The last three weeks have been a complete blur of adrenaline, excitement and laughs. Last spring I had the hint of an idea that I might want to try competing in some freeskiing competitions; so I started training at Mountain Athlete with the intentions to give it a shot. It was time to test my abilities, push my limits and meet some new friends who enjoyed skiing as much as I did.
The first weekend of March, with 6 months of intense strength and agility training under my belt and a solid 4 months of focused skiing, I piled into my car at 4am with three other female skiers and headed to Taos, New Mexico to "pop my competition cherry." I can't say I didn't feel nervous because it felt like my first day of kindergarden. How exactly do you inspect a venue? When should I go to the start? Where is the start? What is going to score well? I had so many questions and insecurities.
Lucky for me, I had friend and Freeskiing World Tour veteran Hadley Hammer at my side to help answer questions and smooth out any bumps in the road. My nerves settled and I could feel the excitement build. As I stood at the top of the venue, I tried not to have big expectations and just take it as another day of skiing; granted I wasn't going to stop and giggle with my friends half way down, but in reality I was going to ski what looked the most fun to me, as fast and hard as I could.
The starter asked if I was ready and with a big smile, I confidently answered, "Definitely!" and dropped into my line. From there I honestly blacked out, my body took control and did what it knows best, just skied. I came to once in the finish and greeted with hugs and high fives from new and old friends. My first realization once I caught my breath was how sore my cheeks were, I had been smiling the whole time, loving every second of it.
I was back in the competition game. I ski raced from when I was 10 until I was 21, I loved the rush of a competition, the anxious feeling at the start and the adrenaline you felt in the finish. I loved being around other people that felt the exact same way and that weren't only your competitors but you're biggest support. I felt it all coming back, but it was different, it was better. In freeskiing, your competitors truly are your support, they want you to do well just as much as they want to do well, the true definition of friendly competition.
Taos went well, for my first competition, I was pumped to have made it through day one and had a solid run on day two, unfortunately it wasn't enough to make it to the finals on Kachina Peak, but none the less I was pleased. It was a good learning experience, a stepping stone if you will. Learning that conservative is sometimes okay, but pushing your limits is almost always a necessity in the game of freeskiing.
Comp one in the bag, a 13 hour drive back to Jackson and I was ready to jump back in the car 48 hours later for another 12 hours to Alberta, Canada. One of the most alluring parts of these competitions has been getting to ski in new states, new countries and on new mountains. Canada was gorgeous, the mountains looked like adventures for days.
"Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.”
Each competition has been a learning experience, experience being the key word. I find myself more comfortable and more knowing each time I look up at a venue and decide which way I'm going to descend it. It's an addicting fire that I'm fueling every time I compete, I want to push the limits, push my limits, and being patient and maintaining focus is the hardest part. I'm so thankful for being able to be part of this sport and excited to explore more new mountains.
A big thank you to Rob at Mountain Athlete for giving me the mental and physical strength necessary, Jess Baker for sharing her experience and teaching me to push my limits, Hadley Hammer for being the best role model and friend, Tess Wood for being a newb with me, John Pew for making me look legit, and my family for their encouragement.