Thursday, December 19, 2002 - Perspective
World Cup Reflections

- By: Sara Renner

Since we left Canada in mid-November, we have been following a ferocious racing and travelling schedule. Cross Country Skiing is our main focus but we regularly partake in the six-person bobsled combined with something similar to the alpine skiing-slalom style.

The sled is our Eurovan Volkswagen, our driver is Yves Bilodeau, and the tracks are the icy and windy roads of Europe. The slalom gates could be a herd of Scandinavian reindeer or the millions of other cars booting down the autobahn in Italy, or a combination of both.

To understand the situation fully, it is important to understand our driver. He is a little Quebecer who happens to be blessed with the gift of preparing fast skis, keeping our team laughing and, on rare occasions, challenges us in interval workouts. He likes fishing and, of course, the Formula One. Once in the driver's seat he is transformed from Yves Bilodeau to Jacques Villineuve.

We always arrive to our destination safely and miraculously, with both side mirrors attached, but this transformation does have drawbacks. The driver controls the music. Think "We are the champions" by Queen, or my favorite, Gainsbourg "Soixante-neuf in the Erotique."

We started this circus above the Arctic Circle in Sweden. We saw a lot of birch trees as we traveled across Finland and held on to our seats as we zipped through the Alps.

And then we stop to race. My goals on the World Cup are to regularly place the top 30, with intermittent visits to the top 15 and to ski to one top 8 result in the World Championships in Val de Femme in Italy. Numbers aside, I hope to ski to my potential and have the engine to consistently stick with the competition.

No matter how I think my form is or how well summer training has gone the only true test is racing. If I had to place bets on my own results I would need some serious financial backing to keep out of debt. Sometimes, while waiting to start, I feel like a bee under waxed paper and can hardly wait to zip around the course. Despite my good vibes, it is possible to be reduced from hero to zero in a matter of minutes on one of the many mammoth climbs. And then there are those days, where I waddle around in my warmup, coax my heavy legs out of the start gate and then proceed to have the race of my life.

I am inspired by the thrill of doing something that I have always done, but still being surprised at how much there is to discover. When we pack the van and head for the next destination, I can't help but think that this has been my life for the last six years. Great friendships and unmatchable camaraderie are something that I am lucky enough to be familiar with. Some may find that skiing around a circular track as fast as possible is countered productive and that being on the road for months is a lonely business. But when the sun comes out on race morning anything is possible.


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