Friday, January 8, 2010

January 8th, 2010 - Race Day

January 8th, 2010 – Race Day

Well today started off just lovely. I Woke up at 2:47am exactly, and couldn’t manage to shake it off completely. From 3-4am I tossed about, too many things were going through my head. I looked outside and it was DUMPING snow still. The forecast called for 20cm throughout the night (about 8in.) with another 10cm to drop today. On the brighter side, my nightmares of a rutted out ice-capade of a race course were gone. After what seemed like an eternity of sleeplessness, I finally popped open iTunes, and some much needed Crown City Rockers music got my mind back to where it needed to be. This part of today’s update won’t be posted until everything is said and done, so hopefully when I sign back in, it will be with some decent news. I want so many things to happen today. I want to prove that I have a place here. I want to make it past time trials against a field of racers that are beyond World Cup caliber. I want to earn the necessary points to be eligible for World Cup myself. I want to do my part to show that Team Philippines deserves a spot not only here, but beyond this level of competition. Eden Serina and Jondre Mina have blazed a history making trail, and I strive to maintain what they’ve started. I’m doing everything possible to prevent these things from distracting my focus.

It’s just after 6am now, and it’s almost time to get ready. The lift chairs are on a special schedule today; at 8am SHARP they will open, but for only 15 minutes. This is to give the competitors a chance to get up the hill early and prep for inspection. At 815 the lifts close again until 9am, when they officially open for the public. If there is ANYTHING left on your mental fix-it list, this is your last shot to handle business. Just after 9, we are allotted an hour or so of practice. For those that didn’t make it on the chair lift early enough, this time will be wasted inspecting the course rather than dialing in your line at full-speed. At around 1030, time trials start. They mentioned at the end of last night’s meeting that they “wanted” to give us TWO time trial runs. This would only happen if things moved along faster than yesterday AND if the weather permitted. It turns out that some injuries on the course caused us to get behind schedule yesterday. If it starts to snow, they will go back to the original plan; one shot – go big or go home. Alex Aguilar, a dear friend from way back reminded me to leave everything I’ve got out here… so here I go.

10:19am local time (1:19am PST)

So…about 30min after I wrote the entry above, I get suited up and I’m off. I take the elevator down to the 3rd floor where there’s a side exit door to the hill down towards the village. As I approach the door, it’s noticeably darker than the past few days. I know I left a bit earlier, but there should have been at least some light coming through. When I open the door...WOW…a WALL of snow blocked any hope of getting out. That’s fine, back in the elevator and up to the 11th floor where there’s an uphill access exit. Ha, I get out that door and the “check-in only” parking lot is buried. They predicted 8 inches of snow. At least 3 times that amount fell, and it was still coming down. I know the clock is ticking, so I start trudging my happy little self across the lot and towards the hill. It was incredible; this whole place was completely buried last night.

When I get down to the village I see NOBODY. Maybe I was a little apprehensive, and arriving 15 minutes ahead of time was too early for everyone else? I can see the lights on in the room where we had our last meeting. I walk in and the FIS Europa Cup organizer, the Resort Rep, and the Course builder himself are all sitting there scratching their heads. Francois (FIS rep) looks at me and says “Sorry…I guess you can go back and get some sleep”. No…..No Way this is happening. I said “So, no race today?” “Yep, today no race, whole mountain is closed for avalanche, course is no good”

It’s hard to recall how I used to behave when I was 4yrs old, but part of me thought that this was the perfect opportunity for a full-fledged temper tantrum. I couldn’t believe this; I had travelled THIS FAR, built a GIGANTIC budget, for what? A 4 day snowboarding vacation? That’s not what I came here for.

I left and walked across to the café, just as they were opening and the rest of the riders were coming out to get on the lift. One by one, they all had their choice words in whatever language they were speaking. I saw team Japan again, one of them had talked to Francois after I did. They said that FOR SURE today’s race was cancelled, but the resort was waiting until 9am to decide whether or not to open to the public. As he was finishing his sentence, two deafening explosions came from uphill. They were doing avalanche control, which meant blasting dynamite to set off artificial avalanches (before a regular person comes up and caused the same one). That was the HUGE downside of having no trees up there; it meant the race course itself was under avalanche danger as well. The starting line sits in a gorge surrounded by hills. One mistake up above, and the course and everyone near it would be buried. By now the village café was filled with over 100 competitors, their coaches, and everyone else involved with today’s race. The final word came shortly after; “The Puy St. Vincent Europa Cup has been cancelled for today. At 2pm, we will decide whether or not we can have it tomorrow.”

For some racers, the news wasn’t a big deal. They were staying here anyways. For a handful of the other racers, INCLUDING MYSELF, the news was devastating. We were the few that were scheduled to leave tomorrow. Team Japan was going to Austria to catch the next stop of the Europa Cup in three days, the rest of us were simply going home, but now with no points. If they decide that the race is ON for tomorrow, I can’t even stay. After time trials are finished, I will have missed my taxi to get to the train station. It’s the last train leaving for my Paris connection until early tomorrow morning. Tomorrow’s train won’t get into Paris until noon, giving me only an hour to take a shuttle to the airport, check in, and board the plane. There’s no way I’m taking that chance.

All in all, this is strike 2 for me personally. The first Europa Cup event in Isola France was cancelled due to low snow conditions. This one was cancelled after too much snow fell. What does this all mean? For me it means that TWO World Cup Qualifiers were gone. There are more, but my budget won’t allow me take this loss and simply bounce over to Austria to make up for it. My next opportunity is on the 18th and 19th, during the North America Cup at Copper Mountain, Colorado. The World Cup stop is during the week of the 20th. On the 25th, Olympic Teams are announced. At this point, it is all but impossible to make it to World Cup level by this deadline. I realized this was a long shot from the very beginning, and all of these stars had to line up for bigger things to happen, but it’s only now the reality sets in. I can only deal with it with that much more aggression during my next event. I will still be racing this year; I want to get to Copper next week, Big White in Canada, and it would be a dream come true to make it to one of the events in Japan. I am flattered by the contributions and support that I have received, and I thank each and every one of you for everything you have done leading up to this event.

For now, I think it’s about time to get down to the village and plug my laptop in. it’s 2am back home. “Back home” sounds so great to me right now…

1 comment:

  1. Damn, sorry to hear about the cancellation man. Hope you still manage to get a chance to qualify in the next month. And regardless of the outcome, damn proud of you Kenuf. The dream will become reality one of these days.