Racing Blog – Day Four
31st October 2009 | Ben Clatworthy, Racing and Sports Correspondent
It’s race day for our intrepid young blogger from Saas Fee, Ben Clatworthy is training with the Kandahar race club high up on the glacier.
We have had another beautiful sunny day on the Saas Fee glacier with perfect snow conditions and super racing. Today our training focused on ‘timing’ as we competed in our first timed Giant Slalom practice races of the season.
I say ‘practice’ as the real races start at Christmas, and end at Easter in Meribel with the British Championships.
For many Kandahar racers, like me, this first race of the day was really the first time for months to stand at the starting gate. Actually the last time I stood poised to race was the end of last season so I felt a little rusty and slightly nervous.FIS races such as the British Championships are run exactly like the Olympics or like World Cup events, so for racers like me its so important to know exactly what is happening, where we have to go and what we have to do.
The races we run with the Kandahar team simulate the race scene and give us the best practise and experience possible.
With the course set and the timing ready we started our race. Its just like a real competition, we started off with a course inspection and then we warmed up at the top waiting patiently for our turn to race.
Everyone felt hyped up by the race, especially the fist-timers who had never experienced a race before. I hoped that last nights ski prepping would help me perform really well. And after the crucial ‘timed’ race we returned to normal gate training. These runs were timed too but would not be included in our final race times.
And as for our personal performance on the slopes today we won’t know the results until diner. As I write this I can see the Kandahar Team Manager Georgina and Jas one of our chief coaches heads huddled together on the other side of the room working out the results. Its rather nerve wracking waiting to find out how we did.
It’s a brilliant way of training.
We spotted the Swiss Team training on the slope next to us. However there was a huge difference their spot was so much steeper than ours. Its not entirely about how steep it is as we can ski down any steep slope, but its more about how they prepare the slope for training.
Ok first of all it is much steeper than ours, but they inject the slope with salt and water to create sheet ice which makes a perfect slope for World Cup training. To have the piste carefully manicured and prepared costs the Swiss team CHf20,000 which is over £11,000.
But its amazing to watch as a helicopter is used to drop gallons and gallons of water which then freezes. And woe betide anyone who accidentally finds themselves on one of these slopes.
I spotted that the Swiss team had gone in early for lunch and decided to to give their slope a go. My recently sharpened edges tried to carve neat Giant Slalom turns but soon turned into ungainly skids as I battled with the ice. Its certainly very high-level training and I quickly skied off to safer slopes.
We are approaching the end of the week and tomorrow we switch to Slalom training. As always the training week has flown by and with just two skiing days left it’s very wierd to think that on Monday I will be back behind a school desk!