I have never used a swear word in my blog before, so you will excuse me for doing so now, but that race was fucking awesome! Today was the race you spend your childhood dreaming of. That race where you beat all of the top guns and World Cup athletes. Where you move from the very back of the pack and end up on top of the podium, everyone rooting for you. I think it is important that I stop you right there and explain that this dream did not come true for me today. No sir, I actually moved back from 49th to a very un-respectable 78th! No, today was not my dream day but it was another’s. Which, I think, made just about anyones day who was watching this greatness unfold. But let me rewind a bit…
I woke up this morning to about 6 inches of new snow greeting me for the second Nor-Am Super-G of the season. If you are not familiar with alpine speed skiing, 6 inches of new snow is not the most ideal thing in the world for such an event. When we got on the hill instead of inspecting, a multitude of of slip runs were required to clear the track of snow. There were whispers of a canceled race and start times got moved back. The fact that temperatures were sub zero did not help matters much either. But alas, finally, we got underway at 10:30AM.
The race started out like any other. Jeffery Frisch took the lead, running bib 4 and right behind him was last years speed Nor-Am champ, Ryan Cochran-Siegle. Rounding out the podium was Jared Goldberg who had won 3 downhills and gotten second in SG, all in the past four days. Now, like I said, new snow in speed racing is not the best thing. If you run first it is usually slow, or if you get outside of the set track, things are just not going to go your way. Conditions were soft and speeds were slow.
At around 11:30AM I got up to the start for my run. A radio up top reported Nick Daniels moving into 2nd place from bib #36. It is not uncommon for the track to get faster later on in a speed race if the snow is soft. The more skiers go, the more the snow warms up. Warmer snow, more moisture. More moisture, harder, icier, faster snow. Alright I thought, lets throw one in there!
I was a bit hard on my edges, got late here and there and came down in 41st, no doubt with 8 DNF’s in front of me. Wah, wah, wahhhh! Oh well, as I have explained SG is not exactly my forte and my time was so bad all I could do was shake my head and laugh it off. It was shaping up to be a pretty un-remarkable day.
And then Felix Monsen, bib #54 from Sweden, came down into 2nd place. The sun had come out. The snow was becoming warmer, harder. Faster. Next was Sam Dupratt, bib #56, into 7th. Left and right people were jumping from the 60s, 70s, 80s, into the top 30. Meanwhile, I am sitting back in 70th place, getting knocked back all the time, and loving it! These kids were crushing! It was incredible.
Bib #82, William Schuessler Bedard from Canada, comes down. Into second, knocking Felix to third. The racers in the lodge at this point were going crazy each time a new under dog threatened a podium finish. The race had taken an interesting turn, to say the least. Athletes on their smart phones reported the splits to the mass as each new racer made huge leaps. And then there was Jack Auty, bib #89. A 17 year old from Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont.
“He is second at the first split! Winning the second! He’s ahead at the third!” I kid you not, the whole lodge stopped to watch the board at the bottom of the hill. Half of the kids emptied onto the deck to watch and cheer on, me included. Fourth and final split, still ahead. When he finally crossed the finish line there was a huge eruption of cheers and whistling, a bright red “1” shinning on the finish board. He had come from running 89th to finish on top. Came from a 53 F.I.S point profile to scoring a 10 at a young, 17 years old.
“I have never seen a lodge that wild and amiable at a race” said Ben Griffin after the chaos. When Jack walked into the lodge he was greeted by another long round of applause, athletes and coaches alike, going up to congratulate him on one hell of a run. Who hasn’t dreamt of that?
Now some of you might compare this race to this summer when Cameron Smith of Colorado University scored his 9 and 12 point result in the Australian National Championships. Jack Auty scoring a 10 in Super-G? At a Nor-Am?! Very unfortunately, some might scoff and laugh it off because how could bib 89(!) come down and win a Nor-Am and have that result still be legitimate? But really, what is “legitimate”? Ski racing is a funny thing. Sometimes luck plays a huge part in it but I don’t think in any sense that should take away from your accomplishment.
“So-called luck usually is found at the exact point where preparation meets opportunity.” -Kenneth Hildebrand.
Yeah, Jack scored a 10 point SG result today. I am not laughing. Hats off buddy, that was incredible. You skied awesome and the pieces aligned for you to fully take advantage, and that is exactly what you did. I can imagine it was the same for Cam this summer. For those people who shake their heads and claim “illegitimate” I ask you how? They did everything they could to succeed and when the opportunity was handed to them they preformed perfectly. I can think of a vast amount of people who would have failed to capitalize on that.
I am also supremely confident that if anyone in the world was offered such a chance, they would do anything to get that incredible result. And if by chance they did score the best result of their life I hardly think they would appreciate people questioning if they deserved it. It is always deserved. It is always impressive when fellow athletes accomplish what you yourself have been striving for an entire career. To better yourself. To improve your ranking. How could anyone not respect that?
It is always great to watch dreams come to fruition, and I find it renews your own with a vibrant new clarity that comes from hope.
One of these days I believe I will see my hopes come to life, but all I have to say of today is bravo Jack, bravo
Tucker good for you for congratulating Jack and putting his win in the perspective he so deserves and earned! Your quote from Hildebrand is spot on. May some luck coincide with your focused and passionate drive. Stay the course!
Best from the Derrick clan and Perry
Thank you guys! I just figured lots of people are quick to judge but I believe it should be celebrated for a job very well done. All the best to you and your family. And Perry of course! I am sure he misses me most. Aside from Miles of course 🙂
Great post tucker, your day will come! I’m thinking norams in pano…
Thank you! Fingers crossed
Another quote to reflect on this occasion,
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
Ski racing is so many things. It is a perspective of success, a goal that requires sacrifice, an identity that defines athletes from a young age, a test of perseverance, a lifestyle… It takes an exceptional athlete to compete on a world stage in ski racing.
But it takes an even more exceptional person to genuinely rejoice in the success of their peers. To be both an exceptional athlete and an exceptional person is an impressive feat. Sounds to me like there was a common theme of exceptionality among many racers that day.
Proud of you for your exceptional habit, keep it up and more excellence is sure to follow.
Thank you for the very kind words Megs! I would love some excellence for sure! Either way respect is how the world turns and I am glad to spread the love where it is deserved. Hope all is well
Terry DelliQuadri, an old friend, posted your blog to Facebook!
Hope there are lots and lots of ski racing kids out there reading your thoughts!
Good luck in Panorama
Felix #54 Dad
Thank you Johan! It means a lot and thank you VERY much for your support!
Tucker, very impressive blog. Many of us over here in NH and ME have watched Jack become a very impressive racer. He has also become an exceptional person. With that said, based on this blog and your wonderful thoughts, it would seem he is in second place behind you (ok, maybe tied for first). Keep up the wonderful writing and good luck with your racing. Bob
Thank you Bob! It was really really fun to watch and I am glad an eastern kid brought it home!
Wow, I am going to save this and re-read it every now and then! And I would also like to meet you one day and shake your hand. So cool to have your attitude! You will definitely be a success in your life (and I hope you continue with your writing!!)
I am so glad I got to read this 🙂
Thank you Karen! I appreciate you reading and I am glad you enjoyed this one. Good luck to your boys!
Good luck to you in Panorama!! Son #2 will be there…SL and GS.
I am so proud of the man you have become! You have always told good stories….
Luv you Tuck,
The Queen of Rolls
Thank you… Mary?! I assume. Miss you guys, I will have to come over when I get back for x-mas 🙂
This sounds like something a cheerleader would write.
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