McGrath's Notes from Norway, Entry Five: The Comeback


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Christmas 2002.

Throughout this whole mess and the bad results, I tried to keep it all in perspective. We still had a win under our belt and the young women, Line and Lisa, had just returned from a first and second place finish in a Europa Cup SL race. (Europa cup is where the up and comers make their mark. Sort of the triple AAA baseball of skiing.) The training in St. Moritz was excellent, but the relationship between me and my assistant coaches was strained. It is difficult when you live so closely, spend everyday together, work very hard and get zero results for your effort.

It was time for a serious meeting with my assistants to “clear the air.” So I called it. After all, I was their boss, but an American in their system. In St. Moritz, we spent long hours talking about philosophy, technique and everything we did right and wrong leading up to that point. We argued, agreed, drank beer, wine and stayed up most in the night. We made a pact to make it work!

After training in St. Moritz, we drove to Lenzerheide, Switzerland, for our last World Cup SL before Christmas. I felt much better about our chances because we had four women starting in the race as opposed to the two women we only start in each GS. The mood was better as everyone looked forward to the race with a little more confidence. All four women were in the points that day. Final results: Trine 12, Line 13, Hedda 14 and Lisa 21. To most outside observers, this may not seem exceptional. But for us it was a good day. Lisa had never qualified for the second run of a World Cup race before and Line had her best finish ever—only .41 of a second behind a podium finish. Trine expects more for sure and Hedda has been struggling with her equipment all year.

We carried the momentum to the next race between Christmas and New Year’s in Semmering, Austria, with eigth, 10th and 15th place finishes. Again not where we want to be, but a step in the right direction. The two young women finished 10th and 15th—very promising for a team that needed a boost in morale. In fact, even the Norwegian press relented, stating this was the first time four Norwegian women had all finished in the points.

After the Christmas races, we returned to Norway for a two day break before continuing the grind in Bormio, Italy, January 4-5. Stina was still sick and would not race in Bormio, but the rest of the woman were focused and eager to ski fast in the second half of the season. Who knows what it will bring, but with the World Championship’s just around the corner, it will be interesting to see which direction we go?