Saturday, March 21, 2009
The Other Side of the Fence
Today Jo rode in the US Open Semi's. Getting through five days of practice sessions and qualifying rounds is an evolutionary process of challenges and the potential to succumb to pressure. There are a lot of riders. Mostly quite good. Practice is crowded. Few spots are handed out each round and the practices get less crowded. You don't feel any pressure but you hit that bump and now you only have one run left. You work through that. The deck and bottom get a little more crowded each day. You think you have the routine on your side. You get out there Saturday morning and your bib is like a boxers or jockey's silk. There are very few riders and there are TV cameras. It's a different place almost altogether. The bottom of the hill is busier. There are even more folks on the decks, up and down but they are on the outside of the flimsy fence. On saturday the fence means something. Tonight at the Simpson's barn Jo said "I came down out of my second run and there are PEOPLE". Jo Mensch earned himself a view from the other side of the fence.
Lizzie and Ellery are getting pretty used to that view. US Open Podium spot for graduation present to self. Excellent choice Ellery.
Tomorrow Hunter and Eric get a view from the other side of the fence but its a little different up there on slope. The crowd is thin and the grey ice between the rolling landings and takeoffs feels somewhat like treading water in a stormy ocean with an annoying narrator. Bodies spin past and dissappear. This course sent a bunch of people home before the heats even started yesterday. Then the tight cut of fifteen sent some more off. When the storm settled there was Eric in sixth and Hunter in ninth. Well within the cut of fifteen the mature focus of these guys is pushing and pulling them forward through the Open slope week as if on a wave. Emily Pankukk waited out most of the icy practice session in the morning and ran two laps before her afternoon heat. The strategy paid off and she stood up both of her runs to finish twelfth. Congrats to everyone on their riding. Thanks to everyone else for being involved.