Written by James Winfield
Solden Eurotest camp
At the start of November I headed out to Solden, Austria to train with JJC for 2 weeks leading up to the Solda Eurotest. We were staying down the valley in a sweet house with a crew of 8 skiers and 2 coaches, Craig Robinson and Ed Drake. The first week started off just getting used to skiing again, balance drills and work on our transitions before setting brush courses and gradually getting into gates. The conditions were perfect, sunny, but cool enough that the snow stayed good. Towards the end of the week we had some mock tests with Ed and Craig setting times based on their calibration, happily I was consistently in the times as were a few more, with some others getting really close.
We had a chilled weekend resting up before the second week began with a bit more intensity, typically we’d ski 2 or 3 different course sets each day which really helped build versatility and confidence skiing a variety of styles of course. We had timing every run, which was great as it made each run competitive and was also good to use in combination with video to see where time was made or lost.
On the Friday we left Austria and drove the few hours over to Sudtirol, a german speaking part of Italy. Saturday was a rest day wandering round the hills and on Sunday we went to have a few runs on the race piste. The snow was rock hard! I hadn’t skied ‘snow’ that icy in a long time, so there was some extremely defensive (and slow) skiing going on. Heading down the mountain no-one seemed too keen to ski it for real the next day.
Race day dawned with great weather, but still cold. I’d pulled bib 164 and there were 2 tests of around 100 people being run on the same day so that meant waiting some time for my start. That was ok with me as I could get to see a few people ski the course and still warm up properly. My plan for the race was to gas the top flat section, survive the steep then be aggressive off of the pitch in order to carry speed into the last section, unfortunately in the event I was going sideways into the gates where I needed to be attacking and missed out the pass time by a second.
I then had a few hours to wait for my second run, I got some lunch and a coffee and tried to convince myself I could pass. It was tough, especially seeing the small numbers of people being successful. What got me in the right mental state was telling myself that I had done the work, so I should pass, then in the start area I did some breathing exercises (thanks Ricey!), focused, and told myself to give it everything.
During the run I felt great on the flats, managed to attack a little more on the steep and straightened out my line on the last section as much as I could. I crossed the line thinking ‘that is surely enough’ and thankfully it was, in the end I was inside the pass time by a little over a second.
Big thanks to JJC for all the help training over the last year, getting into racing for the Eurotest has been a really enjoyable and rewarding journey and it’s really helped my skiing in other disciplines as well. Thanks to everyone who was training in Solden as well, I’m sure you’ll all smash it soon.