Monday, January 14, 2002 - Perspective
NSDT Update: European Racing

- By: Drew Goldsack

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With Christmas behind us, almost everyone's attention focused on the important qualifying races fast approaching and just past. Weather it is the seniors looking to score that so far illusive 60 F.I.S points in order to qualify for the Opa Cup tour (Senior B-tour), or the juniors that were looking forward to the World Junior Trial races that just past in Charlo, New Brunswick, to be one of the four guys and four girls who get to travel to Shonac, Germany for the World Junior Championships.

I was very disappointed to hear though, that there won't be a Junior B-Tour going to Europe this year. Instead they will be staying in Canada to race at the Canmore Canada Cup and the Silver Star Continental Cup. I think that it is the right idea to have a trip for developing juniors but I also believe that staying in Canada won't give juniors the much needed experience and motivation that can be gained through a trip to Europe. I realize that funding and coaching resources are a large factor in deciding where a trip like B-Tour will take place. But no matter the costs, a chance to race in Europe is probably one of the most important events in a developing juniors career. A trip to Europe can be very expensive but for any serious junior skier it is money well spent.

I was lucky enough when I was a first year Junior Man to go on the Junior B-Tour trip to Europe. We raced in France, at the French Championships, Italy, at the Italian Championships and at the Foulee Blanche loppet in France. I think that this trip was the most important experience of my skiing career. Nothing has motivated me more, made me want to train harder or race faster than racing in Europe. On that trip we had the privilege to race in the same races as the likes of Silvio Fauner, Fulvio Valbusa and Fabio Mae as well as the top French and Italian Juniors who would soon be heading to the World Juniors. I was even lucky enough to start just ahead of Silvio Fauner and be passed by him during the race. I managed to hold on to him for about 20 seconds! The experience of staying with one of the top skiers in the world, if only for a very short time, is something that has stayed with me and motivated me over the past few years.

Perhaps an even bigger factor of motivation for me was being able to see and race with the Italian and French juniors. You hear all these rumors about the Euros being huge 7 foot tall guys who shoot lightning bolts out of their arses, but once you see them and ski against them you realize that they aren't much different from us except for the fact that they ski really fast! I remember one Italian junior in particular who was a Juvenile Boy that beat all of the Junior boys and men. I didn't see him race but I was standing next to him at the award ceremonies. I just assumed that he would be a huge guy, but he was no bigger than I was. When I realized that for the most part Europeans look no different than you or I, I also realized that there is no reason that I couldn't ski just as fast as them. That really changed the way that I approach training and racing. I began to race more aggressively and harder, as well as train more seriously because not only did I realize that there was no reason that I couldn't race as fast as them, I also knew that I was going to race as fast as them.

By racing in Europe you get a first hand look at how much passion and energy Europeans put into skiing and it really made me appreciate and love skiing just as much as they do. Unfortunately that is an experience that a whole group of young juniors is going to miss. I hope that in the future they will have a chance to experience what I did.

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