April 4, 2009: A Good Note

French Nat'l Championships PGS

French Nat'l Championships PGS

Risoul, France – I woke up this morning after having the best night of sleep I’ve had since I’ve been on this trip (over two weeks)! My alarm even woke me up and I didn’t get up in the middle of the night. I haven’t felt that good and refreshed in a long time.

It’s an absolutely beautiful day here and the snow set up well overnight. Pretty hard but not too icy and the clear blue skies guaranteed a warm afternoon. Because of the volume of riders here the organizing committee decided to just do a one run qualifier instead of two run. That made me a little nervous; my first run of the day usually is my slowest and most conservative and I count on the second run to make up some time but this was not to be the case today.

After inspecting the course I decided that this was probably the most technically challenging course I’ve had all season! The course starts off in the flats then rolls over into a short pitch and then flats and then another short pitch and then rolly flats. And all dog-eared to the left. There wasn’t one spot on the course where you could see it in its entirety. And the gates were turny and tight, tighter than even Isola and any other course I’ve ridden this year. I could have almost taken my slalom board out to run it!

I focused on having a round and high line, and moving my board across the hill so that the end of my turn would be at the stubby. I did my normal prerace prep and tried to relax and not overthink things. It was a little difficult because I didn’t know anyone so I didn’t get a chance to chat or laugh but I still had my music. For my qualifying run I came out of the gate and kept it round. I didn’t fight during the course, just kept going but not getting faster or slower. Just maintained the pace throughout the run. I remember thinking at the end of it that it seemed too easy and that my legs weren’t tired at all.

Well there’s a reason for that: I was slow. It was a run without any bobble or being late but I wasn’t really pushing it and looking for speed. I was just out for a Sunday drive (ugh, I’m really starting to hate that expression since it’s characterized some of my riding lately). I knew I was conservative because I didn’t want to blow out of the course and ruin my single chance of making it to the finals but I need to get that out of my head and go for it each and every run. But my run was good enough for 10th place and a spot in the finals.

So I definitely had nothing to lose and could really go for it. Conditions were virtually perfect with a beautiful sunny day and slightly soft snow. I didn’t want to think about anything except going for it and moving as fast as I could to the next gate. I was dueling one of the Japanese girls (she qualified 7th) but she’s fast despite her petite size. Our first run together she got a little ahead of me during the first 3 gates but once I set my rhythm that gap didn’t widen. I just let my board run and I picked a really good line. The snow felt good, I was looking ahead and never looked down at my feet (one of my old bad habits). I was ready for each gate and didn’t feel too slidey. I did get late towards the end but I didn’t panic and jam on my board, I just let it keep running my wrong line and eventually it came back around. She got me by less than a gate.

For my second run I had to give it my all. The course was getting rutted out from the other riders and the warm temps but no matter. I pulled out of the start but by the second gate she had already pulling ahead of me. But once again that gap didn’t widen, but it didn’t shrink either.

Overall I felt like I had two really good race runs and I’m proud of that. They were fast and the thought of crashing or injuring my shoulder or any other part of my body didn’t cross my mind once. I just rode and it felt great. I’ve developed this kind of cool thing where if I don’t like something I see (e.g. my nose going inside the gate and possible disqualification, a big bumpy rut, the stubbies) I automatically lift my head up and turn away from that sight, and just ride it out as if it wasn’t there. That has helped me to look up and ahead and not panic. When I pick my head up and look a few gates ahead of me I actually have time to think and assess what I’m doing and what needs to be corrected. I’ve also learned that I seem to be losing a lot of time in the first few gates. I’m not sure if it’s because my pull out of the start gate is so weak because of my bum shoulder and my arm brace, but I can’t seem to get a good pull and attack the first few gates. Definitely something to work on.

So I ended up 10th today. 10th in all of France! I am so not ready to be done with racing. I wish there were a few more races – I have the energy and focus to keep going and I’m improving with each race. But I do have a couple weeks of training up in Calgary in April so I can continue learning. But before that I have a few days of R&R to tour Nice and the south of France. It’ll be a nice break from the past two intense weeks and a good refresher before the next two weeks on snow. A bientot!

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