By Peter Davies
I started ski racing at the age of eight, a year later I would also take up another hobby that would make a huge impact on my life.
After a routine day at school, I was minding my own business when my mum dropped a huge clanger on me. She said, “Jen’s (my sister) ballet teacher needed a boy to do a show for her, so I said you could do it.”
Like most nine year olds would, I immediately protested against the idea. Ballet in my mind at the time was “for girls” or “wimps”. My mum then later explained I would get some time of school to perform and nobody would know about it. This was a deal breaker, so through gritted teeth I decided to go through with it.
The production was Northern Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet on Woking’s New Victoria Theatre. It didn’t matter that I had zero dancing experience; the company needed a young boy for a certain role. I was cast as a “street urchin” in other words a poor person.
After my first rehearsal I was pretty happy, all the professional dancers were really nice and I liked seeing how a big production worked. To my horror though the local paper wanted to take a picture of me for an article. This article was front page of a few local papers that all my friends got at school.
A few people teased me but to my surprise a lot of my peers were really interested that I was doing something different. I think I did about four shows in a week for the Northern Ballet. Being really close to talented dancer was a real privilege. I still to this day don’t know how they manage to put their bodies through so much pain for our enjoyment.
Without any pressure I asked my mum if I could take lessons after the performances. It was no coincidence that my skiing went up a few levels after I took up ballet. I kept up my ballet till I was 16. I think it gave me confidence to try anything and not listen to stereotypes. Ballet is a fantastic art form that I still admire today.
Here are a few more terms that we use in skiing.
This is a mechanism that attaches the ski boot to the ski. There’s a toe clip and heel clip that grips onto the boot. This system has to be adjusted to the foot size and weight so that it releases properly during a crash.
Is a term used to refer to the front of the ski.
Is a term used to refer to the back of the ski.
On either side of each ski there are thin metal rails. When a skier tilts the ski to turn this metal grips with the surface and allows us to turn in an arc. We sharpen the metal with files to achieve more grip through the turn.
21st May 2016: Norfolk Club National
Back to Norwich for another race! On this occasion the format for racing was different from last time out. There are three runs through the same course. The faster of the first two runs is counted and then added to the third run time. So this means the third run has to be completed in the correct manner or the result won’t count towards the official standings.
The courses at club nationals are suppose to be set slightly easier because the level of racing is suppose to be lower.
During course inspection I noticed that the top few gates were reasonably offset, which meant skating and pushing wouldn’t be too comfortable. At the top of the course there was a diagonal hairpin but it was set with plenty of room. This meant you could drive through it with relative ease.
The middle section had a nice rhythmical set of offset turns that led into a verticali. There was a roller just before the verticali, which meant that most racers got air going into the final part of the course. After the verticali there were a few slightly tight turns to the finish line.
I went into the first run full of confidence. I’ve been training well recently and I felt this race could be a chance to put down a good result.
I angled my skis wide in the starting area so that I could get a bit of height before the first turn. I then pulled my body through the starting wand and tried to attack the first few turns . I felt my pushes from the first to the third gate were reasonably good which gave me confidence through the rest of the course.
I had a slight wobble through the top hairpin, but because it was set with plenty of space, it didn’t affect my run too much. I kind of coasted through the mid section without much intensity, but I skied some clean turns.
Even though I knew what was coming, it was still a slight surprise to take a bit of air through the last stage of the course. I then managed to glide through the last few tight turns.
One of the top racers was a late entry so the usual taking of the lead with my high seed points didn’t happen this time. However, once I watched a few of my teammates I was happy that I put down a clean run.
I was in 16h place overall and sixth in my age category. Even though this was a club national there were a lot more better ranked skiers entered this time, so I was still happy with my placing.
The luxury of the club national format is that there are no surprises. Skiing the same course for the whole day gives you great confidence.
I threw my body through the first set of turns but I slightly over turned the top hairpin. In my mind I knew I made a mistake, so this made me more aggressive through the rest of the course.
It was a faster time but I knew there was more time to shave off going into the last run. A few more racers had better times which meant I slipped back to 19th overall but I was still sixth in my age group.
The last run we have to go down in fastest time order. I was in between two teammates who have beaten me all season, so I was given more confidence with my performance.
I misplaced a push going into the first gate, which made me up the aggression to recover from that mistake. I moved my body forward through the turn a lot more, which made me a lot faster through the middle section.
I didn’t get as much height on the bump this time, which meant the landing was a lot quicker than my previous runs.
I glided through the bottom few tight turns and reached for the finish line. I shaved over a tenth of a second off my fastest time.
Everybody else unfortunately had the same sort of improvement as me. So in the end I finished 19th overall and sixth in my group. I was really happy with my performance. On paper it looks like a step backwards but actually I skied a lot better than the first few races of the season.
Confidence was high going into the next race day!
Results: Norfolk CN results
22nd May 2016: Ipswich Vikings club national
Ipswich is always fun to ski with the three big rollers on the slope. The atmosphere is always energetic by those who put on the race too.
During course inspection we had another debate about what way you could go through a section of the course. I think this could be a regular theme throughout the national dryslope season. I decided early on that I would take the alternative route rather than the conventional one.
However, there were a few offset turns in the middle section that were challenging, before you reached the part where you could go two ways.
I was high with confidence, so I wanted to really build on yesterdays result. I felt great on the top section of the course and managed to turn cleanly over the top roller.
I was on top of the course and felt like was attacking through each turn. However my timing was a fraction too early going into a right hand turn. I switched my skis really quick but that meant I went over the top of the gate. I basically straddled the gate so I knew I was immediately disqualified.
Once I reached the bottom of the course I still felt confident I could do well on the second run.
Much like the first run I attacked the top half well. I managed to avoid straddling the gate I hit on the first run. Once I got past that point I put in an extra push to gain some speed. This was my downfall.
The push unsettled my body through the turn and I struggled to make the next couple of offset turns. I made the same mistake again but further down the course. My race day was over.
I had a mixture of disappointment and frustration down the bottom of the slope. I’ve managed to not ski out all season but on this occasion it wasn’t to be. Instead I switched to helping out my teammates by putting their skis in the gate on the third run.
Overall I was pretty happy with my weekend. I’ll go into training with a few things to work on and hopefully push on again.
Results: Ipswich CN Results
My next race is a regional Snowsport South event at Snowtrax in Christchurch on 28th May.