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