Today, January 11th 2013 marks exactly one year since I blew my knee in the finals at Alpe D’Huez, France. It has been a difficult journey to say the least but I am extremely happy with my progression and overall comeback to date.
Although it was always a goal I kept in my mind throughout the recovery process of my knee, I never thought winning a World Cup would come so early in the season. On December 23rd 2012 I took the gold in San Candido Italy for the third consecutive win over the last two years. My previous success on that hill added to my confidence this December. I had come close to the podium in Colorado coming fourth, finished poorly in France only one week earlier. I was tired of losing and on December 23rd, 2012 I told myself that I was going to win.
Qualifying went smoothly finishing 5th in the standings. Although it was a solid result I’m never 100% satisfied in qualifying unless I’m 1st. My coach Willy and I sat down the evening before the race to discuss potential passing lanes, gate choices, and any key features to focus on throughout the course. My game plan was set. My first two heats were no problem. I was focused and knew what I had to do out of the gate. I advance with ease into the finals where I was paired up against Katrin Muller of Switzerland, Ophelie David of France and teammate and good friend Georgia Simmerling.
Whilst stepping into the gate in the finals there was one section of the course that stood out in my mind. It was a right-footed turn just over a third of the way down the track that was littered with icy holes. In the last two runs this turn had completely killed all of my speed for the flat traverse that was spotted with two jumps and a double that lay after it. I had spoken with Georgia and she mentioned that the track was much smoother if you ski around the ruts rather than through them. If in the lead, this would be a risky manoeuvre because it would leave the door open for the racer behind you to make a pass on the inside. But if I were in 3rd or 4th place heading into the turn it would be smarter to take a chance to ski the wider line to gain momentum for the next section of the course.
We were standing in the gate for quite some time before we got word that the course was clear and TV was ready for the women’s final heat. Our Italian start gate announcer, who happened to sound like Elmer Fudd, recites the words l have heard nearly 1000 times.
“Wacers, pwoceed into the stawt gate. Wacers weady, attention…”The gate dropped after what felt like a long five second hold. I completely missed my start and settled into third/ fourth place beside my teammate. I let her know I was on her inside heading into the next turn and she left me space. I was now in fourth place. I remember thinking, “oh no, not fourth place again!!”
The tricky turn was coming up along with a potential passing opportunity. I watched all the girls in front of me battle through the bumps while I comfortably skied a smooth line around the outside. Georgia was putting pressure on Ophelie for second position. I think this slightly distracted both of them at just the right moment causing them to case the first of the three consecutive airs. Katrin, who was in front must have ran into the previous turn the hardest and lost the most speed. Before I knew it, I passed Georgia and Ophelie and was quickly gaining ground on Katrin. I was in a risky position because if any of the racers decide to move right I would be pushed off the track. I squeeze by Katrin at the end of the flats, solidify my pass off a double set of rollers. After the pass, I had no idea what was happening behind me. All I knew was I had to stay focused, ski smart, stay on my feet and reach as hard as I could for that finish line.
When I came across the line in first position I was so happy and relieved. At that moment I knew that all the gruelling work and struggles I suffered through over the last 11 months was 100% worth it. I feel like I’m back and ready for more!
Thank you to all those who never gave up on my dreams and always supported me through thick and thin. It has been a roller-coaster of a journey over the last six years and it is far from over. A special thank you goes out to my sponsors and supporters:
T-Lane Transportation & Logistics
Big White Ski Resort
The Hot Box Yoga
Sleepy’s Furniture & Sleep Shop
SoLo Energy Bars
all of the Canada Ski Cross coaches and support staff