I had a really hard time trying to decide what to write this post about. I had intentions to write a quick post about our trip to Quebec in February, but February rolled into March and then I thought I would get one done after NorAm finals; next thing I know I’m half way through nationals still having no clue what to write about. I decided to wait until after the season to collect my thoughts and write a wrap up post when it was all said and done. However, after the last race at spring series I had this unexplainable feeling of nostalgia. I couldn’t really figure out why I felt that way as usually I’m done; ready to get some time out of the boots and away from the racing scene. This year was different, and every time I sat down to write this post I tried to convey that feeling of nostalgia, but like I said it was unexplainable. I will say this though, it was the best winter of my life. No, it didn’t always go exactly to plan, it had its ups and downs and it sure wasn’t easy. It kept me on my toes and taught me something new everyday. I am pretty lucky that I got to share this winter with the raddest crew ever assembled, (no joke, they’re awesome) so thanks again boys and thanks to Nick and Johnny for going above and beyond; killing it on the coaching front as well as every other front imaginable!
With that said, here’s how the second half of the winter looked.
In February we took off on a tour of the East, namely, Vermont and Quebec. I had never been to the East before but had an idea of what to expect; ice, ice and more ice. That conception held true and before I knew it we were racing on the slickest ice we had seen all year. Our first race was in Stowe, VT, the NorAm field was deep and everyone was absolutely sending it. I think we all struggled a little to find our pace, at least I definitely did! In the first GS I felt like Bambi on Ice, but things gradually got better and by the end of the four day series I was on point again.
After Stowe we headed up to Mt. Saint Anne for the Speed NorAms. I had never raced a downhill before and MSA seemed like a pretty mellow track to start out on. Even though all the speed skiers were saying it was a “chill” downhill, I was definitely battling some nerves in the gate. All went well though and I came out of it with a little more experience than what I started with which was the goal for the week. Oh and I crushed Pat and Martin in the “tech skier’s trying to ski speed race,” BooYA! Brod continued his Super-Combined dominance and took home his second Junior win which was pretty awesome! #MrClutch.
To recover from Mt. Saint Anne and Stowe we headed to Montreal for a couple days. We did some touristy stuff and checked out Old Montreal. It really stood out to me as the architecture and street layout reminded me of Europe, so even though our trip to Europe was cancelled we got to spend a couple hours in “Europe.” Once we had recuperated it was off to the next race, Bromont! The ski community in Bromont was a little different than what I’m used to in the West, people would line up early to ski Corduroy!! I couldn’t believe it coming from Revelstoke where we rarely see a line for the first Gondola unless its snows overnight.
Bromont was a shootout between all the provincial teams and a couple National team members, we all brought NorAm intensity to each run and most of us started in the top 15. It was fun to go as hard as possible every run and just simply focus on the skiing. Seems kinda weird that I wouldn’t normally do that but up until this point in the season I hadn’t! It turned out that just skiing was the ticket to success and Bromont brought with it some of my best scores of the season.
After a short seven days at home skiing and relaxing, the team regrouped in Calgary for a training block before our final stint of racing. The Slalom hill at COP is awesome; steep, aggressive break overs and it had the hardest injection I’ve ever skied. After a couple days of training we took a little road trip to Kimberly, hometown of coaching extraordinaire Nick Cooper, to race a night slalom! The snow was softer than mash potatoes and the track grooved up after the first forerunner. Not the most ideal conditions for anyone and quite the contrast from the previous days training. I had a really good run going but fell into the last hairpin and skied it backwards. Unfortunately I was DSQ’d for hiking incorrectly, instead of protesting I foreran the second run and got to watch the boys throw down. Once the courses were pulled and the lights switched off Nick’s mom cooked us an awesome dinner and put us up for the night. Thank you Kathy for the hospitality!!
Nakiska was set to host the GS and SG races for NorAm finals. We squeezed in a couple more short training sessions before rolling into the Delta. Like every NorAm before, we had high expectations, after all, NorAms are what we trained for all year and were the primary focus of our program. I was feeling confident about my skiing, just coming out of Bromont where I skied some of my best GS. For whatever reason though I couldn’t put together a single clean run let alone link more than 10 turns. Before I really had time to think about those two days we switched gears to Super-G. I made some silly mistakes but for most part did pretty well the first day. I knew what I wanted to change for the second day and that was really nail the first break over. I was so focussed on what I was going to do over it that I hip slide on the 5th gate, whoops.. Bad way to end the already rough trip to Nakiska, it did however throw some fuel on the fire and I was looking forward to giving it another go in Whistler.
To say the least I was little bummed about how I skied in Nakiska, but I wasn’t going to let that slow me down. I knew I had been crushing Slalom and all I had to do was go out and ski; the rest would sort itself. It still took me the first day to figure it out and 10 seconds after I fell I knew I could have gone way harder. That didn’t shake my confidence too much though and seeing Pat and Martin make the flip, I realized I could do the same! Apparently everyone had the same realization the second day and twice as many people finished the first run, putting me just outside the flip and right in the mix with all the Juniors. I skied pretty well second run though and it was good enough to get me my first Junior NorAm podium, my first Cowboy hat and a little redemption for that straddle in Stowe!
Thanks to the Carry’s for always extending their welcome and letting us invade their basement for the Calgary portion of our trip; By far my favourite place to stay on the road! Thank you Joanne for crushing it in the kitchen and keeping us fed! I know I speak for everyone when I say we all really appreciate having a motherly presence making the road feel a bit more like home!
After Calgary it was straight to Whistler for Nationals, Spring Series and cooking for ourselves…
Pat, Martin and myself opted out of the downhill in favour of GS training as we were all feeling a little underprepared. Things slowly clicked, confidence was on the rise and I gradually started ripping again! We rejoined the rest of the crew for Super-G and I had two pretty good days on the track. I haven’t had that much experience skiing speed but this past year I’ve started to do a little more and with each race I do a little bit better. One of the things I hadn’t been that good with was really knowing where I was going over terrain, I often just wait until I am over it to make a turn which is certainly not the fastest way to do things. Whistler has some sizeable break overs and I really wanted to nail the line or at least be committed to my inspection. I would say I did a pretty good job of it, just making some rookie mistakes on the flats. Overall though those were my best Super-G’s of the year; mission accomplished!
The GS at Whistler was long, and by long I mean a minute twenty long. Three gates out of the start, then a steep pitch for 4, followed by medium flat for 15 and finally the last pitch of at least another 15. I was certainly confident but the snow snakes were out in full force and I hipslid coming on to the last pitch in the second run. I had made some good turns but never really linked any sections together and that was the most frustrating part for me! The following morning we woke up to 35cm being reported by the mountains website, I was hesitant as I fell asleep to what sounded like a waterfall running off the roof and woke up to blue skies. I still didn’t believe it until I was mid way through my first turn choking on some of the most blower powder I had skied all year, it was that good. After the best warm up I’ve ever had… it was finally time to do some racing. The snow was sorta chalky and the coaches shovelled like crazy to give us the best surface they could, thanks guys! The day went pretty well for me, I had a decent first run and a really good second run which put me into 6th overall and tied for second in the Juniors. (I can’t wait until the day I get to write that I had two really good runs)
Nationals rolled right into spring series with a short day off in between. The GS remained the same length but as an added challenge we battled fog, snow and rain to see who would earn their place on the podium. After two days of racing I didn’t have much to show for it, that GS had its way with me! A DNF and a 20th place finish capped of my GS season. I wondered what I could have done differently and beat myself up over it quite awhile, I really had no idea how I skied so slow and I still don’t! However, thats ski racing and you have to be able to move on. Martin stepped up to the plate, placing second both days and earning himself a sweet pair of 15’s #MrClutch.
As soon as the awards were presented, everyone packed up and headed to the City for the final Slaloms hosted by Grouse. I think heading to the city was good thing for me as I could just leave the frustration from the GS behind and I’m really glad I did. It’s one thing to be frustrated over the days performance but to let that frustration affect the next days performance would be even worse.
The snow in Grouse was surprisingly awesome, better than anything we had seen since Calgary. The first day was foggy, wet and a little bit miserable but certainly not the worst of the week. “Fight for the pinch, fight to get forward, arc to arc,” that was my focus in slalom for the last half of the season and I wasn’t about to change anything at Grouse. I ripped the first run coming down in second. I did my best to rip the second run but didn’t quite get it top to bottom with a mistake right out of the gate. I still ended up third and was really happy with how I approached the day! The sun came out to play the for the last day and consequently broke Instagram… Seriously though I have never seen so many people taking the same picture!
Day two was very similar to the first day other than that it was sunny and I won the first run! I haven’t spent much time in the hot seat and it was definitely a change from sitting in 10th. I liked it though and I knew I couldn’t change my approach just because I was leading. I just simply skied, trying to go faster with every turn. Like I said, the day was very similar to the previous and I made a big mistake halfway down putting me into 3rd again. I was still super happy with my approach and I was a little closer to Eric as well.
I got to ski in some pretty unique places and in some pretty deep powder, but these four runs at Grouse topped all the rest. I can honestly say those four runs were the most fun I’ve had on my skis all year; I really don’t know how to describe the feeling, I felt in total control, as if nothing else in the world mattered. I know, its just a race and thats a pretty big cliche but still a cool feeling!
I thought maybe by now the nostalgia would be gone and I would just simply be detailing my season. However, as I wrote this post that feeling returned and I as recounted each trip, every little detail came rushing back to my me. So many awesome memories were made this year, and I got to share them with a really awesome group of people. Thanks again boys for the rad company, Nick and Johnny for all your hard work and everyone else who made this season so special, hopefully see you all again next year!
Thanks to all my supporters: Blair and Julius at Atomic for the skis; Prue, Jocelyn and Naomi at Red Cedar Physiotherapy for keeping me on the hill; and Erich at Ruesch for the gloves. All of you support is greatly appreciated! Of course a huge thank you to Mom and Dad for keeping the dream alive, without you guys none of this would have been possible!
All for now, -Dominic
Photo’s Courtesy of: Kevin Dubinsky, Gord Kwong, Brodie Seger, and Derek Trussler.