of the race.

When that’s the situation you really need to use that one free run down the race hill well. Not only is it important to ensure that you’re “activated” for the run, I usually take a little longer during inspection in order to really take the time to visualize myself skiing sections of the course in a good position on my skis. Visualization becomes your strongest tool when you can’t warm up on a training run, you need to adjust and do it all mentally.

After inspection, when there’s lots of time in the lodge, it’s good to close your eyes and go back through the course, using good images staying activated and keeping your body warm.

I really hope that our next GS race in Cortina will have a warm-up course and that the rest of this month will go off without a hitch — but whatever happens, when I step into that start gate, I’ll be ready to go!

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