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Beaver Creek

After Lake Louise we flew down from Calgary to Denver and drove out to Beaver Creek. The first day we were there we did some GS training in Vail with the American team, who we work with throughout the season. Training was perfect! Hard, grippy snow, a great piste and perfect blue skies! It was great to get some good GS feelings having been on the long skis for a week. I would have loved to have skied all day but with my first training run in Beaver Creek the next day at the front of my mind I didn’t want to tire myself out too much!

The next morning we woke up to some fresh snow and more falling pretty hard! As we got up to the hill the clouds were getting darker and snow was falling thick and fast. I trained some slalom before inspection as the weather got progressively worse. We inspected the course-very flat on top for almost 30 seconds before ‘the Brink’ where it drops away into a crazily steep pitch! I had heard it was steep but wow! Not only is it steep but there is some fall away turns, compressions and rolls and of course its all sheet ice! Not easy! As it comes off the steep it straightens up and you pick up serious speed before coming into the jumps at the bottom. Four big jumps, including the famous ‘Golden Eagle’ jump. It was going to be exciting!

Due to the weather we were delayed a few hours as the snow was slowing and the sky clearing. However, due to the amount of snow that had fallen we had to start from half way-disappointing as I didn’t get the chance to ski the top steep but good as it gave me a chance to get over the fear of the jumps at the bottom. I was pretty nervous about the jumps, having had a bad crash in Chile off one and not having done many for some time. I was pretty sketchy off the first jump but skied the rest ok and made it safely to the bottom. Some serious adrenaline!

The next day I trained some slalom before inspection again but it was bitterly cold, -22 C. My feet and hands were frozen after just a few runs! For the downhill run we had to tape our cheekbones and noses to avoid frostbite. The run went ok, I was quite solid but not really attacking especially on the top steep. With the organisers having to shave down a few of the jumps a bit after some nasty crashes the course ran much nicer down the bottom despite the increased speed.

The next day was the super-combined, one run of downhill and one run of slalom. The guys who only ski downhill had a training run before our race then we were up. With it being even colder than the day before again we had to protect our faces, I decided to wear a face mask. As soon as I pushed out the gate my mask moved down so I was breathing with my mouth through the nose hole. I really tried to attack the steep and went very straight and ran a bit late in the line. It wasn’t as tidy as the day before but faster. On landing off the ‘Screech owl’ jump my mask again moved, this time covering my mouth and nose so I couldn’t breathe! So I had to try to rip the mask off while in my tuck before the biggest jump on the course! I finished the downhill in 40th place and went to change into my slalom kit to get some slalom training runs in before the slalom run.

I skied the top half of the slalom pretty well, especially considering how little slalom I have skied recently and was comfortably inside the top 30 at the split and well on my way to my first world cup points when I got trapped on my edge and went out the course. I was extremely frustrated and disappointed with myself especially when I looked through the split times. It was pretty hard to take that I had lost a great opportunity to confirm my place at the Olympics. However I had to get over it and be ready for the downhill the next day.

The downhill wasn’t any better news as I hit a hole early in the course and my inside ski hit my outside leg knocking me out the course. Not a good weekend! But what a course! I’m looking forward to next year and having another dig at the Birds of Prey piste.

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