Changing of the Guard
We were coincidentally standing just outside Prague Castle as the guards began their ritual of guard change. The irony of the event wouldn’t come full circle until I came home to write this blog.
Two days after we saw the literal Changing of Guards in front of the Prague Castle a transformation would occur on the Women’s World Cup . On March 11, 2011 María José Rienda Contreras finished the last World Cup race of her incredible career, (including six World Cup victories,) just 7 start numbers before Mikaela Shiffrin would start her first. The two are 20 years apart in age, to the year. Denise Karbon was the one who pointed out this incredible metamorphosis going on right there, in front of us.
Maria crossed the line while all of the veterans of the World Cup lined the finish with letters spelling out Gracias Maria. Then we hoisted her up on our shoulders. Tears were contagious. I love Maria, she is a girl I have always admired and respected on the World Cup. We have trained GS together many times. She has been someone with whom I can practice speaking spanish and her smile lights you up. She will be missed by many on tour.
In light of a grey matter, I am also newly energized by my new teammate, Mikaela. An über talent jumps in our US Ski Team pool again on the tech side. Mikaela is mature, to the point that you would think she’s been racing World Cup for 7 years. She is dedicated and professional. She is a balanced skier with great nerve and an eye for courses. Before the first run slalom she gave me her report of the race and it was right on. I want to keep racing because I am completely inspired by this kid.
…I am waiting for my twenty year younger counter part before I can actually say goodbye to life on the road, anyway.