April 1, 2009: One Step Closer

Mt. Tremblant, Canada – Today has been an interesting day. We had the Parallel Slalom and I knew that I had to at least get into the finals (top 16) to get enough points to do the Olympic qualifying World Cups. But I also knew that I couldn’t be too conservative and still had to go for it to get into the finals since the field was strong.

My mental preparation before my first run was to be aggressive and release my desire for getting a good result. I wanted to a good result. I needed a good result. But I tried not to feel the pressure of having to get a good result since that would tense me up. I still have one more race to get points (French National Championships) so that eased the pressure a little.

But I felt confident today. I really like my new used board and this was my first race on it. I felt good during my warm-up runs and the thought of crashing didn’t even come across my mind. Slalom has more turns than a giant slalom but the speed isn’t as fast so the crashes are usually not as bad.

When I was in the start gate I stayed focus on keeping it round and being aggressive and not giving up or giving in to the course. I burst out of the start with the intent of fighting for what I want, a spot in the finals. I found in the past that when I’m consciously and actively aggressive during my run and I make the choice not to fall,  I don’t fall. When I let my guard down or am wimpy and not confident or lose focus, that’s when I fall. I focused on looking ahead which allowed myself the time to figure out what I was doing wrong and how to correct it. I kept saying to myself, “keep it round” and “go! go!” and I ended with a decent run that put me in 13th.

I maintained the same focus for my second run. The course was in really bad shape and I just needed to stay upright. The girls ahead of me were having trouble, particularly in the course that I was in, and the girl in front of me fell before the first gate. But I didn’t let that get to me and I focused again on my end goal: to get into the finals. I came out of the start as determined as before and didn’t even notice the first few tricky gates. Then I got into a good rhythm and the course actually felt smooth. I was taking a round line and didn’t feel any bumps! When I saw the finish line I think I relaxed too much and lost focus because I slid out on my heelside and fell on my butt. I came to a complete stop but managed to finagle my body around the next gate and into the finish. I ended up 17th overall, one place outside of finals and where I needed to be to get my points.

I could have easily gotten myself down and I could have started crying. ‘What if I didn’t fall?’ kept going through my head. But then I remembered what my book (New Toughness) said – to show toughness on the outside even though there is disappointment within. I forced myself to act confident and positive and eventually my internal attitude adopted that act. After all I still have one race this season so all is not lost, it’ll just be a very pressured-filled race. I also found out there is another race in September in Holland so worse comes to worse, I could go there too since it’s before the October Olympic qualifier.

So I took my positive attitude back to the hotel room and casually checked the website that has the results. (Your point total is determined by taking the average of your two best results within the year. Prior to these races I had 35 points. I need my point total to be at least 50 to be eligible to do the Olympic qualifier World Cups. ) Yesterday’s results were posted and I got 60 points for 16th. So I checked for what 17th place got, and lo and behold it was 56 points! Average the two and it’s 58 points! I got 58 points! I can do the Olympic qualifying World Cups! I still need 100 points for the Olympics but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Baby steps.

I’m off to France tomorrow for French National Championships. Now that there’s no pressure for that race, I can really go for it and start chipping away towards the 100 points!

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