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Going for Gold

A new year, new techniques and new faces on the podium

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A new year has arrived. We are currently training in Austria, near Innsbruck as we prepare for the upcoming races. This past weekend we had races in Maribor, Slovenia where we had a World Cup giant slalom and two World Cup slaloms. I’m not sure if you were able to catch some of the action on TV, but these races were some of the most exciting of the year!

In the giant slalom, Switzerland’s Sonja Nef skied to near perfection for her first win of the year, leaving the rest of the field far behind her. In the slalom races there was only one person who dominated, Anja Pearson of Sweden, though Laure Pequenaut of France was close behind.

For the Canadians we were looking for some results. We came out of the Lienz races not having had anyone qualify for the second runs in both the giant slalom and slalom so we needed to start the New Year in the right direction. In the giant slalom it was Allison Forsyth who took us to the second run, and in the first slalom Genevieve Simard qualified for her first time in World Cup slalom and finished 18 th overall.

On Monday we had a full day of training with the Norwegian and Finnish teams. Alpbach is the hill where we are training now and we have come to know it for the chicken hut which is in the middle of the training hill. If you would like to try some of the best tasting chicken, this is the place to find it. They serve a great half chicken and french fries. Our coaches bring us here because they look forward to their chicken at lunch everyday – oh and the training hill is good, too!

Over the past few weeks I have had plenty of time to watch the second runs of the World Cup races. My coaches and I have been discussing the technique of skiing and how it is changing. Slalom is where we are seeing most of the changes. If you get a chance to see some of the races on TV here are some tips on what to look for to see who is skiing fast.

With the short skis the number one thing that you want to look for is that both skis are always carving together from one turn into the next. Look for the pressure in the ski to start as the ski moves into the fall line and releases before it comes out of the fall line – this is where you get the speed out of the ski.

Secondly you want to look at where the mass of the body is going. This is what Anja Pearson has mastered and a big reason why she is so unbeatable; her skis carve around the gate while her body is going straight down the hill. She also takes a much tighter line than anyone else.

On the men’s side Bode Miller from the US is the guy to watch in slalom. He may not look all that in control most of the time, but take your focus to his skis and you will see why he is fast. His skis are always carving and his boots are right on the gate. Rarely do his skis ever carve across the fall line.

In giant slalom the principles are the same, it is only the radius of the turn that becomes longer.

At the end of this week I will be racing two Europa Cup super Gs in Tignes, France while the rest of the women’s team will be in Saalbach, Austria for a World Cup downhill-combined race. Next week I will meet up with the development women’s team and Anna Prchal for four giant slalom Europa Cup races. I am looking forward to the upcoming races; there should be great competition and great opportunities to get some results. Keep your eyes on the World Cup and our Canadian racers.

For week-to-week updates on all of the action you can tune your radio to the World Cup Ski Report on TEAM 1040 in Vancouver Saturday and Sunday mornings. The reception up the corridor is pretty good and of course with cable you can get it anywhere.

Oh, just one final tid bit of information, for those keeping track of the stats, already in the New Year we have had five World Cup races between the men and women and there hasn’t yet been one Austrian on the podium. It is nice to see a mix of other countries.

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