August 11, 2009: Porters!

Porters Mountain, New Zealand – We got shut down at Mt. Hutt due to high winds so Lindsay (US racer), Nate (her coach) and I went to Porters Mountain, a ski field about an hour and a half away. After getting slightly lost and almost running out of gas, we got to a very small-looking crowded hill with t-bars. We were forewarned that the mountain would be really crowded and that the conditions would be bad but after three days of not riding, I needed to get on snow not just for the physical training but for the mental and emotional benefit.

Luckily the crowded, narrow runs were limited to the bottom part of the mountain. After taking three t-bars up, we came upon a fairly untouched piste, with firm snow, smooth terrain and barely any people. It was a wonderful surprise! Except for the occasional windy gusts that blew ice chunks into our faces, it was ideal.

But for some reason I had a lot of fear. I’m sure the reason had something to do with the initial steepness of the pitch and the hardness of the snow, but I’m finding that in the past few days of GS riding, I’m carrying a lot of fear of falling. Which is ludicrous because the way I fall generally does not injure myself, but it’s hard for me to get over even seven months after dislocating my shoulder.

Nate had me working on the top part of the turn: tipping the board over, using the entire length of the board from tip to tail, and not sliding out the back foot to turn the board (tip before turn, not turn before tip). It was really difficult and I found myself gaining too much speed and taking the entire width of the mountain to do turns. It was getting frustrating. And a tad scary. You really have to trust yourself and board. Once you put it on edge there’s a split second where it feels like you’re freefalling and you just have to trust that your board is going to come around and ‘catch’ you. Which it does all the time. But it doesn’t always feels like it will.

Toeside turns are coming along faster than heelside. Heelsides have always been my problem since it’s my blind side, but I did have a few heelside turns that were good and I’ve found that when I carved the top of the turn, the board shot me out the bottom of the turn, throwing me into the backseat and out of control. After a few of those I’ve learned to force myself to stay on the board and not get thrown back. I was also washing out a lot (sliding out on my hip) when I did the turn correctly because I wouldn’t be over my board. So overall there were a few good turns. I’m definitely feeling the difference between how I normally ride and how to ride cleaner and that’s a breakthrough. But it’ll take some time to get that ingrained in my riding style.

One of the cues that Nate said was to feel the front part of the leg pushing against the boot at about a 45 degree angle to the board (front part of the leg diagonally pushing towards the turn). It’s also a drill that Coach Mark had us work on in the past, and focusing solely on that seemed to help me get forward and initiate the turns cleaner.

One run that I do remember was when the gusting winds was pushing me off balance. And I just got aggressive and thought ‘you’re not knocking me down!’ and got in a lower position and made some really good, aggressive turns. I really need to get that aggression up all the time. I definitely didn’t have the taste of ‘wanting it’ and I let my fear get the best of me. Was not at my best today.

But I have to be patient. I’m not going to learn something new in a day and implement it perfectly. So while my mental state wasn’t tip top today, I did get good ‘feeling’ lessons and I know that I can learn something new!

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