Canadian snowboarding

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. 

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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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!

     

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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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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No Matter the Weather

When I turned up at practice on Monday morning I was ready for anything; thank goodness because of the 80km wind gusts and sometimes white squall conditions were unfavourable.  Practice started late because the pipe maintenance people had to deal with the six inches of snow in the bottom and when the course did open we had to ride in the gusty cross winds. 

Many athletes left training with only a few runs under them but our crew, Lauren Shanahan, Coach Roberto Marfia, and myself, stayed until the end.  I had heard a storm was coming in and I wanted to get a good feel for the pipe.  The pipe its self had a beautiful shape…it was just the stubborn weather that was adverse.   

I awoke Tuesday morning to sun out my window but still there was that pesky wind.  I had a bad feeling about practice.  Sure enough the message came down the line that practice was cancelled for both snowboarders and skiers.  This was going to be the last day of practice before qualifiers.  A bit annoying but I was okay with this, I had Bob Palmer that evening, so I was going to ride in my mind anyway. 

This extra time gave me the opportunity to get some much needed work done.  I started my athlete page on Facebook and sent the word out to my FB friends.  I updated my website with news and some pictures.  In addition to all of that I set up a meeting with the Make-A-Wish foundation to see if I could be a part of their Rope for Hope event.  In this event 90 participants who raise the most money repel from a 30 storey building in the heart of downtown Toronto.

When Roberto came back from the riders meeting that night it was said that if the skier qualifiers were cancelled on Wednesday then the formatting would be changed to a one run qualifier including both skiers and snowboards, opposed to the separate days for skiers and snowboarders who get two runs each.  Again this was all good because I have Palmer in my corner.   

My meeting with Bob Palmer was great.  We went through some preparation exercises that will give me the edge on my competitors.  To me I had a great day in the pipe, working my passes and running through new tricks I want to land.  I ended the meeting in a state of readiness. 

That night I went to bed listening to the howling of the wind outside my window and even was woken up by it in the middle of the night.  I had a feeling that the skier qualifiers would be pushed back and the alternative format would be implied. 

Sure enough today, the now 160km winds cancelled the skier qualifiers and there was no practice for anyone.  Here is a picture taken with my Sony NEX-5 with a fisheye lens.

Once again I am left to snowboarding in my head where it is always sunny and with a perfect pipe.  To me, I have already performed my run about twenty times and practiced a bunch of drills. 

Tomorrow it should be sunny out, go figure.  I might only have one run, but I am ready for that run and will make it count!      

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Between Contests

The last couple of days in Toronto were good ones.  I met with my web manager and spoke about changes to be made on my website.  I visited my favorite hot spot in Toronto, Iyashi.  I found a new love with Chef Alex Burgess at recently opened resto-lounge Bloke and 4th, and spent valuable time with family.

If you arrived at the blog through www.KTathletics.com then be sure to return there soon as some changes are going to be made.  It was exciting to meet with my web manager as we shot the new intro video for my homepage and discussed changes that will occur over the next month.  I always have fun being on camera which makes it easy to shoot these things, and I am proud to say we captured what we needed in only a few takes.  Maybe in the future the next chapter of my life will include more on camera opportunities as I seem to have a knack

I was lucky to get into Iyashi Bedrock Spa  for treatments.  Torontonians are finally catching on to this unique spot, therefore spots are quickly filled.  One treatment was a traditional style where I enjoyed just laying on the heated black silica rock soaking in the healing properties of the rock’s emissions.  The second treatment was hot yoga where I benefited by the lengthening of my muscles getting them mountain ready.  Both gave me time to relax my body and mind and left me rejuvenated and ready the upcoming events.  To me this place is a little piece of magic!

If you are in the Torontoarea you have to check out Bloke and 4th at 401 King St W.  This new resto-lounge is the talk of the town providing beautiful food and drink in a catchy atmosphere.  I am fortunate to have Executive Chef Alex Burgess as one of my longest known friends and he provided hand picked selections off his menu.  My favourite was the scallops and risotto main, but everything I ate made my taste buds and optic nerves buzz with excitement.  Not only was the food delicious but so were the drinks.  Drink specialist Jeremy made it seem as though Dr. Suess stepped behind that bar and started maxing drinks, every sip was delectable.  Here is their write up in Toronto Life, take a read and get hungry. 

I was especially thrilled to spend time with family.  I took my nieces for an afternoon, one when to gymnastics and the other was entertained with Rock Band.  My eldest niece is excelling in gymnastics, among the other sports she participates in, and the changes in her personality are noticeable.  Sport has given her more focus and a needed outlet for her inherent abundant energy.  It can be seen that sport will play a big role in her life as it has in all my family member’s lives. 

I also had a couple good meals with my parents, who are always up for giving me the pep talk.  In those pep talks my Dad always references Rocky by saying “what does Rocky do when he’s knocked down? He gets right back up”.  This is always followed by the singing of the Rocky’s theme song.  Priceless. 

As you can tell it was a busy two days in my hometown but it was a great time.  Work, rest, play and family were what filled my time.  To me, these past days have been about balance.  I have preached this before and I will continue to in the future, but balance is huge in any career.  It realigns my concentration and boosts my focus.  Now I am ready for the next step of the Mammoth Grand Prix and for the ultimate goal of excellence.             

The Quebec World Cup

Getting to Quebecwas a little crazy.  First was the flight from Denver to Toronto, which was the best part of the trip.  We upgraded to First Class and it was great.  Truly a more civilized way to travel, being fed and lots of moving around room is the way to go.  Thank goodness I had upgrade credits that needed using.


We arrived at Pearson airport on time but it always takes so long to get luggage, plus clearing customs, we ended up spending an hour in the air port.  This was not good because coach made the decided to drive to Montrealthat night so we could hit up the first day of practice. 

Once all was said and done, eating and saying hello to the parents, it was already 7pm, we had a 515km drive a head of us and I knew my Aunt would be waiting for us to arrive.  We needed to get to Montrealquick. 

The 401 highway was our main route and about 40kms in to the trip the speedometer went out, so I had to drive according to RPMs.  I am used to this because of my boat training; sometimes the speedos didn’t work well on the boats, so you would do what you can.  Driving fast, I was driving with my head on a swivel.  Lady luck was on my side and I made it safely to my Aunts in less than 5 hours. 

The next morning there was practice at the resort, Stoneham, at 10am, and we were still 280kms away.  Roberto drove the rest of the way while I got some sleep so I would have some energy for the 3 hour practice I would have to ensue and perform in. 

We made it and were on course, with accreditation and bibs, by 11:45am.  Phew! I was a bit surprised to have such good practice.  I thought I was going to just do straight airs but I was able to pull it together and get my run down a couple of times.

It was also great to see good friends at the top of the pipe.  I have slowly befriended Chinese rider Xuetong through her coach, my friend, Christopher Clark.  “tong tong’ is her nickname on their team and she’s always smiling and high-fiving when we meet up.  Her and ‘crazy Dr. Loo’ are very patient with teaching me Mandarin, it’s taken me a while to learn ‘how are you’ and ‘I am fine’.  It’s much different from the Japanese that I have learnt in the past, and I have troubles with the intonation, but I am happy to try.   

Coach and I were relieved to finally get checked into the hotel, unpack, eat, and catch some Z’s. 

Tuesday’s practice when very well, with the sun shining and pipe having a much better shape, I practiced various runs with ease, and I could feel the energy building for the contest.  That night I had a meeting with Bob Palmer  to get my mental game up too.  It was great, and I was fired up.

The late morning of Wednesday was a snowy one with light fog in the half, the men rode first and there ended up being a half foot of sugar snow in the bottom.  Neither of this mattered to me because I was so in the ‘zone’.  It’s hard for me to describe to you exactly what happened or what I was doing because it was almost dream like.  I was on auto pilot that morning.  I did my runs and nothing else mattered.  This is what the ‘zone’ is like.  I didn’t even notice anyone else’s runs…I leave that up to my coach.  At least I got that right that day; that I definitely found the sweet spot in the zone. 

When I reached the bottom of the pipe I heard from the announcements that I had made semi finals and I was so stoked.  On to twitter I went telling everyone about my accomplishment.  I had made it though…or so I thought I did. 

Later that night, after preparing all evening, I received a call from Canada Snowboard telling me there had been a tabulation mistake and I actually missed finals by a point and a half.  I was SO BROKEN!!

Just heartbroken with this news! I was in the dumps.  My balloon had been totally deflated.  This contest meant a lot to me, and this mishap made me feel as though I was on the brink of quitting.  I know a lot of people envy what I do, but I also envy what everyday people get to do too.  Life is way easier to punch a clock, get a steady paycheque, and sleep in your own familiar bed every day.  There is so much ambiguity in my life that at times it drives me crazy and the people around me crazy.      

So, with all that happening I am lucky I have the support of some great people in my life.  My Mom and coach who help keep things in perspective; friends who make time for me when I am around and fully understand when I need to work.  I get a lot of love from these people.  At least how I live helps separates the real from the fluff.  No matter what the result of the contest I know I am always winning at life with these people around me.  There will be more contests and it’s a build to greatness.  It is a hard road, but would be much harder alone.    

   

Hearts, Guns and Training

Valentine's Day is always a funny day of the year.  Statistically it's not the day with the most breakups, actually two weeks before Christmas takes that title, but it's third on the list just behind Spring Break.   Actually I was surprised when I looked into some stats on Vday.  The biggest one that surprised me was that approximately 40% of the 180 million Vday cards purchased is done so by parents.  I believe this because I have gotten more cards by my Mom on Vday than by boyfriends.  I also suppose that parents also buy cards for their partners as well.  
My Vday was spent at the gun range unloading magnums of bullets at cans and targets.  Then on the slope with the snow feature I love the most, the half pipe.  I made chicken noodle soup from scratch, yes I love to cook too.  And cuddled down with the special person in my life to watch movies.  I guess to me it's not about spending money or doing lavish things, although flowers don't hurt but I feel that way with any day of the year.  Valentine's Day is about doing things I love to do.  I was sure to call my parents and let them know that I love them.  
The last two days have been training intensive working on drills, visualizing and trying to get  more breakthroughs.  I also have been playing travel agent booking flights, cars and hotel rooms.  There has also been the dealings with Canada Snowboard about confirming spots for contests which are a couple weeks away.  I was amazed at how I could not get a confirmation for contests that I needed to book logistics for.  Or a concise schedule for Canadian Nationals at Canada Olympic Park, I wonder if they know that flights do not get cheaper closer to the date? Well this is nothing new to me, just a little frustrating when you are trying to snowboard on a budget.  My sponsors are awesome Sony is really supportive for what I need.  More sponsorship would be great to cover a training/competing years which costs over $50,000, non Olympic, and over $80,000 for a Olympic qualifying year.  Canada helps with a couple thousand, which is a grant, that I apply for every year and haven't ever benefited from.  Thus is life.  When you get lemons, make lemonade as the story goes.  
I am thankful my parents raised me to pursue and that I really love riding half pipe.  There are ALWAYS challenges and triumphs and new things to learn.  I feel I am expanding as a person in life, love and labor.  
Still, this week is flying by so quickly, the Quebec World Cup will be upon me soon.  It will be a great contest!   

Winter Dew Tour - Toyota Championships Part II

The contest is over for me but it was a good one.   We had an extended practice of 3 hours but I only practiced for 1 hour.  I was afraid of over training, which is a real problem in contests like these.  The sun was out and the pipe was soft, almost spring like conditions, for the beginning of February.  Everyone looked pretty on point today.

Here is the top of the pipe with coaches Roberto Marfia and Chris Clark, with riders Xuetong, Leslie Glenn and I.  Taken with my Sony NEX-5 with Fisheye conversion lens.


I was too, landing some great runs in practice, including putting down my cab 540 after my frontside 720, a breakthrough run.  I have not done this in my full run yet.  I even added a last trick of a switch backside 540. Roberto my coach was so pumped, I should have been too but I knew it was only practice.

When it came to my run I was in the "zone" with a little Beyonce remix on my Walkman.  First run went great with a little butt check on my last hit, but I was relieved to finally get that cab 540 down in a run in a contest.  FINALLY.  The run was good but scored a little low, to be expected as I was near the front of the pack in dropping order.

Second run was smooth, I changed it up with a hand plant and backside 360.  I bumped up my score by 12 points.  I was frustrated that I didn't make the cut for finals but I can't dwell on this.

With every contest, bad or good, I have to see what I can improve on and what the small steps were that goes towards the goal, the Olympics.  For this one it is that I did a trick I haven't put into contest run yet and I succeeded.  That cab 540 had been plaguing me for over a year now and now the fight is over.  I did it, I know I can do it, and now it's been done.  I also look at what I need to improve on and practice.  The next week is without contest and I will have a chance to improve on my run and take that to the World Cup in Quebec on the 24th.  

So, in the end I will celebrate my accomplishment and create a plan for the improvements needed.  This is not just for contest but also for life.

Dew Tour - Toyota Championships

I have had my first day of practice here at the Dew in Utah at Snowbasin Resort.  The weather was partly cloudy and the pipe was full of energy.  It was great to see all the women riding the 615ft long pipe well, including Kelly Clark and Gretchen, who are almost always in top form.

Right now I am battling a cold that is probably due to overuse of my body and mind after the Canadian Open and hanging out with my friends who I haven't seen in years.  So it was a struggle at times to get into the "Zone", as my mental trainer Bob Palmer explains the mind state.  I have learned a lot from Sports Excel and continue to learn and try new things with every session.

Most important thing I have learned was to get excited for the contest.  I used to worry about what the contest would bring me, having anxiety about a million different things.  Now I see it as a chance to showcase all the things I have learned over all these years of riding half pipe...the most frustrating discipline of them all.

So I must say that I am excited for tomorrow's qualifiers.  I am going to put in my new trick and it's going to be great!! As my friend Joyce Castle said "you are going to fly today"!