Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Its Been a While

Hello there it has been a while, almost 2 years a while so I guess its time for a long overdue update... again. I will try to keep this short but who knows how that will go. and as for future updates I will sincerely try to keep them coming but when I don't tend to do well I don't tend to post, and even when I do do well I still don't tend to posting.

Slalom in St Moritz

So I guess I should start with the 2014-15 season and simply sum it up by saying it was a complete and total bust. There were about one or two decent results in downhill but overall it was a disaster and we can more or less chalk it up to getting used to a new sit ski and being suck in the rut of old bad habits of skiing like crap. But the 2015-16 season was the complete opposite. The season started a bit bumpy with the opening IOC races which saw me get disqualified in a super combi race and missing out on a 3rd place finish because I skied around the wrong side of the last gate. But after that and with the start of the World Cup season things drastically changed. I won the opening world cup GS in Kranjska Gora Slovenia by a respectable margin and went on to place in the top 8 of all other WC technical races that I finished for the rest of the season. But where I really excelled was in Downhill in which I won 3 out of the 4 Downhills and finished 2nd in the only one i didn't win which was enough to garner me the Overall Downhill IPC World Cup crystal globe. I also went on to win second overall in GS for the season as well as place 3rd overall across all events. Bringing my overall IPC World Cup medal tally to 8 for the season.

GS in Kranjska Gora Slovenia
Winning Gold in Tignes France

But while the season was really good for me results and equipment wise there were a few short comings. For the most part I did not finish many Super G races, as well as braking a few skis throughout the season which is never fun but I also ended up braking my left foot in Korea when we went there for a small test event, causing me to miss Canadian nationals and a post season training camp in Sunshine.

As for the summer I have been trapped in Whistler BC undergoing some centralized fitness training which has been somewhat productive in the sense that I have lost weight and gained some muscle mass. But other than that i find going to the gym tedious and annoying mainly because I have to listen to everyone's incredibly poor taste in music. But on the plus side there is only 3 more days left here in whistler then it will be off to Chile on Sept 1st for the first big ski camp of the season.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Part 2 of a long over due entry

All right so I'm back in record time to give you the second half of a long over due journal entry. So with out further ado Here is the next part of this long entry and maybe I will add some pictures, we will see how it goes.

So where I left off last time we just finished our three day siesta in Munich before Heading to Shochi for the Paralympics. Now the whole event in Sochi for a long time had all sorts of bad press abotu various things like human rights violations, animal cruelty (some russian billionaire went and stole two Orcas from the wild to be used as a tourist attractions), mismanagement of funds, all the way to corruption at the highest level (I'm looking at you Putin and the IOC). But to be honest none of that even mattered to me at the time because all I wanted to do was to compete and try to win a medal for Canada and the RT Community, that's right people I'm doing this for you.

So to get things started all wrong on our way to the games the Canadian Paralympic Committee decided to book us on a charter flight with the American team in order to hopefully save some scratch, which was a great idea in theory but no one thought to think about the issue of nearly 200 people all travelling with about six to eight very large and heavy bags per person and of course because it was the US team that booked and chartered the flight we were secondary as to baggage priority. Now to keep things simple lets just say that of the 12 people on our team that was on this charter flight we only got a total of six very random bags consisting of two sit skis, three tuning boxes (which were apparently not the important boxes according to the techs) and one duffel bag. We got all our stuff barely in the nick of time but that required allot of frantic calling and organising on the part of the CPC staff and what I'm guessing was nothing short of about $50 thousand bucks in airfare and excess baggage fees. So with that SNAFU out of the way we were finally able to get focused on skiing again.

The first Race that was in the wings was Downhill, and by judging by the 20 deg C weather that the ski hill was experiencing for the last two weeks or so was starting to seem unlikely, but somehow the stars aligned just right that the night temperatures were below 0 deg C and froze the track such that we were able to get training done on a very rough and bumpy course witch was barely navigable. Mind you the window of opportunity to get the training runs and races off was a very small one at that, and if things got delayed then the track very quickly turned in to a snow cone. But due to all the chemicals that were pumped into the snow the fact that there was any snow left at all was a miracle, which was pretty good for a place that is in the sub tropics where less than an hour drive away you can find Palm trees. So getting back to the racing part, the training runs for the downhill went okay for the most part. The first run I didnt finish which sucked, the second run I finished and went fairly well which set me up for a good base for the race. The race it self went all right with no major mistakes but it was the small ones that got me in the end. Crossing the finish line I was in 2nd place right between two other Canadian sit skiers so Canada was sitting 1, 2, 3 for a little while but unfortunately that would not last since there was some pretty good skiers still left to come down so by the end of it all I was 5th which was not bad for my first appearance at the Paralympics. If you want here is a link to the video coverage of my run with the time and Paralympic logo in the corner making it look all official, www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRdC1MqxPVE .

View of the Downhill Start

Coming over the last pitch into the finish of the Downhill

The next race was Super-G which for those of you who don't already know is very similar to the downhill but is not as fast and the gates are set slightly closer together generally ranging in spacing between 45-60m where downhill is faster and has spacing between 60-90m. This race started off a bit rocky as you will see in the video I will link but shaped up pretty good all around until after just after the last interval where the shock bottomed out and the sit ski shot out sideways which resulted in what should have been a 3rd place finish and a medal for me but ended up with me being over 9 seconds back and In 9th place. I know, I know... Things should have gone allot better but when the course is that bumpy and the shock bottoms out like the way it did most people would have crashed in a fiery mess but I managed to keep things under control and still finish. Here is the video anyway and it makes for an educational analysis if nothing else, www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRdC1MqxPVE.

The Super-G start

The other three races didn't go so well. Meaning that I did not finish (DNF) the Super Combined, Giant Slalom, and the Slalom. The Super Combined I crashed in the Slalom component, the Giant Slalom I caught my outrigger (the pole like thing with a ski on the end that I hold in my hands) on a gate about half way down my first run, and the Slalom I crashed out on the second run. The only thing that I will say about those three is that for the SC and the GS the snow some how managed to stay together and was not much of a problem, the Slalom on the other had was a nightmare. It was held on a small slope between the the men's and women's speed tracks in a spot that does nothing but get baked in the sun and even with all the chemicals and slipping and pampering that was done in order to try to save the snow the whole thing was one big sloppy mess. By the second run we weren't even allowed to properly inspect the top half of the course properly and were relegated to having to slip down what is most easily described as a giant slush pit. By the time we were to be running the course and when the sit skiers were set to go, there were rutts and holes so big that you could have easily hidden people in them and no one would have noticed. To keep a long rant short It was literally hell on snow if that is possible.

So with all the races done and behind everyone well all the guys at least the women still had one race to go. the only thing left to do was to celebrate by going to Austria house and since the day of the men's GS was the last night that they were going to be open they had to liquidate all of there liquid refreshments and let me tell you that the Austrians know how to party, it was nothing but free drinks all night long and a whole bunch of very happy people by the time it came to go back to the athletes village.

The departure was fairly uneventful other than my lap top getting lost and then broken before it was finally returned to me thanks to the Sochi staff that was in charge of the baggage but now I have a nice new Alienware 17 gaming laptop that has also got me hooked on Steam which should come in handy on all my travels as a full member of the Canadian Para Alpine Ski Team.

The next event was Canadian Nationals that was held in Whistler BC, and by comparison was very low key compared to Sochi. I came away with a few medals in in Slalom and GS from these quaint little races and not much happened otherwise probably due to everyone being exhausted from the month long World Cup finals and Sochi trip.

Well I think that will be all for now, there are a few things that I have not got to that happened over the summer but to keep this as short as possible I will call it for now, so until next time.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Long Time No Post... Sorry About That Everyone

All right I am sorry for not posting anything for the last eight months, and I don't really have a defence as to why since I cant rightfully count sloth as a valid reason. Allot has gone on in those eight months and I will try to cover everything but I may just condense some of it.

So we left off with the World Cup events in Panorama in early December which turned out pretty good and me being sick just before the team was to go to Copper Colorado and to make things short, it didn't go very well in Colorado and that is about all that I am going to say about that, since I don't want to rehash a bunch of bad results.

But on to the Good. After Copper we focused on a bunch of training in order for people to get ready for the Paralympics in Sochi Russia to which I was not sure if I would be going based on my poor performance in Copper. But I put all that behind me and focused on the speed training that we were doing in Nakiska and Panorama over the span of about a month. It was also at these training camps the I was graced with the information and the overwhelming privilege with knowing that I would be following the CPAST team on their entire World Cup Circuit and would also be representing Canada and the RoosterTeeth Community in Sochi at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. Now to put this into perspective only about 1% of people who ever enter into completive sport and actually make it to a World Cup level actually get a chance to participate in a Paralympic or Olympic games. And to thing that I would get the chance to embark on a for lack of a better word "Adventure" like going to the Paralympics seems unfathomable, and go I very much did. But not before some other nifty things occurred.

So now we find ourself on New Years Day, enter 2014. I am on a plane to Germany where we will then drive to Austria to a town by the name of Kirchberg Austria which is a quaint little skiing town in a low lying valley where we trained a bit of SL and GS for about a week which was nice and relaxing before the World Cup Finals which were to be held in in Tarvisio, another slightly larger skiing town on the Italy side of the Austria/Italy/Slovenia boarder. The races consisted of two Downhill and two one Super G and one Super Combined race. Now to be true to how the rest of this race series and season played out I need to mention like I have before in other journal posts that I was going through skis like toothpicks, which I was not happy about for obvious cost reasons, so Rossignol if you are reading this I love your gear and what not but it doesn't hold up if your a 200 pound sit skier. Anyway I'm getting a little off target. So in Downhill races you actually do training runs a few days before on the exact run and course set that you will be competing on for safety reasons, and my first run on the course I took it easy as allot of people do in order to feel things out especially because I knew that the surface at the bottom of the track was going to be rough and bumpy, but I still managed to flatten the ski I was using, which by this point was no big deal for me. The next day for training run number two I decide to go all out and see what is possible, bad idea. Everything went well until the very end of the course where it was rough I was going so fast and it was so bumpy that I when I hit the micro terrain with about four turns to go in the course that I separated the bottom from the top of the ski to the point where when we watched the video later that night you can distinctly hear the ski snapping where it sounds like someone taking a large stick and breaking it over there knee and when the video is slowed down you can actually see through the middle of the ski as it breaks and separates, but I still finished that run , yay me. The races went good and not so good but not bad. The first Downhill I finished 5th out, a second and a bit behind first, and in the second DH run I had a similar situation to my second training run but and ended up 10th, the Super-G I was 5th again, and unfortunately I did not finish the Super Combined (hey these things happen, I'll figure it out one of these days). So all in all these races were pretty good and I was a happy camper.

The next stop was back to Germany to spend three days in Munich or M√ľnchen as the locals call it to relax and unwind before heading to Sochi for the "Big Show". Any way not to get into to much detail it was allot of fun, and as a result I took it easy for the third day and rested and slept, it took a good three days for my knees to stop hurting, I can confidently say that was the most walking that I did since I broke my back and my knees sucked to begin with, good thing I use a sit ski.

The next stop was Sochi Russia for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, which since this post is getting a bit long and I want to think a bit more as to what exactly I want to say I will continue this later, just hopefully not in another eight months, just kidding.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Filling in what has happened since New Zealand

  Ok so allot has happened since New Zealand some good and some bad but mostly good and the bad only really pertains to equipment and the such, also some DNF's can get lumped in there also but I will get to those. New Zealand finished off with a series of races the most notable being a World Cup slalom (my first ever World Cup by the way) in which I placed 3rd.  The last race in NZ was a Super G in which I placed 4th again not to bad for my first ever stab at the World Cup circuit.

After that I was off to Saas-Fee Switzerland for about 3 weeks for a bunch of training. It was a good trip and notable in the fashion that I got to spend 3 weeks in a picturesque Swiss ski town in the early fall skiing and the such on a glacier. Not much was exceedingly eventful really but it was good to do a bit more traveling and get a chance to continue to improve on my skiing skills. But the important thing on this trip was the I learned that after all of my hard work and dedication to skiing and striving to improve my skills on the hill and within each event, I was now officially an unofficial member of the CPAST team. Meaning that while officially I was still a prospect member I would be running the full team World Cup Schedule up to and including the Paralympics in Sochi Russia, provided that i met the selection and point criteria to go. 

   All of this is great but there was a bit of hardship of a sort to overcome. For a long while And still currently to a degree I was having some serious equipment issues. For example so far this season I have either completely written off or otherwise damaged 15 skis this season and at about $200-$500 per ski I can tell you it has not been a cheep season. There was a point where we were training in Panorama BC before some low level IPC races where I was going through almost one ski per day. The source of the issues that I was having is related to my center of gravity in relation to the ski, my sit ski was configured in a way that I was sitting to far back and when I was thrown out a turn I would land on the tail of the ski and because I was trying to recover from the error I would then in turn rock forward on to the tip of the ski. The result would be that when I rocked forward the force of the ski under tension would sling shot me forward even faster and would eventually pull out the heal of the binding delaminating the ski in the process. Other Issues that I have had is a tendency to not finish GS races, there have been 4 this season so far and I have only finished 1. But enough about the bad there is still some great news to be read about in this Journal entry still.

   So the last set of races I just finished was an IPC World Cup race series held in Panorama BC as a test event for the 2015 World Championships next year, which is nice because I believe I stand a fair chance to do well at those World Championships. I say that because in the Downhill event I placed 4th amongst a field of the worlds best racers, and it was my overall plan to not take any risks on this run, which meant that I was scrubbing speed in a few sections. Other races didn't go as well as that first DH went but I am chalking it up to the fact that after the DH that night I came down with a horrible sickness which sapped all of my energy, even now I don't remember much of my race runs while I was sick.

But Now I am starting to feel better although I still have a nagging cough that dose not seem to want to go away. Right now the CPAST team is in Copper Colorado at the next set of World Cup races which will comprise of two GS and two Slalom races. My goals for these races are top 8 finishes in all four maybe a bit better if I put down some real good runs. Well I do think that is all there is to tell for now and hopefully I will get to another entry in a more timely manner.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

New Zealand? How did I get here?

Well  it has been an exceptionally long time since I last submitted anything to my blog.  It is not for a lack of me not doing anything interesting in fact I am writing this post from the majestic island state of New Zealand, not to be confused with Old Zealand if there was or is such a place, but I will get to how I got here in a bit.

The last time I posted how I fared at a race in Winter Park Colorado and how things could have gone better for me, followed by a brief stay in Kimberly BC to just free ski and generally mess around. After that nice easy week I went through a disastrous series of speed races back in Kimberly that left me soured to wanting to post anything pertaining to my racing. But I got back on the horse and got back into the training grove and focused on Giant Slalom and Slalom for the month down time that was March 2013 to get ready for the British Columbia Para Alpine Provincials, US Nationals in Park City Utah, as well as Canadian Nationals in Sun Peaks BC which would mark the end of the racing season.

As far as those races are concerned they went very well for me, I cleaned house at the BC provincials walking away with 3 golds. The Us Nationals were good also but the competition there was allot more stiff compared to the BC races, especially considering that there were some of the best para-skiers in the world there. I still managed to walk away with 6th in both the National and the NorAm Giant Slalom, as well as 4th in the National Slalom race. Canadian Nationals I fared a bit better with a silver in the National Giant Slalom and a gold in the NorAm Slalom, I almost secured a gold in National Slalom but crashed out about a quarter way though the course and while still finishing I didn't place very well. But with how well I did perform in both the US and Canadian Nationals I was invited to train with the National Team in Mt. Hood, Oregon for a week and half for one of their tech training camps. The Oregon trip was nice but conditions were really soft and some times unsafe considering that there were exposed rocks all over the place which resulted in one of the female American para athletes getting injured.

Which brings us to how I got to New Zealand. Apparently according to other peers of mine who are already on the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team as well as the coaching staff that my skiing has improved considerably in the past season and it is in their opinion that I would be competitive at the World Cup level. If this was any other season I would likely be in Chili right now which would also be pretty cool but this year also happens to coincide with the New Zealand Winter Games which hosts a series of events at the World Cup level that spans both para and able bodied events. So this year there are some World Cup Para-Alpine races in New Zealand, and so far I do not have any World Cup starts, and it has been suggested and hinted at that if I can meet the criteria for the Paralympics that my attendance in those games may be a distinct possibility but not a guarantee. That criteria is that one must have at least two finishes in the top 12 of a World Cup race and IPC points in each event lower than 220. I already have IPC points lower than 220 in all events so what I need now is two World cup finishes in the top 12, which is why I believe that the team asked me to come to this set of training camps and races. Now what is the possibility of me getting these finishes here at this event you may ask? well I would answer with if the coaches didn't think that I could do it then they would not have invited me to this month long training camp and associated races. It should also be noted that i also think that I can achieve this bench mark as it would be the culmination of a long lost child hood dream to go to a winter Olympic game albeit a Parlympic games it is still far beyond any point many of my childhood peers ever made it in the alpine racing world.

So I hope that all of my followers who know of my endeavors will wish me luck and all the best in achieving this goal not only to represent Canada but to represent a community of individuals who strive to be the best and most unique in all that they do in their own ways.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Winter Park, CO

So I have been back from Winter Park for about a week now and I guess it is time to inform the world how I fared.  But first off I need to thank Mark Catterall of the Regina Alpine Adaptive Ski Program (RAASP) from Saskatchewan Alpine who graciously offered to sponsor my air fair for this trip, it was greatly appreciated.  We got there on December 29th and I spent the 30th training Super-G with the National Center for Disabled Sports (NSCD) under the direction of Erik Peterson who also represented me for all the races while I was there, so a big thanks goes out the him and all their staff.  The 31st the vast majority of the racers took as a day off since it was New Years eave but I took the morning to work in a few more speed runs and to try to get used to the hill a bit more and overall was a good relaxing day.  January 1st was the Super-G and overall it went okay, there was a weird traverse half way through which tended to throw a few people for a loop and I really do wish I had a few more days to train on the hill but overall it was okay.  I placed 9th in the first race and 7th in the second race, which was a second and a half faster than the first race despite a hip checking speed scrub at the traverse.  The Giant Slalom and the Slalom could have gone better.  I don't even want to talk about the GS but I will say this about the Slalom, if I had managed to hold it together at the last gate on the second run there was a good chance that I may have walked away with 4th, but ski racing wasn't built on what ifs and all I can really do is learn from my mistakes and apply those lessons to the future.

I was back home for all of two days and then I was off to Kimberly for three days of skiing with my Sask coach and a guy I skied with a little last year as well as a new guy who is just getting into sit skiing.  From a training stand point it was bit light but the second day My coach set a full 60 gate course with tall gates which made the trip worth it.  Our final day was suppose to be GS training but we got snowed in, so it turned into a powder day.  The first few runs of the day I tried a HOC sit ski produced by an American manufacture and while it is a decent unit and there is one guy I know of who can really make it work and is near top of the IPC points lists, I maintain my previous theory that it is a sit ski that is better suited for double leg amputees and not for para's who have legs and a degree of leg function, but I digress.  The rest of the day I spent on a nice powder ski which was a first and I have decided that I really need powder skis, it made cutting through all the chopped up and mounded snow on main runs so smooth, unlike trying to use a slalom ski in powder which is not ideal.  It also provided allot of float through deep powder and actually made skiing deep snow fun.

So all in all the Winter Park trip was fun and Kimberly was a way to unwind a bit before getting back into full racing and training mode Next week.

Monday, 24 December 2012

A Few Pictures From the Early Season

Panorama BC, IPC SG 2012 (Kurt Oatway)
Copper Mt. Colorado, NorAm GS 2012 (Kurt Oatway)
Copper Mt. Colorado, 2012 CPAST Prospects Team (Left: Kurt Oatway, Vanessa Knight, Erin Latimer, Mac Marcoux, Nick Brush 'Coach', Ben Thompson, BJ Marcoux :Right)