Ready to Rip in Soelden

Your son is two years old, the same age you were when you first got on skis. Is he learning yet? My husband takes him to my races, and there’s a great spot for him to learn how [to ski] down there at the finish. We take runs with him and we have a harness that you can hold the reins to. He’s learning how to snowplow and hockey stop.You’re older and more experienced than most of the women on the U.S. Ski Team. Do you ever feel your age? Do they turn to you for help? Actually, going into the Vancouver Games with teammates who have never been to the Olympics is the first time I really felt my age. We get along so well and we all kind of help each other. Last year, when I was coming back, Megan [McJames] was skiing so well in GS and I was like—help me out! She has a bit more modern technique. I try to do the same for them. I help them with what I know more of and they help me with what they know more of.

Soelden, Austria, Oct. 27, 2000--In the heart of the Tyrolean Alps, the stronghold of the great Austrian alpine ski team, the FIS Café de Colombia begins Saturday (Oct. 29) with defending giant slalom World Cup champion Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria and runner-up Sonja Nef of Switzerland facing off in an early-season race which can easily produce surprises. Four U.S. women will be in the starting lineup.

The early-season glacier races were begun by the International Ski Federation in the early 90's to create pre-season excitement for the sport. After years of juggling between glaciers in Austria, Switzerland and France, the FIS calendar is likely to stick with Soelden, where the previous races on the Rettenbach Glacier have produced some of the most exciting races and spectator interest of the season.

The village of Soelden lies at the end of a narrow valley, the Oetztal, about an hour southwest of Innsbruck. And while Soelden lies at a comfortable 4,500 feet above sea level, skiers will start at exactly 10,000 feet above sea level - one of the highest starting points on the World Cup!

Weather in the valley has been warm, but turned cool on Friday with temperatures around 40 degrees Fahrenheit in town but around freezingand between cloud layers on the glacier course.

The men trained on what is known as the 'Icebox' run Friday, while the woman had a chance to free ski (without gates) on the glacier racecourse in advance of Saturday's giant slalom. The men race on Sunday.

While cloudy skies have dominated the days leading to the race, clear skies are likely over the weekend.

Course conditions are expected to be quite good for the woman's race, with officials hoping for colder temperatures to harden the course forSunday's men's race.

Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) will be the first U.S. skier out of the gate. Koznick, who is training on her own outside of the U.S. Ski Teamprogram, will start 18th. U.S. Ski Team racer Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) will start 27th. Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO), who lastyear scored World Cup points in each of five disciplines, will start 43rd. Alex Shaffer (Park City, UT), returning from a knee injury last year,was confirmed as a starter just a few days prior to the race and will start 52nd in the field of 70.

Start time is set for 9:45 a.m. Middle European Time (3:45 a.m. EDT) for the first run, with the deciding second run of giant slalom at 12:30p.m. (6:30 a.m. EDT).