Recovering from season-ending crash last January only one obstacle racer has overcome
After being sidelined for most of a year, Whistler/Vancouver racer Christina Risler made up for lost time last week with the fastest downhill training runs and a pair of bronze medals at the CIBC Nor Am Cup events at Lake Louise.
Her efforts at home against some top racers from Canada and the U.S. were good enough to win her Alpine Canada Alpins Development Athlete of the Week award for Dec. 16.
"It feels really good. Its definitely a solid start to my season, and it was a good way to get my race legs back," said Risler. "It was good to be home."
Risler has been out since January of last year, following a crash. Risler credits those injuries to a larger health issue, a thyroid disease, that started to impact on her ability to focus on the course.
"It might have caused the crash," explained Risler. "It was kind of like having mono, I had no energy and I was sleeping a lot. I just dropped 10 pounds, I was dropping muscle.
"It also threw off my depth perception and my vision, so I would think gates were farther away than they were or a little more to the side, so my turns were off and Id get caught in the ruts.
"I have to take pills and get checked out every month, but I feel so much better now."
Risler moved to Vancouver from Whistler recently to be near her personal trainer at UBC, Jamie Lovrich. She still comes up to Whistler as often as possible to train.
As a member of the development team this year, Risler will head to Europe in the New Year to compete in Europa Cup events. Shell also get a few chances to race in World Cups, and is looking forward to those races.
"Its super good to be able to do a few Nor Am races before going to Europe, and get a few training runs in and a few starts. Im getting stronger, but I have to be able to attack," said Risler.
Following the Olympics in Salt Lake in 2002, the U.S. skiers have come on strong at every level. As a result, the level of competition has gone up for Nor Am contests, says Risler.
"Now theres not so much of a jump between Nor Am Cups and Europa Cup events, and Europa Cups are practically World Cup, so the transition should go a lot smoother you can go to Nor Am to Europa Cup without getting your butt kicked.
"It really helps to be able to race against good, competitive girls at home before taking that next step."
Before she leaves for Europe, Risler will race in a couple of FIS events. Although she focuses on speed, shell get a chance to ski a few GS and slalom events.
"I havent done a GS in more than a year so it should be interesting getting back into it. The more races I can do though, speed or technical, is just going to help me in the long run so Im looking forward to it."
You can follow Christina Risler and the rest of the Canadian Alpine Development Team at www.canski.org. Risler also has her own Web site at www.christinarisler.com.