I'll start with a funny contrast. Here's the Norwegian and German wax room setup and staff.
Here's the wax room of the Slovenian, Swedish, USA and Canada. This doesn't really show it, but it's also the guest house' utility room and the ceiling really isn't very tall.
It doesn't hinder anyone's performance, it's just funny.
When I was in there the other night, Jure Ales of Slovenia had leaned his skis against a shelf. One of the older ladies working at the place came by later, she doesn't speak English, but motioned that she wanted me to move some skis so she could get to the shelf. I've never felt skis as sharp as Jure's. It blew my mind. I've gotta figure out if I can get mine like that. Amazing.
We got to sleep in a little more before today's action which was nice. Olle and I had breakfast with Phil Lau's father, Phil is known by his teammates at the mutant. I've tried to watch his runs and agree - he's current World Cup points leader.
Scraped a bunch of ice off car window, a good sign that it froze last night. Race course was ice. It was wet yesterday and it froze perfectly overnight. Several of the ladies fell - it just sounded difficult.
So I watched many of the men's runs, including Phil's. I watched him in La Plagne too. If I didn't get to go on the course too, it would tell you virtually nothing, or tell you the sport is so easy. He carves a singular line across ice and ruts and looks more effortless than any other skier. That's the mark of excellence, making something difficult look so easy. It blows my mind after also racing the course how he cuts better carves on steep icy gates than I can on bluebird day blue run fresh groomed runs. It's a treat to watch. To a spectator, I think it conveys "this telemark stuff looks so graceful and easy, why are all these other people skidding around?"
I have to say I enjoyed both runs. And survived them. Perhaps even had a few sections that felt good. It would be very helpful if I could jump train with turns ahead and after at home because I rack up a lot of penalty time with those.
But honestly, why race when this is abailable? I should just eat these all day. Fresh nutella crepes in the Alps!
Racing tomorrow is cancelled with rain. We ended up going to a bar with the French, some Swiss and the Slovenians. Some guy (not with us) was full asleep at the bar, presumably being a ski bum tired him out. Some other guy, again not with us, ripped off all his clothes (literally, all of them) and streaked past the girls smoking a joint outside and did a swan dive into a snow bank. He came back holding his tool in a way that telegraphed that the whole episode maybe wasn't the best idea (or the crunchy snowbank part wasn't so good). Not a good pic, but he's in the snow above the head of the girl with the leopard print scarf.
Today was unrelenting winning. I was winning so much it almost hurt, cause at times I wanted to cry I was winning so much.
I had a solid uninterrupted sleep for the first time last night and just woke up naturally without an alarm clock. Breakfast surprised me with another anglophone - Tanner Visnick came over for this race. Great to catch up.
I debated lounging today to give the legs a race. Turns out Andrea and Stephane the FIS people needed a lift to the hill, so I offered to drive them. Might as well ski then too. They're great people - everyone in telemark is, and fun getting to know them.
It's less than a 5 min drive from where we are. Checked out the course setup, looks nice. The loom is huge and thick, they must have made a mountain of snow.
I looked up the hill and saw someone carving unprecedentedly beautiful telemark turns. He comes down and says hi Erik. So of course they were beautiful, it was Toby the German guy, who's number one or two in the world for last few years depending on when you check. We rode the lift up then I went off to tourist ski.
It only took a few minutes to climb up from lift. Very mild weather, I could have sat up here for hours.
Oh yeah! Mont Blanc sort of by my left hand.
I was up there. Don't go too close to edge.
Poma lift queues up pomas. You release them with the foot wand. Leaves them all in one place for maintenance and inspection and helps deal with packs of riders more efficiently.
So I tried to get my camera out quick enough for the first sign but couldn't, it's hard when it's that steep. I got it out for this one, but the yellow triangle is scraped free of numbers. The last one said 60% grade which feels crazy steep. I know it looks flat from the angle but I'm not making it up. It is marked on the map as teleski difficle.
Another piece of mountain technology. They have solar panels and batteries on them. They are avalanche control devices remote operated. I don't know if they are bass canons or air pressure explosions. But very clever and low op cost once installed.
So I wasn't hungry for lunch until I saw this. You don't pass up opportunities like this.
This big dog showed me to my table.
Winning so hard, man sometimes life just hands you a gem. No wind, fabulous view, warm day, choice table. Thank you France.
I had a chef salad with great tasting ingredients. Then instead of a dressing pack the lady at the checkout has a big jar of fresh made dressing and a ladle and puts it on for you. No choices, just today's flavour. It was a dijon based dressing that was simply amazing. I had a cappuccino and this beer made locally with genepi flavour. Genepi is a wormwood liqueur but this beer just has some in for flavour.
So turns out the big dog has a little buddy. The dog goes around and inspects people. Very nice personality and just massive paws. Here's his helper.
Little chat. It'd lie behind the chairs and try to stalk birds. I think it was better at stalking errant French fries. They have quite the life up there!
So this isn't the best picture, but the lift in the valley (not the one I'm on) goes both ways - you can load either side at the bottom. It connects to the gondola at the top.
Driving in the alps is an absolute treat. The views are spectacular as are the roads. And I really like the little Mazda, the handling is great, the fuel economy blows my mind (110km/h on highways bounces between 3-5L/100km), and the power and torque are surprising.
The road that was to connect me to Megeve was closed. Fortunately I know the French word for detour... So I followed the detour signs. For the next 60 minutes my steering wheel was never straight. It was like climbing a paved Pneuma then descending a paved Race of Spades. I felt like the turns matched GS course spacing. It's crazy they build them like this. Uphill switchbacks were so steep and tight many were first gear. Sebastian Ogier has so much home turf to practice on! It was pure joy that such playgrounds of driving exist. The fact that they even have multiple roads through these passes blows my mind even more.
Uhh, right. Or left?
The affinity for Defenders here is much appreciated by moi.
Detour. I wish I could have strava'd what came next.
This was the other end of the detour section, so I can later try to map what road I was on. It was awesome. I'd love to M Coupe time trial it at 3am in a full moon in the summer when nobody's out there.
After a restless night, I really fought with my alarm clock this morning. Like when your brain just hurts that it's supposed to be awake. Just set it as late as I could, had a pro bar for breakfast and out I went. I was about half pack for getting on hill.
Did a warmup run and my legs just burned right away. Ugh. Nice course, felt quite Nakiska to me. As always the jump is hard to make distance, but this one wasn't chucking you into a corner and causing havoc. Nice loom. Slight downhill skate. All good.
The loom inspection.
I watched from a good vantage point all the women and most of the men, then did a good long warmup given how sore my legs were.
Someone jumping, nice view!
Women's race 2nd gate.
I actually felt good on course after the warmup. After yesterday I was less concerned about jump and more about foot space. Legs didn't burn, thought I went into tele quick enough on jump landing, didn't make the distance or stress about it, sort of got confused coming into the loom on the last tele turn gate, didn't feel too bad on the skate.
So apparently I need to realign my depth of turn and tele landing perception totally as I had a ton of penalties. I knew I was short on the jump (3) as I just relaxed and tried to go into tele, guess I didn't so (1) And I probably was late committing to a turn going into the loom as I thought I was at a yellow gate on the entry (1). But I had three more beyond that!? And I even thought I was focusing on good spacing on my turns. Shoot.
So my first run gross time was palatable in my mind for me, but horrendous with penalties. I'm actually not embarrassed about my top to bottom times. They are acceptable all things given this year... but the penalties mean I need to refine badly, and jump.
So I'm not really going to stress anything second run but boot spacing and see if I can alleviate my poor style for the gate judges.
Second run I got only one gate penalty but botched the jump. I need jumps in course practice, it's funny (sad?) that these are my first days of jumping this year. I landed flat, couldn't tele. Simple reason is you need hips forward - like a ski jumper but obviously not as exaggerated - to tele land. My hips weren't forward. Need to focus on that. Funny that of my various failures, being in the air with hips forward isn't something I have through inheritance. So I got 3+1 on the jump plus one other somewhere. Shoot. I felt acceptable on overall speed and turns and skating. Not world beating, but palatable. Always work to be done. Part of me wishes I could ditch some of adult life's responsibilities and focus on tele intensely, as inside I know I can do it, and it'd be super to polish up this deficiency. But the reality is tele for this guy has less of life's time slice applied than the real World Cup guys, and a more do it yourself approach.
For this picture I'm sitting on the back of the loom looking at the finish. You go in left side behind me, come out on right, then cross your entry track and lead around the lake and wrap up to the finish. Somewhere around 30 seconds skate.
As an aside, this has a snow garden on the other side of the path the. Is 20m to the rope tow and lift. Not a bad place to learn!
Here's what the aftermath of a ski race looks like so you don't forget anything behind.
So my tally so far is a 33 and a 47. That sounds weak, but I'm going to relabel those to "no dnf, no crashes, no injuries, and learning".
So after my non-qualification I commuted back to the hotel, dropped off skis, stripped the ball hugging speed suit off and went out with the goal of getting up to the top lift on Bellecote. Usually is watch the rest of the racing, but I wanted to see this mountain, and I have to do it today because yesterday lifts closed and tomorrow I drive after skiing.
It took either 7 or 8 lifts from my door, and the views blew all others away. My mind was officially blown again. Alps in all directions as far as the eye could see.
Upon making it to the top of the Bellecote glacier chair, I take in the view, and hear behind me some one say "hey look, a Canadian". I turn around and its Jeff Ebbern. I pull up my googles and he sees its me. I ask where Tom is and he points up toward a cliff above us and says "up there on a conference call". So we take a few pictures and Tom comes down cursing that the call was delayed. He sees me and is just on fire. Hey Jeff, take a picture of Bakke and I so we can send it to Chambers and tell him he's a sucker for not being here. We'll pose over here, get some good scenery in (sic).
Then he's ready to take off and is telling the other guys to hurry up, then turns to me and says "they just don't make these young bucks like they used to". Ha. He's just on fire all the time.
I made my way back down to lodge, it's funny that can be a several hour outing even with lifts.
I came from back this way and skipped all this skiing.
Heading up to first peak Roche de Mio.
This is what you do in the Alps. Gather your peeps, find a rock, sip from the wine skin and eat cheese and sausage sliced with an Opinel on baguette at a picnic.
Not at top of Roche de Mio yet, but endless Alps. Courchevel is that way.
Chalet with beautiful view and I think Plagne Soliel way in back.
Top of Bellecote glacier with view of Courchevel in back. This is where I bumped into Tom and Jeff.
This is "winning".
Looking toward the skiers direction and sort of where I came from. That's a lot of Alps.
Tom and Erik!
Top of Roche de Mio view on way back.
That's the Bellecote glacier and top right is where we were.
Up the valley. Montchavin where we're staying is kind of over the left of the shoulder in the bottom left. There's of course a cable car across that valley with trees such that you can go ski the next whole set of mountains on the right.