January 17-31, 2014
World Cup Races at Copper, Colorado and Tignes, France
You can’t win every race, but every ski racer definitely tries to do so. This was exactly what I was trying to do in the second slalom of the World Cup in Copper, CO last week. After a wild ride on the first run I was sitting in sixth place. I should have been happy that I even finished the run because ruts were developing that almost sent me head-over-heels multiple times. In IPC (International Paralympic Committee) World Cup races, sit-skiers, my class, run last after two other classes: the visually impaired and standing (people missing a leg or an arm but ski standing up). This means that I run after at least 60 people, so the course has really deteriorated by the time that I run.
Fourth place is a really irritating place to be in. You almost made it, but not quite. All the time and effort, just to be the first person not on the podium. One fourth is not so bad, but by the end of the Copper World Cup I had a streak of several fourths and fifths and it was starting to wear on me. I wanted to win so badly but I kept making weird little mistakes in every run. To make it worse, the same people seemed to win every day. I have always striven to be fast and consistent, but it sometimes seems as unattainable as the desire to be come an astronaut.
Fast forward to the present and I am now in Tignes, France at another World Cup race. I have been here several times over my career and every time there has been more snow at this one place than any other ski area I have seen. This trip has not disappointed in that regard, as we got two feet of snow in the first two days. This meant that the first downhill training run was cancelled in favor of powder skiing, my favorite event. I love racing, but I live for powder skiing. Two days of this completely reset my mood and perspective towards the entire sport. Anyone who is moderately good at skiing will understand how the feeling of flying over fluffy clouds of powder will completely remove a bad mood.
Today the weather cleared up and we were able to have a downhill training run in the morning. In the afternoon, due to our now shortened schedule because of the snow, we ran the fist of two downhill races. Because of the powder skiing, I was in such a good mood that I won the first training run and got second in the race. I had some obvious mistakes in the race run, but I am so happy now that I don’t even care. I can just let it go and move on to the next race. That is the power of powder.
— This is the second in a series of articles I am writing for the Littleton Record newspaper.
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.
Tyler grew up in Franconia, New Hampshire where he developed a great appreciation of the outdoors, especially the mountains. Born without functional use of his legs, he has spent a lifetime adapting to a world filled with obstacles. Finding a passion for ski racing, Tyler competed for the United States for 15 seasons as a member of the US Paralympic Alpine Ski Team. During that time he traveled around the world, pushing the boundaries of adaptive skiing and racing. Tyler competed in the 2006 Torino, 2010 Vancouver, 2014 Sochi and 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games. Achieving many World Cup podiums and titles along the way, including winning the overall World Cup title in 2014, it would take his 4th trip to the Paralympics to earn two silver medals in giant slalom and slalom. Tyler also competed in the Winter X-Games Monoskier-X event, winning gold three times. During his career he found time to attend the University of New Hampshire and earn a dual degree in Geography and International Affairs. At the end of the 2018 season he retired from competitive skiing in order to pursue other career opportunities. Tyler also speaks to corporate and school groups about his experiences in life and competition, passing on lessons learned over a long and often arduous career.