Unfortunately I have no excuses left for not updating this blog more frequently. It’s really working its way towards a yearly column. I’ll try my best to change it up this year…maybe.
I’ll save some time and skip the long-winded season recap that I’ve resorted to in the past. The little I will say about last season is thank you. Thank you to everyone who made it possible and all the support I received from the community: all the people that opened their doors for me along the road, my teammates, the organization, equipment supporters, coaching staff, physios and of course my parents. It’s been said before and I will say it again, this dream I’m chasing would not be possible without the support from the team you all create. I will be forever thankful for the opportunities you’ve all had a hand in giving me.
Getting down to it.
I just returned from a short trip to Europe; our last big prep block before the season kicks off on home soil. Coming out of a very successful training block in Chile, I had high expectations for Europe, both in my skiing and the conditions. However, as I’ve learned before, expectations can be the iceberg to my Titanic. The consistent surface I dreamt of had been blanketed day after day in fresh snow. From early on it appeared to me as the though the conditions wouldn’t improve, diminishing any hope for what I would have considered to be quality training. The thick alpine cloud would roll in and I put every ounce of thought into hoping it would blow away; every minute of the upload, praying the wind had blown all the snow flakes far into the distance; every turn slipped, thinking the next person would surely get down to a layer. My mind bullets didn’t have the velocity to change weather patterns or what Mother Nature had in store for us. The panic storm had set in and looked to be hunkered down for the long haul.
Four days. Four days is what it took me to realize I was wasting my time. If I was going to be this frustrated over a little soft snow, “I might as well just go home,” because the attitude sure wasn’t doing me any favours. Realizing that my expectations were unrealistic given the conditions, I let them go…well, tried to at least. I can’t say I came to those terms on my own but one day soon, I hope that I might be able to. Adjusting my expectations to the environment and a shift in focus is all that it took to change my perspective on what quality training really means. Skiing soft dished out courses is just as valuable as skiing injection, and for me, maybe even more so. “Focusing on the process,” its something we talk about all the time and in doing so, maybe its taken away from what it really means to simply do that. If this trip to Europe taught me one thing, it’s to never lose sight of the process. There are days when skiing feels so effortless and instinctive that the gas pedal feels bottomless. Those days happen because of a process. The kind of days I live for.
Looking back now after having had a little time to decompress, I don’t think I could have asked for a better prep block. Just when I thought I had mastered all that the Universe had to teach, I was humbled yet again. There are some things so unbelievably out of my control that to put an ounce of importance on those factors would be a waste of energy. Yet, I still do, day in and day out: Snow, course set, light, who else is skiing fast and who can I crush. All factors that my thoughts have no control over but can have a strangle hold on my own actions, negatively influencing the few things that I do have control over. This epiphany was bound to happen at some point this season and now is the perfect time for a core memory to form (for those Inside Out fans out there).
I would be worried about the season if this prep block hadn’t challenged me mentally. Skiing fast in perfect conditions has never been an issue of mine. The reality is we never race in those conditions and the mental aspect has always been my shortfall. What I accomplished this pre-season has been great, I’ve put in a lot of time on the new set up, figured out where I want to be moving forward and skied the fastest I ever have. If the season were to start tomorrow, I would have no problem with pushing out of the gate and sticking to my game plan.