Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Val Saint Come

This is an interesting region. I’ve never been here and I find both the terrain and the people fascinating. The mountains are small, but often rugged, laced with bands of vertical granite. The area is a network of small villages, connected by valleys, each with their own small shops and restaurants. It reminds me of where I grew up in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The region has numerous small ski areas, many within 10 km of each other. Back in the 60’s the Northeast US also had bunches of small ski slopes, but they’ve since been run out of business by the conglomerates. This place is definitely a throw-back.
The people here are very Euro. I didn’t realize how acutely English is a second language up here. Everything starts in French. Many of those who speak English have difficulty with it. This has been a great dress rehearsal for me before heading to Europe next week. But so much for the window dressing.

The snow was great for competition this week. The cold temps persisted and the courses held up pretty well considering the level of competition. The slalom hill here has varying pitches and winds its way down the hill providing many interesting options to the course setters. By all reports, the slalom sets were challenging yet fair.
Scott suffered another two frustrating days of competition. He’s skiing really fast 95 percent of the time. It’s those times he either stops completely or has to hike uphill that are killing him. He’s in that spot where there’s really not much he can do but keep plugging. Unfortunately, after several frustrating weeks, it’s hard to stay upbeat and believe in oneself. Yesterday did end on a high note. Scott had a great first run going when he straddled a gate. By the time it registered and he stopped, he was left with about 30 meters to climb uphill. He finished 8 seconds behind the leaders, which may give a clue how well he’s skiing when pointed downhill. He was the last to start the second run, on a chewed course, and really threw it down the hill. He finished the second run 1.3 seconds slower than the winner, which is doubly impressive when considering their relative start orders. Scott was elated and it was the best smile I’ve seen from him in weeks.

It’s not a win or a score, but it was a much needed boost for the boy. It’s hard to keep plugging when you lose faith. Yesterday restored his faith.

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