I have spent the last month and a half skiing around on the International Paralympic World Cup circuit. The Paralympic alpine world is so small and I honestly love getting to know not only my American teammates but competitors from all over the world. I love that I can learn something from all of my competitors, and I have gotten to know a lot of them quite well from our conversations during race days. Here’s a list of the things I always get asked directly following a ski race.
1. How’d your run go?
This is kind of the question everyone asks right after the race is finished. Whether they actually care about how I skied or if they just feel the need to make some sort of conversation I kind of always answer with a very general “good” or “eh not great” depending on the day.
2. Did the course run well?
Because I am a visually impaired female I always run very early in the race. A lot of times when I come down after running there are male mono skiers sitting at the bottom waiting to head up the mountain for their run. Often the boys will ask us how the course is running. Even though everyone gets to slip through the course at the beginning of the day it’s sometimes hard to predict exactly how it will feel when you are actually charging full speed.
3. Did you see that huge rut in the middle?
This one’s a little ironic because I am blind so no, no I probably did not notice the minimal snow coverage by one of the gates… unless of course it caused me to land on my face, then I probably found out it was there pretty quickly.
4. How far back are you from first?
In some alpine events the racer’s combined time is taken from two race runs. I get this question a lot between the first and second run of the race. I am the type of person that really doesn’t like to look at times in the middle of runs. For me, numbers can be distracting and I find it better for my performance if I ignore the times until both runs of the race have been completed. Because I don’t focus too much on times during the race, I often answer this question with a “well I am not really sure actually” or “you should ask Sadie she can see the scoreboard better than I can.”
5. Are you on the podium today?
To be honest most of the time I have to answer this by saying something like “no didn’t quite do it today” but I guess that makes all the times I get to say “yes we did it today” just a little sweeter.
6. Did you get late in that middle section?
Ski racing is comprised of both technical and tactical perspectives. Technical is the actual position of the skier whereas tactical is being able to execute the fastest line in the course to bring the racer from the top to the bottom as quickly as possible. When racers inspect a course, tactics are often the primary thought and certain courses leave racers prone to different mistakes. I often get asked by other racers how we ran the line or if we had issues in certain sections. I never really know how to answer these questions though because for me I just follow Sadie.
7. How about that finish area?
In order for a race to run, the track on the course must be maintained enough that it is safe for the racers. However, the finish area tends to get overlooked and often does not have very good snow or space to stop after the finish line. One time I came through the finish with some heat and hit bad snow and totally wiped Sadie out! It was funny in retrospect but it can be scary! I think every athlete has their own humiliating finish line stories, so now we make it a point to talk about how we will stop every time we run a race.
8. Did you have fun?
I love when people ask me this question because it is so easy to get caught up in the emotions of ski racing, and forget all about the fact that we do all of this for fun. Having fun ski racing is something Sadie and I strive for every day, and I think it is really important to reflect on. As an elite athlete it is so easy to forget why you fell in love with a sport. I want to be able to have fun skiing for the rest of my life, so if I ever feel like my racing career is ruining skiing for me I will retire. I feel incredibly fortunate that I still love ski racing. Regardless of the times on the board, I almost always have a great time when I get to do what I love.