Sport has incredible highs and lows.
Just because you work hard, doesn't mean you get what you want.
To win, you need to be at peace with every outcome. And I really mean, ANY outcome. Falling, equipment malfunction, injury. That's the beauty (and fun!) of competition, you never know what is going to happen. Let me tell you, training all off-season to hold back and ride "safe" does not feel good. The challenges are what test you as an athlete to step up and focus on your goal
First place isn't supposed to be easy...
I've had a lot of personal achievements this year
- First Europa Cup podium
- First World Cup finals for slalom
- First World Cup finals for giant slalom
- First top 8 at World Championships
- First top 4 at World Championships
- First Europa Cup overall title, 3rd position
All of these moments were incredible. In fact, I was so excited after finishing in 8th at World Champs that I didn't sleep the night before the second even where I came in top 4!
GS on CBC: www.youtube.com/
A lot of people have asked me what changed this year. How am I able to be competitive in World Cups now and not before?
My answer is simple to say, difficult to practice. It's all about where you focus your energy.
I am the definition of a Type A Planner. I like schedules and overthink everything. This caused a lot of anxiety and stress on race day because I couldn't prepare myself for the unpredictable. I am also a huge perfectionist and get held back by focusing on mistakes while riding. Not fast.
This year, I realized that I can be competitive while nervous, stressed, and even a bit scared. The stress is part of the game. Enjoy it, use it.
You're stressed? Ok. What am I going to do moving forward that will combat this stress? For me, it's all about visualizing how I will ride in the course. Making a game plan!
Another huge change for me this year was trusting in my own style. Snowboarding in a way that monopolizes my skills instead of trying to force myself to ride like others.
After that, I'm sorry to say that it is hard work, time and dedication. There is no simple fix.
When the world went sideways last March, I was forced to mix up my off-season workouts, and it was one of the best things for me. I bought a squat rack and used it for as long as I wanted (no worrying about monopolizing gym equipment!). I bought a yoga membership and did two or three classes a day to improve my mobility. One of my biggest problems in snowboarding is engaging in the next year. So, I found a hill and sprinted over and over and over again to practice being in that uncomfortable zone and pushing forward. I was lucky enough to have access to a lake, so I started waterskiing everyday to find flow and keep my mind/body used to the feeling of carving with speed and carrying your momentum.
When you reach your goals... what next? When will you be satisfied?
This season, I also faced some of the lowest lows of my life. As an athlete, there can be more bad days than good. It's all about how you frame your situation. Sure, winning is great, but when you don't have your friends and family around to share it with... it can be very lonely.
What I say to this - find out why you are doing what you're doing. If you're in it to win it, you're not doing it for the right reasons.
When I started snowboarding again full-time, post University, I was the only female athlete on the team. It was incredibly lonely, overwhelming, and stressful. I went into it with 2 goals in mind: 1-to win the Olympics, duh! 2- to help rebuild a supportive yet competitive team based on respect.
I have learned so much through snowboarding outside of just winning, which is one of the reason that I continue. Life is about what you leave behind and how you treat others.
Sport has a way of escalating feelings. Living with the same teammates for 6 months, (especially during a pandemic!!) can cause a clashing of personalities. This is just another challenge in the realm of what it means to be a professional athlete. You can't go through life picking and choosing the obstacles that you want to face. Life is about growth and continuous learning.
Do as much as you can, for as many as you can, for as long as you can.
For me, this meant supporting others as much as I can while also setting boundaries for myself.
Often, athletes are pitted against each other to create a mindset "needed" to win. For me, I want to win a race because I am against someone at their best. When my competitors ride their best, it elevates my skills. We all push each other to be better.
What can be more fun than that??
Huge thanks to all of those who made this year possible, especially Bothwell-Accurate for their continued support.