focus snow

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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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!