November 12, 2009: Growing Pains

Copper Mountain, Colorado – The race didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped, both with regards to my performance and the race itself. Due to technical difficulties, the race didn’t actually start until two and a half hours after it was scheduled, and because the problems with the timing weren’t resolved they changed the format from a parallel GS where you go head-to-head to a two run GS, solo.

I think the delay does something to your mental state. Since we had no idea when we would start, we were all sitting in the lodge and the moment someone stood up we all thought it was time to go. So we would put on all our gear only to find out that we wouldn’t be starting anytime soon so we’d take it all off again. The constant up and down along with the antsy energy was draining.

By the time it was my turn in the start, I felt focused with the sole thought of getting down as fast as I could by trying to find speed in the carve. The set was challenging; the course was turny and if you went too straight you’d be in trouble. But I had the thought of riding like my role model, and that seemed to dissipate any doubts I had about my abilities in the course. And with that I pulled out of the start.

I don’t really remember the first half of the course. I do remember getting to the middle of the course and thinking, “I’m going too straight and getting too late.” And at that time it was too late. My focus went away from going fast, and immediately went to what I was doing wrong. Then I got in the backseat and wasn’t driving forward. I went into a heelside too straight, hit the rut and went down on my hip. So suddenly like someone pulled the board right out from under me. The sort of good thing is that I must have been doing pretty fast because I just slid down the course, passing and missing the next gate. But I was disqualified.

I got down to the finish and. I wasn’t sure what to think. I think I was in shock. After a few moments I think it all hit me and I fought hard to keep from tearing up. On my way back up the lift I started wallowing in that dark place of disappointment and those thoughts of sadness crept in. But I talked to Coach Mark and he said my line was too tight. Then I asked myself, “What good does crying do?” I analyzed what happened from a technical standpoint and realized that I made a mistake. A lesson for next time. There’s so much disappointment with racing because I want to do so well all the time, but I do make mistakes and I have to accept and learn from that. I’m still a good rider but I’m not perfect all the time.

I took the advice from the book I was reading before (Finding Your Zone) about looking at things that frustrate you with curiosity instead of with emotions. Getting sad or angry doesn’t change anything, and that energy should go into figuring out what the heck went wrong and how not to do it again. And it was magical. Just like that I was back in a good, positive state. No more tears. Just confidence and excitement for tomorrow’s race.

Later I asked Coach Shan how my run was and she said the attack was good but I was pinching the top of the turn. I also saw video of the run and it looked pretty good although I was too straight. And I was carrying speed before I went down which looked so sudden that there was nothing I could have done to save it. When I’ve gone down in the past I usually end up go way out on the side but this time I went down and kept sliding down the course. Maybe that’s a good sign that all my energy was going down the course instead of out to the side. Whatever it means, it was a new mistake and experience so I must be growing.

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