History has been made. Two weeks ago this Sunday, Thomas Grandi finished second in the Kitzbuhel World Cup slalom race.
Kitzbuhel is one of the biggest slalom races of the year; the crowds are huge and the course is notoriously tough.
Thomas posted the fastest time in the first run and so was the last out of the start gate in the second run. I was in Maribor, Slovenia that Sunday and watched his run on the television in our hotel room.
The conditions were tough and we knew it would be a challenge for Thomas to hold on to the top spot. Just before Grandi, Kalle Palander from Finland, skied down and blew the field away with a run that put him in the lead by more than a second.
We watched in excitement as Grandi left the start gate and made his way down the slalom course. Thomas crossed the finish line only hundreds of a second from Palanders time, putting the two of them well in the lead of the rest of the field. It was a thrill to watch and I was proud to be a Canadian on that day.
Racing is always exciting because you never quite know what will happen. There could be a hold in the start from a crash on course. This happened to Bode Miller last week in the night slalom at Schladming, Austria.
He had about a 20 minute hold in the start gate while the first aid people did their thing, and he was the last one to go in the second run. He just stood there, reacted calmly, and stayed focused on his race.
At the finish line he was fourth, just off the podium, but in the interviews afterwards he said he was not disappointed after losing the lead. He had no reason to be. He was prepared and he felt hed skied his best. The other racers were simply faster and had stepped up to the challenge.
Thats what racing is all about.
Over the last two weeks I have been busy. I trained the Monday after the races in Maribor on the "race hill" with the Swedish team and some of the Slovenians. From there I travelled with the coaches to Austria where we trained for the remainder of the week with the Norwegian girls and a couple of the American girls, Kristina Koznick and Sarah Schlepper. It was great. We had hard and icy conditions and we were able to train on full-length courses. We also played a little volleyball in the afternoons, which was really fun. Oh, and one day we even had Herman Maier training next to us, and he was, of course, watching our skiing Or maybe it was more like we were watching him ski?
I enjoy training with other teams because it brings up the intensity of your own training. It also allows you to watch and learn from some of the other racers and it makes for an exciting training atmosphere.
Earlier this week I raced some FIS races in both Germany and Austria. The races were two slaloms and two giant slaloms. I used the starts as training for my racing. I won both of the slalom races in Germany and in the GS races I finished fourth and second.
The GS races were exciting because a lot of strong girls were racing in them. From the Canadian team we had Emily Brydon, Genevieve Simard and Gail Kelly and myself. There were also a lot of girls from the Norwegian and Swedish national teams racing.
In the first race on Monday the standings went as follows: Norwegian first, Gen second, Emily third, I was fourth and Gail Kelly fifth. In the second race Gen took the win, I was second and Karina Berkelund from the Norwegian team was third. Emily rounded it off in fourth place.
It was an exciting week and great race training for the upcoming World Cup events.
Next for me this week will be a Europa Cup slalom race in Germany on Thursday and then the World Cup races on the weekend in Arber, Germany. These days I am happy with my training and happy with my racing. Im just taking it one day at a time, working away, training away and trying to go faster. And of course having fun while Im at it!