I’ve had a great summer of intensive training in the gym and on the glacier. I’m stronger than I have ever been in my life! When I wasn’t lifting weights or jumping around doing agility exercises, I was biking, dirtbiking, or surfing behind the boat.
We just got back from a few weeks of training in New Zealand. I’m skiing really well and feeling really good about everything. I can’t wait for the season to start! I am so excited!
I am the only skicross athlete who doesn’t have to qualify next season. I am one of just three Freestyle Athletes to have earned myself an Olympic spot almost a year before the Games. This is a huge accomplishment, and now I can focus on getting ready for the Olympics instead of focusing on being selected. I can pick and choose which events I hit up next season in order to be best prepared for the biggest race of my life.
I was awarded this spot based on my results at Cypress, the Olympic venue, and in Japan at the World Championships. The spot was chosen by use of the “Method A” criteria, which looked our best two results from the three most important races of the season. The third race was the World Cup Final in France. The idea was to determine who performs well under pressure on the world stage. My results were a 2nd and a 1st, so all I needed to do at the last race was hope that neither of my two teammates who were still in contention would win. That was kind-of weird, competing within the team and pushing each other. Of course I wanted them to win, but I lucked out there and held my position.
I got a chance to go by the Stöckli Factory in Switzerland. It was quite the experience. I am blown away by the care and attention to detail that goes into each and every one of their handmade skis. The factory is very small and it feels like an extremely personalized family business; I am having trouble expressing how cool the whole experience was. I am SO proud to ski for Stöckli and to represent what they’re all about. Learning about the manufacturing of my skis has really helped me understand why they feel so good and why I am able to win on them.
Walter and the guys set me up with some SICK big mountain skis -- Dominique Perret’s pro model -- and I got to try them out at the most insane ski resort I’ve ever encountered...Engelberg. These are clearly the skis to have over here. All the serious shredders on the mountain had them and they were all eyeing mine up. I even got some high-fives for holding big Stöcklis It was officially the sickest day of skiing I’ve ever had anywhere.
The terrain is endless, there were 50-80cms of freshies depending on which aspect we hit, and it was bluebird. I was choking on snow all day and we managed to find bottomless fresh tracks right through until our very last lap. The conditions were unreal and I love my new skis. They’re 186cms, woodcore, 132-101-121 tip-mid-tail...fat all the way through and they’re so nice and responsive even in bottomless pow. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, turning in pow so deep that you have to time your breathing, and never touching any sort of solid base, and snapping up out of it to spot the next turn to dive in for more.
I won the World Championships! The day started out pretty rough…with a two minute hike in qualifying just to get through the course…and then I went on to win.
I had a terrible run in training, first thing. The first big jump on the course was coming out of a series of rollers and was a right ski traverse across the hill, with a landing that required a quick move on to a very steep, off camber, left-footer with huge holes developing early on. I flew way too far off the jump and couldn’t get on it in time to make the tough corner and then get it together to hit the biggest jump on the course coming out of it. I was, however able to stand on the side of the course and watch a few of the other athletes roll through there. Learning that everybody else was having a rough go through there turned out to be very beneficial.
Just before qualifying, my coach Eric Archer, got the four of us Canadian girls together to let us know what was up with the line through there. He told us to take that jump at the top of the pitch way right – the take-off of the jump was shaped on an angle, with the right side being significantly smaller than the left – and switch into the next turn in the air to land on our edge and initiate that tough turn instantly upon touching down. In the time trial, I nailed the line coming off the jump and got on my edge right away, but pressured a split second to early and hooked my ski on the inside of the gate. My inside ski had not gone around the gate. I had missed the gate and would be disqualified. I almost went down as the gate grabbed at my foot and threw me off balance, and by the time I collected myself I was halfway down the pitch, below the take-off of the big jump. Fortunately, this was one of the gnarliest courses on the circuit as far as high-speeds and big air. More than 15 women had dropped out of the event throughout the two days of training on course, leaving only 30 women to compete for the 32 spots in the finals. I knew that if I could just get back up there and get around that gate, I would still have a shot. I hiked as fast as I could, not because there is a rule against how long you have to get through, but just cause I needed to put a good effort in to avoid holding up the race for too long. So approximately 1 minute and 50 seconds later, I was back up at the top of the pitch ready to finish my run, after having gone around the hooked gate. I was absolutely exhausted! I could hear the people all along the side of the course cheering for me. Meanwhile, our Canadian guys were all getting ready in the lodge and happened to gaze out to catch my looonnnngggg hike. It was quite the spectacle! I crossed the finish line with a time of 3 minutes, 21 seconds…putting me in 28th position, as two girls had not finished. This made for a serious battle all the way through the race.
After qualifying had wrapped up, Eric told me that he wanted me to know that the French were protesting my hike. He also said that they didn’t have a leg to stand on and that all it meant was that they felt very threatened by me. Honestly, it just made me want to beat them even more.
I had to start from the worst gate every in every heat. It was a significantly longer distance to get to the first corner from the far right gate than it was from the left side of the start. Our start coach, Brent Kehl, had collected a series of video shots of our starts throughout training and had thrown them into a computer program called Dartfish, which overlays the shots in order to allow for comparison from run to run. Thanks to this technology, I knew that my starts were pretty killer on this course. The first two features out of the gate were quite similar to those on the Olympic course at Cypress. I was the only girl pre-jumping the first feature, which means I was lifting my feet up and hopping before the take-off, so that I could get my skis back on the snow on the other side earlier and generate speed from the downhill. So I knew I had a shot at a good result, but I was also pretty discouraged by the fact that I would have tough heats all the way through. I was pretty down for a couple of hours, and then going up the chair right before the main event, one of my teammates was all fired-up and said “yeah, this is it! This is what I came to Japan for!” That triggered something in my brain and I went “good point. This is what it’s all about. This is going to be so much fun!” And suddenly my attitude had flipped and I was excited to go out and shred.
My first heat was a really tough one. I had Magda, the Swede who has been racing forever and has killer starts, but isn’t a very clean skier. I also had Gutenson, who is tied with me for 3rd in the overall standings and who is known for pushing and playing nasty out of the start. Japanese Noriko Fukashima was our 4th competitor. I got out of the start first and over the first couple of features out in front, but as I cut over to get on the line for the first corner, Magda pulled ahead and pinched me out. She cut right over against the gate so there was no room for me and I had to back off to get through. Gutenson took advantage of that and got by me on the left. They both scrubbed a bit of speed and took off on the first jump way left to set themselves up to safely make the really tough corner I was talking about earlier. I kept to right and just pointed it right off full speed, got way less air than the other two, and dived into the corner inside Gutenson to get by her. I got sucked way low on the exit of the turn, but pulled it off and just hung in behind Magda the rest of the way down.
The next heat was pretty similar, except it was some other chick instead of Gutenson who passed me, and the I passed her on the inside in the gnarly corner – same line as the first heat – and then Magda was holding me up so much on the bottom that I decided to go around her to win the heat. On to the semi-finals…
We faced off with Meryl Boulangeat of France and again, I was fastest out of the start but she got me going into the first turn. Magda and I were pretty even through it and she gave me a pretty hard push straight backwards to get herself out in front of me. I yelled a disapproving “Magda…” and decided I wasn’t going to let her beat me. I pulled the same move at the top of the pitch to get by Magda and made a good move of the big jump on the pitch as I came up on Meryl out in front. I had to get by her cause I was packing so much more heat and didn’t want to slow down before the long flat section. I yelled “inside” and she was good enough to leave some space and not pinch me out, partially because she’s a cool chick, but mainly because there’s a good chance it would end-up taking us both out at that speed. So the two of us advanced to the BIG FINAL together.
It wasn’t until I got into the start gate that I realized that the World’s #1 racer, Ophelie David, had already been eliminated. She had been beat by the burly Slovenian Sasa Faric and Austria’s Karin Huttary (ranked #2). I was first out of the start again and struggled to get over to the gate at the first corner, again, got passed by two girls, again, and then pulled my sick move onto the pitch, again. I can’t believe nobody caught on to it all day! Arch figures that their coaches were telling them about it but they were too scared they would blow out of the course if they hit it like I was. The lines did shift over a bit, but I just kept adjusting and going even further over. Risky, but it paid off! I started to get a solid lead by the bottom of the pitch, but then Karin got in my draft going into this massive double and gained a fair amount of ground on me. I knew I could not afford to make a single mistake. I stayed as low as I could across the flats, and held my tuck through three single rollers that people had been getting bucked off all day. My draft pulled her in tight as we hit the kicker into the finishing straight stretch. She pulled out to get by me, but I managed to hold the lead right through the finish. World Champion. My favorite part was being on the top of the podium with bib 28 on! I definitely earned that win.
I was 3rd in qualifying and had some killer starts in my first few heats. Round 1 was with my teammate, Julia, and she took the inside lane right beside me. I was fastest to the first corner and was able to give her some room to squeak through behind me so we could both advance. My semi final was with Ophelie David and I made a pretty sick pass on her halfway down to win the heat. My luck was not so good in the final. I was last out of the start - completely missed it - and had to get by Magda to go for the podium. I nailed the step-up halfway down and passed her to quickly come up on Ophelie. Karin was out in front. Ophelie and I were gaining on her through the drag race section toward the bottom of the course. Ophelie went left, I went right to go blowing by her. But Karin got bucked on a double just before the finish jump and bounced over to the right, so that my ski ended-up in between hers and I couldn’t get through. We both almost wiped out off the finish jump...I had to kick my feet over to avoid missing the gate on the take-off. I can’t believe we pulled it off. Karin said that she was so glad it was me that she got tangled up with because most girls would flail and we’d both go down. It’s nice to have the respect of the these girls and to be known as a solid skier and racer!
Here’s a summary of what went down in Voss, Norway: I won qualies by almost a full second, and then on race day, I was winning the final and my ski fell off halfway down...
I had Sophie (Denmark) to my right and she was a little pushy off the first jump, but I managed to get out in front and stay there. The two of us even got to rest up for the next run and just cruise, cause the other girls were so far behind.
Round 2 (Quarter Finals):
I took the far left lane because I knew Emilie (SUI) would take the next gate over, so she would keep Sophie off. We all got a little bit tangled up in the first corner and Danny (Team Canada) took a straight line into the second corner to pass us. The corner had five massive rollers in it, and she didn’t quite have enough direction to pull it off. She got bucked and absolutely launched off one of them…it was pretty spectacular. I don’t know how I got around her but I ended up in 1st again…and was able to take another cruiser run to advance to the semi-finals.
Round 3 (Semi-Finals):
Emilie and I met the #2-ranked skier, Karin Huttary as well as my teammate Kelsey Serwa. Kelsey got by me coming out of the second corner and then crashed on the next jump. She miraculously ended-up on her feet again, but had missed a gate and instinctively started carving back up the hill to get around the gate. Unfortunately she was cutting right across the track that I was barrelling down. I had to go really far outside to get around her, and her tips actually clipped my tails, but I did avoid what would have been a pretty serious collision. I just hung in for 2nd the rest of the way down to advance to the final.
Round 4 (Final):
I had a good start and was right with Karin going into the second corner, beating World #1, Ophelie David. I knew I had the edge on Karin, so I initiated the turn right where I wanted to, which didn’t leave her much space to pull it off. She went down, and I got around her to hold the lead. I was looking strong until halfway down the course, my outside ski popped off taking me out of the running. I had to stop on my left ski only, and by the time I was able to do that, I was way out of the course, with no hope of getting back up to in before Karin made her way down. So that left me in 4th. Frustrating, but I know I’ll get it one day…hopefully soon!
It was a busy week at home with all sorts of festivities surrounding the 1 Year Countdown to the Olympic Games. My medal at Cypress caught the attention of several TV and radio networks. The week started out with a celebration in the Village Square to let the community know about the plans for it as ‘Celebration Plaza’, a place to present locals with their medals after the Olympic Events. Davey, Aleisha and I were the local medallists at Cypress, so they had us speak about what it would be like to celebrate an Olympic medal right there with our friends and family. Here is a bit of what I said:
“...it would be such an honour. This is an amazing opportunity and we are SO fortunate to have the support we’re seeing now that Skicross is an Olympic sport. Our friends and family know how much we have put into this -- even before we had coaches and ski techs and funding -- so they would be extremely proud to see us realize our dreams. These seemed like far-off dreams until I was standing on the podium at Cypress the other day, at the bottom of the Olympic course. That’s when it hit me that I actually have a good shot at winning an Olympic medal one year from now. ”
CBC’s coverage of the finals in the race at Cypress were played up on the big screen for everyone to see, as we called out the play-by-play. I also participated in the Cake Cutting with Mayor Ken Melamed at the Main Stage.
Over the next couple of days I had interviews, some of which were live interviews, with the following shows:
CBC News: Vancouver at Six
City TV with Host Greg Harper
CBC Early Edition (Radio) with Host Rick Cluff
CBC News: Today
The Bill Good Show, CKNW Radio
Pontiac World of Skiing
Global National with Kevin Newman (walkabout through the village for The National at 5:30pm Saturday)