AST Athlete Journal: Mikayla Wunsch
My Name is Mikayla Wunsch and this is my first year with the Alberta Ski Team. For my previous three seasons of FIS, I skied with the Nakiska Alpine ski association.
I can honestly say the craziness of the race season has officially started for the team! At the start of December, Polly Eva and Caleb were at Norquay for some slalom racing. Their hard work throughout the summer and Pre-season certainly paid off with some great runs and results! While the tech crew was racing, our speed team flew out to Denver for the Nor-Am speed series at Copper Mountain. Our super wonderful coaches, Amanda and Peter drove 17 hours with our equipment to meet us for the final leg of the journey up to Silverthorne. I was particularly excited for this series because I really love Downhill and Super-G!
Before our race series, the team was fortunate enough to get a slalom day at Loveland Basin. Although the snow was very soft, everyone was grateful to keep the legs moving.
If I could describe the next couple days in 1 word, it would be SNOW!! For two days, we woke up, put on our gear, and were quickly disappointed when Amanda walked out of her room with news of canceled training. Instead of our first downhill training day, we had a GS powder day at Copper Mountain.
After a day of no new snow, and a tremendous effort from the volunteers and coaches, the track was finally ready for a productive downhill training day! It was my first time skiing the run and let me tell you, I certainly needed the time to learn how to effectively ski the terrain, and find the right line. One thing I love about speed is how closely we work with the other provincial team coaches and athletes. It is super awesome to learn from and make friends with people from all across Canada.
Now onto the racing!
Zoe had 2 exceptional downhill runs, resulting in career best 6th places! Aidan on his second Nor-Am race ever, scored cup points with a 24th place finish. Also, Gered, despite skiing with a fractured thumb scored Nor-Am points in both of his downhills. I scored my first downhill Nor-Am points, placing 17th and 13th respectively. Even though I found it challenging to find my race intensity, getting two decent finishes is a huge step forward for me after a double DNF at Whistler last year.
I think both Zoe and I can agree that our Super-G’s didn’t quite go as planned. However, at the end of the day, even if it’s not your best day, there is always something to be learnt and someone else to celebrate! In this case, we were all super happy for Anne-Catherine Theberge from the Quebec team, who ended up on the overall podium!
With a long week of racing behind us, we had a team dinner to celebrate Caleb’s 19th birthday, where he did a fantastic job barbecuing ribs! After an awesome dinner and some birthday cake, it was time for us girls to go pack.
After a long travel day, Zoe and I reunited with Polly, Eva and Kyle for the tech Nor-Ams at Mont Tremblant. Amanda got to drive back home and have some well deserved days off in Edmonton. Our boys stayed behind in Silverthorne to race their tech Nor-Ams at Beaver Creek.
So far Tremblant has been a real learning experience. We got to ski the track from the previous week’s world cup, which was super cool, but presented many challenges. The ice brought back memories of the conditions in Hintertux; our skis needed to be SHARP! The rolls and bumps across the flat were built to test your legs. Also, this race was certainly the most competitive one I’ve been to, with some of the world cup girls staying to race the hill for a second time. It’s inspiring to see how focused they are and how hard they are able to push on the skis. Although I skied well in the GS, I was still a ways out from the top racers. Truely, it’s been humbling to see how different tech Nor-Ams are from the speed ones.
The highlight of this series has been our raclette night with the BC girls. After a long race day we got our steak, potatoes, peppers, broccoli, carrots, pickles, onions, mushrooms, bread and asparagus chopped and boiled. All the burners were on high as we set the table for our feast. The night was an absolute blast! We all had lots to talk and laugh about. If you guys weren’t jealous already, we had chocolate covered strawberries, bananas and waffles for dessert! After all of the eating was done, we had so many leftovers that we had to eat raclette again the next day (absolutely no complaints about that!)
Finally, I’d like to thank our sponsors, Sporting Life, Karbon and GMC Dealers of Alberta, who make our hectic racing schedules possible!
I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday and stay tuned to hear more about our season!