November 4, 2009: First Day Back in Gates

Copper Mountain, Colorado – I took two days off of snow to give myself a rest and to be fresh for our first day in gates today. I think my body is finally acclimatizing to the high altitude here; I got my appetite back and am finally sleeping well.

We had a 6:15am lift call and boarded the lift before the sun rose. Thankfully the temperatures were mild, maybe in the upper twenties, making for a comfortable and beautiful ride. We were one of only two teams training on the limited slopes so we were able to get a lot of freeruns in before hitting the course. Freeriding felt very good. I felt confident and rode strong, although I did keep putting my hand down in the snow on my toeside. The coaches told me to focus on slowing down my edge transitions (by bending and extending my legs) since I was switching edges too quickly and too early and thus sliding out the turn. So after a few more freeruns, it was time to get into the course.

I’ve been advised that every time I’m in the start gate that I should have the attitude that I’m the best out there and that this is the run that’ll win it. Supreme confidence. Confidence is one of the most important things to have in racing, yet is commonly lacking. With that mental focus I stepped into the start gate, took a few deep breaths and pulled out as hard as I could. I find that my pull out sets the stage for the rest of the course. A strong, aggressive pull leads to aggressive riding, while a weaker conservative pull usually leads to a weaker conservative run. Since I used to have the problem of getting into a rhythm for the first four gates (where that could mean winning and losing the race) I try to overcome it by just attacking right from the get-go, the start gate. My coaches told me to focus on really driving the nose of the board on my heelside into the snow to get the most out of the board. So I pulled hard out of the gates and the first four or five gates went well. I felt the speed and the carve of the turn, but then on one heelside I was so focused on bending that nose of the board that when I did I got a lot of performance out of the board. Unfortunately I wasn’t exactly ready for that performance and I got thrown into the backseat and lost control of the board. I fell on my hip at a decent speed and slid straight into the side fence. I put my board up to break the impact with the fence and when I hit I got spun around, facing down the hill again. So I just got up and finished the course. I didn’t want to stop and think about what happened; it would be best for me to just keep going and forget about it so I don’t dwell on the possibilities of what could have happened.

So while my first run back in the gates was a crash into the fence, the rest of my runs went well. With each run I felt better and better and I was really starting to feel the carve of the turn. Coach Mark said that he’s seeing progression in my riding and it felt great just to be back in the gates. Reinvigorating.

Unfortunately by the end of the day the muscle/tendon right above both of my outside ankle bones were really painful. By the time I took off my boots, my legs were so swollen and painful that I could barely walk. Oh no. I’ve heard of that this type of injury doesn’t heal and you normally have to take time off of snow. But I don’t have that kind of time. So I’m just going to ice it and massage it a lot and hopefully that helps. I’ve been riding the boots and liners for the past two weeks and haven’t had this painful a problem so I’m not sure what it could be. But whatever it is I just have to work through the pain.

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