Sleeping Through January - Skimo Dream Streak

I just woke up. I'm not sure how long I've been sleeping and dreaming, but for some reason I’m exhausted! It all started just after New Years. Packing all the ski toys in the smallest bags I could find, I made my way to Calgary en route to Lyon France. Leaving the -20 of Lake Louise to find warm and mild temps of the Alps was very heart warming. But there was no time for vactioning on this trip, I had races lined up every weekend for the 6 weeks that followed. Where to start?

French Championships

Since our only Canadian race in December got cancelled due to cold temperatures (would anyone want to wear a skin suit at -30?), I really wanted to get race ready before the start of the World Cup circuit. Fortunately, the first weekend was the French Championships  Individual and Sprint. I made the trip to Oz-En-Oisans just outside of Grenoble to take part in both events. During warm-up, I unfortunately had a small accident that caused lost of consciousness… only 5 minutes before the start! Face bleeding, I managed to pull myself together and race as hard as I could. 4th at the individual and 2nd at the Sprint the following day, I was happy the first weekend was successful. Coming back to Albertville with battle scar on my face, I was then ready for war!

World Cup #1 - Verbier

The following weekend was the first World Cup in Verbier, Switzerland. It was great to see the familiar faces from the race circuit, and check out the venues for next winter's World Championships. In fresh snow, we raced the individual on the Saturday. The course was steep and hard. Managing to not pass out before the start was helpful this time, but I did not have a stellar race as I went into it feeling exhausted. Still placing 10th, I knew I needed to recharge the batteries and things would fall into place. The vertical the following day was one of the most excruciating race of them all. 848m of climbing through Verbier village, non-stop with a really steep section at the end. I’m not a vertical racer but I managed to pull myself up the hill for 14th.

World Cup #2 - Courchevel

Taking the time to fully recover that week, I was excited for the next event at Courchevel, the Disney Land of rich skiers! The 2nd stop of the World Cup was going to take place on a very spectator friendly course challenging racers to ski up and down couloirs. The snow was amazing for the venue and it was one of my favorite courses of the trip. Having a really consistent individual race, I managed to cross the finish line in 6th place. I also managed to place in the top 10 in the vertical race the following day, which is my best result for a vert.

Doucy Cime - Albertville

The following weekend, we were to travel to Italy and race in the Dolomites but a crazy storm rolled in with 1.5 m or precipitation. The event being postpone, I decided to take part in a race just outside of Albertville, the Doucy Cime. The race was part of the French Cup although no athlete from the World Circuit took the start. It was a great event to use as a training session and I really enjoyed skiing somewhere new at race pace! Crossing the finish line in 1st place, I enjoyed having a race where I could work on technical elements and pace myself better.

World Cup #3 - Italy

I really didn't want to miss out on the rescheduled 3rd World Cup in Italy, so I was thankful I was able to reschedule my flight; the first of any things to fall into place that week.  Meredith Edwards from the US and I jumped in my little Renaud Car and drove across Italy to take part in the big event. From the first moment, I knew this would be a weekend to remember. We laughed our way to Val Comelico and got ready for the event. The Friday was the sprint event, for which I had a plan... and the plan worked. The course unusually long course was super challenging and the descent was a mogul run with gates! I qualified in 7th place, then finished 2nd of my heat in semi final, and took the 3rd place podium at finals!!! What? There it is, my dream to podium at a World Cup, being the first Canadian to bring back a medal… was I sleeping and dreaming?

I fully enjoyed the moment and allowed myself to be really excited, but we still had the individual to do the following day. I fought hard between 4th and 6th place that day and had a really good race.

Coming home with a general ranking of 6th at Worlds, a medal, many memories of beautiful ski days, laughs, many learning experiences and so much more, I can’t help but wonder: was I sleeping through the whole month? Did this really happen?

-Melanie Bernier

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