There are certain milestones that occur each season and today was an important one for the U.S. men’s downhill team. Today was our last on-snow speed training day before we head up to Lake Louise next week to kick off the racing season. In ski racing we call the offseason the prep period because we are rarely actually off. Everything that we have been doing for the last six months has been in preparation for this upcoming race season and it is finally here!

We will travel up to Lake Louise on Tuesday and then begin training runs on Wednesday. It will be so refreshing to finally begin the season and leave behind the uncertainty of training and speculating. It can be a funny game during the preparation period with many different nations often training together, and with many different factory servicemen trying to get an accurate measure of how their equipment and athletes are performing. It is a giant guessing game because more often than not things are turned upside down once the racing season begins. Ski racing, especially downhill, is often decided by who can push the limits on the race run.  

Our tour begins in Lake Louise in Canada and then will head to Beaver Creek, Colo., as per normal. The world cup schedule carries even more weight this year because most teams use these results to determine who will represent them at the Olympic Games. Our Olympic Team is not officially named until about two weeks before the Games begin. This late naming is to take full advantage of naming the athletes who are healthy and fast at the right time.

I think it is safe to say that everybody on the U.S. Ski Team is more than ready to kick off the season. It has been a prep period with a lot of quality training and lots of good opportunities to get our equipment dialed in. It is time for the real test - a race with world cup points and Olympic spots and prize money all on the line. This is when the fun begins and I will be checking in each week from the tour on this blog. Hopefully I can provide an athlete’s insight to the races and what it takes to make it on the U.S. Ski Team.

Tune in this weekend to the opening men’s downhill from Lake Louise, Canada, on Saturday morning, Nov. 30. 

You can also follow my journey on Twitter: @MarcOsullivan