Thanks to having a French coach we were able to get ourselves a French license…something required in order to compete in this particular race. Grace and I competed in separate races since she is still in the youth division. I have no doubt though she would have given some of us seniors a run for our money. She did amazing. She took the lead in her race from the get go. At the finish, the timing officials kept asking her if she was in the wrong category because she swooped the field by a large margin. It was awesome to see an American girl be the “French” Champion of the French Championships. Haha, I don’t think they knew what to call her. Irregardless, she’s a champion, and I was super proud to see her on that top step.
My vertical race was solid and a good start to the season, finishing 7th overall right behind Marianna. The vertical race has never been my favorite, so to feel good and strong in one was a nice boost. We had a high caliber field of senior women, most of whom I remember from last years World Cups. It’s cool to recognize familiar faces. Marianna Jagercikova from Slovakia is living in France now and stayed with us during our stay. I remember her crushing the sprint race at Madonna Di Campiglio last season. Thanks to her and Laetitia being friends I’ve been able to foster a friendship with her, too and aside from the racing have already been fortunate to share in some trainings with her. Maybe some partner races to come!
World Cup, Aussois
First World Cup is under our belt and I feel we all took away from it some valuable lessons and things to work on. Mountaineering, as in rain or shine, we go. We kicked off the Individual race in challenging conditions, wet and rainy below and high wind and low visibility on top.
We were all required to start the race with our wind parkas on because of conditions up high. At 5 minutes before the start Laetitia let me know they took the boot pack out because conditions were so bad up high. The field was STACKED and competition heated. About 28 fast women lined up and fired up. The first climb was a bit congested. By the second climb we got a little more spread out. Marianna Jagercikova (from Slovakia), Ekaterina Osichkina (from Russia) and I spent most of that second climb together pacing each other up through the snowy abyss, where rain transitioned to actual snow.
Laetitia told me not to go full send on the downhills due to higher risk because they were quite technical and visibility wasn’t great. It was a risky descent to go full send, but I knew this was where I could make up some time, so I think I skied on the edge of full gas with some reserve still. After the 3rd descent, I came into the final transition in 9th place. My double rip (see video of what that means) lead me to mix my messy ball of skins with my clean and in tact ball of skins. While I was dealing with my sticky disaster of a mess at that final transition, Arina Riatsch of Switzerland came ripping by me to the finish.
Nontheless, I came in top 10. So grateful to have a coach here to help me grow in the many areas needing improvement. She was everywhere on course. Sometimes causing me to wonder how she got there so fast. She was cheering us on the whole way and that was super cool.
Grace crushed it in the junior category. She executed her race well leaning into her strengths by getting ahead of the field on the climbs and in the end gave it a podium finish with a 3rd place in her first World Cup. Super cool to see an American girl take the podium, and it inspires me all the more.
The Sprint the next day was a bit of a mess for both Grace and I. She crashed coming in to the finish, and I dropped my pole at the top.
Courchevel Night Vertical
Local races here are always so fun and lively. You never know what competition is going to show up, but the field was large of mostly recreational competitors. No world cup seniors, but Grace and I had each other to fight against 😉 This was a local night vertical race where we start at the bottom of Courchevel and make our way to the top of the pass. This race included some short little downhill segments skiing on skins which was fun.
Grace and I have been learning more about each other, and how to light the fire under one another in competitive ways. It’s fun that we can joke with one another about duking it out on the race course and still be tight at the end of the day. I cherish our dynamic. She thrives on being chased and I prefer to chase. So since this was a time trial start we were able to more or less choose our start time. Grace started 10 seconds ahead of me and kudos to her because she put up a good fight. I stayed with her until about 17 minutes in when I made the pass. She was hot on my heels finishing a mere 28 seconds behind me. Phew!