Lori Augustine: The Starting Gate | AspenTimes.com

Lori Augustine: The Starting Gate

Lori Augustine
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Training this past week for the final race of The Aspen Times Town Race Series with the exceptionally skilled coaching staff from Tache Racing proved to be another exciting week of breakthroughs.

One-legged skiing unlocked multiple doors in my quest to become a better overall skier. The crazy idea of removing one ski was broached with me at the beginning of the week, and seemed to me an impossible feat. Having never attempted this exercise before, I absolutely believed it would be an unattainable goal. Fearful? Yes! However, as a personal trainer I challeng my clients daily to achieve balance, stabilization and strength through optimum performance training. It was now my turn.

I addressed my fear and engaged in an activity in which I was neither comfortable nor confident in my ability to achieve – at least not in one piece. Venturing into unknown territory with a huge dose of courage and an animalistic tendency to succeed, I dropped one ski at the top of Thunderbowl and pleaded with my coach for compassion as we began testing my abilities. We took off while I hesitantly made slow, easy movements on one leg. I was quick to realize that it was much harder turning the ski in one direction versus the other. If you’re skiing on the right leg, for example, it’s much easier turning left than right. I felt as though I would never make it to the bottom. I had to dig deep to topple forward in a controlled manner and maintain balance in order to make a turn in the opposite direction.

We paused several times when the burn in my one leg was too intense to continue. After a couple spills, and with the bottom finally in sight, I began linking turns a few at a time. It became easier as I flowed with the mountain rather than bracing against it. I discovered knee, hip and ankle angulation along with lateral balance – essential techniques of great skiing.

Back to the top we went. Now, I had to contemplate and wrap my head around how exactly I was going to get off of the chairlift with only one ski – a major obstacle. Mind over matter, I took a deep breath and thankfully succeeded on the first attempt.

It was time to exchange skis and perform the drill again on the opposite leg. It was easy to determine which leg was stronger than the other. Ultimately, after two consecutive days of skiing on one ski, I developed a greater awareness, strength and skill set, which enabled me to ski at a much higher level when I returned to skiing on two skis. It was hard, exhausting work but perseverance paid off. The practical experience immediately did wonders for my technique and raised my game both on and off the race course.

Turn, block, plant. Turn, block, plant. Words to live by on a slalom course, never to be interchanged. Performing one before the other out of sequence is detrimental in the attack. Making quick slalom turns finally made sense to me this week as my rhythm changed and momentum increased. The bases of my skis were showing up the mountain as the edges began carving at the beginning of the turn where I had been neglecting myself all season long. Finally, I was making slalom turns after 12 weeks of work. My feet, ankles and knees literally awoke. And my hands, arms and body were naturally in a better position for the transition into the next turn.

The result was nothing short of remarkable. In the end, after the final race of the year, I took home a silver medal in the overall women’s recreation division. It was a significant achievement over last year’s bronze, and it was accompanied with memories that will last a lifetime, clearly outshining the engraved hardware I’ve received this year.

A summer-like St. Patrick’s Day led 71 racers to the starting gate, and brought them to the finish line of the final Aspen Times Town Race of the season. Men, women and children raced with passion, grace, confidence and joy all season long. Gold, silver and bronze medals were presented to the top skiers in every division. The team taking home the first-ever Series Cup was Casa Tua, and the sportsperson of the year went to Linzhi Douglass.

Saturday marks the final speed event at Aspen Highlands sponsored by Jim and Cindy Lindsay of BOOTech. It is a super-combined – one super G and one slalom run on Golden Horn/Thunderbowl. Registration will be from 8-9 a.m. at Highlands Pizza Co., and the fee is $35. Racing will begin at 10 a.m., and a barbecue will follow.

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