I just finished up a series of world cup races in Sestriere, Italy, on the same mountain as the 2006 Paralympics. I had two downhills, two super-Gs, and one super combined. The track was almost exactly the same as when we raced on it in the past and the snow was almost perfect, man-made and really fast. We stayed in this hotel called The Belvedere which is supposed to be about four stars, but made sure that most of us were in two star rooms. My room, in particular, had all the humidity from our entire floor funnel into the room, which caused the window and surrounding ceiling to drip with water. After a bit of airing out it was slightly bearable. Below is a clip of my first downhill race. I ended up not skiing the next day. See if you can figure out why.
I ended up breaking my shoulder straps, popping out of my monoski like a cork. I also bent by best downhill ski. I did eventually recover, but I was seriously sore the next day. At he end of these series of races I managed to scrape together a fourth place finish in the final super-G, even after I just about fell half way down, so not too shabby.
A cool ridgeline in Sestriere that I really wish I had a chance to ski.
Before we flew home we spent the night near Munich, Germany. Having some free time on our hands, a bunch of us went in to the city to check things out. The above picture was just one of those things we checked out. Oh the boots!
I just finished the first World Cup stop of the season at Patscherkofel, Austria. We raced on the same hill that held the downhill for the 1964 and 1976 Olympics, but we instead ran a slalom and giant slalom. The track was mostly boiler-plate ice which has proved exceedingly difficult for me to manage. I have not been able to hold an edge reliably at all which has caused me to have disappointing results in both races (second to last in GS, 8th in SL). Each run has had me sliding all over the place with very little control and has even involved a few instances where I slid out completely, slid down the course a ways, pop up again when my edge caught, and continue down the run, having to re-generate all the speed I was carrying. Since these races I have been trying to trouble-shoot the problem without much success. My edges are extremely sharp and my technique is good enough (when I am not sliding out of control) to be able to grip on the ice, yet I still can’t do it. Every coach I talk to seems to be telling me something different about how to correct my problem, but nothing yet has helped.
The base area of Patscherkofel.
Betty-Lynn, the guide dog of Danielle Umstead, one of my teammates. Betty-Lynn and I share a bench seat every day when we go to the hill.
We are staying in the town of Rum, about 3 miles from the center of Innsbruck. This is a view of the Olympic ski jumps above the city.
My roommate, Chris Devlin-Young, aka Captain World Cup.
Tomorrow we are off to Abtenau, Austria for another series of races. Should be fun.
I just finished up a week of training at Copper Mountain, Colorado. I have been going to the hill almost every day with my teammate George to train with the NASC ski camp and some of our coaches. We have had several days of giant slalom and slalom training, in both of which we have made a lot of improvement and are now skiing very well.
I have been staying with George and his wife Heather in the town of Leadville, Colorado for the past week. It is often very difficult for me to train away from home because I always have to find a place to stay and arrange for transportation to and from the hill every day, and George and Heather have been extremely helpful and hospitable in providing both of those things. Heather is a great cook too and has made sure we are all well fed.
George, also known as Bro.
The town of Leadville is a fascinating place. It is about 20 minutes south of I-70 from Copper Mountain and is a true mining town. Fancy development that you might see in Vail or Aspen hasn’t happened here due to the lack of a huge, popular ski area nearby. Main street looks like a very typical western style street with box shaped buildings with flat facades. All the houses in the area are single story ranches, prefabs, double-wides or trailers. No-one wastes time with million dollar ski chalets here. Some people even put two completely different mobile homes together, and no yard seems complete without some combination of truck (lifted at least a foot higher than normal, with chrome exhaust stacks coming out of the bed), truck on blocks, rusty kitchen appliances, or a tractor. I had Thanksgiving with Heather’s family whom are all very nice and made sure I had far more than enough to eat. I tried to dress a bit nice for the occasion with a good sweater but when I got there I realized that everyone had either hunting camo, nascar shirts, or Denver Broncos football jerseys on, which made me feel a bit out of place. They even made fun of me for talking too much like an east coaster. I tried very hard not to bring up politics with any of them for I got the distinct impression that Obama was far from popular. When we were eating dinner the main focus was not so much on everyone else but rather the TV where the Denver Broncos were delivering a thrashing to some other football team. I know just enough of the rules to appreciate the game, but I know next to nothing beyond that. A few members of the family were constantly on their knees, feet from the TV, yelling at the players and coaches to do this and that, as if they knew more about the game than they players and coaches did. At one point it was so loud that I bet the players in Denver could actually here them. The Broncos did end up winning, so there could be something to this couch-coaching.
George’s neighborhood. The town of Leadville is about 10,000 feet high.
Part of the drive to Copper every morning.
I have also had a potential breakthrough in my training. I think I may have just figured out how to run slalom with the correct technique to be successful. The tricky thing about slalom is that you can turn so quickly and put so much energy into the turn that your ski or your suspension can easily toss you right out of the course. I think I have just figured out how to stop that from happening. Unfortunately I can’t go into details because this is the internet and the Japanese, Austrians, Germans or Canadian ski teams could potentially read this blog and find out my secrets, which would be less than profitable for me.
I can tell you, however, that I did knock my front teeth out on a slalom gate on Thanksgiving day. I always wear a chin guard when I train slalom, but the gate managed to get past it and smash my teeth in, which I managed to save. George and I managed to find a dentist who was willing to interrupt his Thanksgiving preparations and put my teeth back together. After much acid-etching, glue, drilling and polishing, my teeth are almost back to normal. They are, unfortunately, very sore and if I bite down the wrong way, hurt like hell. I thought I would have to eat turkey through a straw, but I managed to chew enough with my molars to get everything down. My teeth are getting better every day, though.
It is very awkward to eat and drink without one’s front teeth.
Today we have to meet up with the rest of the team in Summit County, Colorado to start another few weeks of training as well as the The Hartford Ski Spectacular at Breckenridge. I will update more as things progress.
I just went hunting for the first time. I call it hunting, but it was more of an excuse to go around the woods with a gun and not find anything. My friend and I each had a muzzleloader, camo fatigues, and orange vests as we headed out into the forest. I used my one-off bike to get around but it was far too cumbersome and noisy to really sneak up on anything. Instead, we found a promontory along these power lines where I could see in either direction for several hundred yards, and I set up to wait. My friend then walked around the woods on either side of me for several hours, trying to scare deer or other animals near me. Once they got within range, about 100 yards or less for these muzzleloaders, I would then blast them to smithereens.
As it turned out, we saw absolutely nothing. No living thing made its presence known to us, not even a peep, growl or scurry. All I did for half a day was sit on my butt and look at the woods. It wasn’t so bad though, I got about 3-4 hours of good heavy thinking, and staring at trees.
My view for many hours. Anything from the bottom of the hill and closer would have been toast, had it decided to cross the power lines.
That afternoon we got bored and decided that, as long as we had prepared all the guns, we might as well blast them off. So, we took a trip to the firing range with our armaments and found a few other groups of hunters that were sighting their guns in. Some of them had brought arsenals that would be the envy of Napoleon himself. One group had an entire pickup bed full of guns, which they fired off seemingly indiscriminately down range, with no breaks, for about an hour. They had some impressive guns and they were all very loud, but nothing compared to a .50 caliber muzzleloader with a ton of black powder, which we had. We each took a shot with our guns and the other group immediately paused in their firing, wondering where the deafening and concussive boom had just come from.
The next Warren Miller film titled “Dynasty” premiers in the months of October, November and December all across the country. One of the features of this year’s film is a segment on the Monoskier-X event at the latest Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado. Check it out and you might see me flying off of some huge jumps. You can get more information about the film including viewing locations at www.skinet.com/warrenmiller.
I just got back from one of the best camps ever. I travelled with the team from Challenge Aspen to Hintertux, Austria where we had two weeks of slalom and GS training on the Hintertuxer glacier. The conditions were great meaning solid glacial ice with tons of pre-made ruts. The glacier, it turns out, is rapidly melting. I was here about 4 years ago and we could ski much further down then we can now. There are many little streams running over and under the glacier, carrying away ice that probably has been building up for at least hundreds of years. Hintertux is still an epic place, but I think that it might have to advertise mountain biking a few summers from now instead of skiing.
I learned some very valuable lessons this camp, mainly that everything I have learned about ski racing is wrong. Allow me to explain. Usually there is a fine line between turning high and early enough to make sure you make the gate and are still able to make the next one and going direct enough so that you don’t travel an unnessesary distance from gate to gate. In reality, the more direct you go at the next gate, the faster your time will be, high and early be damned. I found that if I went super direct at the gates of a course and ripped a turn just barely before the gate, and put as much pressure as I possibly could into the turn, the faster my time was. Absolutely rediculous. If you have no idea of the fundamentals of ski racing, what I just described is usually what your coaches spend hours demanding that you not do.
We also spent lots of time going on very long pushes and doing workouts. The pushes were usually tons of fun, except the day we had to go on a road that went through a cow pasture (there are lots of cows in Hintertux), and our wheels and subsequently us got covered in bovine excrement. Delicious.
This is the view from my hotel towards the Hintertuxer Gletscherbahn.
The town of Tux. Everything is very green because it is sprayed every fall with liberal amounts of liquified bovine excrement.
Me at the Walfischmaul, or Whale’s jaws. This was along one of our long pushes up the mountain side.
My teammate performing surgery on his skis after he stripped the screw heads in an attempt to take the bindings off.
I just got back from a conditioning camp at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We had a week of gym workouts, strength testing, bloodwork, body composition analysis, and mentoring of young up and coming racers. I unfortunately have no photos of this camp, so I will try to explain everything.
The gym workouts are just what you might think. We go to the pumpatorium, reach our full pump-tential, then leave. It can be a bit intimidating working out with athletes from other olympic sports, especially wrestlers or female weightlifters. Not only can they do about 40 pull ups and not even be winded, but the girls look like they could snap you like a twig, with their pinkie.
Strength testing was to see how much weight or how many repititions or how far we could push ourselves in a variety of excersizes. I was happy to find out that I am doing better than this time last year.
Blood work is hardly ever fun, especially when the person drawing the blood can either not find a vein, or having found one, just can’t seem to stick the harpoon in there after the 5th try.
The body composition analysis was really fun. We got to go to the Air Force Academy and use their DEXA scan machine, which blasts you with radiation and can measure all the different types of tissue in your body and where they are located. You can also see your bones, and my bone structure still amazes me a little, as there is no connection between lumbar 1 and my hips. I did find out, however, that because of my 3ft height, I am less than 1 point from maxing out the body mass index scale, and therefore am morbidly obese.
The last few days of the camp overlapped with a development camp with young racers who were just beginning their ski racing experience. We showed them the kinds of workouts we do to get in shape and told them all about the trials and tribulations of skiing competitively. We all got to sit through yet another lecture from USADA (US anti-doping agency) where we were all given about an hour of propaganda explaining how USADA comes in at the elite level and dictates how you must notify them at all times what and where you are, as well as what you can and cannot eat or do to your body. I hope the kids know what they are getting into, at least the ones that didn’t fall asleep during the lecture.
I recently took a trip down to Bristol, Connecticut to do a couple of interviews with ESPN at their fancy smancy headquarters. The HQ looks more like a college campus, but with way more satellite dishes. I did my interviews on ESPN First Take and ESPN News, alongside fellow paralympian Erin Popovitch, a swimmer who had appeared to have won all the medals possible in the last paralympics (something like 7 or 8). We both got tours of the ESPN campus where we got to see where they record all their programs and do all the video and sound processing to make everything look polished and professional.
During the tour our guide was telling us about all the different programs on TV and all the commercials that were shot on their campus for the programs. I rarely watch TV, however, and I almost never flip to any ESPN channel, so I had no idea what they were talking about. I think ESPN assumes that if you are a guy my age you watch ESPN religiously and are up to date with all the players and teams of American sports, especially football.
The interviews went well, meaning I didn’t freeze up and stop talking all together, but its very hard to get used to being in front of a camera that is recording your image and voice for millions of viewers. The hosts of the programs were way too smooth in how they spoke and their hair was beyond perfect, which I found a bit intimidating, as I need to concentrate a great deal to talk smoothly and my hair usually puts Einstein’s bad hair days to shame. I got through it, though, and said most of what I needed to say.
I like pretending to be a big deal.
What the cameras don’t capture is a wiring disaster waiting to happen.
Another set, except this one has a lot of computer workstations in the background to show the viewers how hard everyone is working to give them up to minute updates.
Me posing next to some famous basketball player (he really is pushing 7 feet), the host of First Take, and Erin.
Me with Erin and Steve Raymond, one of the VPs of ESPN, co-chair of SkiTAM (US Adaptive Ski Team annual fundraiser), and chef de mission for the 2010 US Paralympic team.
I just got done with two training camps at Mt. Hood, Oregon where I had two weeks of Super-G and two weeks of Slalom and GS. The last two weeks we had very hot weather and it wasn’t unusual to be skiing when it was mid 70’s. The snow was melted many feet in a day and we eventually couldn’t even ski to the bottom.
This is Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake. The tiny block of snow in the middle of the mountain is the Palmer snow field, where we train.
This is the top of the snowfield and our GS training course.
This is me and a guy named Fuxi. I think he is Austrian and he owns two ski shops in Government Camp (the town at the base of Mt. Hood). He is very animated and creative in the way he gets you to come into his shop and buy something. He starts by offering you an amazing deal on something you may or may not want, then once you go inside to investigate, he leads you all over the store and if he catches you eying something of interest, he pronounces that he has yet another amazing deal and amazing price for you. It really gets amusing when he spots another customer behind you and proceeds to sell the same product at either half or twice the price he just offered you. Regardless, he does seem to be doing well, and I even got some free socks from him.
Tyler grew up in Franconia, New Hampshire. Learning how to ski at Cannon Mountain, Tyler eventually qualified for the US Paralympics Alpine Ski Team in 2003, which he has been a member of ever since. Tyler attended the University of New Hampshire from 2004 to 2008 where he earned a dual degree in geography and international affairs, with minors in political science and German. Since 2004 Tyler has had a very successful skiing career, competing in the Paralympics in 2006, 2010, and 2014. During that time Tyler was also a three-time Winter X-Games gold medalist in Monoskier-X and 2014 overall World Cup champion. Since 2010 Tyler has lived and trained in Aspen, Colorado along with many of his teammates.