August 31, 2009: Tough & Painful Lesson

Mt. Hutt, New Zealand – We were set to train the early session today but at 6am the road up to the mountain was closed due to snow accumulation. The good thing was that the mountain itself was open, we just had to wait for the snow plows to come and clean up the roads, which took a few hours.

We made it up to the hill in time for the local race. My legs felt good and refreshed (we had did a light evening workout yesterday to get the body moving again from the day off) and my freeriding was smooth. I didn’t want to repeat the race two weeks ago where I was ‘running scared,’ and I was inspired by the coverage of old World Cup races we had watched last night.

My first run felt great. I dove forward for the first gate and tried to get into the rhythm right off the bat. I was racing Ekat (one of the fastest girls on the team) and she got ahead of me at the third gate (still gotta work on the first three gates) but I was able to keep up with her and finished within a gate. So I was happy with that. Going through the course I had the vision of the World Cup riders in my head and just tried to let the board run its course and not fight gravity, and of course, stay forward. And it worked. There were a couple of gates that I cranked it and felt the acceleration. The run felt great and easy and I wasn’t huffing and puffing like I would do if I had been fighting the whole time.

So for the second run I wanted the same focus. She was slightly ahead of me at the fourth gate when I loaded up on a toeside edge and ejected myself into the air. (That usually happens when your energy and mass are releasing up off the board instead of down and forward into the fall line.) Normally when this happens it isn’t too high and I can land and keep going, but this time was different. Right before I remember thinking, “Ekat’s ahead of me, I really need to get going.” It felt like it was slow motion. I felt my body float up and over almost right into Ekat’s course and then saw my board float up next to me (already in the heelside position), and I thought, “I can still land this and keep going and make the gate.” I think I tried to pull my legs down but only did it on my back foot because I remember the board twisting suddenly, and then I thought, “Oh f*@%” (excuse the profanity), and then I hit. I fell on my back hard and then my head went back and slammed into the snow. I don’t even remember my feet and board landing. Then I thought, “I can still make it if I get up and go,” but nothing happened. When I came to a stop I was on the other side of Ekat’s course, under the rope that separated the snowboard course from the ski course. I laid there for a couple of minutes and took deep breaths and made sure I wasn’t seriously hurt. I think I was in shock but overall okay. A couple of people came down to check on me but I was able to get up and ride down. But I was disqualified.

I’m bummed because I felt my first run was good and I just needed a second good run to have a good race. I’m also bummed because now I’ll have some fear in my head the next time I ride. I’m thirdly bummed because I missed the rest of the day of training and just sat in the lodge while everyone else got to keep riding the course. Ugh. I’m disappointed but I have to take care of myself first.

One of the guys on the team who saw my crash said that at least I was going for it, and that if you don’t go down a few times then you aren’t trying hard enough. So that was comforting. The problem is that all my worst falls are due to the same problem – loading up the toeside and getting ejected out of the course. Hopefully this time I’ve learned my lesson.

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