August 5, 2009: Wingless

Mt. Hutt, New Zealand – We were on hold again this morning with news that despite the clear sunny day, strong wind gusts shut down the lifts. We can see the mountain from the town (about 35 minute drive) and the range looked beautiful and crisp. But those South Pacific winds struck again and left us anxious and impatient.

When I got up this morning I immediately felt the soreness in my legs from yesterday’s afternoon session and soccer match. My legs were tired! More tired and sore than they’ve been in probably five years. More tired and sore than after the heaviest lifting day I’ve had in the past few months. I’m guessing it was the 40 minutes of soccer we played yesterday, with all the stop and start all-out sprinting. I’ve incorporated sprints into my weekly workout routine but nothing like playing soccer.

We had a light workout this morning which included some short jumping drills and lower and upper body supersets. I took it easy with lighter weights in an effort to conserve energy for riding later in the day, but it was still too much. As the day wore on my legs grew increasingly tired and sore and no amount of stretching was alleviating them.

We finally made it up to the mountain at about 2pm and freerode for about 2 hours. The snow was good and I was on my GS board for the first time since the last camp several weeks ago and it was fine. Not as good as my first day on my slalom board two days ago but not bad either. I’ll admit I was tentative though. Was not as aggressive or freespirited as I was before.

But I’m working on keeping my arms down and in front of me, using them, along with my upper body, to drive forward through each turn. For all the years I’ve been riding I use my arms out as balancing anchors, much like a tightrope walker uses a bar for balance. But another coach, Nate, was telling me that it’s hindering me from driving forward and the unnecessary movement is throwing me off. He also said that I didn’t need it for my balance so why use it.

So for all the runs that’s what I worked on. And it’s coming together slowly. It puts me in an uncomfortable position, one that I don’t trust and therefore more tentative, but the more I ride without so much arm movement, the more I’ll get used to trusting that my lower body can do and take everything. Nate and my fellow racing friend Lindsay both said that I had good turns with my arms driving out in front of me. So I just have to keep working on that until it becomes second nature.

But boy were my legs tired and sore. Even in the first turn of the first run I could feel the tiredness. I was able to drive through it but not coming into a snowboard session fresh isn’t going to help me get to where I need to go. I need to be smarter about what I put my body through when I’m doing it, and not let my competitive drive take precedent over that.

I talked to my coach about it and he said that having a quiet upper body leaves your legs to work the board and that it should give me more time to turn the board. He confirmed that in half of  my turns I was tipping the board up and driving forward (good thing). He said that things should slow down; in a course the gates shouldn’t be coming at you so fast, they should be coming at you slow but with a fast overall time. And I remember on the mountain  when my upper body was quiet things felt like they were in slow motion and I had a lot of time to put into my lower body and turning the board. He said that was a breakthrough. Yay!

So overall a good day. Learned about riding with less arms and keeping my center in my lower body. Learned that I need to be more cautious about overtraining to ensure I am at 100% coming into snow training. Thankfully I have enough time down here to practice those things.

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