January 31, 2009: Emotional Roller Coaster

Europa Cup 2, View From the Top of the Course

Sils, Switzerland – Yesterday’s high fell to a bit of a low today. The morning started a little rough with not very good sleep and a very early morning since my coach was setting the course and had to be at the hill extra early. But I started the day with positivity from yesterday and the focus of making into today’s final.

I wanted to focus on attacking the course aggressively while keeping a round line and releasing pressure at the gate to get the pop out of each turn and generate speed. While inspecting the run I visualized myself running through the course several times with the technique and line I wanted. I even went through the hand motions of when I would want to pop out of each turn. I was pretty focused on racing and stayed in my head for the entire morning, not interacting with anyone. On the t-bar ride up the slope I would repeat my affirmations and envision the way I wanted to ride. A lot of mental and emotional energy went into preparing for the race.

I got into the start gate and was confident. I was a little chilly waiting at the top of the start for so long and I tried to move around as much as I could to stay warm. I had my music going (mostly Prodigy and the like) to amp me up. Right before I went I tried to churn up as much aggression as possible.

I came out of the start strong but at the second gate I looked down at a hole that was in the course and suddenly all my confidence and focus disappeared. I felt everything under my feet. Normally if I have a good run I don’t feel the conditions of the snow or rut under my feet – I don’t pay any attention to my feet; my focus is driving forward so much that I don’t even notice the bumps. I felt the snow being really firm and bumpy and my board not holding an edge. I also remember thinking to myself, ‘I feel tired’ when I was at the second gate! On my toeside I wasn’t able to feel myself generate speed like I did yesterday (because I was just cruising down the course and not generating speed off of each turn). The course was turny and probably the only good thing that came out of the run was that I maintained a very round line and was very patient on my transition from toe to heel so I never got late and had to jam on my board to make the next gate (something that I was doing a lot of yesterday). So while my line was good, I wasn’t putting any power on the board to generate speed. I wasn’t fast, it was like I was just out for a Sunday drive. But I did manage to beat the girl I was racing by two seconds.

So that run put me in 18th place on my course. Since they only take the top 16 of each course for a second run I was done for the day after one run. Maybe it’s too much mental preparation beforehand. To maintain a good focus for an hour and a half before the actual race might have been too taxing mentally and emotionally. Yesterday I was much more relaxed and thought about flowing like water and that worked. Putting myself in an aggressive state is probably not the best. Also letting the conditions get to me and shake my confidence does not help either. At the end of the day I was 34th.

My coach said that I wasn’t powering the board but I do when I’m freeriding and so I just need to transition freeriding into the course since the only difference between freeriding and racing a course is timing. I talked to a friend who trained a US Ski Team national champion and he said I need to dial in a mental state that I can call upon whenever I’m in the gates whether it’s at a race or in training. I need that consistency and it shouldn’t be for too long before racing, maybe just a minute or two. And I have to approach each training run as if it’s a race run.

Tomorrow I’m going to come in with the attitude that it’s just training. When I trained three days ago I was calm and relaxed, yet aggressively attacked the course, I was fast. I was confident and unafraid and things just flowed. That might be the mindset that I need to carry into tomorrow’s race. I guess the only way to know is to test it out.

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