My apologies for this long-overdue post; figuring out how to express everything that has occurred over the past month or so has been difficult. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to ask what I’ve been up to or how the second half of my season has gone. (:
To say that the past month has been a whirlwind would be an understatement. Between a disappointing World Champs performance, making my first superfinal of the year, traveling to and competing in Kazakhstan for the first time, and becoming the first female to ever attempt a cork 10 in competition, the end of my World Cup season has been one for the books, for sure! I do think that it’s important to let others in on what I’ve been feeling in the hopes that I can be honest, truthful, and hopefully relatable, so here’s my unfiltered version of my past few weeks!!
World Championships was a bit of a tough week, as I struggled to lay down a single top to bottom during each of my 3 competition runs, even though I had skied complete runs pretty consistently in training. Coming to terms with that was tough for me, as I had high expectations for the event and was confident that it would pan out as I had envisioned.
During my 3 competition runs (2 in singles, 1 in duals), I made similar mistakes out of top air each time. My post-run reaction was the release of pent-up frustration. It felt as though I was doing everything right. More than anything, I was confused. How could I be training so consistently yet fall short when the time to compete rolled around?
I don’t want to gloss over this part of my season, as it was — and is — incredibly important for my development. I’m also not explaining what occurred with the intentions of hosting a pity party. While terribly frustrating, I know that the experience I gained from holding my head high after awful performances at the most important event of the year was instrumental to the ferocity and tact with which I attacked the remainder of my season.
At the end of the day, sometimes all you can do is just continue to keep moving forward and trust that things will work out.
While Worlds wasn’t my best event, it was pretty awesome to see some of my teammates have great results on the World stage in front of thousands of cheering fans!! Huge props go to Brad, Jaelin, and Tess on their podiums on duals day!!
After Worlds and a week of training at Deer Valley, my teammates and I set off to Tazawako, Japan for one of my favorite events of the year. The people at Tazawako never fail to host a top-notch event complete with a fantastic venue, warm hospitality, and amazing food.
After skiing through an odd mix of weather and variable snow on both training days, I felt pretty prepared to endure anything that came my way during competition day. As a result, singles day was quite fun! With my World Championships performance fresh in my mind, I felt nerves settle in early on. Remembering the big picture, why I love competing and skiing, and simply enjoying the moment also helped me to keep calm.
I decided to strategically attack the qualifications round and step down my degree of difficulty by completing a back tuck instead of a back full on the top air. Qualifying in 8th, my confidence was renewed and I felt more motivated than ever to ski my finals run to the best of my ability. And that I did. As the day progressed, the course turned to slush, making for a superb venue for aggressive skiing, which I had lots of fun with. I was proud to lay down two consistent runs and finish 8th. Below you can watch my finals run!
Duals day held a similar fate for me — I skied two duals to my heart’s content, having lots of fun with the course and enjoying the day as a whole. Unfortunately, I was bested by one of my teammates, Tess, in the second round, and my day was cut short. Overall, though, I had my best weekend of skiing yet and was looking forward to building on my momentum in Kazakhstan for the final weekend of World Cups ahead.
Kazakhstan, Superfinal, & Cork 10
After Japan, we landed in Kazakhstan with a day to spare and chose to sightsee around Almaty. Experiencing Kazakhstan was a pretty novel and intriguing adventure, as the culture proved to be vastly different from anything I’d ever seen. The minuscule fraction of Kazakstan that I had the opportunity to explore seemed to be a melting pot of sorts — a combination of Asian, Middle Eastern, and European influences which combined to create Almaty’s distinctive identity.
During our day as tourists, the girls and I chose to immerse ourselves in a traditional bathhouse (we were definitely on the receiving end of many confused stares); explore the Green Bazaar, one of the larger markets in Almaty; and visit the Ascención Cathedral, among other sightseeing locations. The days I’ve had exploring cultures beyond my own are experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world. The diversity and stark contrast between individuals and landscapes I’ve witnessed is enchanting to me — and by no means am I yet well-versed in what this world has to offer. Below are some of my favorite pictures from the day!
After our day exploring Almaty, we had two days of Official Training preceding the event. Like Almaty, Shymbulak (the ski resort where the event was held) was one of the most unique environments I’ve ever skied in. From our hotel, we had a commute that lasted upwards of an hour (20 minutes in a van and 20 minutes on a gondola that brought us to the base of the resort) to access the resort. The mountains were reminiscent of the Alps in size and appearance, while the magnitude of the ski resort itself was actually quite small. The course ran right below the chondola (chairlift/gondola combination) that we lapped. The start gate had a sweet view of the ski trails and few restaurants below, as well as a distant perspective of Almaty peeking between the mountains at the end of the valley.
The competition was incredibly fun!! I ran first in qualifications, meaning I was the first athlete to ever compete in a Moguls World Cup event in Kazakhstan simply due to the chance of a randomized run order (pretty cool claim to fame, if I do say so myself)! My qualifications run went quite well. I wasn’t nervous at all — rather, I took advantage of my calm demeanor and executed my run (which consisted of a back full and cork 7). After qualifying for finals in 3rd, I took some time to mentally reset, call my family, and refuel before finals. Upon returning to the venue for finals training, the course was absolutely ripping. I laid down my favorite run I skied all year in finals, which qualified me in 5th for the superfinal — the last round of competition where the top 6 girls thus far battle it out for spots on the podium. I was beyond excited to compete in this final round, but more relieved than anything. I was finally competing at the level I knew I was capable of!! Here’s the run that got me to the superfinal round!
Before superfinals, I relaxed in the gate and appreciated the moment before dropping in. I was thankful to be in that last round of competition and promised myself I’d take advantage of it. On my top jump, I pulled my feet through at 3/4 flip, initially thinking that I was going to under-rotate my back full. That misjudgment accelerated my flip speed and made the jump more difficult to land than it would’ve been otherwise. I tried to hold on but deviated soon after the first air. I returned to my line, knowing my run was over. Shortly thereafter, the possibility of competing my cork 10 for the first time — and the first time in the history of women’s mogul skiing — popped into my mind and I ran with it.
It was the last World Cup event of the season, I was in the last round of competition of the day, and I had already botched my run as a whole, so the risk of competing the cork 10 was virtually nonexistent. Plus, that was a competitive goal of mine that had been nagging away at me for a few weeks now, as I was well aware that my season — therefore the number of opportunities I had to compete the trick — was quickly coming to a close. I didn’t think about any of that, though, until I was laughing and squinting into the camera at the bottom of the course, stunned at what I had just done. I had literally no intentions of competing my cork 10 on that day, let alone in that specific run — now here I was, having just competed it for the first time ever. My muscle memory definitely took me on quite the ride during those 30 seconds… I was honestly so stoked but so bewildered at the same time!! Though things didn’t go to plan, I adjusted accordingly and at the end of the day, walked away with the satisfaction of knowing that I put in as much effort as I could to compete at my best. Below is the video of the cork 10 I competed!
Unfortunately, duals day in Kazakhstan, which was scheduled for the day immediately following singles, was cancelled due to heavy fog that wrapped the course in a thick blanket, making the event difficult to pull off in its entirety. After 10 World Cup competitions, I finished the season ranked #11 in the World.
A Quick Look at the Bigger Picture…
Now that I’m finished with the World Cup Tour, it’s been a bit easier to gain further perspective with regards to the big picture. This season, I’ve learned about what it takes to compete my run with high degree of difficulty tricks at the top of my game every time I step in the gate. I’m gaining experience that will give me a huge advantage over my peers in the years to come.
Even though I went into this season thinking that consistency would come easily with these tougher tricks, I’m now well aware that this isn’t even remotely the case. It takes a lot of hard work and tenacity in the face of frustrations, disappointments, and mistakes to compete at the top of my game with higher difficulty airs. What makes me most excited about all of this is the fact that my run has a ton of potential. Each time I laid down the run I knew I was capable of in qualifications, I ended up within the top 4 (Calgary – 3rd, Mont Tremblant – 4th, Kazakhstan – 3rd). At the end of the day, while podiums are always nice, this season was about so much more than medals for me — it was about breaking the barrier for the women’s side of the sport and for myself as an individual athlete.
There’s a ceiling to the safeness that I’ve been guilty of sheltering myself beneath, and it felt so good to completely bypass that limit!! I’m proud of the resilience and grit I showcased throughout this year’s World Cup Tour and I know the willpower I utilized this season will be the foundation for many future successes.
For right now, though, I’m looking forward to keeping this train moving as I travel to the East Coast for US National Championships in Waterville Valley, NH next weekend (March 16-17th) !! Thank you all for your continued support and love (: