Italian national qualifier

Last weekend was the Italian Sci Alpino National Qualifiers in Padola and Passo Monte Croce. The racing was 3 days long, starting on Thursday and ending on Saturday. There was also a training day on Wednesday for the Super G which was on Wednesday, making the whole week really long. The trip from Cortina to Padola and Passo Monte Croce is 1 hour each way.

To be able to race in these Qualifiers you had to place in the top 10 of our greater region of Alta Belluno which has about 70 U14 boys racing in it.  I made it in on my points even though I didn’t do all the races as I was away racing in the internationals.  There were 60 boys in these qualifiers.

We had only been home for 2 days from a week at Topolino racing when I had to go and do these races.

On Wednesday we had a training day on the course where we got to race with bibs but no timing – just like in the World Cup.

On Thursday it was a Super G. The weather was fine that day. I had Guilia with me because she had the day off from coaching. The course was long but still the same as the last time I raced there 2 or 3 weeks ago. I did ok, but not as good as I wanted to – but still ok. I think I got somewhere between 20th to 30th. I know I could have done better as I’ve gotten into the top 10 before.

Friday was slalom over at Passo Monte Croce witch is another 45 min drive from Cortina. In the slalom I did much better. I still had a late bib – from the 3rd draw but managed to get to 16th – 1 place away from the flip but on the second run I managed to pull up to 15th place so I got in the top 15 in the end, and I was the only ‘3rd bib draw’ athlete to make it into the top 20.

Saturday was GS –  I had a better bib number than the other few days and I still managed to get 16th. It is only a one run race.  The course was down the same slope as the Super G but a few gates less. My coaches said I skied well on the steep and technical sections but need to hold my edge longer as I go round the turn.

I didn’t make it to the National Finals – I was close, but I have made huge improvements over the last two years and with lots of hard work,  next year I’ll be even better

Pokal Loka – My First International

A month ago, in early February, and on a Saturday and Sunday, I had my first 2 international ski youth alpine ski races for New Zealand. While the race is called Pokal Loka, it is normally held in Stari Vrh – Slovenia, but because of the lack of snow at the time, the race was moved to  Kranjska Gora which is a world cup location in Slovenia too. On Saturday it was due to be a GS and on Sunday, a Slalom, but they changed it to two Slalom races because of the conditions. It snowed the whole weekend!

Day 1 race course
Day 1 race course

On Friday mum and I went to the slope that the race was on and skied it to get a feel of the terrain. At this race I didn’t have a coach so I did everything with my parents.  Saturday arrived and it was race day. On Saturday the weather was great – it was hot, sunny and the new snow was perfect. The race started at 10 and inspection was a 8:30 so we had to get up early, as the hotel that we were staying in was an hour drive away in the old historical town of Škofja Loka. The night before the race mum and dad had to go to a coaches meeting to get my bib, and find out about the race start time and other information. Dad did my skis after warm up, and mum was in the start zone with me.

My bib number was 12 on the first day which is a great number.  I came 16th which is ok because it was my first international race and it was a really hard field with lots of athletes from Eastern Europe as well as all of the big skiing nations like Austria, Norway, Germany and France. The second day was different (but still the same time and everything), just it was snowing and my bib was number 4. The course was on the same slope as the day before but with all the new snow it made it a tiny bit different. Not harder and not easier – just different.  My first run was ok – I skied into the top 20, but I didn’t do very well on the second run as I crashed about 4 gates from the finish. On both of the days it was 2 runs. I had lots of fun there and I want to go back next year.

Day 2 start
Day 2 start

Schladming

Last Tuesday Dad, Tigne, Mum and I went to Schladming in Austria to watch another Alpine Ski World Cup race – but this time it was the famous Men’s Slalom Night Race at Schladming. It was so much fun watching the race. We left Cortina in Italy at around 11am and arrived at Schladming at around 3:30pm (after first checking into our apartment). The race was awesome because Nils (the head coach of the NZL Mens team) got us free VIP tickets so we got to watch from a stand near the finish line. The first run was cool. After the first run, Neureuther from Germany was in 1st place, 2nd was Kristoffersen form Norway, and in 3rd place was Setefano Gross from Italy.  Marcel Hirscher who was the home favourite was in 22nd because his goggles fogged up while he was racing.

IMG_2301

About halfway through the first run we headed into town to get some food from the festival tents then shot straight back up to the stand to watch the New Zealand team come down. Willis Feasey DNF’d (did not finish) in the first run and Adam Barwood finished but did not qualify for the second run – although I thought he skied well; he started from bib number 80 and finished in the 50’s . Only the top 30 skiers get a second run.

The race was awesome – in the end it was 1st Kristoffersen, 2nd Marcel Hirscher who skied from 22nd place after the first run, and 3rd was  Alexander Khoroshilov.  Hirscher was unbelievable!

The race finished at around 9 o’clock. We stayed in a little apartment out of town so that we didn’t need to drive home that night, but rather the next morning after breakfast.  I still made it home in time to ski in the afternoon!

Kitzbühel Alpine Skiing World Cup Racing

On Friday Dad, Tigne, Mum and I went to Kitzbühel to watch the mens World Cup. The race was a Super Combined which is  combination of a Super-G and a Slalom in two separate runs – but your times added together. The Super-G was first. That started at 11:45am in the morning and the Slalom was at 4.45pm in the afternoon. We drove up from Cortina in Italy to Austria especially for the race -Kitzbühel is a 3 hour drive away from Cortina so we had to leave early.  We got there with about half an hour spare and we had to find a park and walk to the slope where the race was being held. Giulia, our really good friend got us free tickets to the race because she was working with the US ski team which was very cool of her!  Before the race started they flew old fighter plans over us and then flew newer planes over us. The new planes went from 400km to 1000km in just a few seconds.

The super-g is to the left and the slalom is to the right
The super-g is to the left and the slalom is to the right

When the race started we found a great spot to watch the race from. We watched until approximately bib number 50 then we walked into town to get lunch. After the first run Aksel Lund Svindal from Norway was winning. Ted Ligety did better than last year – he got 2 more gates further towards the finish than last year before crashing!  When we ate lunch in town we tried to take as long as possible so we didn’t have to wait so long for the Slalom to start. It was getting dark and the temperature was dropping.  After we finished lunch we walked up to the Slalom very slowly because we still had time till the start.

The slalom was in the dark so they had these big flood lights pointing down onto the course which was cool. The course was also super icy so there where loads of crashes. Alexis Pinturault won the whole race so he is still the defending champion at Kitzbuühl. Aksel Lund Svindal crashed and hurt his knee. After the race we headed straight home – the drive was long but we got home early enough at 9 o’clock.

Race Two of the Season.

Last Sunday was my second race of the year. It was a GS race at San Vito. I had to meet Andrea at the main train station in town at 7am in the morning to drive to the race as San Vito is about a 20 minute drive from Cortina. It was super cold at San Vito because the sun gets blocked out by the mountains that surround it – so it’s normally quite icy too.  My brother Tigne was racing at Faloria which was even colder because of the wind – they had a wind chill factor of minus 30 while we were a nice warm minus 5!

IMG_1905.jpgThe race started a little later than it was supposed to but we still managed to be finished before lunch. At U14 level we only get one run as there is still a huge amount of kids ski racing so there is not enough time to run a two-run race! My bib number was 139 which was a late bib number because of my last race where I popped out of the course and had to hike, only coming mid field. I still did well though; starting 50th out of my age group (of 54) and placing 7th. The race was 35 gates long which was taking about 54 seconds to finish for the top guys.  It was rutty by the time my turn came to race. There were some parts of the race I knew I should tuck but I couldn’t because the ruts were too big.

After the race mum and I went to pick Tigne and Dad up from the bottom of the gondola that leads up to Faloria. Then we headed into town to eat lunch. Dad and I ate burgers while mum had a yummie pasta and Tigne had a pizza. After lunch we headed home, to have a rest before going to dinner at Micky’s house.

First Race of 2016

On Sunday was my first race in Italy of 2016. It was a Slalom race not a GS. In Italy it is usually a GS race as the first race of their season but this time it was Slalom because of the conditions. The night before the race it rained really hard. It wasn’t cold enough for it to snow on the lower slopes so it rained which was really bad. It meant that the gates would not stay in the snow.

When I woke up in the morning our driveway was covered in sheet ice. It was like an iceskating rink. Dad drove me down to the station where my coach Andrea was waiting for my whole group. After the van was all packed and every one was in the van we left Cortina to go to Auronzo, about a 40 minute drive away where the race was held.

We drove a lot slower than we normally do but we still passed cars at 100km/ph. Because of the time in the morning it was still dark and the ice was all over the road. When we got there we grabbed our gear and walked over to the chair lift where we put our stuff on. After inspection we were given our bibs. My bib number was 107 and Federico’s was 97 so I was only 10 people behind him.

100116-Auronzo-Keir-SL-2

The first part of the course was not rutted, rather it was smooth and straight.  This is how the course went; It started with a few gates that where straight then we went down onto the steep. Then we had our first hairpin, and after that it was rutty for the rest of the course.   We had a few gates that were wide then we had a delay to get us around the corner and onto the flat. Then we would gain some speed on the flat and go into a really turney section, then straight into another hairpin. After that we had 1 flush then another hairpin.  The last few gates where very straight which lead you to the finish.

My time was slow because of a big mistake I made which costed me about 8 seconds. My mistake was on the turney  part at the flat. I hit a bump that popped me out of the course and forced me to hike up to the gate I missed.  With a big time penalty I still bet people in the race so I didn’t come last which was impressive. After the race was finished I went and had lunch in the cafe with Mum, Dad, Pietro and his parents.  When we were eating lunch we watched the woman’s World Cup Super-G race and the mens second run of Slalom. Then after lunch we headed home – the drive wasn’t as icy as on the way to Auronzo.

First week training 

This week was my first week training in it Italy. There has been some cold times and some very hot times. To day was very cold. My ski team got to train with the old ski coach of the Italian ski team. He has had a few people that he has coached that have won medals in the World Cup and Olympics.

This week we have already started full slalom gates. And maybe tomorrow we will do full GS gates. I have skied in the weekend and in the school day so basically I have skied every day this week. This weekend is a long weekend I don’t know why but it just is. It goes all the way till Tuesday and then they go back to school.     

I have the same two coaches and one new coach that can speak English which is good. His name is Simone and my other two are called Andrea and Denise. More and more lifters are opening as they make more snow but the snow is melting very quick because of the hot weather. Our first race is before Christmas. 

Getting to Italy

It took us 2 boring days to get to to our destination in Italy. 4 flights of which 2 were long and 2 were short. We left Saturday afternoon and arrived in Italy on Monday. This time it was just Dad and I going to Italy to train for a month and then Mum and Tigne will come over. The waits weren’t that long this time each one 2 hours long and the good thing was we got to sit in the lounge because of Dad’s air points. Instead of stopping in Dubai for 3 days we stopped in London for 24 hours.

Me in the lounge in Los Angelese
Me in the lounge in Los Angelese
Me in London
Me in London

The change of time was the hardest thing out of my whole trip. It took me 5 days to finally get into the time difference. My ski coach Giulia picked us up from the airport in Venice. We hopped into her van and started to head to Verona where we stayed for a couple of nights. The drive was only 2 hours to Verona.

Giulia and I watching the sunset over Verona
Giulia and I watching the sunset over Verona

A few days later after Verona we left for Cortina which was another long 3 hour drive. By now we had our car which is a Kia ceed. On our first day of skiing we were shocked to see no snow. Only one run was open out of 6 mountains. 2013 18 meters of snow, 2015 5cm of snow, so not that much compared to 2013. We have one month until Mum and Tigne get here and then we will have four months till we leave to queenstown.