|My skis for the Copper Mountain race series
|The Hartford Ski Spectacular conducted by Disabled Sports USA
Well, we had our first winter races in North America. November we traveled to Canada to race at a resort called Panorama. We raced two super-G, one super combined and a giant slalom. I struggled quite a bit and realized that I was racing for a result rather than racing for a win. I decided that the next races that were coming up that I would focus on trying to ski as fast as I could and let the results speak for themselves. I also made some equipment changes and feel like the new tunes on my GS and slalom skis would help me out since I can’t generate certain angles because of my spinal fusion.
While watching my videos and trying to decipher why my hips turn at certain angles I realized that since my spine is fused so low that it causes my hips to open up when I am trying to set my ski in the beginning of the turn. Talking to the tuner we decided to try a steeper angle on my GS skis and see how that worked out. Well, I can tell you that the change was amazing. I was able to bend the ski at the start of the turn all the way through the apex of the turn and thus generate greater speeds.
Turning to our Copper Mountain races this month we started with two more super-G races and I think that I may need to look at a new tune on those as well. But I did ski much better than I did last year at the same races. I like to take away that — although I am making “baby steps” — I am happy with my progress. As for the GS races I was ecstatic about the new tune. The first race I was only six seconds off of the fastest racers in the world. While six seconds is a lot of time, I look at when I raced the same guys last year at world champs where I was 17 seconds away from them. Again, much progress! The next day I was having a great run and got into bad body position and got launched in the air and crashed. Unfortunately I suffered a minor MCL strain and wasn’t able to finish the slalom run the next day and didn’t even start the race the following day.
So now I return to Aspen with a recommended few days off before I can start training. I was able to freeski yesterday and while my knee is definitely not 100 percent, it is feeling better. We have races in January in Winter Park, then world cups in Canada and then another world cup in Copper Mountain followed by a third world cup in Tignes, France. Needless to say January is going to be a very busy month! I am definitely looking forward to proving to myself that I can compete at the highest level with the best in the world!
I am also going to be spending Christmas with my brother and his family in Denver and always value the time I get to spend with them. We are very quickly approaching the time for team selections and then Sochi. Four years ago, I felt that Sochi would never get here and now I feel like I am running out of time for improvement. The mental stress is also starting to build up, and luckily I have a great group of coaches, teammates and family members to turn to for advice.
Once again I want to thank all of you for your continued support of me and my teammates, and wish us luck on the Road to Sochi! Go Team USA!!!