Evidently my parents put me on skis at age 2. My mom once skied, but hooked my dad into marrying her and decided the lodge and a juicy book was more fun than freezing her ass off on the slopes. In my town, our elementary schools had Thursday afternoons off. In the winter, they would bus us to the local mountain( Nashoba Valley) for an afternoon of ski lessons. They would blast Barry Manilow from the speakers all over the mountain and we would have peanut butter crackers for snack. (Funny the stuff you remember). At one point, my friend Kerry asked me if I wanted to join the racing team at the mountain: the Nashoba Rovers. I was all over that! I trained and raced and raced and trained. Before that I had been strictly a NASTAR ski racer and would try and earn pins for my hat at different mountains. My dad and I would do it for fun.
When I got to 8th grade, I reached a point where I was getting too good for the local competition. (Sorry, I am not trying to brag). I wound up going to Mount Hood in Oregon that summer for 2 weeks to ski on a glacier! OK, that camp is a whole'nother post. Skiing on the top of a mountain when it was raining at the base lodge and there was lots of green grass, was AMAZING!
That winter was the first winter I skied against racers in NH. Eventually, with my younger brother and sister, I joined the Waterville Valley Black and Blue Trail Smashers (WVBBTS). I would go to school all week in Mass and on Friday afternoons, we would head to NH to our rented condo, train or race Sat and Sunday, and come home Sun night. This would happen every weekend from Thanksgiving to the end of March. To say I had no social life during HS would be completely accurate. Actually, I had many friends at Waterville Valley, but we would all be in bed by 9, so we didn't get into too much trouble. I dragged my brother and sister into the racing scene, my brother willingly, my sister not so much. She raced and all, but just didn't love it as much as Tommy and I did. She did like the social aspect more.
It is an unbelievable feeling being in the starting gate at the top of a race course. You're nervous, excited, and have an intense need to pee. Our dad wanted to understand what we were going through before, during and after a race, so he took up racing as well. He raced in a "master's league". He would be out on the mountain training with us, in the wax room tuning skis and sitting around talking about the advantages of one wax over another or who's fall of the day was the most momentous. Yes, through all the years of this, my mom's job was to support us, make us lunch and warm up our frostbitten feet when we came in at the end of the day.
I went to a Division 1 skiing college and skied all 4 years. Our season started with dryland training the second week of September and ended in March. During the snow season, we would ski Mon, Tues, Wed afternoons, drive to a carnival (ski race at another college) on Thursday, race Fri and Sat, and have the day off on Sunday. It definitely made the winter fly by in snowy Maine. It was a huge commitment, but I wouldn't have changed a thing.
My favorite event was slalom (that is the tight, turny gates). The funny thing is, is that I started racing with bamboo gates. You would try to get as close to the gates as possible (as in the fastest way down a hill is a straight line) and if you hit a bamboo gate, it would hurt! But you wanted to get close and your coaches would ENCOURAGE you to hit them with your arms. Hmm, can you say bruises? Finally, rapid gates were invented which is what you see in the Olympics now. You can hit the gate and it bends, but pops back up. It allows the racer to practically go through the gate. These make for a much faster run (and less bruises!). Also, when I raced (crap I sound old), we never had to use a helmet unless we were skiing a downhill. Now everyone wears a helmet!
One of my coaches (he was such a hard ass, but looking back, it is what made him a good coach), would make you run a slalom course and for every gate you didn't hit, you had to do 10 pushups on the snow next the the course. My arms had never been so buff (or bruised!).
I'll try and throw in a few pictures tomorrow. I don't think I actually have too many of me racing. I have found a few, so I will add them in as proof for my Friday Fragments.