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.

img_1790George, 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.

img_1787George’s neighborhood. The town of Leadville is about 10,000 feet high.

img_1788Part 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.

brokenteethIt 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.