Happy Easter everyone. I have finally managed to sit down and write an update. I have to apologise for how long it has taken – the last update was just after the Super-G at World Champs and accompanied by a promise that I would be in touch after the World Champs GS and Slalom. I decided, however, to delay the update in the wake of the Christchurch quake, a delay which turned out to be longer than expected. Sorry!
First of all, my condolences to all those effected by the Earthquake. Team NZ’s thoughts were with all of you. It was a very sad day for New Zealand, but as always we will stick together and move forward. Ben and I raced the World Cup at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia with black arm bands in commemoration.
Nils, Ben, Me and Mozy wearing the black armbands.
I guess that brings me back to skiing!
World Champs Continued
The World Championships continued to GS and Slalom, with corresponding qualification races. I qualified in the GS comfortably. In the GS final race I finished 43rd, a result which on paper doesn’t look spectacular, but I am proud of how I skied – this year I was closer to the winner (7.4 seconds) in 2 runs than I was in 1 run 2 years ago at the World Champs in Val d’Isere. I also improved from my start position, which was 60th. Ben unfortunately failed to finish.
My Slalom race, however, was less successful. I failed to finish the qualifying event, meaning I was unable to compete in the final race. However Ben skied very well in the qualifier. While he failed to finish the final he proved to us and himself that he is a strong Slalom skier, even though traditionally he is a GS skier.
Europe after World Champs
Following Garmisch we headed back to our base in Austria for a last stint of racing. For me, the rest of the races in Europe proved slightly less successful than I had hoped. I trained well and put down some decent runs in races, especially in Super-G, but did not improve my rankings significantly. The highlight was competing for the second time in the World Cup GS at Kranjska Gora. Kranjska (cran-scar) is one of the classic GS hills on the circuit, which is notoriously difficult owing to icy, bumpy conditions and flat light. My main goals at Kranjska were to race aggressively and give 100% – previous World Cups were riddled with timid skiing. I skied aggressively right out of the gate on the tough first pitch, but failed to finish further down, with a mistake on one of the blind rollers.
Despite skiing well that day I was frustrated with my results, and frankly I was a little Euro-sick. Spending so much time in German-speaking Austria is a little depressing, especially when things are tough. Owing to the fact that I had not had any great results I decided to travel alone to the US Nationals and Spring Series in Colorado and Washington. I knew I was skiing well enough, so I wanted to give myself the opportunity to score. I left Ben, Nils and Mozy in Europe at German Nationals, skipping the last few races in favour of a busier race calendar and the promise land that is the USA.
Back to the USA
The first stop was Colorado. I skied well in most of the Colorado FIS races and the US Nationals. The 2 weeks I spent there was riddled with heavy snowfall. Most of the western United States has had record seasonal snowfall this winter – Alpine Meadows Lake Tahoe at one point was boasting a base of over 9 meters. So, amongst powder skiing, my best result was a 38 point Super-G at US Nationals, where I finished 16th.
A short 18 hour drive and I was at the final race series in Mission Ridge, Washington. The area reminded me of Central Otago – rolling dry hills, orchards and vineyards with snow-capped peaks in the distance. It was a lovely change. The series was bittersweet. Mission Ridge turned on fantastic weather and hard snow for the event, a big change from Colorado. I am pleased to say that in the first Super-G I scored an equal career best 27 point result. It was my first major Super-G result on foreign soil, and will bring my ranking back down to what it was at the time of the Olympics last year. Check out the footage. Sadly, though, I injured my back in the same run. I knew something was wrong when I felt it seize about ¾ of the way through the run, but muscled through as best I could, as I felt the rest of the run was fast. The injury is nothing major – some strained ligaments and tender muscles. It was enough, however, to stop me from racing the rest of the series. I tried for 2 days but it was too painful.
So that was my season! Thank you very much to all of you. This could never be possible without your awesome support.
I am now back at home in Arrowtown resting up with my family. I am pleased to report that the back is much better after a few days of doing very little. A trip to the physio next week should help confirm that it’s on the mend. From now until the winter my plans are to heal my back, get fit and possibly find some temporary work. I plan to start training on snow with the NZ team once Coronet Peak opens in early June. I am also hoping to work at Browns Ski Shop this winter around my training (Kris, I guess this is your official notice!) This winter will involve some fantastic racing in New Zealand once again, with the highlight being the Winter Games NZ in late August.
Hope to see you around soon,