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The World Cup season has begun and it has been super exciting these past couple of weeks. The beginning of the season is always great for fans and racers alike because it has been eight months since the last race and you just don’t know what may happen. This year many of the old stalwarts like Dider Cuche and Bode Miller are back and still as fast as ever, but some new young guns like Beat Feuz of Switzerland and Alexis Pintrault of France have entered the scene are treating the World Cup like it is their own playground.
We have been lucky that the Rocky Mountains stretching all the way up into Canada have been blessed with cold temps and early storms. Because of the great conditions Beaver Creek was able to double their already ample race schedule by picking up a trio of races that were scheduled to be in Val D’isere. The unseasonably warm temps in Europe at the moment have been to the benefit of the North American racers. We get to stay on home soil for a few more days before heading to Europe for the remainder of the winter.
To switch of a couple races may seem trivial but the home hill advantage is definitely a real thing. None of my teammates nor I grew up skiing at Beaver Creek but now that it is host to the only World Cup Downhill race in the US it has become an epicenter for the US Ski Team. When we race there we come to the finish to see our own friends and families. If we don’t like the buffet at the hotel we can run into town and grab some mexican food. Maybe most relevant to our good results at Beaver Creek is the simple sin of pride. To hurl yourself down a downhill race course at break neck speeds you need to be racing for something and what better than to represent when you only have one shot in your home country!
The theory backfires at times when racers get too amped and cannot ski to their full potential but winning on home snow has got to be one of the sweetest feelings. Just ask Bode Milller or Ted Ligety who both won races at Beaver Creek this past week. I personally did not have a great weekend finishing the Downhill in 28th place. Nevertheless to cross the finish line and see my smiling family in the stands and knowing it was going to be the only race they see this season I could not help but give them a wave and a shrug of the shoulders.
We head now over to Europe on Saturday and my plane ticket does not return stateside until March. It is a different scene over there: the racing has more history, some venues dating back over 80 years. The fans are more plentiful and surely more knowledgeable. We even get to feel like pseudo rock stars when we enter Austria and the border agents know our names. But there is just something about getting a fist bump from the start referee named Bear and shaking hands with all the volunteers who come out for us that makes Beaver Creek a special race.
To check out the early season results and keep up with me and the US Ski Team this season check out fisski.com <http://fisski.com> and look at the the Alpine Skiing results page.