December 15, 2009: First Olympic Qualifier

Telluride World Cup Start - Dec 2009

Telluride World Cup Start - Dec 2009

Telluride, Colorado – It’s been about three and a half years since my last World Cup competition. I’ve had two World Championships during that time, but nothing can really prepare you for the magnitude of a World Cup race other than a World Cup race.  Teams from all over the world converge onto one location, often housed in different, but elegant, accommodations. At this venue all the athletes and team support dine together, so it’s great to see everyone off the hill and in their individual element. It’s also great to see my snowboard role model, and one of the top female racers, sitting at the next table.

The race today was delayed by an hour or so due to technical difficulties with the start gates. Because they could not get the problem resolved in time they had to change the format of the qualifiers. Instead of running head to head on the two courses, we had to run down the course solo. I find that when I race someone it pushes me to go all out to beat the other person, but today I did not have this benefit.

My start was 55, which was the last pair of women. Ugh. But World Cup courses are maintained very well so there isn’t a huge disadvantage of going in the back of the pack. I pulled out of the start and was a little wobbly at the first few gates in the flats and couldn’t find the rhythm or the carve. When the flats rolled into the pitch I let the board go a little more, got a bit late but held on. Another racer said my bottom looked really good but by the looks of my time I must have had problems in the flats. I was about four seconds out of the fastest time (the closest I’ve ever been to the fastest time at any World Cup), and two and a half seconds out of being in the top 16 of my course and getting a second run. I saw video of the top section of the course in the flats and I was sliding a lot of my turns and not getting the board up on edge. I think I was so consumed with remembering to do this here and that there that I forgot the most important thing in racing: getting down as fast as possible. And for me that means to focus on one thing: being aggressive.

So I ended up a disappointing 47th, just 17 spots away from where I need to be. The good thing is that I know I can find the 2.5 seconds to make it into a second run. I just need to race at least like I did the first day at Steamboat, where I trusted the board and myself and let the board run and hung on for dear life.

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