August 3, 2009: New Zealand is Amazing!

Methven, New Zealand – It was a beautiful clear morning as we headed up to Mt. Hutt for our first day of on-snow training. It is amazing here! Most of the south island is flat except for the enormous mountains jutting up in the center of the island. The resorts are above tree line and the weather from the tops of the mountains to the flat terrain of the town is as different as night and day. As we drove up the sketchy dirt road up the mountain you could see the ocean just an hour drive away.

It was so strange to be in winter gear after coming from LA’s 90 degree weather. Luckily the sun shone on the mountain and the light wind made it an almost perfect weather day. The wide open runs were covered with decent snow and the crowds were kept to a minimum making it great freeriding. Couldn’t ask for a better day.

I wasn’t apprehensive as I normally would be on a first day. Maybe I was too excited just to get on a board, whether it was on snow or surf. I felt unusually relaxed. I strapped in to my slalom board and everything felt really comfortable – no strangeness at all – as if I hadn’t been off snow for over a month. It felt so normal like I had never stopped riding.

I’m not sure how graceful I was or how my technique measured up but that first run was so much fun! I haven’t had that much fun on a run in a very long time. I just let the board run and wasn’t scared of falling or sliding out. I pictured the terrain as a big wave and glided back and forth across it and even tried to do some cutbacks as if I was surfing. I did focus on dropping my hip at the top of the turn getting the board up on edge and a few times I felt like I was going to wash out but I was able to put pressure on and rely on my boot to keep me upright and finish the turn. I just focused on feeling the snow and it was so fun!

The rest of my freeruns also felt good and fun albeit slightly out of control. But that was okay because it didn’t freak me out or make me hesitant; like on the water I just try to punch through and hope for the best. And most of the time it works and I’m able to hang on. Definitely felt the aggression.

Then we did freeruns as a team and I think I started to start thinking and then it wasn’t as fun anymore. I know I need to focus on technique and clean up aspects of my riding but I could feel the pressure of having to do well and impress the coach eek in and affect my riding. So it wasn’t as much fun as the first few runs but I think I still had some good turns in there.

One thing that I have to work on and that my coach told us to keep in mind was a solid upper body position. I guess my arms were a little flingy and my back arm would trail putting me in a weird and non-powerful position. So tomorrow I have to remember to keep my arms forward and drive with them.

So overall a great day and a great start to the camp! I think if I don’t overthink things and make sure I’m always feeling the snow and environment and not the huge gorilla on my back then everything will turn out just fine. And it’ll be a lot of fun doing it.

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