It’s not been for a lack of trying, but it’s hard to write in-season updates and not get pulled towards a results-based look at everything. Where did we place? Did we hit the box? How far out? How far ahead? Who beat whom? All valid questions for the athletes and for the fans (parents and creepy old European men on Facebook…), but I don’t want to be a part of the problem. Live timing and FIS can provide all the results you could want; I will instead try to continue documenting the day-to-day journey of the BCST and, perhaps, throw props on occasion.
There’s been a lot of goings on so let me give y’all the real condensed version of events up until now. Pretty much, we will cover two months in 300 words or less. Ready…. go!
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, November 15th.
Trucks packed, crew piled in. No snow in sight on the Creekside ski out. Turn the wheel and point it direction: Sun Peaks for our official start of the race season. Arrive at the foot of Mount Nancy Greene, brush the dust off the boots and get to it. Not bad is becoming okay, and okay is starting to look like half decent. A little more training and we might be seeing some pretty good.
Squirrel races come and go. From a coach’s perspective it’s nice when “tune up” races don’t end up as “getting tuned up” races. The crew is beginning to show some pace, now lets pack up and hit the road. This time we are Alberta bound, a place where we can idle the trucks and blast country on the way to the hill.
Slightly haggard and frizzy tailed, December 10th.
The fatigue, stress, and cabin fever have set in, compounded by the armpit effect that only Panorama in December can provide. Fortunately, the BCST learned all about grinding in the summer, and hopefully they are thinking the same thing I am: Being tired is just something other people feel.
Haggard AF and homebound, December 22nd. Everyone got a little something to put in their back pocket from these last two months. Some are coming home with PB’s, some with confidence, some with second scores, and being young in this sport I believe they all are coming into the break knowing a few new ways how to not perform. In other words, the essential failures that lead to future successes.
Alright, look at us go. We’re caught up! Now it’s time for me to take you on an adventure out east. Pack the truck... just kidding! Screw that, pack the plane instead and get ready for take off. The thought of going to the other half of our country doesn’t seem like much of a trip when you’re on a team that routinely hunts snow on other continents, but travel is travel and new is new. Ella, Nicole and I hopped on a Boeing 740whatever that would be landing in the 6ix, while Nick, Marcus, Myles, and Kyle took a very similar looking plane headed to Montreal.
Touchdown, deplane, wait for your luggage, stress because your luggage takes its sweet time, make a mental plan about how you will make do with whatever happens to be in the one bag that has shown up, then let out a big sigh of relief when the belt spits out the rest of the bags an hour later. Pick up the car, and then play Tetris with all the bags until they fit. Finally, the biggest question, where should the Women’s team ring in the New Year? Brampton Ontario of course! The definite highlight being some lovely Indian food, and all three of us having to pretend that “very mild” wasn’t actually lighting our mouths on fire.
Escarpments eh? I’m like 90 percent sure that they (Ontarionians… Ontarieites?) are not using that word correctly... I feel qualified to say that after spending 30 seconds looking up escarpments on Goggle, but that is neither here nor there. Dressing up a hill with a bigger word doesn’t add any vertical. With that said, this is exactly the Ontario I was hoping for. Perfect race conditions everywhere; natural injection and cold temps to keep it in all-time shape from first runner to last. The Peaks was the ladies first race destination on this trip. “The best hill here” as the Peaks people would tell us, and they weren’t exactly wrong. Starting with a great side hill up top to keep you honest (luckily, we train pretty equal amounts of left footers and right footers, so it was a non-issue), then as you break over the pitch Georgian Bay lies before you. If you weren’t looking at the course, you could see for days. The two days of GS here were great races, and even though it took some time to acclimatize to the conditions, there was a good effort from the team, and by the time we switched venues they were both looking comfortable on the ice.
Destination 2 was also at “The best hill here”, but this time it was coming from the folks at Alpine. What they lacked in steep, challenging terrain they made up for in a goliath 40-million-dollar lodge at the base, so that was pretty neat. This whole day was a new experience for our two women; a one-run-qually slalom with only the top 32 going on to race the duel that afternoon. The charge was there, but so were the mistakes that come with pushing to find speed, and on an unforgiving hill with a full field it was close, but no cigar. It’s all a build though, and they were ready to move on to mountain number 3.
Osler Bluff didn’t give us the runaround about it being the “best resort around”. I think because they only had a 39-million-dollar lodge (and it was still under construction) they felt a little self-conscious… They did, however, put on a hell of an event and gave our women another great opportunity to test their mettle against the top North Americans outside World Cup.
As I write this, I am reminded that it’s not always sunshine and best days, but that’s the point. You never go to a race and plan to get beat, nor do you feel content with less than your best, but you also don’t move forward if you only look to win against little fish in little ponds. From time to time, having your goose cooked in someone else’s back yard isn’t a bad thing. Train hard – find pace – beat people – get piped – train hard – find pace – beat people.
Back in the car (the best place for a nap unless you’re driving) en-route to mini France, more new mountains, and one more series to tip-up in. And hey, would you look at that, we are reunited with the Men’s team!
Welcome to Mont Tremblant. A few days of training sounds great and it’s always good to get the team back together, even if it’s only for a short while. We decide on a nice place for dinner and decide that this is as good a time as any to introduce the team to raclette. Sounds harmless enough, its only cheese right? We sit down in a cozy little log cabin at the base of Tremblant. With guests we are nine, spread out around a long table. Everything is going well, conversation and laughter as everyone catches up. The server comes up and stations a racletter (cheese melter) at either end of the table, each with a half wheel of cheese. Still so far so good. Then he says, “Don’t worry. If you finish the wheel we will bring you another, but no one ever finishes them”. Well shit. Unanimously, the table has accepted this as a challenge and immediately splits into two groups, both dead-set on one thing: to eat the whole wheel of cheese before the other half of the table can finish theirs. I’ll tell you right now, no one wins when you take part in an hour-long cheese-crushing marathon…
See ya later men’s team! Now that everyone is a few pounds heavier it’s once again time to move mountains and head into rural Quebec. Not like “deep woods” rural (“deep woods you’d better have the Fleur-De-Lis tattooed somewhere on you” comes later in the season. Foreshadowing! Go me!), but still rural enough. Val St Come and Mont Garceau would be our final venues of the trip. VSC was maybe the coolest SL track that the team will race on this year. A little bit of everything and a perfect length to set however you want. Here, the team made some great steps. Be it for a run or a section, they showed the giddy-up and pace needed to compete in slalom anywhere else we go this year. Garceau was a fun-looking GS, not built to create large field separation, which made for tight and exciting races both days, and gave the ladies some good pressure to practice with.
Next for the BC Ski Team is a mid-season tune up in Sun Peaks. A small break from racing at last, and an opportunity to get dialed in by virtue of repetition over consecutive days.