As this Sunday’s forerunner, Canadian Ski Team athlete Dustin Cook, effortlessly wove his way down his home hill at breakneck speed, we were briefly reminded of just how artful skiing can be when executed at levels of precision most of us will only achieve in our sleep. In fact, my own personal reflection of this artistry left me juxtaposing the beauty of giant slalom to an ancient method of Japanese painting, one in which the painter dips his brush heavily in ink and then, without lifting the brush from the canvas, uses a single uninterrupted stroke to complete the desired illustration. The difficulty therein lies in the execution, for the painter can ill afford hesitation as the slightest of pause along the stroke would immediately cause the ink to run, thus ruining the canvas. Now consider giant slalom; an attempt on the participant’s behalf to draw the cleanest uninterrupted line from top to bottom, building momentum as the set and hill permit, all the while avoiding jarring movements or halting pauses, for both will inevitably incur the dreaded; “how am I two seconds behind, everyone said I looked fast”. Now imagine maintaining that precision when you are unable to feel your face, toes, fingers and possibly larger body parts, because that is how our racers’ weekend began.
While this season’s previous articles have affectionately lauded Mother Nature, it was only a matter of time before she reared her ugly head, even if it was only for a brief frigid day. On that note, I would like to reassure all parents that, yes, one day your children will realize the extent of your sacrifice. Regrettably, it will most probably occur when they, as parents, find themselves’ cheering on their own children while they too negotiate an icy slope in subarctic winter weather. I say “regrettably” because we both know you will most likely be standing right there beside them, for how could you not cheer on your own grandkids.
Mont Ste-Marie’s Outaouais race run is without question one of the premiere GS sites east of the Canadian Rockies. It has everything; rock and roll pitches, a nasty side hill should the course setter choose to lure the unsuspecting racer, and then a four gate flat to test our competitors’ gliding skills. As one athlete described it to me while we were riding up the lift together, “it’s sick dude”. And I’m pretty confident he was not alone in his assessment, I know I concur.
Before moving on to the victors, I would first like to send well wishes to the weekend’s walking wounded, one of whom we most likely will not see again this season, a presence his respective team will sorely miss. Skiing has inherent risks, and while we, the coaches and organizers, attempt to mitigate them to the best of our ability, they will inevitably from time to time lead to accidents. This past weekend, famed Mont St Marie ski racer Fuzzy fell victim to a snow snake, and while he will be back, he now finds himself on the long road to recovery. There is however a thin silver lining to be gleaned from this misfortune, and that is that at least the course that tangled him up was not set by his own coach, Bob “Karen lee Gartner” Donnelly.
The steps of the podium this past weekend were again graced with familiar faces. These results included a fantastic showing from our J1 ladies who also managed to sweep the overall podium with Sandrine David taking gold and a five second lead over her next closest competitor, silver medallist Joelle Dansereau. In third place was Melanie Gareau. On the men’s side, the J1 podium was conquered by Mitch Bott, as Etienne Gagnon took the silver medal and Mathieu Lauzon the bronze. The overall men`s podium did not unseat Mitch Bott, who remained on the top step while second and third were rounded out by Charles Provost (2nd), and Maxime Faulkner (3rd).
Sunday’s podiums saw a little change, although the J1 ladies did again sweep the overall podium. Sandrine David ascended to the top step for another double gold while this time the two lower rungs were claimed by Marie Eve Paquet 2nd and Yanick Bastien in 3rd. In the men`s category, Mont St Marie local Austin Taylor stepped up to the plate with a Sunday walk off home run while silver and bronze were awarded to Maxime Faulkner and the previous day’s gold medallist, Mitch Bott.
As always, before signing off, I would like to collectively thank all the volunteers who came out to freeze with us this past weekend; I sincerely hope you have de-thawed. And finally, a big thank you to our flagship sponsor Metro whose continued support is integral in the running of this circuit.