December 30, 2009: The Switch Unflipped!

Bischofweisen, Germany – Today’s night race was the last race of the 2009 calendar year. Thank goodness. Sadly 2009 wasn’t the best year for me snowboarding-wise, racked with less than stellar race results, lots of heartache and injury. But I’m looking forward to the new year with hopes of a fresh start and a brighter outcome.

The parallel giant slalom course was sketchy. It was surprisingly straight, probably the straightest course I’ve ever raced on, which is good for me since turny courses pose more of a challenge. The snow was sparse with dirt and grass exposed in some parts of the course, with soft snow built up outside of the line. If you were to lose your line and get too round you’d end up in the snow bank with the possibility of going tail over head or coming to a complete stop. Either way you’d lose the race.

I was pretty psyched to race. I’ve been reading the book “Ten Minute Toughness” and employing the advised mental techniques. While I can’t expect them to work immediately, it’s another good base to build upon.  I wasn’t even worried about the snow conditions. As far as I was concerned since the course was so straight, I just had to stick to the line and I’d be fine. I just wanted to be aggressive right from the get-go and attack the course and forget about everything else. I had taken some freeruns in the morning to try to get the feeling back and find my lost toeside, and riding felt good again. Not great like in Colorado, but snow conditions and possibly jet lag would have something to do with that. (I slept amazing last night so that helped a ton.) Coach Mark even said at the end of the freeride session that I found my toeside. So yay! Nothing to worry about since my riding was back.

I did my usual ‘bull’ prep in the start, complete with slapping my legs as hard as I could to make sure they were awake and angry, and got after it as soon as I passed the first gate. I moved my legs through each turn as quickly as possible, and found the carve on my toeside. I felt the urgency of racing at each gate and the need go-go-go. I could feel myself pull away from the girl I was racing and was like, “Yeah! This is what it’s all about!” On one of the toesides my hand caught the panel which pulled my trailing arm back, and for that split second when I was off balance with my body completely upright and in a very precarious position, time froze as I looked at the next gate and thought, “I have two choices: I can either let it get the best of me and crash like I did in the Copper race, or I can fight through it and try to hold on.” When I made the decision to fight, time resumed and I drove that outside hand down hard as I switched to my heelside edge and held the turn. Very weird, but cool.

It was all going great until something happened. I don’t know if that near crash distracted me but I stopped being as aggressive as I was at the start. It was like the switch turned off, mid-course. Suddenly I was conscious of the ruts and snow conditions and I stiffened up, as my drive went into autopilot and I was just cruising. At one gate I even though, “I’m going into it too fast.” I mean of course I have to go into it fast, that’s what racing is all about! And I felt myself losing speed as the other girl was catching up. It was so strange.

I finished the run but about a second out of making the second run. Sigh. So frustrating. I’ve finally got the start down by attacking immediately, but I couldn’t maintain the aggressiveness throughout the course. Coach Mark said the beginning was good with my legs moving well but I started sliding my turns the bottom of the course where I should have been carving, and that cost me time. Ahhhh! Why can’t I just put one great run together instead of just having great parts?!

I could get upset, and part of me wanted to just give up. But I’m not going to do that. Not until the very last freakin’ race that determines if I can go to the Olympics or not. I’m going to fight tooth and nail despite what anyone thinks to get this done. I’ve put too much of myself into this to have it just taken away from me easily. Today’s race wasn’t an Olympic qualifier but it was a chance to get the points I need. Guess I’ll just have to do it all at once. Three World Cup and three Europa Cups left to do this in. It’s coming down to the wire but that just makes it more exciting and suspenseful. After all, if it was easy to do, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

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