Tad Elliott races for the Saab-Salomon Factory Team. More information on the Saab-Salomon Factory Team can be found at www.enjoywinter.com. This article first appeared in Ski Post – www.skipost.com
I have just arrived home from Praz de Lys, France after the U23 World Championships. I had a tremendous time but I am happy to be home in Durango Colorado. Once arriving in Geneva we had a short drive to the hotel. We arrived around 7:00 p.m. and immediately went to dinner in the hotel restaurant. I honestly don’t remember what I ate for the main course but for dessert they served us these huge wedges of cheese and bread. I was super pumped on this, and hoped they would serve us cheese for dessert every day. I would not have been disappointed. We ate cheese and bread every day for breakfast, sometimes lunch and sometimes dinner. Every time we ate cheese there was a different age or a new type to try.
My hotel room was nice. The bunk beds were a little narrow, but I got over it. We had a kitchenette and a dinning room table that led out to the neatest part of our room, the deck. Since we were on a corner room on the top floor our deck looked out over the competition stadium. The morning of the races I could sit and drink coffee and watch the start, lap, pit exchange, and the major hill of the women’s race while I was preparing for my own race. My roommate was my good friend, Noah Hoffman. This had its perks. Noah went to a local French Cup race earlier in the week since he had some time to kill before the junior races. He won the OJ field and came back with this huge basket of goodies that contained chocolate, a Kilo of some good cheese, some sparkling lemonade and sausage. Noah was super nice to share and I ate more than my fair share of his winnings.
The skiing was great with amazing views from the ski trails that looked out over the valley, and you could see the picturesque mountains rising out of the valley floor. On one of my longer training days I skied up over the mountain pass and down to the resort of Sommand with Simi Hamilton and Karl Nygren. This was the one day of horrible weather. It was right in between snow and rain. I missed out on the great views from the top and Simi, Karl and I struggled to get down off the pass. We could not see out of our glasses and when we took them off the sleet hurt our eyes so much that we had to squint and could barely see. They had a better time of it than me and I got dropped. In the end, was unable to follow their red jackets. I ended up going off the trail and face planting in the snow. The two others were kind enough to wait for me. The hot chocolate I drank at lunch sure tasted amazing.
When it came time for the races, the US Service Team was outstanding. I had a stress free time getting in a proper warm up and getting to the start line. The coaches made sure everything was taken care of. We had two feeds for a 2.5 km loop on each the classic and the skate portion of the pursuit. My skis were so fast I dropped a kid by 20 meters on a downhill that outweighed me by 50 pounds. I do not think that anything could have been improved by the US Service Team and I would like to thank them for the tireless hours working on my skis and running skis to the start, and taking care of every task no matter how trivial it might have seemed. I really appreciated their hard work. I can not thank them enough. Also big thanks to the juniors who were out cheering on the U23s during our races knowing that they had a races to get ready for in the next few days. This is the type of support and love of the sport that is going to take US skiing to the top level.
One of the highlight of the trip for me was during my last night in Praz de Lys at the opening ceremonies. Local kids were carrying a flag from each country represented and Matt Whitcomb gave me a US Ski Team hat to give to the kid carrying the American Flag. I gave it to the kid and helped him put it on in replacement of the hat he was wearing. The smile the young kid had after receiving the hat was the biggest one I saw all week and was not wiped off for the rest of the night. He even came back for a picture with the US Team.
I am now back at home getting ready for the next big competitions. I now BIRKIE FEVER and am looking forward to checking out the event for my first time. See you in Hayward.
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