Travis Ganong is an up-and-coming U.S. Ski Team Alpine racer. Ganong hails from Lake Tahoe, Calif. where he grew up skiing at Squaw Valley. In 2012, he finished 12th, a career best, on the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria. When he’s not racing, Ganong spends his time free skiing and even did some big mountain skiing this past summer in Alaska for Warren Miller’s latest film: Flow State. Ganong will be blogging for OnTheSnow throughout this World Cup season as he prepares for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  

I consider Bormio the first real Downhill race of the season because it is the first truly scary and challenging Downhill course. Compared to the first three stops in Lake Louise, Beaver Creek and Val Gardena, Bormio is so much longer, bumpier, darker and faster from top to bottom. More than anything it is relentless. There is never a moment to rest from the start all the way down to the finish line thousands of vertical feet away in the medieval stone city of Bormio.

Bormio is sandwiched between a chunk of Switzerland near St. Moritz, and a national park shared between the Swiss and the Italians with some of the biggest vertical relief mountains that I have ever seen. The ski area of Bormio itself doesn’t even come close to reaching the top of the mountain that it is on, and it still has a staggering 6,000 vertical feet of skiing!

I came to Bormio rested and ready after having two solid, but not spectacular, training runs. I felt more ready than ever to attack the famous “Stelvio” piste. On race day, it was nice, sunny and cold—a perfect day for a ski race. I stuck to my game plan and just enjoyed the ride down the mountain, pushing myself just a bit harder than I did in the training runs and I was able to find a new gear in my skiing and post another career best result finishing in seventh place! 

After the intensity and the physical demand of Bormio, we were lucky enough to have five days off to rest the body and the mind. It is so intense mentally preparing yourself to charge down these real downhill courses, so after you finish it is really important to take a bit of a break. 

My break consisted of New Year’s Eve in Saafelden, Austria where we got to light off some fireworks, and then a quick trip to Zagreb Croatia to watch my girlfriend, Marie-Michele Gagnon get eighth place in the World Cup night slalom there.

It has been an amazing start to the season and I really look forward to the next few races as they are the classics of Wengen and Kitzbuhel. Then after those demanding races, it is off to the World Championships in Schladming Austria. Stay tuned…