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.
From October 28 until March 9, I have been on the road—that’s 125 days for those of you counting. That’s 125 days of planes, trains and automobiles; 125 days sleeping in different beds in different hotel rooms in different countries; 125 days of intense training, fierce competition, long physical recovery sessions, hours of analyzing skiing video, and countless miles of travel between destinations. Life as a skier on the World Cup tour is a full time commitment and getting used to the road is a big part of becoming successful in this sport.
As an American competing in a sport controlled by Europeans we are at a big disadvantage as far as being “on the road.” After two weeks in November and December racing in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek, we are off to Europe for the remainder of the season. The Europeans are away from Europe for three weeks before December 4. After that everyone heads over to Europe for the rest of the winter, where most of the competitions are within a five-hour (average) drive from the homes of the majority of the European athletes.
Unlike the European athletes, I can only imagine how nice it would be to be able to drive to each race from home in your own car with a small little bag packed for the few days of that week’s competition. For the U.S. Ski Team, we have to pack our huge duffle bags full of gear for upwards of two-and-a-half-month stretches away from home. Between races, we stay at another hotel or apartment. We try to find a way to get some laundry done, and try and rest mentally and physically, but still, it’s a far cry from a few restful days at home!
I have been doing this annual migration to Europe to ski race for the last eight years, so for me, I am very used to the road. The initial excitement after the first few trips over here gets replaced with a familiarity for the road. You start to feel like you are at home traveling throughout the Alps on the same roads and through the same towns and staying at some of the same hotels year after year. Also, a lot of the races are at the same venues year after year—so each week spent at a familiar venue is like spending a week at one of your other “hometowns.” You start to get familiar with the place and start making a connection to it. As much as it is tough being away from home and having to compete week in and week out at the top level of the sport, I absolutely love it and will cherish it for the rest of my career. We have a few days to go over here in Europe and then it is back home until next year’s European road trip. Wish us luck for the last push of the season!