AST Coach Journal
It is hard to believe we have been living in this altered state for almost a year now. I remember the optimism early on when we were postponing events by weeks, or maybe a month or two down the road, in anticipation of “when COVID is over”. I certainly did not grasp the magnitude of COVID’s effect right away. Yet, a year later, here we are pushing through and for the most part, still maintaining some level of optimism.
The team has been very lucky to still have some opportunities to race and train outside of our home region. The month of January and into early February saw the team sprawled into all different corners of our globe. Peter, Logan and Dan were down in the USA on a similar racing and training program as the women’s team. Their four-week tour saw some solid performances across the board with podiums and personal bests. Navigating the COVID ski season presents some unique challenges, but the team stayed focused and ultimately had a successful trip. Unfortunately, on the last day of their US trip, Dan suffered a broken leg while training. He is in good spirits and mending well; the whole team is wishing him a speedy and successful recovery!
While most of the team was south of the border, I was lucky enough to take Liam and Jamie across the pond. In total we spent five weeks in Europe filled with incredible racing and world class training. The journey over was somewhat of an unknown. We knew where we were landing and where we would be staying; everything in between was a question mark. The biggest hurdle proved to be checking into our flight in Calgary. After spending over an hour and a half providing documentation and proof of travel, they finally checked us in and we managed to board the plane with not a minute to spare. Our layover in Toronto went smoothly and we only had one last hurdle: German customs.
I am not sure if it was all our paperwork being in order or our great Canadian charm, but they stamped our passports with no questions and boom, we were in Europe! Things did spice up a little when our bags, which were checked in 30 minutes before our flight, inevitably didn’t show up. But we got our COVID tests, picked up the rental van and headed for the Austrian border. We had heard the Austrian border was tough and had been turning people away so we weren’t sure what to expect. Much to our delight, after stopping every car in front of us, they waved us right through! This good fortune seemed to follow us for most of our trip. Out of our six border crossings we only got stopped once, which lasted all of two minutes and one simple sentence, “we are headed to a ski race”. Europe loves their ski racing.
As for the actual skiing part of our trip, the guys started off on a great note. Liam found himself on the slalom podium day one, in 3rd place, and followed it up with a win on day two; Jamie was close behind in 4th. We stayed in Austria for the first two weeks of our trip where we got some GS and SG racing in as well which saw the guys grab another podium and some personal bests. Leaving Austria we went to Italy for two days of tech races before heading up to Switzerland for some European Cups. This stint got us six starts in five days in three different countries that were capped off with some European Cup points in Super G for Liam. Following this we headed back to Italy where we were going to hit some European Cup GS starts. Due to a large weather system that hit most of central Europe, these and our next races, were canceled. This resulted in a few days off and landed us in Pozza di Fassa. We stationed ourselves here and had five solid days of Slalom training before getting back on the road to test our skills at some local FIS races in Italy. The rest of the trip was mainly focused on skiing European Cup races, which was one of the targets with the loss of our Nor-Am circuit this season. With the announcement of the hotel quarantine coming into effect it became clear it was time to head home. Although we left with some unfinished business and more to prove, it has also left us wanting more. We finished up our quarantines just over a week ago and are back at it at Nakiska, Norquay and Lake Louise in preparation for what will hopefully be a busy spring full of races.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the team and ski racing in this province. These are challenging times, but if we come together we can think of creative ways to still have fun and ski fast. Keep the optimism high and I can’t wait to see everyone out on the slopes soon!