Apologies, It’s been a busy few months since my last update….
Summer pre-season didn’t go as first anticipated. I was still recovering from full rotator cuff shoulder surgery and working full-time, which meant I couldn’t attend any of the British camps.
Therefore my season started in October with a British Parasnowsport camp in Hintertux, Austria. Unfortunately the camp was short lived as I managed to concuss myself on the first day, so I had to fly home early (it’s no news to most people that I’m accident prone!).
A few weeks later I went to get re-classified by the International Paralympic Commitee in Landgraaf, Holland to ensure they gave me the correct classification last year. I also competed in the Landgraaf Slalom races which was the first time I had skied since dislocating my shoulder in Feb 17.
The National Composite Centre was also there with me, in which I helped with their data-acquisition testing for their newly designed sit-ski (more on that to follow!).
After Landgraaf, I spent a few days at home with Charlotte before catching a flight out to Winterpark, Colorado, to begin my training with the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) for the next 3 months.
As always the coach trip and check in at the airport was fun and games, having long discussions with staff about the amount of luggage I had with me as well as what they feel is mobility equipment vs what I think! Anyway, once boarding the plane it was a smooth journey with one of my coaches (another Scott) picking me up at the airport, helping me with my luggage and giving me a ride to the resort. We arrived late that afternoon, unpacked, got an early night before an early training session the next morning.
Winterpark has always been a special place for me. It is here where I was re-introduced to sport following my accident. This really allowed me to move on and accept my situation. Before learning how to sitski, I was really against participating in any adaptive sports and socialising with other disabled people. Whenever I first arrive at the resort and see the mountain it always puts a huge smile on my face.
This year is the first time I started my training in Winterpark so early on into the season (14th Nov). Although compared to many of the other athletes I am a late starter. Most had already skied well over 30 days during the pre-season summer camps.
Early Season Training
Although Europe had a great start to the season in terms of snow, the same cannot be said about Colorado. It was a gamble coming to Winterpark so early on into the season, and although nearly all the mountain was closed for the first few weeks, we managed to train as normal but mainly focusing on slalom (which I took as a positive as that’s by far my weakest event). We also managed to get some early morning (7am lift) Giant Slalom sessions in before the mountain opened to the public. Although it’s a really early start, getting first tracks on the mountain and watching the sun rise whilst training is always worth it! Anyway after a few weeks, more of the mountain opened (thanks to the snow cannons) and more of my NSCD team mates from last year arrived so everything started to get in full swing.
Testing new sit skis, making the switch and my first time riding a big boy ski!
Being so tall I’ve always struggled to get a completely comfortable seating position with my sit ski. I bought it when I first started skiing and although it’s still used by many World Cup racers, I still always find myself searching for a better setup. Now I am racing it’s something that I wanted to improve as I feel I am being held back by my equipment due to lack of comfort/confidence. Luckily with the NSCD having such a large program, it gave me the opportunity to try out a few other racing sit ski’s on the market, giving me the chance to compare them. I won’t bore you with the full details but after testing a few sit skis one stood out by far and I was amazed with how light, nimble & adjustable it is compared to mine. After testing it I made the decision (albeit an expensive one) to purchase one ASAP to ensure I maximise my time training with the NSCD. As luck would have it one of my NSCD team mates had a used one for sale so I managed to pick it up for a relatively good price and more importantly without the long lead time of a new one.
Around the same time we also started early morning (7am) Super G training sessions in preparation for the upcoming races. Although I started training with the NSCD last season I did not purchase any Super G skis until this summer. So after GS training the morning before our first Super G session I decided to give my new ski a few runs and try and get used to it before skiing through race gates. I must say I was pretty nervous when sat on the chair lift when all I could see was this really long narrow ski in front of my feet. My Super G ski is 207cm Long and has a turning radius of 45m, so by far the fastest ski I have ever skied on. As with any ski I started by side slipping, then doing a few hockey stops to make sure I could stop without crashing! Then once I got a better feel for the ski I started making a few long turns and gradually started to carve it. Thankfully I quickly realised that I had been worrying about nothing and that in fact skiing with the longer ski was much more stable! I was so excited after a few runs that i spent the whole afternoon skiing it, gradually getting faster each time.
Christmas at home
I flew home on the 22nd Dec to spend Christmas with Charlotte and catch up with family. Unfortunately it was a flyby visit as I had to fly back to Winterpark on the 28th Dec to prepare for the early January races. After 7 weeks of training it was really nice to spend a few days at home. Although the flight was delayed which then made me miss my coach back to Bristol so I got home 5hours later than planned! Eventually I made it home firstly visiting my mum and then going to Charlotte’s. It was a busy but great few days catching up with friends and family before another drop off to the coach station in the middle of the night and flying back to Winterpark.
The Winter Park Open races
Although I managed to pick up the new sit ski before I went home for Christmas, it unfortunately didn’t come with any suspension as the person who owned it before me sold the suspension separately. After testing it a few weeks earlier I was really keen to race with the new sit ski so madly put it together a few days before the races and borrowed a friends suspension. I managed to build and ski it through race gates the day before the first race and although I slipped over twice in training, I still went ahead and raced with the new setup.
The Winterpark Open consisted of two GS and two Super G races over three days starting with GS. Unfortunately I fell in the second run on the first day. The fall was very similar to the crashes in training the day before and after reviewing the video that evening, I realised it was due to my footplate hitting the floor when I turned aggressively. I raised the footplate up before the race the next morning and managed to finish both GS runs coming 9th out of 15.
The two Super G races were on day 3. As it was my first Super G race, I started bib 42 out of 43 so was pretty nervous at the start gate. However as soon as I dropped out the gate the nerves disappeared and it was all focus on getting down the hill!
I finished both races again coming 9th overall (just missing out on 8th in race 1) and although I felt I could have done better, I was really happy to finish the races and drop my race points.
More training and onto the next races!
Since the races we are back to our normal training schedule, gate training 5 days a week and going to the gym 4/5 times a week. After spending more time on the new sitski I am getting more and more comfortable on it and am gradually making a few changes to become even more so. My next race is in Park City, Utah on 31st Jan – 1st Feb so its head down until the races before going home!
Thanks for taking the time to read this.