January 30, 2009: My Best Europa Cup Result!

Europa Cup PGS, Sils, Switzerland

Sils, Switzerland – Today was my first Europa Cup in several years. Europa Cup is the level right below the World Cup circuit, so those racers that do not qualify for the World Cup team are compete here. The level of competition is more intense than Nor-Am Cups so going into it I had absolutely no idea where I would stand among the European girls, which traditionally are very talented.

There were 47 girls starting, and because I don’t have many points I started in the back of the pack at 35. Yesterday I had a really good day of training so I wanted to carry those lessons and good feelings into today’s race. I feel comfortable with the hill (not too steep but not too flat, just right) so I wasn’t too nervous. The only thing I wanted to focus on is keeping a round line and being patient when I switched from my toeside edge to my heelside edge so I don’t jam on the board and dump speed. That was my only focus. I found out yesterday that when I zeroed in on that one thing that my riding would correct itself and I didn’t have to worry too much about technique – my body just did what it knows what to do and my mind doesn’t interfere with that.

My first run was solid. I took a very round line on the toeside but still cut it too short on the heelside. The course has a fallaway to the left making it easier to be more patient on the toeside and more difficult on the heelside. But it didn’t feel super fast. I also wasn’t out of control and that usually means it wasn’t super fast. Luckily it was good enough for 15th place on my course so I qualified for a second run and a chance at the finals (the top 16 of each course get a second run in the opposite course and then the top 16 combined times go to the finals). After my first run my coach told me that on my heelside I was just throwing out my board and waiting for it to come around and not putting pressure on it to generate speed. He said I was in a good position coming into the turn, but I needed to keep my body closer to the board and move my hips down in order to create a platform. He also said all the ingredients were there in my riding, we just need to fine tune it a bit. So I was happy with that feedback!

For my second run I didn’t want to really change my focus. I really needed to make up time to get into the finals (being 15th in my course meant that I was hovering in the 30s since there are two courses) but I didn’t want to start working too much on technique especially since I haven’t worked on it outside the course. But this time I needed to be more aggressive and really go for it while keeping my line round. By the time I went the course was pretty cut up and the bumps were throwing off my line and I was getting late on the gates and having to jam to make each heelside turn. But I was letting it run a lot more than the first run = slightly out of control. On the last pitch of the course I was getting too late and had to scrub a lot of speed to make one gate. But after that I just pointed it straight to try to make up some of that lost time, and beat the girl I was racing.

Although I made a lot of mistakes, I felt the speed was pretty good. Maybe not as fast as the first run (definitely not as clean) but not too horrible either. So it was surprising to me when I looked at the times and found that my run was just 4 hundreths of a second slower than my first run which was in a much smoother course. In this year’s races I’ve been having trouble with consistency between the two runs, with them sometimes being 2 seconds apart. And then what was even more shocking was that I was in 19th place for the qualifiers! And I was less than a second out of qualifying for the finals!

Athletes should always exude confidence, but to tell you the truth I’m quite surprised at my result. Going into the race and seeing some of the girls warm up, I felt I would be good to get in the top 30. I could call it luck because the course was so choppy so a lot of the girls were either blowing out of the course or just not having a good run. But I was able to hold it together for two solid runs.

I can’t tell you how elated I am. Finally things are starting to really come together and I’m seeing good results, which definitely boosts my confidence. I couldn’t help smiling for most of the day.

Tomorrow’s race is also a parallel giant slalom, but my goal is to make the finals. I just need to maintain a round line and be super aggressive (generating speed at each gate and ‘twacking’ the stubby) and I believe that’ll get me in there. That and being almost completely out of control and just holding on!

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