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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Alpine Ski Racing

Joining the Alpine Race team was one of the biggest steps I've ever taken in life. An amazing article in the newspaper one January led me to my first lesson with full rentals at Gunstock Ski Resort in Gilford, NH. I was scared, but it came completely natural to me and after my first run down the beginner's slope I was hooked on the adrenaline rush and speed. I only hit the slopes two more times that season, once with a professional to give me additional pointers and once with my aunt who lived nearby the resort and was a life long lover of skiing. The season ended with my promise that I would improve enough, no matter what it took, to race the following year. When fall hit I started talking with the school's alpine coach and getting pointer's for what it would take to be on the team. She asked me if I could stand on skis, and when I responded with the obvious answer, she informed me that was great, and I could count myself a new member of the team. It was my sophomore year now, in High school, and I'd dealt with Lyme Disease long enough to know what a great opportunity this was to push through my illness. Within my first year of ever skiing, and over three years of being plagued with a disabling disease like so, I found myself at the Gunstock Ski sale buying equipment for the upcoming race season. My family scraped our piggy banks to buy me a season's night pass, boots, a helmet, and snow pants and we were blessed to have skis, poles, and goggles given to me. I had passion for the sport that was indescribable, and a month in advance I started long distance running to build stamina for the races. Our on-ground practices showed I was also a fast learner of roller blading down the paved hill behind the school. The day of our first snow practice we all buckled our gear on, hopped on the chairlift, and climbed to the summit of Gunstock's face, greeted by a gorgeous view and even a water color sunset. Three weeks later I had my first race, a small race, and I was scared. Out of a little over 60 girls, I placed about 40th, and was surprised at my natural ability (other then a small slip half way up the course that slowed me down). People were asking for my name and when they heard I was a first timer to racing there jaws dropped. I was a superior natural. In between practices and races I had major issues with Lyme Disease, and even Ovary problems that could have led to me to lose my ovary at one practice, but I pushed through with determination and love for the cool air. The highlight of my season, a time when I knew all my hard work and passion boiled down to raw talent, was the lakes region invitational race at Gunstock. Being my third race ever, and plagued with a 6 cm ovarian cyst, I expected it to be possibly my last race of the season. I carved up the slopes that day, and placed within the top 25 for the GS race, and number 19 for the SL race. Never did I think I'd accomplish such a break through that day. If it wasn't for the opportunity just a year before, where Gunstock provided me with the opportunity to try the sport for free, a full Mountain Magic Pass in that 'Learn To Ski Free Week', then I wouldn't have experienced such a miracle. Gunstock provided me with the most incredible accomplishment I have felt so far, at just 15 years old, and I hope to pass the encouragement on to many others. From bed ridden to racing down an icy slope, Alpine Skiing is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

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