Portillo Por Favor

3 Sep

Just getting back from a four-day camp in Mt. Hood, Oregon, it seemed a little strange to be leaving so soon for a two-week camp in Portillo, Chile. My partner-in-crime, Julia Ford (one of my teammates traveling with me from Hood to Chile), and I rolled in to Park City, Utah at around 9:00PM. First things first, we ate, then did laundry, and finally went to bed.

View from Mt. Hood on our last day.

The next morning we threw our clothes in the dryer, made a trip to Wal-Mart to grab some necessities, and came back to pack our half-dry clothes. We then drove to the Center of Excellence (the gym) to meet up with some more of the crew and grab the rest of our bags to drive to the airport. One of the nightmares of traveling as a ski racer is checking in for our flight. With about 6 bags each… 2 duffles and 4 ski bags (in my case 5), the agents are anything but pleased to see us. Thankfully it wasn’t 6 in the morning when they’re usually half asleep and cranky. After the long process of dragging, weighing, rearranging, weighing, rearranging, weighing, and dragging some more, we were finally checked in.

Security can sometimes be quite a hassle as well, especially if we’re in a place like Los Angeles, where ski boots are sometimes confused with ice-skates… but this time around, it wasn’t a big deal. By the time we were out of security we had about 45 minutes until we take off, so 15 minutes until we boarded. I don’t typically like standing in line for 20 minutes while everyone waits to board, so sometimes I end up being one of the last in line because I just sit and watch everyone stand. It was a bad day to do that.

I ended up being the last one on the plane because I was arguing with one of the flight attendants, trying to convince her that there was definitely enough room in the over-head rack for my rolling suitcase. I lost that argument, and ended up having to carry just about everything I had in my suitcase: my boots, laptop, chargers, water bottle, blanket (yes I bring a blanket and pillow with me everywhere!), and other miscellaneous things. The worst part was when I put my boots in the overhead rack above my seat, there was plenty of room for my suitcase. Typical. Ahh, the annoyances of airline travel.

After a movie and reading 60 pages of my book, we landed in Atlanta, Georgia. The next challenge was getting to the next gate without dropping all of my random stuff that I didn’t have in a bag anymore. I got to the concourse, picked up some dinner, figured out how to carry my dinner with all of my other gear, and finally arrived at the gate with only some numb fingers.

Once I got settled into my seat for the flight to Santiago, I started getting really excited for the trip. I probably should have explained this earlier, but I’m in Portillo, Chile with the US World Cup Speed girls! They’re the best in the world at Downhill and Super-G: we’re talking Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, Stacey Cook, Laurenne Ross… just to name a few. And I get to train with them! It’s an amazing opportunity to watch the fastest girls, ski the same courses as them, see how they recover from training, unwind, and get to know them. I’m very lucky to be a part of this camp and hopefully this won’t be the last time I’ll be a part of their crew.

The rest of the flight was uneventful with some on-and-off sleeping, reading, watching movies on the tiny screens 5 rows away without any sound, bathroom breaks, stretching, and some more sleeping. As we made a smooth landing, I began to dread the next portion of our travel process… customs. Customs is one of the other nightmares of traveling as a ski racer. It’s next to impossible to carry all 7 of my bags through customs. It’s quite an art to be able to balance all of my bags (minus one which I had to drag while pushing the precarious cart) and slalom around groups of people and more bags, and then through the line. They then make us take our bags off, put them through a scanner and then rebalance them on the cart.

There are a total of nine girls here, with four coaches, three ski technicians, plus a doctor and a physio. Add everything up and we had a total of approximately 63 bags. We had to load all of that in a truck, and drive the two sleepy hours up into the Andes Mountains where Portillo is nestled. Once we got there, we had to unload all the bags from the truck and then unload the other 100 bags/boxes from the shipment from Europe. That’s a total of ≈163 bags between 18 people!! That’s an average of nine bags per person!

I hope this gives everyone a better picture of what it’s like to travel as an international ski racer. It’s quite a scene in the airport, but to us, it’s just one of the joys of our job. Now I’m in a hotel on the border of Argentina and Chile, the sun is shining with the lake and jagged mountains around me; I wouldn’t trade this for anything. There will be more to come on the training and activities from the camp later! Thanks for stopping by!

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One Response to “Portillo Por Favor”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Summing it Up « SisterSynergy - January 3, 2013

    […] Chile in September! You can read all about it in my Portillo Por Favor post. […]

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