I am now in my second week in Italy, last week in Cortina and now this week in Sestriere - two of the most beautiful stops on the circuit. And just a short six-hour drive between the two.
Last week in Cortina we raced two super G's and one downhill.
When I last wrote I was on my way to Maribor, Slovenia for a giant slalom race, but unfortunately, that race was cancelled due to warm temperatures. They actually ran 24 girls and then one of the Canadian girls, Marie-Michel Gagnon, was held in the start as they decided whether to continue the race or not. The decision was made to cancel the race because the snow conditions were changing drastically with every racer that went down. I had Bib 57 that day - I was disappointed not to race but it probably would have been a very rough run!
Thankfully, the winter temperatures returned and conditions were fantastic for Cortina. Racing with me last week were a few of the young girls, Georgia Simmerling, Marie-Pier Prefontaine and Victoria Stevens. Cortina is one of the classic stops on the women's tour, kind of like Kitzbuehel for the guys, but without the craziness! But it is nonetheless a fairly big track and not an easy one to figure out your first time down it. When you do get comfortable on the track it is one of the best ones out there.
The Tofana pitch at the top is so much fun to rip down - you catch air at the top and land partway down the steep pitch and, from there it is like threading the needle between two rocks. For their first times down the track, I thought the young girls did very well.
I finished my weekend off in Cortina with another top 10 after two frustrating races on the Friday and Saturday where I finished 24th and 22nd. They weren't horrible races but definitely not where I wanted to be. I came out Sunday and I was hungry to go fast, annoyed with my previous days finishes because I knew I could ski faster. And, the frustration paid off!
While I was in Cortina racing, the men were in Kitzbuehel; they were eating schnitzel and we were eating our pasta!
On the men's side they are down a few racers due to injury. Robbie Dixon is currently at home recovering from a crash that he had in Bormio and Erik Guay has been out for a few weeks with a sore back. In Wengen, Jan Hudec hit his hand on a gate and didn't race in Kitzbuehel.
But, Manny Osborne Paradis is still there and holding strong and Erik made an early return. For Erik it was his first time back on downhill skis since Dec. 19 and on the first training run he drew Bib 1. He said he has never been so nervous in his whole life.
Youngster Ben Thompsen had his first ever crack at the downhill in Kitzbuehel and came away with a 24th place finish, which is absolutely amazing. On Sunday the slalom guys were out, battling the plastic sticks. I wrote my brother in the morning to say good luck and he replied to say that the Janyk Challenge was on! Hey Mike, looks like I won that day...
The slalom guys had a very solid day with four of them finishing in the top 25 and Paul Stutz getting his first slalom points of the season. As I sit here typing this article I am getting ready to watch the Schladming night slalom.
This coming weekend in Sestrieres I will have one last downhill race before we head to the World Championships in Garmisch, Germany. It is a great track here in Sestriere and it looks like the sun will be shining all week. And there will of course be pasta at every meal (maybe not breakfast), something to make me fast on the flats!
So there you have it, the update from the road. My bags seem to be getting heavier as the days pass. I'm really not sure how that happens. Thankfully Mom and Dad are coming over for the World Championships and I can send a few things home with them. What I could really use though s a washer and dryer to so my laundry properly - the sink in the bathroom just doesn't cut it.