Hi and thank you for reading my page!
I write this sat in my living room two days after returning from my first IPCAS Slalom race in SnowWorld, Holland.
After spending the last few months planning my 2016/17 winter season and discussing my plans with British Parasnowsport, they finally agreed to give me an IPC race licence and register me to be classified by the International Paralympic Committee classification process which determined the classification I will compete in.
Me and Charlotte (my girlfriend and newly recruited assistant!) drove to Bruges in Belgium for a day of sight seeing last Wednesday before driving to SnowWorld in Landgraaf, Holland for the races.
Always wanted to visit Bruges!
I would highly recommend Bruges as great place to visit with some great architecture and many amazing local shops selling some of the best Belgium chocolates!
We left Bruges on Thursday afternoon and drove to Landgraaf as I had been invited to train with the British Parasnowsport Development team for two days before the races. It was great to meet and train with the team. Both the coaches and team members were really welcoming and really helpful getting me up to speed on all the rules and processes’ that come with ski racing. With it being my first exposure to skiing gates it was a lot to take in! Especially the different gate combinations in slalom. We had one training session skiing gates (the other session we just free skied) and by the end of the session I mostly understood the rules and which gates I should ski and which should be ignored!
Following the final training session I attended my classification review along with my coach Dougie which consisted of an interview followed by a fairly lengthy physio exam by multiple examiners. I was assigned a LW12-1 classification which basically means I have moderate core and hip movement (having core and hip movement enables me to edge and carve the ski more than some other classifications). Having completed the classification process I was then given the go ahead and allowed to compete in the races over the following two days.
Race Day 1
It was a 6am wake up call at the hotel with a 7.30am course inspection before races started at 8am. Because it was the first race of the year and also a classification event there were over 145 entries. Quite a few which were new skiers being classified. As I was a new racer I drew bib 142 which meant I would be one of the very last racers on the course and the coaches warned me that the course would be at its worse. They were right! My run was really icy, however I did make it across the finish and completed my first run. Unfortunately my 2nd run was not so successful and I slipped over half way down which knocked me out of the third round for that day.
Race Day 2
Another early start and inspection again at 7.30am. After falling the day before I was nervous of falling again and getting knocked out of the 2nd run. The GB development team coaches were great and tried to help me relax but when it came to the race my nerves got the better of me, slipped and fell early in the course on the first run. Not the way I wanted to finish my first race but after I calmed down (which took a while) I remembered my goals for the weekend which were to get successfully classified and meet the team and coaches. Having trained slalom gates for the first time the day before the race I should have not expected much of a race result.
Time to drive home
One advantage of being knocked out of the race early meant that me and Charlotte could leave early and get home at a reasonable time (10:45pm) that night. Before we left I had a chat with the coaches who said to not worry about my race result as I had virtually no experience training gates and that overall they were happy with my skiing. Therefore they have invited me to attend one of their GB Development camps in Pitztal, Austria from the 30th Nov – 9th December to get to know me better, give me coaching and more experience going through gates!
Will let you know how it goes