Nearly midnight, eyes half mast. Bzzz, Bzzzzz, Bzzzz. Phones are always so abrupt. It was NYC, but I didn't recognize the number so didn't pick up. OK, one last check of email.
I imagine you’ve made your way to Austria. I wanted to let you know that tonight (10/25) on NBC Nightly News, we will air a short spot about the U.S. Women’s Alpine Team and the time they spent in Portillo.
Hope you’re doing well. Fingers crossed this weekend!
I sent a quick text to the team back in the states and then closed my eyes. Cool.
First thing I read this morning was this:
One of my twin daughters has cerebral palsy, affecting her legs. She reached her goal of taking her first independent steps just before her third birthday. She will be four in December and can now walk household distances on her own, but she often falls, sometimes painfully. She is a determined little girl though. We always tell her, "Everybody falls sometimes, but the brave and strong girls get back up."
I had talked all afternoon about watching the "girl skiers" on the news tonight. We are a ski family--my husband lived in Vail for a year when he got out of the Air Force--so while we are a bit geographically challenged, we talk skiing a lot. "Skis" was one of our kids' first words.
When the NBC Nightly News story got started, I actually cringed a bit to see all the crashes and injuries, fearing it would scare the kids about skiing. I completely underestimated them. Annika was SO excited! She was thrilled, "Look! They fall and they get back up! The girl skiers are brave and strong!" They have really bad falls and they keep going!" (in our house, good falls mean you fall well--forward onto your hands. Bad falls mean falling backward, possibly hitting your head). She has not stopped talking about the girl skiers who have bad falls and get back up "just like me!" She even noted the team getting "physical therapy," just like she does.
So, I wanted to thank you and, of course, the Women's Ski Team for giving my girl inspiration to keep going! I know you are very busy right now with the ski season kicking off, but I also wondered if there was any chance of getting a photo or poster of the Women's Ski Team for Annika? I looked on the website, but did not see one. We try to stoke any little spark of inspiration Annika finds, so I would truly appreciate anything you can do.
We have already spoken to the adaptive ski instructors at Vail, and they recommend that Annika wait to start lessons when she is five, so she anxiously awaits the winter of 2015! They believe she will likely do four-track skiing, but she is a candidate for a spinal surgery this summer that may improve her walking and balance to a point where she may be able to attempt traditional skiing with specialized instruction. We'll see! No limits!
Again, thank you so much. There were happy tears in this mom's eyes tonight as she watched her own daughter's eyes light up! Please let me know if there is a charge for a photo or poster!
Yes, I will make this…and more, happen. I have a cool job.
It's been seven months since the last World Cup race. Today, we start again. Only this season is an Olympic season. Does that mean something more? Yes. Here's the notes:
Soelden, Austria – women's giant slalom
- Today marks 20 season's of World Cup racing on the Rettenbach. Mikaela is 18. A year ago she kicked out of the Soelden start for the first time and missed the flip by the slimmest of margins - .01 seconds. Since then, well, you know the story. Four World Cup slalom wins, a World Championship and a World Cup title. But what about GS? Answer: five World Cup top 15s and a career best sixth at the World Championships. She stood on the public draw stage last night and to the roar of a very USA friendly crowd, drew bib 15. Yes, she's top 15 in the world – already – and spent a lot of time training GS this summer.
- Jules has won on this hill before. She's the Olympic gold medalist from 2006 in this discipline. She's also top 15 in the world. What's more, she spent a solid month in New Zealand this summer – far longer than any other woman on our team – just dialing in her gear. While she may seem all Mahalo chill, she's a fierce competitor and absolutely hates getting beat. I've never seen Jules more pumped for the start of a season.
- Megan McJames is the reigning NorAm overall champion. Despite not qualifying for the U.S. Ski Team this season, she has a World Cup starting spot with her name on it for the entire season. She's financing her own road to Sochi and I'd love to see her do it. Go Megs.
We're running bibs 14 (Jules), 15 (Shiffy) and 44 (Megs). Universal Sports has a pre-game show rolling at 6 a.m. ET with my buds Steve Porino and Doug Lewis back on the mics, then they're live at 6:30 with the final run. Ratchet up those boots. It's exactly what the start of the season should be – bluebird, hard snow and a big, big crowd. It's good to be home – in Soelden.