What it's like to race Europa Cup at Levi

I recently traveled to Levi, Finland for the opening Europa Cup races of the season. Hosted on the same hill as the World Cup only 2 weeks before, this was everything you’d expect from the highest levels of ski racing: steep, dark, icy, and the most stacked field anywhere in the world.

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With 1 second margins determining 1st and 30th, there was no room for error. We battled high winds that caused lift closures, deteriorating snow conditions and fog, and spent both race days without seeing the sun, but in the end we were able to race.

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These races showed me the level of attack and commitment needed to win at this level: on the flight home, I was replaying the small mistakes I made that caused me to not be that man on the top of the podium in my head over and over and over again.

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But the good news is that we’re jumping from the kettle and into the fire, and I get a chance at redemption at the NorAm Cup races in Panorama, Canada this next week, this time with a start number in the teens, not bib 69. In addition to competing in the races, I got the opportunity to train alongside a number of the other nations represented, which provided valuable insight into how the rest of the world’s best skiers prepare for some of their most important races of the year.

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While watching the sun set at 2 pm might have messed up the body clock a bit, it did provide for some amazing views that even the camera can’t do justice. Thanks to Bliz and SYNC for helping me along this journey.

About the Author

Team America racer and University of Denver alum Alex Leever trains and competes as an independent athlete.

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