Sochi, Russia at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center
The Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort is located at the Aibga Ridge. It is a single venue and hosts all Alpine Skiing disciplines at both the Olympics and Paralympics: Downhill, Combined (downhill and slalom), Giant Slalom and the Super Giant Slalom. The total length of the competition tracks is 20 km.
NBC Olympics’ coverage will include all five Paralympic winter sports – alpine skiing (which includes snowboarding), biathlon, cross-country skiing, wheelchair curling and ice sledge hockey – 52 hours of coverage spread across 11 days on NBC and NBCSN.
All times listed below are Sochi, Russia time
MEN’S DOWNHILL, Sitting
11:50 am Saturday, March 8, 2014
Watch live on NBCSN @ 1 am ET onMarch 9
MEN’S SUPER-G, Sitting
12:15 pm Sunday, March 9, 2014
Watch live on NBCSN@ 2 am ET on March 10
MEN’S SUPER COMBINED DOWNHILL, Sitting
12:30 pm Tuesday, March 11, 2014
MEN’S SUPER COMBINED SLALOM, Sitting
18:05 pm Tuesday, March 11, 2014
MEN’S SLALOM 1st RUN, Sitting
17:55 pm Thursday, March 13, 2014
MEN’S SLALOM 2nd RUN, Sitting
20:35 pm Thursday, March 13, 2014
MEN’S GIANT SLALOM 1st RUN, Sitting
11:45 am Saturday, March 15, 2014
Watch live on NBCSN @ 4:40 am ET on March 16
MEN’S GIANT SLALOM 2nd RUN, Sitting
14:55 pm Saturday, March 15, 2014
In summary, I have never had a longer period of crashes and mistakes in a series of races than this round of the paralympics. In my last race, the super-G, I caught unexpected air at the last gate which caused me to fly sideways and upside down over the finish line at about 50-60 mph. The resulting crash caused me to lose my ski and receive a collective (AAAHHHH!!!) from the crowd, followed a few minutes later by a big cheer when I got back up again. Due to this crash and one the day before in the downhill, I was too beat up to race the super-combined on the last day. My results for slalom and giant slalom were less than spectacular and not worth noting here. Historically I have been very good at racing and enjoyed really good results on a more or less consistent basis. To not do well for a long time is unusual for me. After a great amount of though, however, I have figured out why I was unable to achieve success.
First, at the beginning of the season I changed to new monoski built by a Japanese company called Nissin. This monoski is really good at using the whole ski and arcs turns like nothing else out there. Unfortunately it only skis correctly when one’s weight is in the back seat and one gives oneself tons of room at the top of each turn to make the turn. I had not figured out either of these things by the time the Paralympics came around, and thus suffered the consequences. I also had very little training in hard, icy, bumpy snow, which was the kind we had at the Paralympics, and thus was quite unprepared.
With all that said I did end up having a good time. It was great to see tons of people from all over the world speaking all sorts of languages. The ceremonies for everything were really well done, with the exception of the Inuit throat singing done by a one Tanya Taguk in the closing ceremonies. Inuit throat sining is not to be confused with Tuvan throat singing, which I find quite enjoyable and melodious. Tanya’s singing was more akin to a theatrical asthma attack with which there is no medicine to ease the discomfort. I actually sat through a two hour concert/dance performance of Tanya Taguk last spring in Vancouver, two hours of which I can never get back.
Anyway, on to the pictures.
My teammate, George, practicing his cheering pose.
CDY bathing in his fan-mail. I had no fan mail. My side of the room was lonely and bare.
Me with the Paralympic mascot (Sumi?).
We had this welcome ceremony for just the US team at the athlete village and after the ceremony I found the hottest girls I could and took a picture with them. They were all involved in the ceremonies in some way, but the girl to my left is Laura Vandervoort, who also stars in the TV show called “V”.
The athlete village at night.
Arly, one of the two Mexican skiers in the games.
The ski team, waiting to march into the stadium in Vancouver for the opening ceremonies. Ralph Lauren provided a lot of our uniform and in his infinite wisdom, thought it would be a great idea to have us dress up in a super heavy wool sweater with a really big turtle-neck, then put on a really warm down coat, then top it off with a really warm wool hat. We had to wear this get-up for several hours in 60 degree weather, when we would could have outlasted penguins in Antarctica.
My friend John came to visit and tour the athlete village, above which we both felt it necessary that he strike a gallant pose.
Overly enthusiastic fans at the closing ceremonies.
Pom-pom dancing kids that were required to dance as long as athletes were entering the closing ceremonies. Towards the end of the column they were getting less and less enthusiastic.
After the closing ceremonies I was mobbed by a group of girls from Hawaii who really wanted to meet a paralympian. Glad I could be of service.
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.
Tyler Walker is a member of the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team and the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing Team. He won three 2013-14 World Cup globes: Overall, as well as for Speed and Slalom events. He is a national and international sit-ski champion in several alpine disciplines as well as a 2006 and 2010 Paralympian and a three-time X-Games gold medalist.
Tyler graduated in 2008 from the University of New Hampshire with a dual major in geography and international affairs, with minors in political science and German. He currently lives and trains in Franconia, New Hampshire.