Friday, March 30, 2018

NorAm/Hole Shot Race, Day 2 and USASA/NorAm Practice

So yesterday was kind of a bummer day. Whitney was faster in her first time trial than she had been on Wednesday but fell in her second one which pretty much took her out. She was super frustrated and disappointed. I spent the day in the lodge again, listening to 80s music and eavesdropping on whatever conversations I could.

It was another snowy day with the sun popping in and out. We drove over to Copper in quite the snowfall. Friends already here said it was supposed to be a dusting to maybe half an inch but it was quite a bit more than that. We got checked into our condo and it's the same one we had last year. Whitney was excited because she said the sofa bed was comfortable. Maybe I should have called dibs and let her have the privacy of the bedroom since the bed in there is too soft. Oh well.

One issue we've run into is the rental car. I'm hating having one right now. I need gas, badly, but the nozzle at the station is too big for the car and you have to use a funnel, which of course the car doesn't come with. When I called Hertz they said that the gas station should have one although I have my doubts. And it's not like there's a lot of options here for gas, only one station near Copper and I don't have enough gas to go driving around to find a different one. I may have to call them back and have them send gas since I definitely don't have enough to get to Denver. So stinking frustrating!

Today Whitney checked in at registration, met up with Chad and they went off to practice. It was another frustrating day; for some reason she wasn't able to put into action stuff she knew how to do. After a lunch break they went off again to work on timing and also I think do some fun riding. She came back hot and tired. We went to see if we could put gas in the car (which resulted in the call to Hertz to find out about the necessity of a funnel) then walked to Starbucks then to the other side of Copper for dinner.

I'm so thankful for the Massanutten team that although Whitney hasn't ridden with them in three years that they still invite us to stuff and keep us around. Of course it was pointed out tonight when they were taking the group picture that I was the one that started all this mess. True, yes, but I was just supporting my daughter. Anyway now that there's a bigger group coming out they do team meals and invite us to join them. Tonight was Brunswick stew, which was really good. It was good for Whitney to hang out with "her boys," laugh with them, relax, and chat with the other coaches that came up. One was on the team and also coached when she was still on it and the other one she competed against at USCSA Nationals. There was a quick team meeting after dinner that had to do with tomorrow's practice schedule then we were off.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

NorAm/Hole Shot Race Day 1

Today is the first race. We found out at the team captain's meeting yesterday that there are 33 women snowboarders and they're cutting the field to 16. Whitney falls squarely in the middle so she has a good chance of making the cut. They said they are following World Cup rules which means two time trial runs and they'll take the best time for each rider, rank them and take the top 16.

It snowed off and all day, sometimes so hard that you couldn't see the course from the lodge at all. The sun was also intermittently out. And the wind was crazy for a while. Quite the interesting weather day. I think by the end of it we got 3-4" of snow. The good news was that the roads were fine for us, a bit snow covered, in places just wet and I'm glad we weren't headed elsewhere. I heard a couple of people saying that one of the passes was closed but I'm not sure if it was the one on Rt. 24 or one of the ones on I70. I don't think it was the one on 24 because there was a long line of traffic that we joined when we left the ski resort.

Whitney ended up 30th. Not her best showing but considering the lack of true coaching she's had this season she was ok with it. She rode well just needed to be a bit faster. At least the course shouldn't change between today and tomorrow. We hope.

After we got back to town she was starving (no surprise to this mom) so she changed and we went to Periodic Brewing, touted as the world's highest craft brewery. The beer was good, the food ok. After we went to check one more thing of Whitney's Colorado bucket list and walked up to the train station. They have scenic rides in the summer/fall so we missed out on that but there's an old brick station and a huge locomotive in the yard. We took a few pictures in the falling snow then wandered back to the apartment to pack and get her board waxed for tomorrow's race.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Practice Day 2

Today was a frustrating day at practice. Whitney had one run, just about got the start down when they said they were changing the start. By the end of practice they had decided to tweak the start again. I also heard something about changes to the finish but I'm not sure about if that was done. Again it was good to have a good coach with her. Chad really helped her figure out the best lines on the course and how to get over the difficult elements. Although all the changes were frustrating overall it was a good day.

We got about an inch of snow overnight, not nearly what they were calling for (which was fine with me). Over at Ski Cooper they got about the same so it didn't really do much to the course. It was just enough to cover the roads and look pretty. I was lamenting that rental cars in Colorado should come with an ice scraper or snow brush but this was a super dry, light, fluffy snow so it easily brushed off the car this morning. After I got Whitney dropped off I came back and decided to poke around Leadville a bit more. Our house is just a block off the main street so everything is in easy walking distance. I was waiting to cross a street and decided to pop into a shop that was on the corner. Turns out it was an artist's collective and they had some really cool stuff. If money and packing space were no problem I probably would have bought more. As it was I bought some Christmas presents and a sticker for Whitney. I saw a few other things I liked but space to get them home was a problem. I walked further down the street, most of the way, again then came back down the other side. We had seen a pillow in a window that we liked shaped like mountains but the store wasn't open today. I think Tuesdays are a generally decided upon day to be closed; quite a few stores are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday here.

After we got back from Ski Cooper Whitney changed and we went for a drive. We went back down 24 past Ski Cooper and all the way to I70. It was a super pretty drive, up and over mountains. There was snow falling in places, the sun was peeking out and lighting up tops of mountains. We came across and old abandoned mining town on the side of a mountain. There were a bunch of colorful houses in the open and a bunch more in the trees on the other side of the mine. The houses looked to have been built relatively recently (late 20th century) but they were definitely abandoned as none of them had windows including the main mine building. I was hoping to get some pictures of Mt. Massive and the range along 24 where it's wide open but the clouds and snow were low hanging today. This morning it was the clouds and it was gray anyway, this afternoon the sun was out but the clouds and snow were also around on the mountains. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for pictures.

Monday, March 26, 2018

NorAm Practice Day and Leadville

Today was a practice day at Ski Cooper for the NorAm races. They kind of last minute changed the practice schedule and instead of having separate ski and snowboard practices had one combined practice. Whitney's guess was that either the snow wasn't that good or that there weren't that many competitors and it sounds like both were correct. She said there were only 12 women snowboarders, probably more men but more skiers (which is actually kind of weird, there's usually more snowboarders than skiers). The snow isn't that deep at Ski Cooper either; she said they didn't use the longer stakes for the gates because they would have been going into the dirt and they call practice early because of the conditions. We're supposed to get snow tonight (perhaps up to 8") which will help and will also totally change how the course rides.

Whitney said that the practice went well. She was happy to have a good coach along to work with her. The only thing she's having trouble with is at the start. There's an element that she can't quite get over; she can't get a strong enough pull out of the start to get the energy she needs to get over it easily. She wasn't the only one struggling with that element. She's good with the rest of the course and is excited about it. The first race is Wednesday, we'll see how it goes.

After she got back she rested for a bit, had a snack, showered, then we wandered around Leadville. It's an interesting town and Whitney hit it on the nose when she said that it reminded her of towns we saw in Alaska, a mix of Wild West and mountain town. A good portion of the downtown is designated a National Historic Landmark District. There's an original saloon still standing and many other "newer" but still very old buildings. Many of the homes right off the downtown strip are small Victorians, some have interesting paint jobs. We walked all the way through town, it's not really that big. There's mix of shops and restaurants, a few touristy type shops but not over the top. We had to stop several times to take pictures. Some were of the mountains that surround Leadville, some were of the murals that are on some of the walls in town, some were of the quirky finds in the store front windows. We picked up a few souvenirs to take home, just need to figure out space for them.

We'll have to see what tomorrow brings. We're under a winter storm watch but it's not snowing yet. That will make things interesting on the course (our Air B-n-B host assures me that the roads will be fine). I'll drop Whitney off in the morning then I may wander around Leadville again. Or not. Depends on the weather in the morning.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Colorado Time!

After much dilly-dallying I got busy and packed yesterday afternoon. This morning was go time; we were off to the airport early (but not too early) and I'm glad we were. The lines at Southwest were short but the security lines were long. We still had a bit of time to wait but at an airport like Dulles it's always good to get there early. We had an uneventful trip to Atlanta and pulled up to a gate next to our next flight which was good since we had 10 minutes. No time for a Starbucks run or a food run. Not much time for a pit stop either. Then a mostly uneventful flight to Denver although the descent was rather choppy (started getting a headache and feeling a bit queasy). Then it was off to get the rental car and head into the mountains. Driving 70West from Denver is so pretty, especially when there's snow on the mountains.

We are headed to Leadville for the first part of our trip, which meant getting off at the Copper exit and waving from the car at our friends who are already there. After you pass Copper, there's nothing but mountains, snow, and sky for miles. There was honestly nothing. I'm glad the sun was still up when we got to Leadville. It's an old mining town, lots of Victorian homes and a typical mining town main street. There's not really much here. Looking around the area is surrounded by snowcapped mountains, I can't wait to see more tomorrow. I'll be interested to check out Ski Cooper tomorrow.

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

USCSA Wrap Up

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.