Finishing the season with a bang!

See below for a late reposting of Casey Wright’s last post from the Lake Mountain Ambassador Program weebly blog (originally posted on March 28).

I have now been back in Australia for a week and have been loving the opportunity to catch some summer weather before we plunge into another winter. Before I made the marathon journey across the pacific back home I had one more set of the races to complete before my season was officially over.

This year the final races of the US racing series (the USSA Super Tour Sprint Series Finals) were held in Sun Valley. After returning from Sweden I had about 2.5 weeks to recover and prepare for the races. During this time we experienced some unseasonably warm weather and as a result the snow conditions deteriorated. Despite the fact that the snow was melting before my eyes, I did not miss the opportunity to soak up some Vitamin D, and as such spent almost every session skiing/ training in a T-shirt.

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Didn’t miss any opportunities to do some spring training. These are photos from the run/hike I did on the ridge line above the Adicof’s house. In the background are the Sawtooth mountains and the township of Ketchum.

Originally the races were to be held at Lake Creek, the main trail system that we train on, but due to the lack of snow they were moved north to Galena. The only downside to racing at here is that it sits at 2200m above sea level! In other words, the lack of oxygen make any sort of intensity hurt much much more.

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The view from the stadium at Galena was pretty specky!

My first race was the 10km classic. Unfortunately I had a pretty tough day at the office, and struggled through 2 laps of the 5km course. On this particular day, the melted snow from the day before had frozen solid, mimicking the conditions from Bozeman, Montana, earlier in the season. I would like to say that I managed to make it through the course without falling, but I cannot. Instead I decided to stack it as I came into the stadium, in-front of everyone! Yep, that was me…. Thankfully I walked away with only a bruised ego.

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Lapping through the half way mark. Photo credit: Andrew Paul

After recovering from my classic race, I prepared for an event that I had been waiting a long time for; the Skate Sprint. My goal was to finish in the top 30 and subsequently qualify for the heats. Again the snow had frozen solid, however it didn’t seem to bother me as I posted the 12th fastest time in the Time Trial. This was beyond any result I could have imagined myself achieving and it allowed me to finish my season on a very high note! Just like all of my heats from  the season, I was unsuccessful in progressing past the quarterfinals.

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Ready to start the Skate Sprint Time Trial. A big should out goes to all of the Volunteers who ensured the week of racing ran very smoothly! Photo credit: Andrew Paul

The next race of the week was the 4x5km relay. Here, clubs submit teams of 4 (2 male and 2 female). The first 2 skiers ski  classic, while the others ski skate. Contrary to the previous days on sun shine and warm weather, it was snowing, heavily! My team consisted of Kat, myself and the other 2 boys (Braden and Sam) who were part of the PG Team which I had been training with all season. It was really fun to be a part of the team and overall we all skied really well. A special mention goes out to Sam who posted the 12 fastest time overall for the day! To make sure that Aussie Spirit was noticed, we all raced in half Sun Valley, half Australia suits (except for Sam as he ‘forgot’ to put the Aus top on).

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The PG crew post race! (Sam, Me, Kat and Braden) Photo credit: Andrew Paul

My final race of the season was the 30km skate mass start. The women were to start at 12:00pm, after the men had finished their 50km race. In the morning the snow had been slick and fast as a result of colder temperatures overnight and fresh snow from a couple of days before hand. By the time women started, the snow had become sloppy, sticky and slow! It was so slow in fact that you would spend the entire downhill trying not to fall on your face as your skis would get stuck to the snow. Surprisingly the fastest female time was slower than the fastest male, even though they had to ski an additional 20km. Due to the limited amounts of snow we did 6 laps of a 5km course. This race was by far the hardest race of my season, but I am pleased to say that I finished (although I spent the final lap cramping quite badly in my feet and legs).

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Making my way through the lapping lane one of the 6 times. Photo Credit: Andrew Paul

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Start of the race after a lap of the sprint loop. Photo Credit: Andrew Paul

There a number of people that I need to thank for not only supporting me at these races, but for also helping me out for the entire season. Firstly, to all of the wax techs (Randy, Tim, Tom, Colin, Mikey and K$); Thanks for making sure we had the best skis out on course, despite the tricky waxing conditions and continually changing snow! To Tommy Boy Smith: Thank – you for taking all of the Aussies, not just myself, under your wings for the season and coaching us. We have all had a fantastic time and have improved our skiing abilities greatly. To the Adicof’s: Thanks for housing Kat and I for the whole season and looking after us so well. To the SVSEF ski team and community: Thank – you for making us all feel so welcome! We have made many friends and we hope that you will all be able to make it to Australia in the coming years, and we all can’t wait to come back to Sun Valley!

I am now enjoying a brief break from ski related activities before I get back into training and preparing for the Aussie Winter.Until next time: Dream the Impossible, Live the Dream!

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