Lori Augustine: The starting gate
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
It’s our midseason break from the Town Race Series, and it’s the perfect time to slip into a new pair of ski boots.
The words perfect and slip do not necessarily come to mind when considering a purchase of this magnitude. I am excited for the adventure, though. Virtually every skier’s nightmare is the anguish of breaking in or adjusting to brand new boots. But if it’s going to make me a better skier, then it is certainly an endeavor that I will embrace enthusiastically.
Time and again, I’ve been told that the boots have a more significant effect on the quality of my skiing than my skis. I’m not in search of just any ski boot, though. I want a boot that is hungry for speed. I’m ready to buckle up hard for a race boot. And the one that is currently dominating the podium worldwide is Head. There is a fine line between stiffness for power and flex for comfort, but I have found it. Head has given me the Formula One in ski boots! New ski boot blues? No battle here. I have kept my new Head Raptor Race Boots simple on the inside, and it is allowing me to perform. I feel the difference. I see the difference. And they look dazzling. Yes, I have tweaked and tuned them like a race car because I am serious about the sport and I want to ski my best. But less is more. I’m excited, I’m dialed in and it’s time to go skiing.
On the same evening I bought the boots, I attended an intriguing and heartfelt presentation by Klaus Obermeyer at Tom Crum’s Magic of Skiing Workshop. Like everyone in the room, I experienced enthusiasm, charm, warmth and elegance from Klaus that is contagious. He is a wise icon. And listening to him yodel at the finish of his discussion was like being touched by a spirit – courageous, powerful and joyful.
The Magic of Skiing program with Crum is a workshop for skiers and riders of all levels who actively seek the “extraordinary” in skiing and snowboarding as well as in their daily lives. Training in the Thomas Crum Approach provides a unique, powerful system of mind/body coordination, health and fitness, relaxation, awareness, conflict resolution and harmony in relationships. For more information regarding The Magic of Skiing, go to aikiworks.com. And for more information about the history of ski enthusiast Obermeyer, visit obermeyer.com.
The very next morning, less than 12 hours after my new boots arrived home with me safe and sound, we ventured out for first tracks at Aspen Mountain. It was like a first date. I was nervous, but I couldn’t resist the invitation to perform my first test drive on the first run of the day on freshly groomed snow. I did my research, turned at varying speeds and accelerated hard to see what kind of guts both the new boots and I had. It’s a match made in heaven. I then promptly ran to Highlands to delight the Tache Racing coaching staff. They applauded, and we went to work training super G. My cutting-edge boots are fast and I settled in.
We trained the entire week directly next to members of the 2011-12 U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing National Team. Paralympic skiing is an adaptation of alpine skiing for athletes with a disability. I witnessed men and women with courage, passion, ambition and motivation that inspired and moved me. They believe in themselves, and it is evident by the smiles and determination on their faces. They are fast, their lines are clean, their attitude uplifting and refreshing. I am inspired by the amazing performances I witnessed on the race course by Heath Calhoun, an Iraq war amputee, and Laurie Stephens, who was born with spina bifida. They are world-class Paralympic athletes who love the sport that gives them confidence and allows them to relax and have a blast.
During the break, I even carved out time to travel over the winter landscape by embarking on an alpine touring (randonnee) expedition with out-of-town guests. Thanks to our extraordinary guide, avid backcountry skier, climber and mountaineer Dirk Bockelmann of Aspen Expeditions, we hiked the ridge beyond the boundaries of Aspen Mountain and savored a few hours of freedom and solitude. My passion for being in the mountains continues to flourish. Go to aspenexpeditions.com to find out more.
This past weekend, Aspen hosted a super G and downhill on Racer’s Edge at Buttermilk. It is a perennial favorite stop along the tour of the Rocky Mountain Masters. And we have our very own Chuck Tower to thank for sponsoring the super Gs on Saturday and for honoring Victoria Valar by carrying on the race in honor of her parents. For race results, please go to rmmskiracing.org.
Our Aspen Times/John Meyer Memorial super G and downhill races will be held this weekend, Feb. 24-26, and will take place on Racer’s Edge. For additional information, go to aspentownraceseries.com or email ATTRS2012@gmail.com.
Good luck racers!
Mikaela Shiffrin did a lot of soul searching after she didn’t win a medal and didn’t finish three of her five individual races at last year’s Beijing Olympics after entering the games amid enormous expectations.