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Sochi 2014

February 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Last weekend I raced the Olympic Downhill in Sochi.  The camaraderie and spirit of the games is intoxicating and it was a great week that I was able to spend with my USA teammates.  I am back in the states now, but looking back at Sochi there were a few experiences that really defined my stay there.

The first happened right after we landed on our charter flight from Munich, our entourage, which included men’s alpine, all the snowboard halfpipe team and some of the Nordic combined crew, were taking it all in wide eyed and happy to finally be there.  I was laughing and talking with my coaches when a somber faced older Russian man came over and asked if he could take our picture.  Of course we obliged, but his reasoning is what sticks with me.  He said he wanted to take our picture because our big smiles were so nice to see.  He explained that we could travel all through Russia and rarely see people smiling and laughing unabashedly.  He hoped that the Olympics was going to help the young people of Russia see a different culture and see happiness and joy being spread freely.  I think that his hopes are being realized because throughout the games the thousands of volunteer workers, predominantly young Russians, were happy and gracious and so helpful to our needs.  Amidst all the negative press that Sochi was receiving back home it was nice to see that no such attitude was reflected on the volunteers or the locals of Sochi itself.

The second memory that will stick with me was on the Downhill race day last weekend.  To get to the start you take a long gondola ride that briefly passes over the race course.  I was heading up for my run and I saw the entire US Men’s Slopestyle team perched just outside the fence, fist pumping and cheering as the racers passed.  That made me really happy to see and throughout the week I saw similar examples of athletes just excited to be competing at sport and excited to watch others give their best.  The perceived differences of rival sports are forgotten in the Olympic arena.

Lastly I think back to my race, of course things did not go optimally, but the feeling of adrenaline standing in the start and seeing such high emotion from all the competitors was really special.  There was lots of great skiing on a really tough course that tested the resolve of all the racers.  Congrats to the medalists of all the events, I am excited to keep on watching.

Below are a few pics that i snapped from the games.  Thanks for reading!

Alpine crew ready to hop on the charter from Munich to Sochi.

Alpine crew ready to hop on the charter from Munich to Sochi.

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Opening ceremonies getting ready to head in with the whole crew.  Fun to mix with all the other athletes.  The energy was off the charts

Opening ceremonies getting ready to head in with the whole crew. Fun to mix with all the other athletes. The energy was off the charts

Getting ready to head into opening ceremonies.  MIxing in with all the other athletes.

Getting ready to head into opening ceremonies. MIxing in with all the other athletes.

 

In the tunnel. Todd Lodwick about to lead us out.

In the tunnel. Todd Lodwick about to lead us out.

 

As we enter the stadium. Feeling pride and chills and happiness.

As we enter the stadium. Feeling pride and chills and happiness.

Gondola view from heading up from town to the hill.

Gondola view from heading up from town to the hill.

Sunrise heading up to course on DH race day

Sunrise heading up to course on DH race day

View of the top of the DH course, it was  turny!!

View of the top of the DH course, it was turny!!

Podium from afar. congrats boys!

Podium from afar. congrats boys!

And I am out.  That was awesome!

And I am out. That was awesome!

Pics from EuroLand

January 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm

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Ramping it up

October 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm

The US boys just returned from Chile two days ago.  The Downhill crew had two trips down south this summer and they both went quite well.  La Parva put us up for a good portion of August, a low snow year provided a hard surface for training and they had the DH track in great shape.  Below is a POV run from a day of Downhill in La parva.

 

Our second trip was to Portillo which was great as always.  Lots of steep tough training make Portillo a staple for many teams including the Austrians, Canadians, Norwegians and us.  Nothing to do up there but ski and enjoy the views.

Bode was back for this camp and skiing well.  Maybe surprising a lot of us with his speed that is clearly still there.  Also many of our young skiers were showing their worth.  The age gap in our group is 15 years from youngest to oldest but many days in training we were all within 2 seconds of each other.  The entire crew is skiing at a high level.  Great to see everybody pushing hard.

It has been a lot of fun!  A month of getting stronger in the gym now and then back on snow in Colorado.

 

View from Tio Bob's Restaurant in Portillo, Chile

View from Tio Bob’s Restaurant in Portillo, Chile

Spring Skiing update

April 21, 2013 at 12:22 am

It is Spring!  I just realized that I have not thrown a blog up here for over 2 months.  I am sure that I have lost any loyal followers I had by now, but if there are any of you out there I apologize for being such an inconsistent blogger!

My real day job ended on March 12th when the World Cup Finals were canceled in Lenzerheide.  We packed bags and said goodbye to Europe until next year.  I finished the year ranked 14th in the World Cup Downhill standings.  My best since 2009 so I was stoked about that even though I think that there is still lots of opportunity to move it up.

After we came home I unfortunately had to skip US Nationals at my home mountain of Squaw Valley because the surgeon beckoned me into his office once again.  A small piece of meniscus cartilage in my knee had worked itself loose.  After a quick scope and a  couple weeks of taking it easy I was again ready for action and on the plane to Alaska.

Arctic Man is a race in Alaska that I have won three times with my Teammate Tyler Aklestad.  I have found in trying to explain it that not too many people understand what this race is so I thought I would share a GoPro video that we shot this year. This is a GoPro mounted on the back of Tyler’s helmet so you can see where he picks me up until the time I release. This section represents almost half the race, and the only snow-machine involvement, the rest of the time I am just skiing on my own.

We won the race with a course record this year. We also ate tons of Alaskan crab and fish, saw some amazing northern lights, slept in RV’s for a week of negative temperatures and had an all around great time. For more great Arctic Man photos click here to check out Brian Montalbos gallery from the week. Also check out the www.arcticman.com if you are interested in what it is all about.

After the race I went to hang with my good friend Burntski in Girdwood and had a couple days of bluebird skiing at Alyeska, one of my favorite resorts.P1140064

I can’t get enough of the view from Alyeska, so cool to be looking out over the water.

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Alaska was a success and now I am hanging back in SLC.  We have had 4 days of pow skiing up in the Cottonwood Canyons and I am looking forward to some more.  Not quite ready to call it a winter yet.

Hope everyone is enjoying the Spring!

 

World Champs is here!

February 6, 2013 at 2:22 pm

World Champs downhill is finally going to get underway tomorrow.  It has been close to two weeks since we last raced in Kitzbuhel and everybody is itching to get going.  I have to admit that my least favorite part of ski racing is the waiting game.   We all want to stay sharp so we have been doing quite a bit of training.  The daily routine is something like, wake up , morning warm up, breakfast, ski , lunch, homework, dry-land training, physio, dinner, sleep……repeat.

When you have days like Ted Ligety had today in the Super G then it all seems worth while , but it is the lead up to those days that can drive me crazy!

Thankfully the waiting is over and we will be back on a real downhill course tomorrow.  I am excited and so are the rest of the guys.  The US has a medal in each of the races so far.  For us to keep that trend going in the DH we are going to have to ski our best.  I think that we are capable, and it’s going to be a lot of fun trying to make it happen.  Like our new coach Andy likes to say “ski with a smile and all es gut!”

Below is a team shot of us training at Hinterreit last week.  Ted came with the speed team to train a few days of Super G and it paid off today. Congrats to the new Super G World Champion!

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Wengen Wrap up

January 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Wengen Downhill 2013 is in the books.  Sad that it is another year before we can run this track again.  There were some highlights, a new speed record was set!  Johan Clarey of France hit 161.9km per hour (100.6 MPH)  in the speed trap at the bottom of the Hannegschuss.  Christof Innerhofer won the race  with a time of 2 min. 29.82 seconds which was almost 6 seconds faster than last years winning time showing that the course was just plain fast overall.

Innerhofer skied the key turns flawlessly!  He told me that when he was in the start he had a feeling that he has never had before.  He wanted to risk everything and he did not care of the consequences.  In other words he was in the zone and he executed his plan. Congrats to him, it is always a special thing to see racers win on these classic downhills.

This course has been run since 1930.  It just amazes me how much skiing history is held here and how lucky I have been to be able to race here for the last decade.
Today was not my best performance here, I ended in 13th. It was not a bad result but I was really hoping to capitalize on my early start number which is always seen as an advantage on this long course that gets continuously more bumpy as the day wears on.  The result did move me back into the top ten in the season downhill standings.  Our team is still holding strong with 3 racers in the top 15.  If you want to access the standings and loads of other useless information CLICK HERE  that will take you to today’s results.  Then in the upper right hand corner it says 3 files available.  Click on that and then download the Results, Analysis, and Standings page.  That has all the split times and top speeds that were attained by the racers today.

I will give you a few more pics from this fun week of racing. Below is Andrew Weibrecht sizing up the Hundshopf jump during inspection.

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Wiley Maple and Steven Nyman stoked to be on the crowded train.

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This is one of the hillside viewing areas on the way to inspection this morning almost 3 hours before the race started.  The Swiss enjoy themselves a good ol’ ski race!

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This is during the inspection from low down on the course.   Sometimes it is really peaceful just hanging out before the mayhem of the day begins.

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We are headed out to Kitzbuehel tomorrow.  Our team is fired up to go attack the baddest downhill of them all!  Now we are off to school the Canadians in our ongoing North American hockey tournament.  Actually I don’t think we have ever beat them but we will keep trying!  Hope that everyone is having a great winter.

 

Wengen

January 17, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Wengen Switzerland, one of the best stops on the World Cup.  Today was scheduled to be the final training run but 15cm of new snow fell overnight.  The jury decided that the day would be better spent clearing off the course and getting it primed for the races ahead and they were probably right.  We went up anyway and piddled around on the hill a little bit, it is hard to stay in the hotel room when you are surrounded by mountains like these.

In Wengen the trains serve as chairlifts and they run on a precise schedule.  Half the battle of this week is catching the train at the right  time so you don’t miss an inspection or a race run.

It was forecasted to be snowy weather all week but yesterday the clouds parted and we had a clear top to bottom training run!

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Jared Goldberg getting in the visualizing zone on the Super G turns section of the course.

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The start bar will be going off on Saturday!  The Lauberhorn DH is one of the biggest events in Switzerland.  There are usually upwards of 35,000 fans gracing the sides of the course.  I was on the podium here once in 2009 and I have watched some of my teammates stand on the top step.  This is one of the races that can legitimize a ski racer in one day, but it does take everything you can give. At roughly 2 minutes and 30 seconds it is the longest course on the tour, many racers have seen there glory swallowed up in the A nets at the finish S, a hairpin turn that can make world class racers look like beginners.  What a race it will be, can’t wait for Saturday!

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T2 Foundation

December 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm

The T2 Foundation supports athletes competing in Olympic snow sports, including alpine, Nordic and freestyle skiing.  The Foundation is supporting 29 athletes this season and I am one of them.

More can be found about the foundation at their website at www.T2foundation.com.

T2 is providing an amazing service by allowing athletes in need to apply for grants to help offset the expenses that are demanded by their respective sports.

When I was told by the US Ski Team this past Spring that I was losing my funding one of the first outlets that offered support was T2 even though I am a bit older than their normal demographic.

Beginning this week in Val Gardena I will be wearing the T2 logo on my helmet to help raise awareness for the foundation.  Please check out their website and consider making a donation.  All donations are tax deductible and help to support our upcoming Olympians and a few old downhillers like me!

Italia

December 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm

 

We are back in Italy and life is good.  We chatted with this guy from Rome today he was sucking down a cigarette in front of the Gondola in the sun.  Had to take a pic because it was classic.  The people love their skiing here and it been fun mixing it up with the locals a little bit.  We are here before most of the teams and have just been free skiing and getting our legs back underneath us after the long travel from home.

Another perk of being over here is watching all the live ski racing going on, eating pasta and of course getting ready for the Saslong Classic to kick off this week.  The Saslong is the name of the Downhill piste here in Val Gardena.  It is a classic course and most famous for all of the terrain and jumps that litter the course.  The biggest jump is the camel bumps where the racers need to fly about 55 meters (180 feet) off the first bump in order to safely clear the second bump.  Not making the gap has resulted in many blown out knees over the years but that is usually due to a mistake before take off. If you are cleanly in your tuck going off the first bump there is really not a chance of coming up short as the race organizers build a nice takeoff ramp.  This was not the case years ago when racers had the option to ski around the camels or dare the leap over the bumps which was sure to save some time.  A brave Austrian, Uilli Spiess was the first racer to ever dare the leap in the 1976 race.

Nowadays it is fast skis and a gliders touch that will take the cake on the top 2/3rds of the course and then some some catlike reflexes to carry you through the Ciaslot section which skis more like a terrain park then a traditional Downnhill.  It is a lot of fun and our team is looking forward to this week.  We will have Travis Ganong, Steven Nyman, Andrew Weibrecht and myself racing for the USA.

Here is a pic of us from the hill today with our coach Andy.

Big Weekend

November 26, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Well we have arrived in Beaver Creek and I am finally getting a moment to reflect on what happened on Saturday. Landing on the podium in Lake Louise was a great feeling but even more incredible is the support and congratulations that I have received from so many friends and fans. The last time I was on a World Cup podium was in Wengen 2009. At that time I don’t think twitter existed and I did not have a Facebook account.   Social media has been like a loudspeaker in my ear this past day two days.  I have not gotten a chance to reply to everybody but I just want to say thanks for being tuned into ski racing and being stoked when you see great performances.  I did have a great run and I am feeling strong, dialed in,  and ready to keep it rolling.

Aksel had a nice short blog this morning in his words he said “But the real feeling is what you feel when you´re all alone in the finish area. Just finished your run and you´re looking up to see your name on the top of the board. Nothing beats that feeling right there. Pure adrenalin, happiness and excitement.”

I hate to agree with the guy who beat me but he is right.  Aksel’s sentiment goes right along with the old saying that “champions are made when nobody else is watching.” When you are in the finish area you usually know exactly what contributed to the time that you see on the clock.  Whether it is good or bad sometimes only you know how you arrived there.  When it is a great time I think  it is OK to be proud within your heart and that is what I felt on Saturday.  I am proud that I still love skiing even after all the times it has knocked me down.  I could go deeper but I will just say that Saturday was the most emotional I have ever been on a ski hill.  I was very proud, happy and excited to be standing up on the steps with some of the best downhillers in the world. I was also very thankful for all of those who have been helping to keep my dream alive all of these years.

That is enough about me. I would like to mention that I think as a team the US boys started some momentum in Lake Louise.  On Sunday there was 4 skiers in the points in the Super G and all the crew is excited to get on the track here in Beaver Creek.  I think it is going to be another great week.

Thanks for reading,

Marco