In order to be the best, you have to pick your specialty and pick it well. In ski racing, it has always been a problem of mine to pick mine. When I started ski racing, we only did giant slalom. Then we added slalom after I have expressed a wish to be able to ski slalom several times. You see, slalom was the event I have always loved the most watching ski racing as a kid. And we trained slalom, but it didn’t exactly go as planned. It was really bad and soon after, I hated slalom above everything. Bruises and all sorts of falls, that’s how slalom looked for me the first couple of years.
I haven’t started training speed until I first came to Winter Park to train with the NSCD. Speed seemed like a fun thing to do and it helped me ski better in giant slalom as I was less afraid of the speed. First it was Super-G, then Super-Combi (one run of Super-G, followed by a run of slalom). The last came the Formula 1 of ski racing, the most prestigious event of them all – downhill. I actually had to fight with my family for 3 years, until they let me start my first downhill at the age of 22. It was scary, but it was also the most fun I have ever had ski racing. I was on my way to become what Kurt calls “a speed merchant” and I liked it.
At the end of last season however my slalom has started to become stronger and stronger. Why, I will never know. But I not only became better at it, I started enjoying it. Granted, putting all the extra padding on my body still pisses me off, but I was on my way to become what my heroes of my childhood – Jure Košir, Rene Mlekuž, Matjaž Vrhovnik, Mitja Kunc (crazy part about it, most of them I nowadays call friends!) – were, slalom specialists. I even managed to grab my first top level silver medal at Huntsman Cup, NorAm Slalom race in Park City, Utah. If there was heaven on Earth, it looked like a slalom course for me.
Every coach I meet, has a different idea about what my strong event should be. My dad says giant slalom, I say slalom, Kurt says Super-G. Especially in the limbo of this season, where I have no idea where is up and where is down, I have no idea what I really want my specialty to be and a million different opinions doesn’t help much.
I made this text-picture while we were in Park City and it got some attention on the disabled circuit. But I firmly believe in what it says: Big Boys Race Downhill, Smart Boys Race Slalom. The truth is – I was never the kid who did anything crazy, and to be a great speed racer you have to be able to push through and scare yourself every single run, and I don’t know if I am really capable of doing that. There’s so many guys who like to push it to the very edge and see what happens and so far I haven’t been able to find that in myself.
It just might be the case that I’ll have to forget about ever becoming one of the big boys and have to go with smart. But don’t worry, smart is OK by me.