AST Coach Journal: Amanda Smith

Happy New Year to All!

The AST women’s crew is currently here in New York State finishing up our trip with some GS races over at Gore Mountain. Before we dive into the details of our current travels, let’s recap a few things from December and the end of 2023. Where did we leave off? The women’s team travelled back from Tremblant NorAMs while the men’s team travelled from Beaver Creek NorAms and we all met up in Panorama, for the Maclachlan winter race series. It was good to have the crew back together again in one place.

Luckily, this season a holiday miracle was granted to us and the weather conditions were much kinder than the previous season. We did not have to brave the frigid cold temps like the year before which helped make for a great race series. The first two days we had some GS racing and results wise the crew walked away with some hardware,  Zoe(overall 2nd, 2nd), and Caleb(overall 3rd). There were a few top 10 finishes from others in there as well. The last two days of the series was slalom where once again some hardware was brought home by Polly(overall 2nd & 3rd), Eva(U19 3rd) and Caleb(overall 3rd & 2nd). As well as some top 10 finishes. I feel overall the athletes were stoked to be back somewhere as familiar as Panorama and to come together as the full team for this race series before the holidays. Speaking of holidays, we did partake in a team secret santa exchange. Thoughtfulness was seen within the gifts given to each other and one might say the men’s team showed some creative gift wrapping too. Everyone headed home after this series for a well deserved holiday break and family time.

We all met at the Calgary airport on Dec 29th to catch our flight for the next race series. As the plane touched down the pilot came on the overhead speaker welcoming us to our new destination. “It’s currently 2 degrees celsius and pouring rain, welcome to Quebec ” The Team split again, both driving down into the states. The men off to Burke and the women off to Stratton. After a late night rainy drive we arrived in Stratton. You could say that the weather and conditions dampened our optimism for the upcoming NorAm races as snow conditions were not ideal. It was the start of January yet it felt like October. One of the things about this sport is there are so many variables that can be out of one’s control, therefore you shift your focus to what you can control and make the most of it. Find the silver linings and do what you can from what you have. Thankfully these conditions only lasted the first three days and finally we got some cold temps which allowed for snow making.

During the three days we made the most of on snow training, and spent time in the gym. We had a post training visit to the waffle cabin with the BC women’s team where bold statements such as “This is the best waffle I have ever tasted” were made, and yes I would agree that those waffles were delightful. That evening we came together with the Ontario and BC women’s teams for a new year’s bonfire bbq. It can be common for us provincial crews to work together on snow within certain race series, but it was gratifying to see the athletes bond off snow as well. I feel supporting each other is important and creating bonds and relationships between the provinces to do so helps everyone as a collective. Overall it was a lovely evening and a great way to ring in the new year all together.

It’s now 2024, a new year, a new race. I can say the surface on our tech free ski day before the races kicked off pleasantly surprised us. The Stratton Noram kicked off with two GS days to start followed by two Slalom days. This is a NorAm and if you know ski racing it is a stepping stone up into the next level. We teamed up with the BC women’s team and it was great to work together again. Qualifying for second runs the crew battled their way and Polly came out with some slalom NorAm points. After Stratton it was planned to be back on the speed program with some NorAm Super-G races out at Whiteface Mountain but due to the conditions they have been postponed to later in the season. We left Stratton and drove our way up to Lake Placid with a minor added detour. There was a pitstop at some of the greatest things America has to offer, Trader Joes and Target. With tasty snacks in hand, we continued our journey to our destination.

The Super-G race days that had been postponed due to lack of snow, became training days for us. Irony hit, as our first training session was then cancelled due to a sudden winter storm and now too much snow. Off to the gym the team went for that day and we were reacquainted with the AST men’s crew. This brings us to now, at Gore Mountain resort. Today with a GS training session with softer conditions in preparation for the race series. The men will be racing at Whiteface Mountain while the ladies will be at Gore Mountain. We are all optimistic and ready to race these final series before we travel back home for a training block.

I hope all of you had a wonderful time over the holiday break. I would like to say thank you to our sponsors, SportingLife, Karbon, and GMC Dealers of Alberta, for all of their support as it means a great deal to this team. Thank you to all the other supporters of this team, parents, athletes, and staff. I am stoked to be here coaching and working with this amazing crew. The rest of this season along with the future is something I look forward to! Happy New Year and until next time!!