It’s Been A While…

25 Aug

I know, I know. I haven’t been very good about updating this blog. I want to throw out some excuses like, “I’ve been really busy” (which isn’t fully true), or “I haven’t had internet…” (ha.. that’s not a very good excuse), or “nothing has been happening” (which is almost never true).  So here I am, updating.

Let me see… the last update I remember… New Year’s! Wow. It has been a while. A lot has happened since then. I think the best way to go about sharing my experiences with you is through pictures, otherwise, this would probably turn into a three page post. So without delaying any longer, here’s a little summary based on a thousand words per picture. 🙂

Training in Hochgurgl, Austria.

Training in Hochgurgl, Austria.

A bit of snow and wind makes great pictures in Austria!

A bit of snow and wind makes for great pictures in Austria!

First World Cup in Europe! Very exciting, and kinda scary!

St. Anton World Cup. First World Cup in Europe! Very exciting, and kinda scary!

Look familiar? This is our other favorite place to train in Europe, Maria Alm, Austria.

Look familiar? This is our other favorite place to train in Europe, Maria Alm, Austria.

Stopped in Vienna on our way to Slovakia. Artsy fartsy (or trying to be at least).

Stopped in Vienna on our way to Slovakia. Artsy fartsy (or trying to be at least).

Another shot from the church in Vienna.

Another shot from the church in Vienna.

We had some beautiful mornings in Slovakia.

We had some beautiful mornings in Slovakia.

We made our way back to North America, to Apex, British Columbia.

We made our way back to North America, to Apex, British Columbia.

Then across the country to Quebec to ski at Le Massif for World Juniors. Stairway to heaven? Thank goodness we didn't have to climb up those this trip.

Then across the country to Quebec to ski at Le Massif for World Juniors. Stairway to heaven? Thank goodness we didn’t have to climb up those this trip.

Two ski racers driving across the country to spend a month in California… we have to bring everything! Duh!

Two ski racers driving across the country to spend a month in California… we have to bring everything! Duh!

Water on the Salt Flats by Salt Lake City, Utah.
Water on the Salt Flats by Salt Lake City, Utah.

Donner Lake is on fire!

Donner Lake is on fire!

Happy, sunny, exciting day in Squaw at NorAm Finals. I scored my lowest score ever!

Happy, sunny, exciting day in Squaw at NorAm Finals. I scored my lowest score ever!

I won the Super-G at NorAm Finals! That was a happy day.

I won the Super-G at NorAm Finals! That was a happy day.

Yea… I don't know about the modeling, but being a passenger in this car was a blast!

Yea… I don’t know about the modeling, but being a passenger in this car was a blast!

That's Lake Tahoe in the distance! What beautiful weather we had a US Nationals in Squaw Valley, CA this year!

That’s Lake Tahoe in the distance! What beautiful weather we had a US Nationals in Squaw Valley, CA this year!

One of my favorite places on earth, Lake Tahoe!

One of my favorite places on earth, Lake Tahoe!

Stopped at my one of my mom's favorite attractions, the Bodie Ghost Town in California.

Stopped at one of my mom’s favorite attractions, the Bodie Ghost Town in California.

Spooky! Off to Mammoth!

Spooky! Off to Mammoth!

So if my calculations are correct that’s 19,000 words! I think that’s sufficient enough. Next time I’ll update you on what’s been happening this summer! Exciting stuff leading up to Olympic year! Thanks for reading… or looking!

San Dimas Stage Race

27 Mar

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No pressure, just ride your bike up the mountain as fast as you can, try not to get caught, trust in your training, and believe in yourself. Words that I kept repeating to myself this morning. As we are warming up I am on a trainer set up next to Lauren Tamayo, Mara Abbott, Cari Higgins and Alison Tetrick. HELLO! I am last to go for the team and within the last 15 girls to go off. I am not nervous which is new for me, and I am a little bit unsure why I am not. But I will go with it. This whole weekend is a learning experience for me and all i can do, is learn.

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So today I learned I can go up mountains, and I like being early.

image After spinning lightly to cool down we pack up quickly and get the heck out of there! Our soigneur, Andrew sets up the massage table and we quickly shower and get off of our feet. This is where people get jealous and think we are lazy, and for the most part we are, except for that 3 hours of pedaling we are planning on doing tomorrow on top of todays race and our race in 2 days, we are lazy.

The afternoon and night mushes together with eating and sitting and laying with our feet up and a little bit of race tactics. 9:30 and lights are out.

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Our awesome backdrop to our massages and down time in the afternoons.

Waking up the morning of the Road race I am a little more nervous because we actually have a job today after Mara winning the TT… “KEEP MARA SAFE”. Words I kept repeating to myself, as well as “STAY AT THE FRONT”! I am normally good at keeping myself up at the front of the pack, the key is to be confident in yourself and others around you will not be scared about you. But this is bike racing and you don’t get into the sport thinking you will never crash, and crash is exactly what happened. One of the key things I learned from the weekend was; if one of your teammates is in the yellow jersey and there is crash, STOP.  Somehow I pedaled right through the crash that happened right in front of me. Being an ex-ski racer I was just thinking, “look ahead, look ahead, look ahead”. I am pretty sure I rode over someone’s arm and a few wheels, but I made it through with the rubber side down. Looking over both my shoulders I saw my teammate Rebecca and no yellow jersey, so I continued on. Just barely making contact with the back of the pack we hit the base of the climb, and was promptly spat out the back. I finished the race, and was not time cut therefor able to race the next day. And thanks to my awesome experienced teammates we made it out of the day with the yellow jersey, safe.

FELT Bicycles and Zipp Wheels. Hella fast!

FELT Bicycles and Zipp Wheels. Hella fast!

On the last morning of racing we wake up to mist settling in around us on top of the hill. Some rustling and men’s voices mean our director and mechanic are here setting up our bikes to spin and wake up the legs in the morning. This morning is a quite one. Everyone is on their own programs, no community breakfast as at this point we are tired, sore and not in the mood to chat. We race at 2pm so we have a lazy morning and plenty of time to prepare for the crit, my favorite. This race was a repeat of my entire weekend. I stayed at the front for as long as I could, and with one attack up the hill I was hanging on for dear life on the back of the pack. Once the elastic broke, I joined another of my teammates along with a few other girls, made it over halfway and was pulled.

Mara in yellow with my teammate and me

Mara in yellow with my teammate and me

A rough weekend for me, but we finished it in the yellow jersey. It was a nice “slap in the face”, but showed me how much I can push myself and how fast you are actually supposed to go. A big accomplishment for our team, and exactly what we came to do! I learned a lot about myself, and how the team works, and I am excited to do it again.  

On top of this race, I competed locally in the CSU Oval Criterium, where I ticked off my first win of the season! Below is a race report from that race…

http://exergytwenty16.tumblr.com/post/45630162446/collegiate-win-for-christa-ghent-1st-christa

CSU Oval Crit

CSU Oval Crit

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Abby World Junior Championships

23 Feb

Abby World Junior Championships

So fast right now. Everyone wish Abby good luck for the rest of World Junior Championships in Les Massif, Quebec.

Well Finally… Here’s an Update from Erika

28 Jan

Finally.  I am sitting down to write a post to our Sister Blog. “When was my last post?” I think to myself.  I open up the folder of all of our posts, and scroll down. “September??” Wow, I am slacking.  No wonder my sisters have been on my case, especially because a lot has happened since then…

I think, for those few of you reading our blog, I will break up all that has happened since September (I still can’t believe its been that long), into a few posts.  Because if you are anything like me, seeing a big block of texts just scares me.

So, for now, I am going to tell you the best thing that has happened in that massive block of time.  On December 20th, I graduated from the University of Colorado with a BA in International Affairs!  What is even more crazy about that situation, is that they asked me to give the student address for the International Affairs commencement!  Honestly, I could not believe that they asked me to do this, because, trust me, there are a lot of really smart people in my major, who have a much more extensive knowledge about the world than I do.  But I was incredibly honored, and, while nervous, happy to have the opportunity.

Here is the link to my video, if you feel so inclined to hear what I had to say. (Be warned, the videographer is an amateur, so there may be a few finger shots in there… but thanks, Dad. 🙂 ) Now, I am going to do my best to have a few more posts over the next week to continue  the updates on my life now.  As always, thanks for stopping by our blog!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35nN2Jg_MN4&feature=youtu.be

Mom, Dad, and Erika at Graduation

Mom, Dad, and Erika at Graduation

Team Pursuit Track Camp

14 Jan
The entrance to the huge Home Depot Center complex.

The entrance to the huge Home Depot Center complex.

Back in October I was unexpectedly invited to a USA Cycling National Team Pursuit Track Camp in LA. Unlike many other camps offered by USA Cycling, the athletes would have to pay their way; finding housing, transport to the track and their way home. To me that didn’t matter because it was the first time I had been contacted by the National Team and I would do anything to be exposed to that.

At the velodrome. The view from the front doors. Inside the track there were 3 volleyball courts and two weight rooms.

At the velodrome. The view from the front doors. Inside the track there were 3 volleyball courts and two weight rooms.

So right after New Years Eve, I packed up my bikes and headed out to the West Coast. I had prepared as best as I could, previously having spoken to my coach; we did a lot of the same power workouts I would experience on the track. For those who do not know what Team pursuit is, here is a video of the US National Team at the Olympics in London, with a really spectacular qualifying ride.  

London 2012 Olympic Games Cycling Track Women’s Team Pursuit 1st Round – Start at 11:30 to see USA vs Australia in qualifying to the gold medal round

I had planned on staying with my cousins in Marina Del Rey and arrived late on the 2nd of January. I rode in the morning along Venice Beach and got an idea of where I was. Most of the sessions on the track were in the afternoon from 1-5, so that meant we were ready to ride at 12:45. Most afternoons were quite long and pretty exhausting. The first few days there were 14 girls; this group of girls was known as the “newbies”, we had either never ridden the track, had never been invited to a National Pursuit camp before, or didn’t have much previous track experience. I fit into the last two categories perfectly. The beginning 4 days we got used to the track, learned how to actually ride a pursuit, practice our exchanges, do some benchmark testing, and get to know each other.

These were my morning rides along the beach. Nice way to start the morning.

These were my morning rides along the beach. Nice way to start the morning.

On the 3rd night, my lovely host caught the flu and I ended up moving into a hotel, feeling like I might be catching a cold as well. As it was, the next day I started to get a cough and felt not so awesome. The only thing I could really do was wait it out, take lots of vitamin C, drink lots of water, and try to get as much rest as possible.That night I was feeling very lonely and homesick and my family decided to send in back up. Erika hopped on a plane the next day and accompanied me for the rest of my trip. Sisters are the best friends and supporters in the world, unfortunately or fortunately Erika has been side-lined from her chosen sport right now due to an injury and was just hobbling around with me being an extremely needed help to me.

Me and my sis playing in the water like those people do the first time they see snow.

Me and my sis playing in the water like those people do the first time they see snow.

The rest of the camp was filled with coffee shops, new tv shows to catch up on, sleep and riding around in a lot of circles.

Erika and I ate at Urth Cafe.

Erika and I ate at Urth Cafe.

During the trip I saw a large improvement in my exchanges and my pacing. I got into the somewhat annoying habit of counting “1,2,3,4” during each warm up, as I was trying to make sure my pacing was the same in the draft and in “Position 1” or “on the front”. That is the most difficult part of being in a Team Pursuit; when you are in “Position 2” you are shielded from the wind, moving to “Position 1” the sound of the wind makes you feel like you need to go harder, and you do, but you do not want to explode into “Position 1”. For 2 reasons; one being that if the pace needs to be increased, you want to increase the pace over the whole pull, and the main reason being that you do not want to drop your teammate, who is moving from “position 1” to “position 4”.  This is a technique that I need to always work on. I was very confident in my starts, and my first half lap is really fast. So I just need to find the power in my legs to continue to accelerate and then hold that pace for 4 more minutes. Many things to work on, but I received good feedback from one of my favorite people who I train with down in Colorado springs, Mark Tyson. He is always someone I look forward to seeing and I was delighted when I heard he would be helping us out. I am excited to continue training on the track and still have lots to learn.

This is where I spent the rest of my day, when I was not riding my bicycle.

This is where I spent the rest of my day, when I was not riding my bicycle.

I really enjoyed the trip and in the end learned a lot. I am so grateful for my family, my coach, my boyfriend and all my friends that have supported me to get me this far. Hopefully there will be more chances like this to come. Next up, England. I was very lucky to receive an amazing Christmas gift: a flight the United Kingdom to see my man. Here is a shot from the first day in his hometown, Combe Martin.

Chris and I on the opposite side of the world, Little Hangman, Combe Martin, Devon. Looking west across the Atlantic ocean.

Chris and I on the opposite side of the world, Little Hangman, Combe Martin, Devon. Looking west across the Atlantic ocean.

Summing it Up

3 Jan

Well… I thought I’d do a post with pictures summing up the year of 2012. I may or may not have stolen this idea from other blogs… it’s still fun! Enjoy!

Starting the year off right with my sissy!

Starting the year off right with my sissy!

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January in Europe.

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February I got to race in Vail. It’s one of my favorite places to race. Weird right?

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March had a lot of important races, and my best result here at World Junior Championships. 6th place in the Super-G!!

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Finishing up March with a lot of plates from NorAm overall for the US Women’s team. All of those are top-3 overall positions.

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I spent a good portion of April vacationing and exploring California with the Crazy Canuck. We stopped at Cal Poly to say hi to my cousin Sara! We always have a good time.

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May! More chilling. I got to take a trip to Lake Powell with the Crazy Conuck, Erika, and Gutsy Guy. It was a lot of fun.

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Not a lot going on in June, but we had some really good training in Mt. Hood.

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This is from the Calgary Stampede in July. Country music, chuck wagon racing, and dancing in Calgary with a bunch of crazy Canadians.

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Cousin Sarah had her wedding in August. Weddings are always a blast in our family. The three of us got to sing during the beautiful ceremony.

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

Fall

The beginning of October I got to spend with my Crazy Canuck. Read about it in my I Never Thought I Would Say This… post. 🙂

Aspen

First World Cup in November! That was my last post!

Lake Louise

December started with my second World Cup start in Lake Louise, Canada.

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This was also in December. The Crazy Canuck came out for the beginning of Christmas, which included my grandpa’s 90th birthday party! It was a roaring 20’s theme.

2013 is going to be another crazy adventure! I’m so excited to see what happens next. Have a happy New Year!

World Cup Debut

12 Dec

These past couple of weeks have flown by. We started racing right before Thanksgiving, and before I knew it, it’s 13 days until Christmas! A lot has happened, that’s what I’m here to tell you!!

So… last season, I qualified to start World Cups in Downhill and Super-G for this season. My schedule had me doing my first World Cup in Lake Louise for the Downhill on the 30th of November. The Friday before Thanksgiving, we had a GS race, which doubled as a qualifier for the Aspen GS World Cup, and to my surprise, I qualified! This was extremely exciting for me because I’ve raced at Aspen my whole life, and I know the hill, and it’s practically my second home hill. I was also extremely nervous because I see GS as a very challenging event. The field is very deep and the race hill in Aspen isn’t very forgiving.

I kept my nerves in check the days approaching the race. We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with my family and extended family from Tahoe (most of whom had changed their flights so they could watch my first ever World Cup!) and then I left the next morning. The athletes got to free-ski the hill the day before, and that was the beginning of the steady uphill of nervousness. I played it cool, did my normal routine and went to bed. The whole night, I woke up at different intervals, wide-awake and ready to go.

Going up for inspection!

Going up for inspection!

Finally it was the morning. I warmed up, ate breakfast, and took a couple free-runs. Then it was time for inspection (even this I was nervous for!). Being on the same hill, inspecting the same course as girls I’ve been watching for forever, knowing I was going to race against them today, was a crazy feeling. Waiting for the start was getting hard to handle and then once I was at the start warming up for my run, the butterflies were going nuts! I was breathing so forcefully and so quickly in the start trying to get the nerves under control, that I got lightheaded. The run itself wasn’t my best skiing ever, sorry to disappoint. But it was fun. I made my way through the finish corral, signed a bunch of autographs (which was one of the coolest parts) and finally got to see my family waiting for me. They had made posters to help cheer me on, which were super cute. I didn’t end up qualifying for second run, but it was a good experience and something I will never forget.

 

During the GS.

During the GS. Photo by: Kevin Pritchard

My sisters and me!

My sisters and me!

Two days later, I departed for the Lake Louise World Cup! After getting kicked off our first flight because the Swiss team had 49 ski bags and screwed up the weight of the plane, we flew up to Calgary, and drove the three-ish hours to the Lake Louise Chateau. Let me tell you, this hotel is so cool, especially right before Christmas because it’s all wintery, and there’s Christmas music, and a huge lake with mountains towering around it. It’s breathtaking.

View from the top.

View from the top.

The next three days were full of inspecting, waiting around for my start, taking a training run, barely making lunch at 2:30, recovering, doing video, doing meeting, eating dinner, and then going to bed. Each day was basically the same, but then the first race day was here. By then we had inspected the course four times (including that day) and ran it three times so I wasn’t nearly as nervous for this as I was for the GS in Aspen. Then we had to wait… and wait… and wait some more for weather holds. Finally, about three hours after start, I got in the gate. I ended up 51st… which was last, but I skied well! I could’ve skied better, but it was a great feeling being the 51st fastest women’s downhiller in the world. Cool right? The next day was about the same, with about an hour less of waiting. I was 48th! Still last though…

Waiting for the DH...

Waiting for the DH…

The next day was the Super-G, which I was really excited for. I love Super-G because after only one look at the course, you get one chance to ski the fastest you possibly can. It’s so thrilling to put everything you can into just over a minute of skiing. The course was really fun, and I skied well, but I made a few mistakes that cost me some time and I ended up 45th, which wasn’t last!

Three days after that, I won my first NorAm by .96 in the Downhill held at Copper Mountain. So, even though I didn’t get the results of my dreams in the World Cups, I know I have a ways to go, and I’m skiing well. I also know that just because I started in three World Cups, it doesn’t make me a World Cup skier. I’m working at it, and I’ll get there, but right now, I’m taking it day by day, trying to ski the fastest I can ski in whatever race I’m doing.