January 8, 2010: I Love Slalom

Marianske Lanze, Czech Republic – I’ve never been to any of the eastern European countries so I was looking forward to the race in the Czech Republic. I’ve always wanted to visit Prague since I hear it’s a wonderful city, and while we are about 150 kilometers from there, the town we’re in shares the same beauty that I imagine. I also haven’t been to a new country in a long time, particularly one where the language and history are so unique, so this is especially exciting.

The town of Marianske Lanze seems very wealthy. There are several four- and five-star hotels housed in beautiful historic buildings, and there is even a casino that rivals the one I saw in Monte Carlo in terms of size and opulence. I haven’t yet explored the area, but the drive to the hill alone showcased the city’s magnificence.

The ski hill is a small hill just a few minutes drive from the main street in town. The part of the hill where the race will be held has a decent steepness, but is very short, similar to the Steamboat Springs race hill. The snow is also decent; there are some icy parts but still very grippy so that shouldn’t be a problem. What might cause a problem is the 30 cm of snow they’re expecting tonight.

I’ve never thought of myself as a slalom rider. I’ve always liked giant slalom better maybe because of the buildup of speed and the smoothness of carving turns. Slalom is very fast paced with short, not-so-clean turns, and while I have quick feet, I’ve felt that my tendency to go too straight makes slalom a constant battle at each turn where I’m just barely hanging on. But my results tend to be better in slalom, probably because I don’t have to be as technically perfect and being aggressive has more of an impact. I can still remember some great slalom race runs from the past. And after today’s training session, I think it’s now more fun than giant slalom.

My slalom board is used and from older technology, so it’s more snappy and lively through turns. In giant slalom this older technology caused many crashes and even a concussion as I would load up the board and it would spring up off the snow, contorting my body and throwing it in all sorts of uncontrollable directions. But for slalom, the snappy-ness is perfect, and I was really happy that I didn’t get a new slalom board. My freeruns felt good and turny. Coach Mark had said after the last race that I need to start my turns higher and one way to do that was to come under the stubby (instead of looping low), so when I jumped into the course my performance statement was “Stay aggressive, come under the stubby.”

My first run felt surprisingly good and I managed to stay in the course. My first run in slalom after being on my GS board for so long (last time I was on slalom was in early December at a race) is usually sketchy with me going way too straight and not able to finish the course, but this run felt really good. I focused on coming under the stubbies and that helped me to stay round, start the pressure early, and most importantly, release the pressure at the stubby. I also stayed forward and didn’t get in the backseat too much. I was so happy after that first run, my confidence blossomed.

The rest of my runs felt even better, although I did get going too straight at one gate and DQ’ed, but that’s okay. I stayed with the focus of “Stay forward, under the stubby” and it worked really well. By the end of the day I was getting into a really good rhythm in the course (“blup, blup, blup”) and it was so fun since I didn’t have to fight the whole time just to make the turns. I flowed really well, and it was easy to ride. Coach Mark said that it was good riding although on some of the heelside fall-away gates I was getting a little far out of line. He seemed happy with it and I was ecstatic. Yay! I love slalom!

While the next two days of races are not Olympic qualifiers, they are good opportunities to get the points I need to satisfy one of the Olympic criteria. My confidence is high, I’m really excited, and I’m looking forward to riding my best tomorrow.


1 Response to “January 8, 2010: I Love Slalom”

  1. 1 mikhel January 10, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Good Luck Eden!! You make us Filipinos soo proud!!! Im from Vancouver, Canada am I’m really praying that you make it to the 2010 Olympic Games… see yah!! and The Best of Luck!! Go Eden Go!

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