January 4, 2010: I Love Training… Again

Kreischberg, Austria – Rolling into Kreischberg, Austria, venue for the next Olympic World Cup qualifier, was bittersweet. While it brought back great memories of the Snowboard World Championships in 2003, it was besieged by thoughts of the last time I was there four years ago when I did not qualify for the 2006 Games. But whatever, the snow was awesome and I couldn’t hold back a smile.

After yesterday’s debacle, I desperately wanted a great day of training since it would be my last before the World Cup on the sixth. I wanted to get good feelings back and the much needed confidence that it would take for me to ride my best. Thankfully conditions were perfect: sun was shining, snow was hard and grippy, temps were very cold (which made my boots stiffer and thus more responsive and trustworthy). I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I was able to freeride the racehill once before they closed it, and it’s quite terrain-y. The slope rolls a lot and there’s a big hump in the middle of the course making for quite a steep drop for a few gates. But the more challenging the terrain, including steeps, the better. I’m not the most technically perfect rider out there, so anything that allows me to make up for that with aggression is a plus. I also enjoy that freefall feeling like I’m flying (see past post Addicted to the Drop) so that’s an added bonus. I just have to remember to stay forward, forward, forward coming over that pitch.

The training slope wasn’t quite as challenging but boy was it fun! I still approached each run with the same warm up and aggression as I would a race run. I wanted to keep the intensity high, and my technical focus was to be patient before flipping the board over so I could give myself room to carve. (Performance statement = Stay aggressive, carve.) When visualizing, my thought would be “float/hold – edge – pressure”, with the ‘float’ meaning staying on the old edge without putting any weight down on the board and holding it there patiently until the fall line above the stubby, the ‘edge’ meaning rolling the board slowly up on its edge, and the ‘pressure’ meaning BAM! – on and off quickly within the arc around the stubby by pushing against the board. I also kept in mind to use the backfoot more (or weighting down the tail of the board more) particularly on the heelside by driving my outside hand down towards the back boot. Another racer told me yesterday to think of lifting the nose of the board at the end of the turn since speed is generated by pushing the board through the turn (with the back foot) and it’ll also keep the board from washing out since there is pressure on the edge. After watching some World Cup footage, I did notice that when the men ride they pressure the tail of the board and the nose lifts off the snow slightly.

My runs felt great! I felt I was carrying speed and not scrubbing my turns, and putting pressure on the backfoot, especially on the heelside turns, felt stable and allowed me to shoot myself into the other turn. I didn’t wash out once. Even Coach Mark said I was carving more and that throughout my runs I was getting better at moving forward and keeping my body up with the board.  I was so elated coming up the lift after training that I actually thought, “I love training!” It was a good technical day, but more importantly, my confidence is high going into the next race.

P.S. I am aware that I must seem neurotic with the constant “I love snowboarding… I hate snowboarding… I love snowboarding…” flipping. But it truly is how I feel.

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