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Hurry up and wait; the game of ski racing



Canada's top alpine racers all came together for the Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships and Whistler, for the second consecutive year, was our playground. This event gives the top racers around the country an opportunity to challenge the members of the national team, and every year it proves to be an exciting event.

This year, however, the weather conditions chose not to co-operate. Over the 10 competition days, the snow, wind and fog rarely let up and as a result we weren't able to run all of the races. Those cancelled were the men's and women's downhill and the women's super G. But we did get to race some great technical events.

As a spectator you may wonder why sometimes it can be so difficult to run an alpine ski race. Well, there are a number of factors to consider before a race can start.

The first is the safety of the athletes. Soft snow conditions, changing course conditions, fog and falling snow can lead to an unsafe racing atmosphere and track.

When conditions are soft, the course gets very rough and the racers with late start numbers have a hard time finishing the course, and are more likely to crash.

Flying snow and fog can also result in poor visibility, which is also dangerous.

Another factor to consider is fairness. At the national championships, the Race Organizing Committee (ROC) works to ensure that the race course is consistent and fair for everyone. This is especially important in the nationals because the younger skiers in the back of the pack want to be able to challenge the national team members, and this is the one event of the season where they get the opportunity to race against us.

Every morning these factors were taken into consideration, and unfortunately for several days in a row the weather just wasn't ideal for racing and the ROC and on-hill jury had to make the difficult decision to cancel. It definitely isn't a fun job during these times, and I would like to thank them for running some excellent races during the 10 days. The races that did go ahead were optimal, safe and fair for everyone. And, in spite of it all, everyone had a good time.

On the days where races were cancelled, we found other ways to entertain ourselves. We left the race course and our race skis behind, grabbed some fats and headed for the open mountain.

During the race season it can be difficult to find time for free skiing around the mountains. The race schedule is relentless, and when you're not on the hill racing you are either in the gym or resting back at the hotel. Oh, or eating.

So it was great to be able to get out and enjoy some of the powder that was making life hard for our volunteers and race organizers.

I have to thank all of the workers (the famous Weasel Workers) for all of their hard work, day in and day out. Without you we would not have had safe racing conditions.

You are amongst the best in the world and most of all it's because every one of you cares and has fun out there. You bring your passion for ski racing to the hill and we as racers appreciate it. It's inspiring. I hope everyone enjoyed catching some of the racers in action, and if you missed them, there will be more excitement next year with your national ski team.

For us, it's not over yet. After a short break, the dryland training season will get underway for next season. I'm looking forward to racing next year, and hope I can bring the Weasel Worker's passion for racing with me into next year's competitions.