travel

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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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!