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Day Off:

October 13, 2014
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Corralco Chile, September 20, 2014:  I am sitting on a couch that is thoroughly less relaxing than it looks. The lounge at the Hotel Corralco is filled with a number of very inviting, yet very uncomfortable pieces of furniture. Scattered among the coffee table and couches are a couple of uniquely milled wooden stools. They are mesmerizing to look at, but they simply have no business pretending to be adequate replacements for the socially acceptable forms of furniture that typically provide comfort for a visitor’s gluteus buttass.

Like many of the blogs I have written, I am coming to you live, from a beautifully dismal day off. For Ski Racers, there are generally two kind of days. A “day on” refers to each day we are skiing, training, or racing. And a “day off” refers to a day when we are resting for the next “day on”. “Day offs” are typically nothing to wrIMG_3746ite home about. Certainly nothing worth putting on the internet… haha wups… But when all is said and done, they are necessary to reach the peaks of elite performance.

Beyond the basic physiological gains provided by a day of rest, the real benefit can be most drastically observed within one’s own mind. Sometimes, in the heat of competition, it’s hard to remember why you are lucky to be friends with the men or women on your team. When the future of your career is based upon how fast you ski relative to those who surround you, it is easy to let the trivial insecurities, resentments, and tempers build up to the breaking point. Sometimes it takes a little bit of fun on a “day off” to remind you why you are rooting for your team mates to succeed as much as you wish for your own success.

The typical “day off” starts with a failed attempt at sleeping in. No matter how willfully we aspire to sleep till midday, inevitably we find ourselves wide-eyed and restless by 7:00 a.m. Resenting the consciousness that evolution blessed us with, and wishing for the peaceful chaos of our dreams to resume. After putting off the inevitable for an hour or so, we find our way to where ever the nearest pot of coffee is most likely ready.

I am reminded of a certain scene from my favorite Disney Movie, “The Jungle Book”. Scope this un-embedable video on youtube to see what I’m talking about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZDo-udXmgQ

IMG_0391What that reference was referring to is that sometimes there isn’t a whole lot to do after breakfast. Watching movies, reading books, or losing ones self in the infinite virtual landscape of Facebook or Instagram are the most popular choices. Some days are not so Ho, Hum however. There are days when the weather is nice, and when we are not forced to stay miles away from civilization withing the confines of our hotel. These are the days when the pressures of ski racing are as intangible as the fleeting memory of last night’s violently entertaining dream.

In Europe, some “days off” begin the night before with a couple laps down the Rodel track. Rodeling might be the single most accessible, entertaining, and dangerous “sport” ever invented. It involves steering a wooden sled with steel runners down a casually maintained cat track around obstacles that include impossibly sharp switchbacks, jumps, bridges, cow pastures, and (perhaps the most dangerous obstacle of all) British tourists. All of this at speeds between 0-40 mphish depending on your courage, skill, and how much alcohol you’ve consumed.

In New Zealand we are constantly smothered by breathtaking scenery. The stunning sunrise and sunset’s are a maddening compliment to the island’s unique brand of cute and cuddly native wild life. A “day off” is a good time to ignore all that bullshit in order to search out even more adrenaline. A day of Sky Diving or Bungee Jumping is a popular way to not only forget you’re a ski racer, but to forget that there isn’t anything worth doing in life except falling to your near death out of planes or off cliffs.140919_b_bennett_203140919_br_bb_020

The first half of our camp in Chile this year was epic. Blue skies and fields of white snow greeted us each morning as the stars faded into the rising sun. Little did we know… the mountain was teasing us. Showing us the picture of what could be. In the days that followed, I have never seen it snow slash rain more consistently in my entire life. We were miles from civilization with nothing to do… the perfect criteria for an un-blogable series of “days off”.

Due to weather, previous “day off” activites like biking, hiking, frisbee golf, and volleyball were not going to be possible. So, we turned to the Ping-Pong table. Marvin the French-Duchman quickly established himself as the man to beat. Only Thomas Biesemeyer and Head Coach Sasha Rearick managed to steal a win or two from him. But everyone’s game improved immensely by the end of the camp.

If more people wanted access to the only entertainment system within our temporary prison, we would play a game we called around the world. The video’s below detail the rules and outcomes. Enjoy!

Also, check out the slide show below for more pics of our chile trip and some other day off adventures. Thanks To Jonathan Selko for taking the sweet Frisbee Golf Pics. Scope his website at http://www.selkophoto.com/ for more action.