Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sprint Semi-Finals......No, REALLY!

So as I said in my previous post on the sprints, Andrea I figured we were done in that we finished 9th in the prologue and only the top eight advanced. So we went for a nice cool-down and when we got back, I gave Andrea my skis while I headed back to our little clothing wax hut to get our jackets. Just as I was coming out, Jamie came up to congratulate me on the race. I thanked him and said that Andrea and I were both really happy with our ninth place finish. Jamie looked at me funny and said, "No, no, you were eighth. You advanced to the semis!" I told him, no, we were ninth, but Jamie was adamant. "I just saw Robbi in the lodge and she said that she and you advanced to the next round." Now I knew that we were ninth, so what the heck was Jamie talking about? So I ran up to the wax hut where Andrea was putting away our skis and yelled "Andrea! Jamie says we're eighth! Quick, check the results!" Andrea dropped the skis and ran to the results board. "We ARE eighth!" she exclaimed! We were thrilled!!!

So that started a mad rush to get ready for round two! We only had about 15 minutes to get our bib, re-organize our headsets, get our warm ups off, and find our wax techs to get our skis touched up...remember, we'd just come back from a 30 minute cool-down ski! I raced back to the clothing hut to strip down and when I burst into the room, Mary, Margarita and Robert were there. I couldn't help it, I just shouted "We're going through! We're going into the semis!" Everyone cheered, especially Mary, who leapt up from her seat with her arms up in celebration. And then she immediately passed out! Luckily, it was only a short stint of unconsciousness and she was awake in seconds. Sorry about that Mary!

I got our headsets and ran back to our wax hut, but Andrea couldn't find Michael or David. Remember, they thought none of us had gone through so they'd gone to look for lunch! Luckily, Ian, the senior team wax tech, knew what was needed and did our skis for us. While he did that, Andrea and I got our bibs sorted out as for the semis, your bib number represents the position you qualified in so we were lucky number eight and no one was happier than me to be wearing it! As soon as we got our skis, we ran back to the start area and waited for our semi! I was so thrilled! We were top eight in the WORLD!!! Our best finish ever, regardless of what happened in the semi! It was my happiest moment of the Games, by far!

Our semi-final race went well, just not quite as smoothly as in the prologue. As Andrea put it, there was nothing wrong with our execution, just that our bodies were telling us, "Hey, we just DID this! What gives?" We finished in fourth, but again, had a strong race. Margarita was really happy for us and reassured us that "It was a respectable fourth! You definitely looked like you deserved to be there!"
I was so happy! Hmm, looks like "happy" is the word of the day! I just can't put into words the feeling of giving it your all and having your best result ever - it is such a rush!

So Andrea I raced four times during these Games and had four of our strongest races all season. I didn't fall once during a race, but I definitely made up for it in the practice runs, but who cares what happens in practice? As long as I learned from my mistakes then and didn't make the same mistakes during the races, that is what practice is for. I think I proved that when it comes down to crunch time, I am a competitor!

So after all the racing was done, Andrea and I got asked to do an interview with the Accessibility Channel and who should be the reporter but my friend, Shawn Marsolais! She just started working as a reporter, but she did a fantastic job and asked some really good questions. Shawn is an athlete as well - she represented Canada in tandem cycling at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games and is a current member of Canada's national women's goalball team so she completely understands what it takes for an athlete and guide to work together, which is something most reporters don't get at all. A couple of times this season, I have been interviewed and I always have asked if the reporter wants to interview Andrea as well. Often they say yes, but sometimes they misunderstand that she is my guide and so more than just a teammate. But like I said, Shawn gets it! Personally, I think reporting is like guiding - it looks easy, but really isn't, but it only looks easy because the people doing it are so capable! Thanks for such a great interview Shawn!

So after all the racing was done and I was all packed up, I went to go find my family. None of them have ever been to a cross-country ski race of this magnitude, let alone seen me compete and they all enjoyed it immensely! My aunt even said that it was more fun that she expected! That's pretty good considering my family has traditionally been made up of hockey nuts! Thanks so much for all of you who did come - it was awesome to know you were in the crowd cheering for us! The only exception was Jaden, who, at the age of six, was more interested in playing in the snow than watching the races. Can you blame him? At six, a huge pile of snow with other kids running and playing all over it is pretty tempting! I did get this photo of him and Xavier as they wrestled.

Oh, and don't let the sunshine in these photos fool you - it rained off and on all day! The photos were taken yesterday in the sunshine - I just knew I'd be a little too busy during race day to be a shutterbug!

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