Lori Augustine: The starting gate
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
The anticipation of the race season has quickly entered my body. My own expectations are still uncertain. I want to finish. I want to place. I want to win! In truth, I want to be a better skier and have big fun.
I am accomplishing that with much joy. Did I mention, though, that I want to finish? That was actually last season’s goal. For the first time Saturday, I hooked a gate – racer down! In training, this is great. Why? Because that means that I am pushing my own limits. Taking risks. I have to practice. I must experiment. I fall but I get back up multiple times a day … and I don’t mean just on skis. How else does one learn?
I welcome the challenge again and again. Each week, I seem to have greater expectations. Before Saturday’s race, I was as cool as a cucumber. The first race of the season was already under my belt. But a slalom course was now staring me straight in the face. It was a blur of red and blue poles larger than me. The corridor created by the placement of the gates seemed endless. Apprehension? Yes. Determination? Absolutely. Having the will? That means that I have to commit. But I can feel it, and I’m ready to flow. This is my time to embrace the mountain, not fight it. I am going to take one turn at a time and enjoy every minute of it.
Never take a turn for granted!
Over the past few weeks, I have not mentioned that my hometown, Mansfield, Ohio, has a ski resort – Snow Trails – and I use that term very lightly. It opened in 1961. I wasn’t even born yet, but nonetheless it is Ohio’s first ski resort, and at 1,475 feet has the highest elevation in the state. I didn’t come from a family of skiers, so I never skied it. It’s hardly big enough to go sledding on it. I have heard that there are some fine folks here from Snow Trails that are now grooming our beloved mountains. Thank you, and I would love to hear from you.
OK, back to the sport. I am looking forward to training GS now after a week of training for the season’s first slalom. GS appears to be a breeze at this very moment in my life. Calm. Cool. Peaceful. In slalom, the amount of edge angle the pro skiers achieve, and hold, is mind boggling. It enables them to carve extremely tight turns and take very direct lines between them. I tip my edges as fast as possible, but I tend to improperly focus on the gate. I either want to punch it out of my way – which is quite liberating – or take the quarterback sneak, as I call it, around the pole as closely and quietly as possible. It’s not about the gate, I was taught by the Tache Racing pros. Rather, it’s about quick turns and a fast time. I was inspired, and I was ready for the fight!
For the record, slalom requires skiing between poles spaced much closer together than in GS, thereby causing the quicker and shorter turns. The gates, or poles, are arranged in a variety of different configurations to challenge the competitor, including delay gates and vertical combinations known as hairpins and flushes. A hairpin is a series of gates including two gates with one closing gate. A flush is a series of gates including three or more gates with one closing gate. Guess what? I always thought that a flush is a hand of playing cards where all cards are of the same suit. Who knew it also had something to do with a competitive dynamic sport as well?
Seventy-seven racers enjoyed a spectacular day, and I took third in the women’s recreational league. It was truly a brilliant day of skiing!
Special thanks goes out to Susan’s Flowers and Gifts, Epicurious Fine Foods, Elevation Restaurant and Bar, Ute City Restaurant, BOOTech and Habervision Goggles for their generous donations of prizes that were raffled off. Race-day registration for this Saturday’s GS will take place at Highlands Pizza Co. from 8 to 9:30 a.m. with the post race party at the restaurant beginning at 3 p.m.
Lori Augustine is a certified personal trainer and instructor in the Roaring Fork Valley. To learn more about Lori, go to mintconditioning.com. To read about the Aspen Times Town Race Series, please visit aspentownraceseries.com or for more information contact 970-544-3005.
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Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.