Thursday, March 22, 2018

Almost Time for Colorado!!

I always have mixed feelings about our trip to Colorado. On the one hand, it's Colorado, it's beautiful. It's the culmination of all of Whitney's hard work for the season, the high point of the year. On the other, it means the end of winter and the snowboarding season. But when I get back from Colorado I'm ready for winter to be over, for spring to come, and the warm weather to move in (hammock weather is the best!). I do enjoy our trips to Colorado, I just wish Bob was able to come with us.

Whitney is flying home tomorrow night then we head west on Sunday. She's got a couple of NorAm/Hole Shot races the first part of the week at Ski Cooper then we head to Copper (yes, it's very confusing) for USASA Nationals. That will be fun. She'll get to see a bunch of her Massanutten friends and hand out with them, we'll see some Appalachian Series friends. USASA Nationals is always a fun time with the parade, vendors over the weekend, friends, racing. Now that she's racing open class you never know who will be up in the start corral with her. One year Alex Deibold was there racing and there's been other "big" names there.

The races at Ski Cooper will be interesting. I saw a Hole Shot post last night on Facebook saying that the course build was coming along but because of the snow conditions it would be more of a sprint race. Whitney has never done one of those but I don't think that's a big deal, she's usually pretty fast when she's riding with other racers. USASA posted a graphic of the design for their course and it looks good. The two ski resorts are only about 45 minutes apart so it's interesting that Ski Cooper is having snow issues. The races there were postponed from January when they didn't have enough snow; I'm just glad they're going off now.

Time to start thinking about packing, buying snacks for Whitney (and the boys). All the reservations are made, we've got coaching lined up, so I think she's good to go.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


As the snow is falling on the first day of spring I'm reminded of the fun we had in Lake Placid. The snow fell almost every day, big, fat snowflakes. So pretty since you could actually see the snowflake, not just a ball of white. I think some of the prettiest scenes though were Friday morning when Whitney and I went to watch the Nordic race. The trees were heavy with snow and the sun came out for about 20 minutes and it was really pretty.

Overall Whitney had good races at USCSA Nationals. It was a bit frustrating for her with a lack of practice time on gates in the weeks leading up to Nationals and also just very few practices. We won't get into the issues with the Westminster team. Hopefully next year there will be another UMF female snowboarder and Whitney can get to the top of the podium. Having a friend on the team always helps. She had high hopes for this year since there was another rider but she dropped out of school and therefore off the team.

I had a lot of fun in Lake Placid. It's a super cute town, lots of shops, the lake, the mountains, and snow. I got to meet Whitney's friends and hang out with them for a while (most evenings). Yes, I complained about having to clean the snow off my car every.single.time I went outside but it's ok, the snow was really pretty and I did enjoy it. I did not enjoy as much standing on the side of the mountain while the winds blew on GS day.

Whitney ended up coming home with me since last week was her spring break. Her initial plan was to ride back to school, repack, and drive home for break. Her coach talked her into coming with me (which I had tried to talk her into doing) and sent the books home that she needed that were at school. It was nice to have company on the long ride home. She flew back to Maine on Sunday but will be back on Friday. We're off to Colorado this coming Sunday for a couple of NorAm races then USASA Nationals. After that the race season will be done and she can ride for fun for a few more weeks until Sugarloaf closes for the spring.

Monday, March 12, 2018

USCSA Awards

At the end of every day they give out the awards for the day's events. The mc of the show is great, loves skiing, loves the kids, and really makes it a fun time. They usually start off with sponsor giveaways; this year they had lots of Love Your Melon beanies, Monster, and at least one set of skis and a snowboard. Boss Hogg, the mc, makes the giveaways fun. Generally he wouldn't give them out to the last few rows, just on principle. Sometimes he'd toss them into the crowd. A couple of the days he was trading food for a hat; one time it was a half eaten banana, another a can of Pringles, and the best was McDonald's French fries. He also was looking for specific things, like a $5 bill with four 8's on it, or a coin from a year sometime before he was born, a vertical driver's license, a day lift ticket from 2017; anything his crazy mind could come up with. Whitney got one of the beanies on Friday. We got there a bit early and Boss Hogg came over to talk to us. Whitney told him that her team abandoned her and was already on the way back to Maine and we got talking about Maine since he lived there for a long time. We figure she got it because of the Maine connection and being abandoned. No matter how she got it she got the one she really wanted and she's been wanting one for a while. She really likes their beanies, likes that they're a "give back" company (they donate 50% of their profits to pediatric cancer research), and has wanted to get one for a while. She's super happy to have one now.

On Saturday night they had the final awards and banquet. By this point all the rest of the UMF athletes were well on their way back to Maine so I went with Whitney. We got there early and sat at a table, hoping others would join us. Eventually some others sat down, turns out they were the Nordic coaches from the University of Wyoming. Whitney got chatting with one of the coaches and he invited her to their after party. She didn't go, not knowing anyone but the coaches, but should have; the Nordic guys from her team said they were a good group. We ended up moving to a table with a friend of Whitney's, a snowboarder from Villanova, the only one from her college. We had a nice time with her and her parents.

At the Saturday banquet they give out the big awards, individual all around and team awards, and it takes a while. Whitney got 7th place for women's alpine snowboard which combined the scores from boardercross, slalom, and giant slalom. Since she was the only UMF female snowboarder it would have been really hard for her to finish high in the team award besides she thinks you have to have at least two, maybe three athletes for the team award. All in all it was a good evening.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

USCSA Nationals, Day 3

Day 3 in terms of Whitney's competitions was giant slalom. It was yet another snowy day but the snow was lighter and the winds were stronger. The GS course was on the slope that the alpine slalom was on; it was steep and long. There was some issues at the start - they printed the wrong start list for the women, the timing start gate was throwing some of the riders off and they weren't sure when to go, and as it's a college competition, there were a few riders that were hung over and at least one that was enjoying a cold one at the start. All that aside, they got things going and I was lucky to catch Whitney in her first run. Her coach told her she was going down 20-something but they had the slalom start list where she was listed third. They gave the girls the option of letting the guys run first while they got the right start list or they could run off the slalom list. They decided to go with the slalom list. The first rider didn't show so Whitney went down second (she had been listed as third), good thing I was paying attention. She has a distinctive riding style so I could tell it was her coming down. I was confused since we had no idea of the issues at the top.

She was pretty happy with her first run, at least until the top girls came down and were 3 seconds faster than her. It's hard, but not impossible to make up that kind of time. When all the riders finished their first run, they took a long break to reset the course and also take down the USCSA inflatable that goes across the finish line. It had been windy all morning and it picked up more so during the break so down came the inflatable. Whitney's second run was faster than her first, but not enough to make up the time and move up. She finished the day in 8th place.

She was a bit frustrated with the coaching she's gotten recently. There were few organized practices and they wouldn't set up the snowboard gates. The school has some but "no one" knows how to set them so they pretty much sit unused since they won't let Whitney set them for herself. It's hard to do well on a gate event if you can't practice on gates.

Friday, March 9, 2018

USCSA Nationals, Break Day

Whitney had today off and we had a good time together. I picked her up this morning and we went to watch the Nordic team compete in the mass start 15k race. We took the school flag, found a good snow pile to put it in, and hung out until the start. We got to see all the racers take off which was kind of cool. They skied off into the trees where apparently there was a good sized hill, they did a loop and came back into the arena, did a loop in the woods and were off for another trek into the wood then they did it again. There were four guys from UMF and the top one came in 13th, which I thought was great (he seemed happy with his finish). I have no idea how they usually do but I thought they did well today.

We briefly saw the sun for a while when we were waiting for the start but then it disappeared and we were left in snow flurries again. It snowed harder off and on today. The weather here has been crazy. It started snowing Tuesday night and basically hasn't stopped. It's gotten lighter but it seems like every time I go outside to go somewhere I have to clean snow off my car. Last night it was 2", this morning it was more like 3", tonight it was surprisingly just a dusting. Hopefully it'll stop tomorrow and there will be good conditions for Whitney's race.

But back to today. After we left the Nordic race we came back to Lake Placid, got lunch, then wandered around in the snowy downtown.

USCSA Nationals, Day 2

Yesterday was the snowboard slalom races. This is the first time that they've run them at USCSA so it was kind of interesting. I think most of the girls were in the same position as Whitney - they had only run one or two races before coming here. At least Whitney had quite a bit of practice running gates during her practices with the alpine team.

It started snowing Tuesday night and hasn't stopped yet. It made for an interesting race day yesterday. Here they set the gates, do one run, take a break to reset the gates then do the second run, best combined time wins. The problem was that during the reset it started snowing harder and the course deteriorated pretty fast which slowed things down. Whitney was sitting in fourth after the first run but her slower time in the second run moved her down to sixth. Considering this was only the second time she's run slalom she was fine with that finish.

I got to hang out with the director of sports communications the last couple of days. The alpine coach came out with the two teams, then left on Wednesday morning with the injured free skier. The director of the ski and snowboard program came out with the communications guy Wednesday and helped at the boardercross and slalom events then they left to head back to Maine. At least now I know who to send pictures to so the snowboard team gets some love on the school's social media.

Whitney is off today so our plan is to go watch the Nordic men's mass start (which should be fun) then we're going to go wander around Lake Placid, do some shopping/window shopping, and get dinner out. Tomorrow she's got giant slalom, then it's home Sunday.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

USCSA Nationals 2018, Lake Placid, NY

USCSA Nationals are being held at Lake Placid, NY again this year. I drove up yesterday and will be here until Sunday. Whitney's race days are today, tomorrow, and Saturday. The drive up was fine, although as always it seems to take forever to go through NJ. UMF sent two snowboarders, a freeskier, and four nordies. Competitions started yesterday and the freeskier had a nasty crash on the cross course, was checked out at the hospital, and withdrew from the rest of his competitions.

Whitney's first race was boardercross. They started early this morning in the falling snow with the usual course inspections and practice. She did really well in time trials, which is usually her weak spot, and had the sixth fastest time. They set up the brackets and after lunch racing started. She was first in all her heats and made it to the big final. Same as last year it was her against three girls from Westminster. All I'll say was there seemed to be a bit of unsportsmanlike play from the whole Westminster team. She was pretty pissed when she finished in fourth but after a bit of cooling down she was still upset but on the bright side she beat a few girls she hadn't before. The top women's cross racers were all competing on the NorAm circuit so they're all really good riders, Whitney included. We went to the awards ceremony, which is always an interesting time then walked down to Starbucks. I had dinner with the snowboarders, the snowboard coach, the Nordic coach, the director of the Ski and Snowboard program, and the sports communication director. The rest of the Nordic team was off at a social gathering.

The snow that fell today is going to continue tonight and into tomorrow. Hopefully it won't be too much of an issue on course tomorrow when she's racing slalom. It should be a good day - it's her against the clock and she's looking to have fun since she's only raced slalom once this season.