As I rinse the chlorine from my bathing suit and launder and fold my base layers from a week in the big city (i.e. Park City) I can't help but feel so grateful.
Mountain Athlete sent me and 8 of my fellow freeski teammates to The Olympic Training Center for Aerials, in Park City, UT, this past week to participate in three days of trampolining and ramping our way to air confidence, inverted confidence and the occasional side ways confidence.
Here is what our days looked like:
9:30 Bundled in down coats, layers, hats and socks we started on the trampolines, perfecting our front flips, back flips, 360's, misty's and flat spins. (Fun fact: jumping for 5 minutes is equivalent to running a mile!)
11:00 Time to "suit up." Layering wet suit on top of bathing suits we relived our ski racing days of ski boots and tight clothing (wet suits, 1960 ski boots and élan race skis, and the least amount of steeze possible). With the wind whipping and nipping at us on top of the ramp we all threw ourselves into the pool slapping our backs, heads and sides in attempts to perfect our skills. By the end of the morning pool sessions we all felt like we'd been standing at the top of Rendezvous Bowl on the windiest of days in our underwear, frozen to the core and ready for fuel.
1:30-3:30 The afternoon was more of the same, starting back on the tramps and then on to the ramps to practice our perfected tramp skills.
Coming from a gymnastics background, I figured, given the right situation, inverting on my skis should be no problem. Ask me to do a back tuck in any situation, I will, without hesitation, do it. Unfortunately, I was wrong. While it probably should have been quite easy, I made it difficult by mentally lacking confidence. As much as I told myself, "piece of cake," somewhere in my head a voice said, "I don't know about this."
I stood at the top of the ramp, pointed my skis down, jumped and whipped my head back.. "DIVE," was the call I heard yelled from my coach, Tony, time after time. Perhaps it was the weight of the water sodden boots on my feet that I couldn't kick and rotate over, but that seems like an excuse. Frustration started to invade me, I whipped harder, I tried to simulate what I did on the trampolines, but I wasn't making progress.
I ended up having success on one jump, why I couldn't do it again, I believe it really was all mental. These 3 days of training taught me a lot about air awareness, confidence in airing and overall body awareness, but mostly it taught me the need for more mental control. Confidence, I need to know I'm capable and just do it, instead of thinking of the 'what ifs.' Rob has molded me into a capable, strong athlete and I need to put my durability to the test instead of being cautious, scared and a mental head case.
These lessons, more than anything, I hope will help me this season.
Here is a little video recap courtesy of Tickle Productionz (Tess Wood), clearly we didn't have any fun at all!