June 20, 2009: Back on Snow… Again

Whistler, Canada – Today was Day One of a four-day camp up on the Whistler Glacier. I was excited coming into today after a few weeks off of snow and some pretty intense dry-land training days. I’ve gained about five pounds since the last time I trained on snow (hopefully all muscle with a smattering of desserts) and my strength is increasing but I’ve been a little discouraged about my box jumps. I haven’t been formally tested since the initial time but my dad’s been helping me do a ‘sample’ test when we have our afternoon track sessions, and my numbers are low, lower than my last test result. I’m hoping the reason why they’re low is because I do them late in the day after a full morning workout session. I’ve been doing the prescribed training program and then some and have been in constant fatigue for the past few weeks now. I’m hoping the short vacation a few days ago to San Diego to celebrate my dad’s birthday will freshen me up for this camp.

But back to the snow. I changed the springs on the back of my boots to the stiffer version, and late last night my coach pulled out a pair of risers and asked if I wanted to test them. I tested the Vist plates and didn’t like them, but these new ones were significantly lighter and had a lower profile. So I figured sure, why not see what these are all about, and mounted them on my board.

The glacier is a bit difficult to get to in terms of length of time. It takes two lifts, one bus ride and another lift to get there totaling about one hour. It was drizzling this morning and gradually got colder as we increased in elevation but this is supposedly going to be the worst weather day of the camp. Supposedly.

First run was awkward. I don’t know if it was the risers or not being on snow for three weeks but things felt off but not terribly bad. We did a few warm up runs and after the first run things fell right into place almost immediately. It was pretty remarkable. I’m sure the added weight (risers and myself included) stabilized the board through the soft summer snow. The added height off the board gave me more leverage and made my transitions quicker and felt easier to get the board up on edge. The board also had a snappier feel than the Vist and gave me more of a controlled pop out of each turn. After the first run I thought, ‘I kinda like these risers’ and by the end of the fourth run I was hooked.

After a few runs we worked on drills, the first testing our body positioning and how well we stood over the board through slow, long turns. The board felt pretty smooth and my coach said I was doing it correctly. Yay! Then we started linking turns and quite frankly I surprised myself. Everything felt so smooth and easy and I didn’t feel like I was fighting anything. My coach came up to me and said “I love it!” and that he liked my turn shape and turn initiation and that I was really building up from where we had left off. Double yay! I remember only thinking about not bottom turning, and that the highest angle of the board should be at the top of the turn and after that move forward down the hill. Didn’t think too much about anything else. And I was noticeably really relaxed which is unusual for the first day back on snow (or rather most days on snow). One thing that my coach said that was new was during the transitions is when we should move laterally across the hill and not in the bottom of the turn. I remember Ekat and I watching the top European riders and thinking that same thing, that they snapped across the hill during their transitions and didn’t ‘ride’ across the hill.

The rest of the day we did drills, keeping our legs straight and rigid and not bending our knees and ankles to initiate the turn. Instead we were to get the board up on edge by driving our hips into the turn while keeping our upper bodies balanced, quiet and over the board and letting our legs go back and forth underneath us (ala Jasey Jay). That drill was a bit difficult to master and I scrubbed on my heelside a couple of times because I was late on my transition and bottom turning, but after a few more runs I started dialing it in and got the feel of the drill. By the bottom of the run I’d gain way too much uncontrollable speed and had to scrub some to slow down but the board still remained solid and felt great!

Overall it was an awesome day! My coach emphasized on us to keep things simple and really focus on one thing and that worked. Today I just focused on one thing and stayed relaxed and enjoyed being on snow. My coach also said to do the best we could with each and every run, and that reminded me of how badly I want to get fast and reach my dream. And I cannot believe how relaxed I was! Didn’t feel any pressure and maybe that’s also why I was able to perform well. So far my hard work is paying off and now I just have to keep working harder. But I’m excited for that.

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