November 29, 2009: A Slightly Better Race

Hochfugen Europa Cup Nov 29, 2009

Fugen, Austria – There were even more people for the second race, a Europa Cup, and my start got bumped back four spots to 73rd. Starting so far back in the pack just really sucks. The course gets cut up making a smooth run difficult and a slower run more likely. But excuses aside.

Yesterday I waited at the top of the course for my number to be called for what seemed like forever. So today I decided to distract myself and keep warm by continually taking freeruns which I rarely do because I used to think it tires me out for the race run. But I wanted to avoid nervous anticipation and standing in the cold wind so I took about four and even went into the lodge to warm up. For my freeruns I focused on bending the nose of the board into the turn and then moving through the turn (using the back foot). Overall it felt pretty good and comfortable. By the time I got back to the start they were already in the 30s and I didn’t have to wait so long. Perfect. Coach Mark saw some of my freeruns and commented that it looked like I was moving better than yesterday. I think for future races, taking as many warmup runs as possible benefits me by keeping me loose and getting me comfortable.

For the run I didn’t want to think about anything except going for it and redirecting my toesides so I can set up better for my heelsides. I was also pretty pissed about the whole situation yesterday. I mean I’m tired of not racing as best as I can, and coming out of each race knowing I’m a better rider than how I performed. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am to not just blow it by not performing my best. I know I can race well and it makes me angry when I don’t put it together and let others, who I know I’m stronger than, beat me. Ahhh!

But selfish tirade aside, I felt good coming out of the start and set up for the first heelside the way I wanted to. I even think I was moving through the turn the way I had been freeriding. Unfortunately I don’t remember the next few gates except I scrubbed on one heelside and got behind the girl I was racing. But I regained some speed in the flats and caught up but took one of the gates too straight (got static for a second and went too straight at a gate and had to scrub) then had to play catch up again. I was looking ahead and set up for a slightly turny heelside gate, but set up too much and didn’t realize that I was two gates from the finish and went really wide and looped into the finish.

Relative to the fastest time, I was two seconds faster than yesterday’s run. So that’s positive. I also know where I lost speed. Another positive. But I think when I race my mind goes into panic mode and can’t process efficiently what is going on around me. I can’t slow things down and think step by step what needs to be done (like when I was freeriding in the ‘zone’ in Colorado before I came out here). Instead it just yells ‘Gate! Gate!’ and my body just reacts to the panic stimulus without any thought as to how to react; that initial reaction is to put on the brakes. I need to find a way to slow things down in my head and not put my body into that panicked phase. Or I just need to shut my mind off completely and let my body do its thing.

I still didn’t get a second run but Coach Mark said that the run was better than yesterday and I need to work on really getting that high platform and edge angle and slicing that heelside. Now all I want to do is freeride and work on putting that board as high on edge angle as possible. I was thinking about it at the gym and when I go into a heelside turn I just sink my hips down but I don’t drive the downhill hip forward to really get direction out of the board. So I’m not making the board turn at the top of the turn. As a result, I realize that the board isn’t turning so I push my legs out to get the direction change but it’s too late since I’m past the stubby and then I bottom turn. I think if I were to keep my downhill hip in a vertical plane with the edge of the board I’d be in a better position to form the top of the turn and not be McSlidey. Hmm… Something to work on freeriding.

We just found out that the World Cup set for this weekend is cancelled due to lack of proper snow conditions, so at least that buys me a little bit more time to work on the things I need to work out. Plus I’ll get an extra race start since we’ll be going to two Europa Cups in lieu of the World Cup, so that’s always good.


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