After an incredible stretch of Winter conditions in the Outaouais and all the regions North of the St.Lawrence Valley, the season ran into a pothole.
Rude awakenings or sleeping in
Saturday January 11 was the start of the ski school programs, but Edelweiss was closed. In fact most of the ski areas in Quebec opted to closed on what is one of the busiest days of the season : the first Saturday of ski school programs.
In fact the first pothole of the season which put an end to the awesome Winter streak of packed powder ski conditions was the rain from last Monday January 6 then everything was put in the deep freeze the following day. Round two of thaw and rain came on Saturday January 11 with temperatures around +6c reduced the snowpack and gave us Spring snow conditions for the Sunday.
Sunday January 12
I’m normally not one to complain about Spring conditions, but not in January. The road was also showing signs of Spring with potholes and bumps. The ski conditions were so bad as the roads. My daughter was teaching her first class ever with the Ski school this morning…ironic that she had ski lessons at Edelweiss as a young child.
The temperature this morning was just below freezing and the plan for the day was to train slalom on Zoomer. The only problem was that Zoomer was closed as the groomer was still working at it when the lift opened. The ski patrol wouldn’t let us crossed the line to set while it was somewhere on the hill. What was supposed to be only a few minutes took about half of the morning. In the meantime we got to work on our skiing. The NCO team was also present and managed to set the course in which the patrol was pissed off at us. Eventually we were allowed to set before the trail was open to the public…which was like only 2 minutes before.
There was a small layer of fresh snow, but it was hard to get a clean edge on the firm frozen granular base. Two courses were set up; ours on Upper Zoomer and NCO’s on the lower main part of the trail. Kids from each club were training both. The bonus with NCO’s course was that they had set up a small timing device so the kids could know how they did. Our timing was off, as we decided to train much later due to the fact that it was almost lunch time were the course was set. Like the snow conditions, you have to be able to adapt.
It didn’t take long for the course to become ugly; huge ruts, icy firm base, which sometimes broke through. It was a challenge and the kids had to fight at every moment not to be bounced out. One thing about ski racing, you have to focus on your skiing and on not the conditions. The conditions can suck, but they suck for everyone. The fastest skier win, regardless of the conditions.
Wednesday January 15 – Potholes of life and Masters race
Like a ski season, life has full of potholes. Although I’m still skiing and my ski streak is still active; if you’ve been reading this blog regularly and reading between the lines, you might have noticed that I’ve been fighting with health issues related to stress for the last 3-4 seasons. One of the significant moments that started to affect my skiing was the health scare I got at the first Ottawa Masters race at Fortune back in January 2012. Since that blackout, palpitations and sky-high heart rate and blood pressure, I had withheld from ski racing. This, even after following a series of tests at the Heart Institute. Everything seemed to be related to my increased anxiety levels which was hard to control. I finally hit rock bottom last June and it has been a long continuing fight to try to get healthy again. I’m not traveling like I use to: I’m taking one step at a time. One huge step is to get back into Masters ski racing. I had skipped the first race at Fortune due to my stress level being too high.
This was the second Masters race of the season and the first one at Edelweiss. I had planned to get at the hill no matter what. The goal was to race, but I was going to see how I felt first. No sharpening or waxing, I couldn’t even manage to do it. The stress level increased as I was driving up to Edelweiss to finally reach a high at the starting gate. My heart was racing, my mind was rushing, my body didn’t like it; not the normal butterflies feeling…this was intense and the worst feeling in a long time. My anxiety issue have multiplied the normal race anxiety 20 times. The fact that my last racing evening two years ago ended up badly didn’t help. It was much warmer than I expected as it was just around -5c.
Down the icy GS course on Zoomer and through the finish. I felt slightly better at the finish area. The ski conditions weren’t as bad as feared and it was carveable with good edges. Ottawa Masters racing consist of 3 timed run, the competitor with the best two run combine time wins.
First run was breaking the ice.
Second run was the fastest.
Third run was faster than the first.
The final results of the race was that I won. A first victory in my long road in becoming healthy again. The fastest racer of the evening was series champ Gary which clocked over 5 seconds faster each run. In fact my fastest run was 2.43 seconds slower than my handicap for the Beer Points, that is skiing at only 93% of my pre-blackout racing expectation in GS back in late 2011 : second worst versus his handicap on the Beer Points list.
It was a nice 5 run evening, but they were so important. This was small step to the road to recovery. It was a great evening with a great turnout of 56 racers and there were many new faces since my last race. I expected that my season results will be sandbagged, so I might “win” best improved run at least once in the future? I wasn’t going to make it to the long -23c Cascades slalom the following Wednesday, but I’ll take this small victory and build on it.
Here is the summary from the Masters’ prez:
Race 2 Edelweiss GS
Another great GS, another great turnout! 56 racers lined up to set themselves up for ridicule and defeat at the hands of the race crew on a course in direct view of the chair lift. Some of you were very entertaining.
This was a picture perfect night. I was skeptical given the R and the warm melt from the weekend, but the temperatures dropped and the snow was fast and hard and held up well. No wind, about -4 or so and that was it.
The crew set up a great course, the finish coral was safe and well protected. Good Job!
Once again the Gary Joneses were at the top of the list. Bod Suderman, failing to show is putting his dreams of a Masters championship in jeapardy already.
On the ladies chart, Erin Hall threw a pair of 36’s narrowly edging Megan by 5/100ths of a sec to win Gold. I think that was the first podium for Erin!
Danielle Avery, a masters newby, took home her first gold in the beer points. She promptly drank her award.