Winter Ready!

With winter knocking at the door, this is a great time to get your body ready for all the g-forces, bobbing and turning you will put your body through this season.

Let’s be honest…most of us are weekend warriors and surf a desk or some sort of seat in our regular time. So let’s get those limbs and core strong so the weekends are a little more fun and the weekdays are a little less sore! 

 This not so Olympian workout that can be done at home or at your local gym and it will get you better prepared for what’s to come in the winter season. 

Warm Up

Warm up is very important for the body and mind to prepare for the exercises; it should take about 5-7mins and include exercises like skipping or jumping jacks and stretching.

Here is a great warm up routine that activates all areas of the body https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0mMyV5OtcM

Snowboard Workout

Before doing any exercise routine make sure you’re healthy and have been cleared by a doctor to exercise. If you have never lifted weights or performed workout style exercises I strongly suggest you consult a certified personal trainer to make sure your positioning and movements are correct.

I like to pair exercise together to keep it interesting and to keep moving. When exercises are paired together I find I do not need to rest as much as single exercises.

How to: Each pair of exercises has 10 repetitions (reps) to be performed for 3 sets or rounds, alternating the exercises.  So, perform exercise A for 10 reps and immediately perform exercise B for 10 reps and then rest, that is one set or round. 

Box Jumps + Weighted Twist

Box Jumps: Height is not always the goal; sometimes it’s just to jump. Choose something you know you can jump onto, one step in a staircase, or even a board on the floor. Some gyms will have stackable boxes that are ideal. Start by facing the box or platform in a knees bent and ready position, when you’re ready, with both feet/legs, bend down and jump on to the obstacle, landing in a squat/bent position and stand up tall to complete the movement. Step down and do it again. Challenge yourself by adding more height to the box, start further away from the box or add reps. This is for your mind just as much as your body. Start small and work your way up. This exercise will get your ready for when you have to jump over those fence lines or be limber to dodge a body in the lift line. 

Weighted Twist: Find something that’s heavy for you and sit on the floor with your feet in front. Holding your weight straight out in front, try to lean back a little. Rotate your core so your hands and the weight come all the way to one side, and even behind you, it’s ok to bend your arms and the end of the rotation, a full range of movement is the focus. Rotate to the other side, going to both sides is 1 rep. Challenge yourself by leaning back more or adding weight. 

Step-out Lunges + Plank

Step-out Lunges: From a standing position, step out with one leg far enough to lower your body to let your back knee bend to touch the floor while keeping your front knee over your front foot and toward your little toe. Without your hands to help, push off the floor with your front foot to return to the standing position. Complete 10 reps on one side before switching to the other. Challenge yourself by holding weights, closing your eyes, or adding reps.

Plank: Starting in a push up position, bend your arms so you are supporting your upper body weight on your elbows. This is the plank position. Try pulling the bottom of your spine in towards your chin to maintain proper positioning. Hold this position for at least 20s-30s. Challenge yourself by holding the plank longer or by adding weight to your back

Sumo Squats + Leg Raises                  

Sumo Squats: Standing, spread your feet so they are wider than your shoulders, if it’s more comfortable, you can turn your feet outwards like a duck stance. Keep your back straight and bend your knees to lower yourself towards the floor as far as you can. To come back up think of squeezing your inner thighs to help you ascend. A straight back is the key to good body positioning. Challenge yourself by holding weights and adding reps.

Leg Raises: Start by lying your back on the floor, with your arms either by your side or laid out in a “t”. Thinking about only using your core, raise your legs off the ground until they are in a “L” or perpendicular to the floor, at the top squeeze your core to slightly lift your hips off the ground, and slowly lower your legs back to the floor. This is one rep. Challenge yourself by slowing the movement, adding weight to your ankles, or adding reps.   

I swear by these movements and exercises and implement them or variations of them into my workouts on a weekly basis. But I don’t just train for my sport, I train for life…so bring it!

5 Reasons to Love the Games

The Olympics has changed, well at least for me it has. Now that I am an Olympian I must admitthat I see the Games in a different light. I can relate closer, am included more and I am generally more interested. It shouldn’t have taken becoming an Olympian to really see all the amazing aspects of the Olympics, so I am going to break it down on why YOU should love this precious time too.

The Discovery Of Sports – Coming from a country known for mostly winter it’s hard to be familiar with all the summer sports involved with the Olympics. For example, I know almost nothing about all the track and field events. What exactly are the events in a heptathlon? I still don’t know that answer, but I am keen to discover more about it. The Olympics is great exposure to other sports and how they are played. Another example of this is how one of my besties is using the Olympics to gauge her four year old’s interest in sport. She keeps showing him different sports and asks if it interests him… he keeps saying that farming looks more fun…kids are funny.

The Commercials are the Best – I am the first to say that I don’t watch TV especially commercials, and really I should avoid watching them now too. This is because whenever I catch them I always get a little choked up. The P&G one when the diver is on the phone saying he can’t do it and his Mom very calmly says that he can, gosh I am getting teared up now! Companies really capture the emotions that athletes and parents go through; it’s astounding how well they do it.

The Campaigns are Engaging - It’s great how the campaigns connect the athletes to the audience, be it athletes at the Game or ones on homeland. Be it the Sport Check “Train like an Olympian” or what I am a part of, Canadian Tire’s #StepUpStandTall, my first digital campaign to participate in, they all engage you to care about the Games. I love being a part of the conversation and seeing all the moments that come up over the day. People have an opportunity to discover and connect with me. It’s a chance to donate for free to the Olympic Foundation and to JumpStart Charities just be retweeting and sharing the moments. I am not being paid to participate, it’s just a cause I believe in and the other people involved care about the Games and the stories. Check out all the moments Here

Canada’s Athletes Are There – Whether you love the Olympics or not, when you see that maple leaf on the score board you’re interested. Yesterday I was at a restaurant, baseball was on. I had to ask to change the channel to women’s soccer and I could tell the manager wasn’t very happy about it, stating quietly that not everyone loved the Olympics. About ten minutes later all the tables were turned to the TV and closely watching Canada verses France, cheering with the ebbs and flows of the game. Even the manager was into it and smiling when we had won. Canadian’s do love our athletes.

There Are No Boarders At The Games – Probably the biggest reason to love the Olympics is the comradery found between the countries no matter where you are from. This is best expressed in the picture below with the North and South Korean gymnasts taking a selfie together. This is the only time when we all get together to compete on the same and even playing field. The Games bring over two hundred countries together to celebrate sport, acceptance and a union. It just may be the closest thing to world peace.

I am not saying the IOC is perfect, or the aftermath isn’t going to be a nightmare. What I am saying is that the Olympics are awesome. The sports are eye opening, the commercials make us appreciative, the campaigns engage us, the national pride interests us, and there is nothing like an Olympic Games to unify the world. Why wouldn’t you love the Olympics?? Just one more thing GO CANADA GO!! 

Does Competing Get Results??

Many of the halfpipe team and I have been competing for a long time, a lot of our riders have been competing for more than a decade and yet they sit in the middle of the pack when it comes to  world ranking lists.

There are many factors to think about when asking “why” to this predicament. First, the quality of the fields has increased significantly over the last couple Olympic cycles. Another, the rider has to choose between two circuits contests to compete in, which leaves the rider with hard decisions and a hard to swallow credit card bill. They then have to find work whenever they can to cope with their expenses. Also, the amount of time which the athlete gets to train verses compete may be the biggest factor.

Our Canadian team are pushed to compete during the whole Olympic cycle, leaving little time to train and rebuild.

Choosing training over competing a hard choice for a rider to make in situation where funding doesn’t support this decision; choosing to take a step back with the hopes of leaping forward. Our system has become results driven, especially since 2010 when Own the Podium came into play. Yes, they got us on the podium, but at what cost to the development and sustainability of sport?

I know firsthand the hardships that come with taking time off from the circuit to train. Not being a part of a nationally recognized high performance program with snowboarding’s National Sports Organization and not competing meant that I did not qualify for any support or grants from Canada. For an entire Olympic cycle I fundraised and sought corporate and private sponsors, like Sony Canada, to help me get to my dream. I used hard work, determination and a bit of luck to get me there. Not everyone has this chance that I had.

There is ample evidence that an athlete doesn’t improve going from contest to contest with little support. Like all things that have high yield, they need to be nurtured and sustained, not deserted when things get tough.

Imagine what our talented halfpipe team could do with mainly training camps during the first two years of the Olympic cycle and only worrying about quotas and results going into the qualifying year. Training camps would be open to any recognized provincial athlete who has shown proof of commitment and talent. I believe the yield would be high and Canada would be back in the top ten of the world ranking lists again with more than one miracle athlete. 

You can’t own the podium all the time, at some point you have to build it before you own it. 

World Championships in Austria 2015

I find it really funny to see how things in life come full. It was a neat feeling to know that I was going back to the site of my first World Cup outside of Canada, back in 2006 in Kreishberg, Austria. 

I met up with the team in the Toronto airport to fly to Germany. There we drove three hours past Salzburg to the middle of nowhere in Austria, where our hotel was.

We stayed forty minutes from the resort, the same hotel as the Aussies since we share a coach.

It wasn’t the most convenient location, between a rock and a cow, but the people were nice at the hotel and the food was very good, so I guess I couldn’t complain.

The first night of training went well for me, I pulled together my run that I had difficulty with in my previous training camp in Calgary. I ended up hiking almost the whole three hour practice due to long chair laps…I thought it would be tough doing so, but I guess my stamina was better than I remember for that type of training. It was really fun to train under the lights.

I was able to train alongside the Russians, who my old coach Crispin is now training. They were very kind and generous, and I got a few tips from the old coach as well, you know just some reminders.

The second training was during the day and I was able to put some final touches on my run and I left practice feeling as prepared as I was going to get. It really makes a difference landing your run in practice for the confidence builder. Still, competing will always make be a bit nervous.

I had a restless sleep, the kind where you are up before your alarm goes off, and mine was set at six-thirty in the morning. Going to the contest I got caught up in the contemplation of what the contest means to me. Getting another year of funding, holding a quota spot for Canada and really just losing focus of what was important.

When I got to the site the sun was out and shining on the halfpipe; I reminded myself of how fortunate I was to even be standing there and do what my Mom told me to do…just go and enjoy myself.

Practice went really well for me…as it normally does. That was when I did my biggest run of the day, third run in. I put the emphasis of being in the moment of enjoying my passion.

When it came to my contest runs, they just weren’t as big and clean as that one in practice. I put a hand down in my first run, landed my second run, but it wasn’t my best of the day. I still managed to place 15th, was top Canadian earning two years of funding.

It wasn’t as good as I wanted to do, I was hoping for a top ten in this contest, but I was satisfied enough.

New plan for the next contest, I’m going to roll in without practice on the day of the contest except one run to test the pipe. Then just go for it… “Off the dock” as my wakeboard World Champion brother calls it. I have always been nervous to do this plan, but now I am older and more confident to implement it. I am one of the oldest riders and I would like to think one of the wiser ones too.  

Smell The Roses

People’s ideas of Olympic athletes are all pretty similar, training all the time, eating well, no unhealthy vices, staying focused, etc. Most athletes who compete in the Olympic arena are, but I feel freestyle snowboarders may be an exception, especially this halfpipe team.

Our team is sort of the underdogs of all the disciplines Canada Snowboard governs over. Not only was the team given the smallest budget of all the teams in the national program but it is also the only team with two members who were not on the national team at the start of the season, somewhat rogue doing their own program, (Crispin, my coach, and me) until the Olympic team was named. Canada Snowboard even told us halfpipe riders that they might not even bother sending a halfpipe team to these Games due to what they thought was a lack of performance.  

I am sure it was a surprise when we qualified the same amount of spots the other teams did with insufficient funding or real concern. But maybe it was the low expectations that were needed to succeed. The pressure was off the riders, funding agencies were not shoving outcome goals down athlete’s throats, and we could all think of what was important. The process.

These fellow athletes who I now travel with have become the hardest working ones I know; changing habits, fundraising, working, and doing what it takes in all realms of life to make it happen to earn their spot on the Olympic team. We have grown into multifaceted athletes who have done and can do everything.

It’s not a wonder to me why we may have unorthodox approach to sport after seeing us all work though this past Olympic cycle. I am proud to be with people who know how to balance healthy amounts of fun and work. Like going soul riding, powder riding, in a beautiful place like Laax instead of just beating ourselves up in the halfpipe. We get stuff done when it needs to get done.

It’s also nice to finally be recognized by our governing body for all the hard work we have put in, staying in a comfortable hotel with good food around us, massages, and daily physio is a nice compensation that makes it seem worth it.

But we are not the normal athlete, we are not scared to have a drink, play a joke on someone, eat rich foods, laugh, or ride out of bounds, because in this whole process it is important to stay human, and not to forget to smell the roses while on the road to Sochi.   

First World Cup Down

It’s the day after the Cardrona World Cup and I feel good.  Although there was lots to celebrate; consistent runs, staying lose in a big contest, and top Canadian, I found myself back in the gym this morning building my strength again to get ready for these eighteen months of qualifying.  Last night there was no excessive drinking and dancing to celebrate, just dinner with some good people and a movie at home to cap it off. 

Still, as I recall yesterday, I feel very satisfied with my nineteenth place finish.  The sunny day helped a lot with my riding, since I was visualizing a sunny day in my mind practice for the past four weeks.  The pipe was in great condition, at least it was to me, and the competitive field was thick with seasoned athletes ready to show their stuff for the first qualifying World Cup for the 2014 Olympics. 

I spent the morning stretching and riding in my mind, keeping my body lose and staying focused for my task; that was to just land big clean runs. 

My coach, Roberto, and I were hitching a ride up the access road so we arrived very early to give ourselves the best chances of getting a ride.  A sheep farmer stopped and we hopped on the flatbed of his utility truck, it was a bit cold in the morning, but the view down the Cardrona valley was the best I have ever seen.  Probably because there was no roof or walls to block any scenery, the most unique ride up I have ever been on.

The practice was great, two straight air runs, two contest runs then I just stopped to save energy.  I am happy with how I kept calm at the top of the course, I had a lot to be confident in with all my training and good practices I had the days before the contest, and I knew I had to trust in those. 

My runs were smooth, even adding my invert at the end of my second run to boost my score another ten points to push me into top Canadian position.  I just missed my goal by a few spots, but there was a lot for me to be happy with.  On the flipside I know what I need to work on to be in the top eight.

One of the best things that happened was when I came to the bottom and I heard girls commenting about a bumpy flat bottom throughout the pipe, and I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t feel a thing!’, that was a sign to me that I was really in the zone for my run.  I have to thank my mental trainer Bob for that!

I really have to thank all my partners, Sony Canada, Scott Canada, Iyashi spa, Ifound, Make-A-Wish Canada, G&G, and the great people who are donating to my cause for helping me do well at this World Cup.  Most of all my trainers Roberto Marfia, Crispin Lipscomb, Bob Palmer and Geoff Barnz for preparing me thus far.   

So, with my goals set out for the upcoming training weeks I feel excited to start on them. I know that every day is an opportunity to improve in some way, so I can’t be missing time due to self-inflicted sick days, especially when I am here in New Zealand to get more winter to train.  This is why I woke up early today, the day after the contest, made a good breakfast and found my way to the gym. 

In so many ways I am much stronger then I was yesterday and this passion is taking me towards excellence, towards my greatest dream.       

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For the Love of Sport

I really do love sport and I loved watching the Olympics.  So much that I neglected to do other work, like writing blogs, to take in all the inspiring athletes pursuing perfection in front of judges or being the fastest in their craft.  I don’t feel too guilty because it was a bit like homework for me. 

Rosie MacLennan has to be the first to mention.  I feel amazed that I chose her to follow, and she ended up Canada’s only gold medal.  In times of high pressure and somewhat being under the shadow of Karen Cockburn, she performed fantastic and kept Canadaat the top of trampoline.  Canadian’s are so proud of what she accomplished. 

This is not to say that I have forgotten about JessicaZelinka, who may have been a bit behind in the heptathlon but she still killed it in the hurdles, just missing the podium.  Her story alone is so interesting, being a mom and an athlete, two full on major jobs; I can only imagine what that must be like.  

Of course, last but not least Phylicia George, from my home city of Toronto, and even closer to my home town, Markham.  A still blooming athlete with more Olympics to come I am sure. 

The work all these athletes put into their sport is incomprehensible to people who do not pursue a sport and just watch them perform.  It is easy to say how “disappointing” it is for someone to miss a mark but hard to truly empathize with those feelings.  I suspect a small business owner may understand, but then their window of opportunity is a little winder when compared to an athlete.

I get it.  My life for over ten years has been snowboarding, and I love it.  Still it never has been easy.  Lack of guidance at the start and middle was a struggle.  The stigma snowboarding has had in the past never helped me in any way.  

 The looks my parents got when they told people their daughter was a snowboarder are memorable, I am thankful they are so awesome.  They gave me a chance to prove snowboarding is a real sport, like diving or gymnastics, just like them I do this though hours of hard work.

I am excited to have a chance to change what it means to be a snowboarder in Canada.  This movement is happening all over, especially with riders like Kelly Clark, Gretchen Bleiler, and Hannah Teter, who I see on snow and in the gym on a regular basis. 

We are the ones who are diligent and committed to our profession in every way, and are willing to try new ideas.  We will be inspiring for other females of all ages all around the world and we deserve to be called Olympic calibre athletes.              

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Olympic Fever

I really love the Olympics.  This is a most exciting time.  I love waking up and checking what I missed, being glued to my CTV Olympic app, and checking in on all the action, sometimes even drama.  Although I do feel as though I am missing out on most of the Canadian coverage of the Games, since I am in Oregon for some on snow training, the Americans do a great job of showcasing their athlete's talent.  All the way from NBC national broadcasting to the local stations, they are supporting their athletes.

I almost expect the USA to be at the top of the score board with an astounding 539 athletes at the Games. China has a close second in medals with only 384 athletes, still much lower considering the population of both counties.

Then there is Canada with our 281 athletes, and a fraction of the population compared to the powerhouses of USA and China.  Still we're holding our own and currently in 11th place; great for a small country that is 35th on the list of world populations, much lower than any of the countries who are the top of the score board.  This just shows that Canadians love sport!

Jessica Zelinka
Rosie Maclennan
This is a time, just like the Winter Games, where I thrive off seeing these athletes perform no matter what sport they are doing.  Seeing the 'eye of the tiger' in their look is inspiring and something I can easily relate to.  I am so pumped to have relations to athletes like Jessica Zelinka, heptathlon athlete, who I share a mental trainer with, Bob Palmer.  Also  Rosie Maclennan, trampoline athlete, with whom we have the same Pilates instructor, two time Olympian and bronze medalist Fanny Latourneau- Roussel.  Lastly with Phylicia George, running, we share a best friend, Tenika Davis.  Makes me feel that I am on the right track.
Phylicia George

Jessica is scheduled to start her seven event competition tomorrow and I am excited for her to start as she is the first to begin of the three I am following closely.

Regardless, I have been anxiously following all my Canadian athletes through the press and twitter feeds. I love seeing the medal count grow every day as our dedicated, diligent, and brave athletes achieve their dreams though following their passions.  No matter what their finish is I am proud to have them representing my country.  To even make it to the Olympics is a feat and a journey, I should know, I am on the path myself right now!

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My Rope for Hope Experience

Four months ago when Make-A-Wish and I decided to team up for their first Rope for Hope event I really didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I was interested and wanted to help. Our phone conversation concluded with me being a guest celebrity and although it wasn’t necessary for me to raise money I felt inclined to do so. Mostly because while I get to live my wish everyday the Make-A-Wish kids are facing life treating challenges which affects both them and their loving families. 

Within a week I was already at $1500 and decided to up my goal by a thousand dollars.  It took a while but all these people helped me come very close to my goal. Overall, I raised $2380 with the help of; Sony of Canada, G&G Electronics customers, Cheryl and Gary Tsuyuki, Edith, George and Kimberly Myslicki, Linda Nakamoto, Teddy Guay, Kris Owikawa, Linda Owikawa, Anna Holancin, J Peter Milner, Stacey Carmichael, Susan Sims, Derek McDonald, SportExcel Inc., Edison Wai, Canadianweb Solutions, Kristina Jacobson, Ken Coombs, Ray Edamura, Derek Salvatin, Anita Cristan, and Helen Thomas. These people made a big difference in lives that needs change. 

It was amazing how fast the time flew by and before I knew it I was in front of City Hall in Torontobeing greeted by the wonderful volunteers of the Rope for Hope event.  I had a great support crew; Garrett, Kimberly and my parents, who showed up along with my trusty camera man Roberto.  Before I knew it I was being whisked up the elevator to go up the 27 stories of City Hall to the roof. 

A company called Over the Edge were the professionals running the ropes course and I could tell they were well educated in their craft.  I would even say that climbing was their passion.  Jeff was helpful getting me into my harness and making sure it was tight and all the clips were closed and I was safe to go.  Next, I was on to a mini training course to make sure I knew how to work all the equipment.  Mad Dog from Virgin Radio in Toronto was repelling with me, and his comical comments relieved some of the tension, which was mostly coming from him…I was calm still, but that wasn’t going to last long.
The last step was getting on to the roof, it was at this time the true height of the building hit me and as my head poked out from the well of the ladder and I saw over most buildings in the downtown core.  Without even thinking I was strapped into the repel device and the safety device.  My camera man radioed in for the green light and it was my time to go. 

So now I had to get on to the ledge, the ledge that leads to nothing.  I was pretty good until I was told to turn around with my back to the abyss of air.  It got even worse when I had to lean into my harness and trust it was going to hold me…it was a 30 story drop behind me.  Once I was comfortable I was really excited to get on the move. 

It seemed like it took forever to get down the first half and I was sure to stop and take in the views of the cityscape and the lake.  I knew this was a chance of a lifetime.  After the halfway mark the rope was feeding through the device smoother and I was able to cruse down.  When my feet hit the ground I was a bit sad it was over but relieved.  It was also great to see all the wonderful people at the bottom greeting me. 
 
Other participants in the event included wish children and families, such as Tara, 18, Cystic Fibrosis, 
whose wish was granted in 2011 and had a double lung transplant in February 2012. Tara is doing so well that both her and her dad went over City Hall as a team to support Make-AWish. Wish dad Brian , and firefighter Shaun, rallied together to raise funds and support MakeA-Wish, post 4-year-old Owen’s wish to be a firefighter, which was granted on World Wish Day® in April. Wish child and wish ambassador, Madison, 14, Leukemia, and her best friend, YTV’s Life with Boys star, Michael Murphy, took part in Rope for Hope yesterday as well. 



Make-A-Wish really knows how to put on a good show and I am proud to be associated with them.  I strongly suggest everyone should do a charity event like this.  It was new and exciting and a unique challenge for myself, another gala, walk, or run does not seem that interesting after doing Rope for Hope.  So keep an eye out for the next Rope for Hope event that will be coming to your city soon!!    


Family Matters

Have you ever worked with your family? My family’s lively hood is based on working together and it makes for an interesting dynamic.  I swear that we could get our own TV show from all the shenanigans. 

The past few days have especially been exciting.  The gym I work out at in Toronto is no more and Gary, my dad, found this most advantageous.  Through special circumstances all the equipment in the closed gym was purchased and had to be moved to the new space in G&G Installation’s building. 

It all started on Monday, I went into former ATP for a workout and was met there by the whole gang, Mom, Dad, and Brother.  They were working the deal and taking inventory, which seemingly was irrelevant because they took everything, and I was there to do the last workout in that gym.  The deal was done and in the middle of my set and I noticed my Bro and dad were already ripping out the special flooring in the other room.  Before I was finished six helpers were loading dumb bells into a van.  I got into the packing action too, adding to the workout I just had. 

A prior commitment kept me busy for that night but the next afternoon I met the crew in the new space.  I was surprised to see the mirrors and floor already installed and a lot of equipment to be set up.  Apparently I arrived just in time to start unloading what remained in; 2 vans, 2 suburbans, a cube van, and a full size closed trailer. Everyone was in full swing. 

Dad was directing, Mom designing the space, my Bro literally throwing things out of the vehicles.  Me, I was the floater, helping where ever they needed me; washing windows, carrying stuff, sweeping ,etc.  As easy it as it sounds on paper it’s never that smooth in reality.  There were really three bosses instructing associates who were slaving away to create this gym.  Some yelling happened, miscommunications, and a lot of confusion.  Never the less, we did it and within 48 hours we fully tore apart a whole gym and reassembled it to make a beautiful place.  Surprisingly only few sustained an injury. 
 I had my first workout there today, it felt great to be in the new GYT Fit private gym.  Thanks to all who helped put it all together :)

It was a great reminder that when it needs to happen I have a family who can be counted on even when things are on the line and last minute.  I can’t forget about all of the other awesome people who are always there for us too, yes Jenna, Derek, and Dan that’s for you, sorry if I missed anyone.  When the bat light goes out these people really step up to the plate. 

Although working with family has it challenges the benefits are worth it.  I guess it helps when your family has been doing it for over 60 years!

     

Empowering the Youth

Seems in these fast times with more attention to the media and less to ourselves we can easily get lost in the mix. At least, this is how I feel and I am an adult…most of the time. 
Empowering ourselves and others give the chance for change.  This can be a catalyst to something grand, something imperative to a life. 

Today I was able to see others in my hometown community of East Scarborough take steps to empower the local youth at the 2012 Unity in the Community Youth Conference hosted by the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club.  I was invited to speak on a panel discussing empowerment and how we were empowered. 

One person spoke about how education and being self sufficient empowers them,  referring to the “catch a man a fish or teach a man to fish” phrase.  Another spoke about how expression through art empowered them with the freedom of creativity.  I spoke about how inspiring youth through setting an example of following a passion supported by hard work empowered me.  What I didn’t say was that even just being there, feeding off the energy in the room also empowered me.  What a feeling!

I then found my way around to different workshops.  The first was with Claude, he was speaking to a group of males about how education was the key to success.  He emphasized that it doesn’t matter if you do it all at once, because sometimes life happens, but you do need to complete it at some point to give you the best chance at success in life.  The next was with a group of young females and that leader spoke about how media contradicts itself constantly, how it is important to recognize this and take it into account when buy products or thinking about one’s body image.  The last one was with Amir, this was mostly a discussion on how our perception of others affects us and why certain faces makes us feel differently about people before we become acquainted with them.  I am sure the participants in the groups were as enthused as I was. 

The last big event was the community walk, a 5km walk around the heart of East Scarborough.  Not only was it a chance to get out into the beautiful Torontosun, but it also gave me the fortune to speak to some of the youth at the conference on a more personal level.  Three students in particular caught my attention.  A bubbly girl named Khusubu, the creative one, Taylor, and the comical one Mayo.  I loved learning about what their passions were and their special roles in their clique of friends.  I was so impressed on how bright and insightful this gang was for being in grade 8, they all spoke at least two languages and were so open minded.  I was especially taken with 13year old Khusubu and her discussion on how insecurities are derived from fear…she is going to email me the book she is writing and the one her friend is writing…no big deal.   
 
When I left the conference with certificate in hand and a thank you card I really felt as though I needed to thank the East Scarborough Boys & Girls club for having me at the event.  I loved meeting new people, like constable Mat Crisp, and talking about how to make changes and improvements in local communities.  I felt recharged and motivated to go out and empower the people around me.  This day was the best part of my week and I will be sure to carry it for a long time! 

Special Thanks to Nneka for the invitation

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Passion Pushes Athletes

Lately I have been trying to notice everyday people who live with passion in their lives.  Since I have been spending a lot of time in Blackcomb’s park I have had the chance to meet up with new riders who are truly locals.  
First, I met Martin; he is from Argentina and an instructor for the resort.  He packs in whole days where breaks are seldom.  Next I met JP, fully educated and trying to make a  career in Whistler in the fitness industry.  He also is on the mountain every day he can be with big smiles, taking full advantage of his pass.
It is clear to me that snowboarding is their world.  It’s what they dream of day and night, where goals are not necessarily to be a pro, but to learn, practice, and improve.  Snowboarding is their passion and I was excited to see them expressing it.  The past couple of days have had a lot of great times. 
All this makes me think of the passion of other athletes, not just snowboarders.  With 76 days left until the start of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, I can almost feel the excitement building across the country, and I too want to get involved.
I decided to choose an athlete to follow to and though the Games, this will give me an inside feel to the big event from a participant’s point of view at the Summer Games.  
Rosie MacLennan
I have a connection to a few athletes who are potential or are going to the Games already but none who’s sport can be related to snowboarding.  That is until I remembered my Pilates trainer, Fanny at Health Movement, also trained a trampoline athlete, Rosie MacLennan.  Trampoline would be perfect as it is several acrobatic movements in a row and it’s judged.  I definitely felt there is a connection. 
I contacted Rosie and she is thinking about it now. I am excited to connect with another athlete whose passion is pushing them towards perfection and greatness.  There must be many similarities in our journeys to the Games.  This also gives me the change to help promote the interest of our Olympic team, so we are all active in supporting them. 
Until I get a response, it’s back up to Blackcomb to practice my own craft.  My own qualifying for Sochi starts August 25th at Cardrona resort in New Zealand, and I am going to be ready to bring it!

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Above the Clouds

Seems like life always has more curve balls than expected, thus far my time in BC has been a bit frustrating.  Festivals, weather and other miscellaneous happenings are interfering with my plans.  As I have said before, during these days it is important to see the positive side.  

Yes, those are people!
Where's the Pipe?
I have been home for two weeks and due to weather, contests and photo shoots I have not ridden a solid day in the pipe.  Most of the time the pipe looks like this.
 That’s not to say that I haven’t been getting work done, just not the work I planned to do.  I came here to work on two specific tricks, but end up riding jumps, rails and the natural features of the mountain.  The positive part is that I still work on the essence and fundamentals of the tricks on these other features, and I must admit that I do have a lot of fun working new components. 

This makes me think about my seminar on passion and how a good work ethic supports my following of snowboarding.  Sometimes I don’t want to try new things because I know I will be awkward at them, let’s face it…no one wants to look uncoordinated and sloppy.  But in the end I trust my coach and am determined so I am willing to put myself out there; at this time of the year it means getting soaked too!  I know it will all contribute to the successes of my goals in the future. 

For today, it’s getting some house and computer work done.  I have the privilege of Rope for Hope, a thirty story repel in June for Make-A-Wish Foundation, so, I will be looking for sponsors.  Check out all the action HERE

For tomorrow, it will be waking up and looking to get the most out of my day.  My fingers are crossed for the sun to be out!!!    

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Passion

The last ten years of my life have been passion driven, and I must say that I am privileged to have found things I was passionate about at a young age.  I was lucky enough to be exposed to many experiences to gauge what my possible passions were.  However, not every kid out there is as fortunate as I was, and I am pretty sure the schooling curriculum does not include finding your passion.  So, for the past few weeks I have been composing a presentation to take to schools and social groups to get kids thinking.


My goal is to get them to think about what they are good at, enjoy, and are interested in.  Or to just be more conscience of what is happening around them so they can get some ideas on what they could be passionate about.  I feel this is an important step to get kids motivated and confident again. 


Included in my presentation is talk about how to make passions a realistic occupation, since I have so many great examples around me to pull from.  I live with examples like my friend Tenika, who is pursuing acting and modeling, but has her Bachelor of Arts in political science.  When speaking to her about this project she reminded me that your passion almost has to be an obsession, where perseverance gets you though many set backs.  With her, it is audition after audition, where getting turned down is a very common occurrence.  Another amazing example is my parents and our family business.  They deal with a lot of crap, but they are passionate about retail.  My Mom loves the social aspect and my Dad loves directing and taking care of everyone.  At times he sounds like air traffic control, making it happen for the people around him.  Lastly, I think of my own adventures and how the love of snowboarding makes me responsible and have initiative to work on my own on the mountain and off the mountain.  We are all people who followed our calling.   
 
Even though all our passions are different we all have one common trait…a great work ethic.  This characteristic allows us to live our passions as a job, where we live to work and not work to live, and we are okay with this.  It would be amazing if the next generation of workers lived like this too.  More people would take pride in what they do, work quality would rise, and the ordinary person would live a much happier life.

I am excited about this project and having the opportunity to inspire others to follow and live their dreams, as I was inspired to do years ago.  I have found great supporters like Sony of Canada, Iyashi Bedrock Spa, Anakie, Scott Goggles and iFound.  And I can’t forget about my incredible parents and coach/partner Roberto Marfia.  My supporters mixed with passion and work ethic is a recipe for success.  And with a little help, I believe anyone can follow this recipe.  I would love the chance to help a kid find their way and place in this world.         

If you would like more information on a presentation, which right now is a free presentation, please fill out a email form at /   

The Refresher

Sqamish from Above 

My time home in Squamish after nationals was invigorating.  Not only did I get quality time in my house but I also was able to ride my favourite mountain, Whistler Blackcomb and pick up some new techniques on riding. 

Being back in my own bed was heaven; I even call that bed the coffin because you could spend the rest of your life in it.  The feeling of my own effects around me was comforting after the long journey of traveling for competition.  When I am on the road I hardly think about how much I miss my room in my home, but when I return I definitely appreciate my belongings and their placement. 

Aside from enjoying my house I also spent time tidying my garage and the small things that always need tending to after I have been away.  I also must admit that I cleared most of the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles WII game, love my video games! 

Heading up to Whistler was beautiful too.  There, it was still a winter wonderland with fresh snow right to the village.  I met up with my great friend and snowboard tuner Yohann Sheetz to take some peak to creek runs.  In spite of it being spring it was cold there maybe minus five to minus ten.  That first day my legs and feet were burning from the long runs, my feet were used to six minute pipe laps and we were riding twenty-five to thirty-five minute runs! But it was awesome to get some last powder days in before the end of the season.
Whistler Blackcomb 
 
I finally had the opportunity to get together with Olympian and Whistler local Crispin Lipscomb to learn new edging and stance techniques on my snowboard.  I felt it was necessary to get back to some fundamentals; at times you can take leaps ahead by going back a few spaces. 
Crispin Lipscomb

One always feels a bit awkward when trying new things, and so did I, but I was pumped to be learning new ways to use the full potential of my snowboard.  Crispin had a lot of great pointers to improve my carving, and I had a blast putting them to use. 

I cursed thought the on snow techniques, but needed more practice to refine it off features.  Riding some mellow small park and rails was so enjoyable; we only took one run though the full sized half pipe.  I loved learning these new things about my sport and applying them. 

The continual learning of snowboarding is one of the most alluring aspects of snowboarding.  The three days with Crispin were fun and they now leave me with new concepts to think about and utilize in my half pipe riding.   

Summit County 
Home is always the favourite trip during the year, but now it was time to go back to Summit County, Colorado, to get in some spring conditions to train.  Breckenridge and Copper are great stomping grounds to have consistent courses and learn new tricks. 
So far it has been a great riding trip, getting back some old tricks and I even won a quarter pipe contest in Breckenridge.  The time ahead will be short but intense and I will achieve great accomplishments from it…but I am looking forward to heading back to Squamish after :)   

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Canadian Snowboard Championships

The Canadian Snowboard Championships are over and as I had forecasted, it was a great contest.  The contest was unlike any I have been to before.  Probably the best Canadian contest in a while.


For me it started with arriving in Calgary three days in advance.  My first day riding was a fun one and it was great to see some new faces around the Calgary Olympic Park pipe, but I was especially stoked to see the old faces too.  The sun was out with warm and soft conditions. 

There were the same conditions the next day, so the officials made the decision to cancel practice.  It was a little funny because I was starting to see a pattern emerge.  This was the third cancelled practice before the contest this season.   

Once again I turned to my mental coach, Bob Palmer, to help me visualize some snow time, giving me an edge on other athletes.  We had a great session in substitute for the last day of training.  Although almost nothing could prepare me for the conditions on contest day. 

It was a Friday and it was warm all day.  We didn’t get started until the late afternoon hoping the cooler temperatures would help keep the pipe’s shape.  Although we waited later in the day to start, the semi-qualifiers of the women and men left some ruts and bumps across the bottom and down the walls.   The worst part was that the temperature was dropping leaving the rutted shapes frozen in the snow.

I had qualified in third place and it was time for finals.  Dropping in was like a rodeo, not knowing where I was going to be bucked, but I was able to pull together a run on my first one and it was decent but I thought I could improve on it. At the end of the women’s first run I was in second. 

At the start of the men’s first run I could see a crew of people start walking up to the pipe course.  They came up the rider’s right side of the pipe and all the way to the starting area.  They were even walking all over the drop on the right side of the pipe.  A bunch of people had costumes on like 80s one piece ski suits with wigs, astronaut cowboys, pokey, etc.  People started walking down the bob sled track and one guy even passed was lying in the patrol toboggan; it was mayhem.  Once we got some crowed control at the top the men were able to start dropping again.

I saw a lot of men getting bucked around the pipe and when I went for my second run all I was thinking about was just staying on my feet.  I accomplished that but the run wasn’t so pretty.  So I was relying on my first run’s score.
  
My first run won me second place.  I wanted to do better but I was so happy to see how proud my parents were.  It was enough for me.  

                                                                                                           Another awesome part was the flash dance mob and their 2000 boom boxes all tuned into the same transmitted station, from a FM transmitter, the party was pumping in the viewing area.  It was nice to have a Canadian contest with more than 50 people at the bottom.  Here are some pictures, as you can see it was crazy. 

I was satisfied with second, but winning would have been awesome.  Still, it felt good to get back on the podium; it has been a long contest year.  Looking back at all my results this year I noticed that I had a better placing with every contest.  This is the important thing to look at because it’s going to be a build up to Sochi.  I don’t want to be hitting the ceiling now, peaking at the right time will be paramount.  

I didn’t get to say a speech on the podium but I am so thankful for the people who came out to support me.  Of course there were my biggest fans my Mom and Dad, Stacy Carmichael, Bruce Inguard, Chris Castle and Wyatt (my littlest fan).  Thanks guys for hanging out in the cold.  I can’t forget about Joanne Wright, she was our snowboard mom when I was starting all this and it was great to see her again.

Of course none of the people who make my life less stressful, my sponsors Sony of Canada, Scott, Anakie, Iyashi Bedrock Spa, iFound, and Allian.  I am the luckiest person because I get to live my dream every day.

I could never forget about all the hard work my coach puts into me as well.  His dedication and commitment has been paramount to my season results.  So a huge thanks to Roberto Marifa and Focus Elite Training. 


Now I am excited to get some time again to train, and I have taken more things into account this time.  I know what I need to work on in the pipe and out of the pipe to help spring me in front of the competition.  Training season here I come!!
  

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Last Leg of Contest Season

I left the US Open at Stratton Vermont last week with a feeling of needing more.  It was a strange contest in the sense that they ran close to a thousand runs in the pipe the day of my qualifying.  For the first time they ran both men’s pre-qualifiers and qualifiers in the same day, including women’s qualifiers, heat of 70 men and ladies for two runs.  Strange.  This translated to the women’s second run as a write off, with some of the women even choosing not to take a run because of the condition of the course.  The organizers then decided not to let the men ride their second run that late afternoon because of the dangerous condition of the pipe and let them ride the next morning…I just wish we had the same luxury. 

So, I had to finish my contest there with an unsatisfactory finish and turn to just having fun with my family instead.  I was ok with it because I had a great time, renting skis and skiing with my Mom and Dad.  My latest video blog is about this, check it out here. It was a lot of fun to make. 

Now it was time for me to focus on the new task at hand.  Canadian Nationals, also known as the Snow Crown event.  I made some appointments in Torontoto see my witch doctor and to get into Iyashi, my two favourite places to get fixed and unwind.

My witch doctor I can’t give details on her identity, but I will say she is the best and has worked with many famous Canadian athletes.  I always feel like a can of worms going to see her since there’s always something wrong with almost every sector of my body.  Still, it’s great to keep things in check and get my hips and spine realigned, my ankle scaring broken down, etc, etc.  She’s not really a witch, but I call her that because I instantly feel changes after seeing her and that is hard to accomplish with normal physios. 

I was sure to get into Iyashi for a relaxing, almost meditative time.  Not only was the heat good on that cold rainy day, but so was getting things in order in my mind.  I was happy to hear just how much rock bathing was catching on in Toronto; I think people would like it if they tried it, it’s a great way to quiet down in the hustle of a city.

I flew to Toronto to Calgary the next day and was greeted with bizarre weather.  In one day it hailed, was sunny and warm, then very windy, and finally snow finished it off.  Typical Calgary weather in the spring! I met up with friends and made plans to go see John Carter at the Imax.  It was the best movie I have seen in a long time; very inspiring for the next day of training. 

That day was today.  I had a decent day of pipe riding.  Some real pipe legends have come out for this event, including Olympian Crispin Lipscomb.  It was really fun to get back in the pipe with my old friend.  Brad Martin and Bahamian rider Kory Wright were also out boosting airs.  No one got crazy, just had fun, in fact I think I did more ticks today they did.  I laded my run a few times after warming up to the new pipe.

I really want to do my best in this contest.  We lost a day of training; tomorrow’s training was cancelled due to warm weather coming in.  I have scheduled a virtual session with Sport Excel so to me I will be riding the best private pipe.  I have the need to get more out of this contest, especially after the unsatisfied feeling the US Open left in me.  I am hungry for the podium and am doing my best to get myself there.  Friday will be a great day, a great contest!       

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Mammoth to Stratton

 When I awoke on Saturday morning I could see the sun was cresting over the peak of the mountains, there was no wind, and I just had a feeling it was going to be a great day.  I made my breakfast as usual, eggs, toast, avocado, tomatoes and a superfood smoothe, visualized some and stretched.  I was ready for game time.


The pipe looked great, dressed with all its fences, banners and blue dye lines, with a perfect shape to it.  I was really in the ‘zone’ dropping in for practice.  I only needed three runs to get comfortable and ready to be judged.  I had two smooth runs which landed me in eighth place.  Roberto didn’t say anything to me, but I was relieved when I heard “Katie Tsuyuki made it to finals” after my last run.  I was pumped but I knew there was more to come. 


A couple of the other Canadians, Harrison Gray and Sarah Conrad
The whole day passed before the women went, and although in final’s practice my board was fast, when we finally dropped in for our one practice run after men’s finals, I could feel my board sticking to the right wall.  The sun had been baking that wall all day! I had a feeling this wasn’t good. 

No matter how much brushing I did to my board there was just no wax left in the base and white patches were showing though.  Oh no!! I had no choice but to roll with it.  I threw my run as best as I could, but it just looked off balanced, with one side of the pipe having more amplitude than the other.  I was unable to better my placing.  Still at the end of my runs I pulled up my goggles, smiled for the camera, and waved to the crowed.  Can’t let them know about my disappointment…I wanted to be the best sports woman I could be! 


As soon as I could leave the bottom of the pipe I had to make a break to where I was staying to get things in order before leaving.  It was already three-thirty and my flight out of Reno, a three hour drive away, was at eight-twenty.  I had to take a very quick shower, pack, and gas up and I was on the road an hour later.  I was traveling to the US Open.   

I just made it into Renowith enough time to check my bags; it was going to be a long night ahead of me. I flew from Reno to San Francisco then a red eye to Newarkon to Albanyand finally a two hour drive to Stratton.  Twenty hours of travel…it’s almost less to New Zealand!  Not to mention when I got off the flight to Newark it was by birthday! For the day I did have a great Thai lunch with my friends and a celebratory martini. 

When I arrived in Stratton, still my Birthday, I spent the day and night sending Birthday wish thank yous to everyone who sent me a message.  I thought it was a good time to ask for them to ‘like’ my fresh Athlete Page on Facebook, it took me hours to send a hundred and thirty messages, and then some, to everyone, but I felt great after.  By the way, thanks to everyone who liked my page <3  

Today was the only day of practice for the US Open and I was so tired from all the travel and work the day before.  When I arrived at practice I felt as thought I was in another world.  I decided, after I couldn’t do my run, that I would go home and nap during the break.  This was a great idea because I came back charging with half full batteries instead of empty! I landed my run a bunch of times then headed home to get some rest and more work done.  Tomorrow I have qualifiers and have to perform.  So lots of rest tonight, good food, and then it’s back to wearing my game face.  This in one of my favourite contests, so I am excited for it!

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