Youth Olympic Diary
Sunday January 22nd 2012
After spending the morning packing (where did it all come from?), I went with Jim to see the finals of the boys' Ice Hockey (always the final event at the Winter Olympics). It was really exciting - Finland won Gold and Russia came second to win Silver. Then it was the closing ceremony in the centre of the Old Town of Innsbruck - more flags and more really good fireworks. I have had a great experience and I hope that I can build on this for future events.
Saturday January 21st 2012
I was hoping for a bit of a lie-in this morning but Jim woke me up to go for breakfast! Lynn left today to go back to Val D'Isere where she is based. Jim and I went up to Patscherkofel so that I could prepare my skis for the Welsh Championships in Switzerland next week. Then we went with my parents and grandfather to watch figure skating and the speed skating mixed Nations relay - it looked like great fun.
Friday January 20th 2012
When I woke this morning, it was raining; never a good thing for ski racing! We were up on the race hill in Patscherkofel early and it was still raining!! At about 9.30am the rain turned to snow and with gusts of wind, the snow turned into a blizzard at times, Lynn thought that the Slalom might actually be cancelled, but it wasn't! Mr Hickey and his wife took the trouble to come and watch my race, which I thought was amazing since Mr Hickey is so busy at this event. The boys, who will race tomorrow, were not able to train because the conditions were so bad. The race piste had been treated with chemicals which have the effect of melting the snow which then freezes hard because the air temperature is so cold. This was unlike the warm-up area so, as well as being very tense at the start of the race, I had the surprise/shock of the unusual surface when I left the start-gate. My first run was not at all as good as would have hoped for. I was really unlucky to just miss out on the "flip" and ended the first run in 31st position (18 girls having fallen or skied-out). By the time of the second run, the chairlift had been closed because of the high winds. So we had to take the T Bar to half-way up the race piste and the walk the rest - thankfully, Jim carried my skis up for me. My second run was much, much better (even though I started the 2nd run in 31st place) and I was really happy to finish the race in 24th position. This is a new best record for Ireland in Alpine ski racing at an Olympic Games. The previous best was 32nd (achieved at the Turin Olympics in 2006). I am really proud to have broken the previous record and to have made my family and, I hope, Ireland proud.
Thursday January 19th 2012
So today was my last day of training at the Youth Olympics. I trained slalom with Lynn and we had to get up to the hill very early (7.30am-9.30am!!). Lynsdey Vonn was watching the boys' GS race today and she also gave a speech/presentation at the Congress, which I attended; I found it very inspirational. We had not intended to go to the Medals Plaza this evening or to watch any concerts because I have a very early start tomorrow for the Slalom race. However, the medals ceremony was cancelled due to the discovery of a 250Kg unexploded WW2 bomb nearby! Looking forward to the race tomorrow.
Wednesday January 18th 2012
I competed in my first race at the Youth Olympics today; it was the GS and I finished in 34th place (out of 55 racers). I was really pleased with my first run where I went from a bib number of 42 to 37th place. My second run, however, was not as good. Unfortunately, I think my lack of experience of the race piste, relative to the vast majority of the other girls, did not help me. Lots of people have asked me why I didn't do the Super G or Super Combined events at the weekend; thinking that I had chosen not to race in them. In actual fact the Snowsports Association of Ireland had set a points criteria in Super G of 120 and, since my points are higher, I was not entered. Having watched the races, I think I would have performed reasonably well in those races and I think that the experience of the race piste would have been beneficial for today's race. I was very pleased to have several members of the Irish Olympic Council come to watch me race. The result of the race was: Gold: Clara DIrez (France). Silver: Estelle Alphand (France). Bronze: Jasmina Suter (Switzerland). So it was a very good day for the French! This evening, I went with Lynn and Jim to watch the medals ceremony and to see tonight's band. I also got to see my Grandfather who arrived in Innsbruck today to watch me race. Lynn and I will be on the bus to Patscherkofel at 7.15am tomorrow for Slalom training in preparation for Friday's race.
Tuesday January 17th 2012
It was absolutely freezing when Lynn and I got up to the training hill at 7.30am today!! I had a reasonable morning of training but finished early so that I can prepare for the GS race tomorrow. I feel prepared (as prepared as you can be) and I am really looking forward to racing, now, On a different note, I was really pleased to exchange a PIN for a 1964 Innsbruck one at the Congress when we went for dinner this evening!
Monday January 16th 2012
Great training (GS and Slalom) today on Patscherkofer with Lynn and it was VERY cold!! Lynn arrived late yesterday and it is really good to be training with her again - just like the old days at BSA. After a really good training session we went to the gym to recover. An early night is in order for more of the same (but starting earlier) tomorrow in readiness for the GS race on Wednesday. Had loads of facebook notifications and texts etc because I was on the local TV news this evening!!
Sunday January 15th 2012
It was lovely to have a lie-in this morning, I have skiied every day for the last 6 days so I was relieved when my coach said that she wanted me to have a rest. Anne went home to Dublin today so it's a shame that she will not be here for the remainder of the Youth Olympics. However, I am really looking forward to training with my coach, Lynn Sharp, tomorrow and for the rest of my time here. I think an early night is for the best!
Saturday January 14th 2012
Today was very cold up on Patscherkofel where the Alpine events are all taking place. I did some GS training and then prepared all of my skis for the next few days. The men's Super G was won by a boy from Morocco! He actually lives in Canada but comes originally from Morocco and is their only competitor. I am pretty sure this is the first time that Morocco has even won a Winter Olympic medal so he must be very proud. This evening we went to the Medal Ceremony Plaza which is in the centre of the old Town of Innsbruck. It was absolutely packed with people and was followed by a rock concert. I am really looking foward to having a day off tomorrow. I have skiied for 6 days in a row and I definitely need a lie in tomorrow!
Friday January 13th 2012
I woke up this morning in the Olympic Village to find that it was snowing but only a little. After finding the waxing room, I went up to the race hill with Jim where we did some gentle skiing, just to get familiar with the area. Today was the Opening Ceremony and it was really good. It was held in the same place that the two previous Innsbruck Olympics have been and, obviously, I carried the flag for Ireland which I felt very proud to do. I already knew some of the other flag-carriers and made friends with some of the others. When I looked at the thousands of people in the crowd I was completely amazed; I have never been in a situation like that in my life before. I felt really sorry for Christina Ager, the Austrian skier who said the Olympic Oath on behalf of all the athletes because she forgot her words. She must have felt terrible but the crowd all cheered her on. Seeing the Olympic cauldrons lit was very exciting. There were 3 of them; two from the 1964 and 1976 Games and a new one for the Youth Olympics. There was a huge roar from the crowd when Franz Klammer lit the second cauldron. The whole ceremony finished with a massive fireworks display and I had a facebook message from a friend to say that he had seen me carrying the flag on TV in the UK!
Thursday January 12th 2012
I trained Slalom this morning. The weather is like you would expect in April; not January! After training, I travelled down to Innsbruck and had my first view of the Olympic Village - it's quite cool. The Village was purpose-built for the Youth Olympics but will be used for social housing when the Games are over. So the accommodation is brand new and Ireland is sharing the building with Austria!
Wednesday January 11th 2012
Great day training GS with perfect blue skies and still some decent powder left off piste. Looking forward to slalom training tomorrow and travelling down to Innsbruck to see what the Olympic village is like.
Tuesday January 10th 2012
The blizzards of the weekend here in Austria have left us with the best skiing conditions so far this season. I am based close to Innsbruck for a few days of training before the start of the Youth Olympics. This morning I trained GS through gates. This afternoon, however, I took advantage of some of the fresh snow from yesterday and had a great time off piste as a bit of recreation. I heard at lunchtime that there was a short item on TV early this morning about me, where I was interviewed last Friday at Tamworth Snowdome. The longer version is to be shown tomorrow on the 6pm Central ITV news programme!