April 15, 2009: Night and Day

Norquay, Canada – Yesterday we were in the gym since the weather was bad up on the mountain. Coming into this morning I was pretty apprehensive on how the day was going to turn out especially after such a disastrous training session two days ago.

And I began to repeat that horrible day. I was thinking too much about my feet and how my boots were too stiff and didn’t flex how I wanted them to, and of course that showed in the course. My coach said I was riding too much up in the shoulders and not bending my knees and flexing the board. The course had turn indicators around the gates (soft brushes in the course) and I was so focused on going around them correctly that I pretty much forgot to really ride. And to be honest, having so many things in the course confused me.

So the morning was not good. It wasn’t as horrendous as the previous training day, and with each run I was getting more comfortable in the boots. But my head was still ‘in my boots’ and not on the course and racing. I did talk to another racer and she said that when she transitioned to the same boots she had a lot of problems as well and it took a week to get used to and I just need to keep riding them. So at least the boots have something to do with it. That was comforting.

During our lunch break we watched video of our runs in the morning. And after seeing myself I just thought with disgust, “I look like that?” Well apparently that set me on fire because when we went back out for the second half something in me clicked.

I can’t explain what I felt but all of a sudden there was the drive, the desire, the intensity to do better. To really want to ride well and make the most of each and every run. I completely forgot about my boots and any discomfort I was feeling and just went for it. Let the board run and had high energy and aggression. I didn’t really think too much about technique or line at all, just that I needed to get to the finish as fast as possible. The only technique I was thinking of was to get that board up on edge as much as possible at the beginning of the turn. But more important was my desire. I wanted this. And it worked. I rode fast.

Unfortunately I’m not really used to that speed so I kept blowing out at the bottom of the course. I see the finish and think I can just let the board run and stop really turning, but that is definitely not the case. But at least I was really gunning for it and I was riding strong and fast up until that point. One of the coaches said it was like night and day watching me from the morning session to the afternoon. And my main coach later said that was 100 points riding (I need 100 points to achieve one of the criteria for the Winter Olympics) and building off of that would get me the top 30 in a World Cup that I need for the Olympics!

So I am super psyched about today! Not only was I able to turn it around but I felt the intensity that I need to have to ride fast. Now I just have to mimic that in all my training and race runs.

On the technical side, one thing that my coach said that really made a difference was about board angle. The angle of the board when it’s on edge should be at its maximum at the top of the turn and then decrease as the board moves through the turn. On my heelside my maximum board angle tends to happen at the bottom of the turn below the stubby so I really fight gravity. To gain speed you can’t be going against gravity; you need to move with it and let it help you, not hinder you. Also the assistant coach said I really need to get that board up on edge (like the guys do) in order to create the platform for a strong turn.

So it was a great day of training! I feel like I learned so much today, not just with technique and racing but also emotionally and mentally as well. I’m glad to put this boot situation behind me and focus on racing. AND I need to bring the intensity to every run.

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