Back in the start gate | Skiing | CBC Sports

SkiingBack in the start gate

Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2012 | 12:07 PM

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Out of competition since December 2009, Canadian skier Kelly VanderBeek is motivated to compete at a World Cup race in Sochi, Russia in three weeks, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Marco Trovati/Pentaphoto) Out of competition since December 2009, Canadian skier Kelly VanderBeek is motivated to compete at a World Cup race in Sochi, Russia in three weeks, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Marco Trovati/Pentaphoto)

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People may be wondering why I came back to the World Cup ski circuit so quickly, without any warm-up races or much training. I'm motivated to be prepared to ski a new downhill track in three weeks in Sochi, Russia - the Olympic venue for 2014 - and I want to be there.

Yesterday I pushed out of a start gate, something I wasn't sure I'd ever do again.

It was incredible, yet surprisingly didn't feel odd. I wouldn't have guessed I've been out of competition since December 2009. However, some of the skiing between the start gate and the finish line reminded me that indeed I have been away.

I am still optimistic that as my confidence grows, my nerves lessen, and my knee strengthens, things will improve greatly. 

People may be wondering why I came back to the World Cup so quickly, without any warm-up races or much training. The answer is simple: my knee is now just good enough to handle it and my spirit needed it. Isolated training could only fuel my passion so far. 

I also have some strong motivation to be prepared to ski a new downhill track in three weeks. Sochi, the Olympic venue for 2014, is holding its first World Cup event, and I want to be there!  Running the track here in St. Mortiz, Switzerland and more training next week in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany will give me more confidence to tackle the new Olympic track.

Speedy teammates

There was a lot of positive activity for my teammates this weekend as well. 

The biggest news was Erik Guay's podium in Garmisch-Partnekirchen (where he won the world championship last year).  It was such big news, it nearly overshadowed the fact that all four Canadian competitors in the race finished in the top 25.

Jan Hudec was 12th, Benjamin Thomsen was 23rd, and Conrad Pridy was 25th. The lowered start due to weather certainly didn't hinder the Canadians.

Sadly, the men's super-G in Germany was cancelled Sunday due to thick fog. I'm sure our boys would have put on a clinic, but I guess we'll just have to wait until next year.

On the women's side, it was great to see more athletes on the start list for speed events. The highlight was Marie-Michelle Gagnon's seventh-place finish in the St. Moritz super-combined event.

This was her best result of the season and an impressive placing with superstars like Kathrin Zettle and Anja Pearson behind her. Her slalom vaulted her from 30th place after the super-G straight to the top 10 - an impressive feet.

I was truly impressed with some of Marie-Michelle's speed skiing.  I strongly believe that with more time and experience on her speed skis she will become a threat for the combined podium.

The men's team is now off to Chamonix, France and the women will be taking over Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Speed, speed and more speed will be flowing through your televisions next weekend. 

I will be joining our women's team in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and race if the course conditions are favourable. Hopefully we can all draw on some of Guay's confidence from that venue.

Storybook ending

Any recovering athlete will dream of a Hollywood blockbuster return from injury. However, for me, nothing about this injury has had a storybook feeling. I suppose I'm still in the process of writing it.

I do know I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

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