Thursday, 20 September 2012

Graduation (Heidi Left and Hannah Right)

I've been very complacent when in comes to updating my blog. From April to July I spent a lot of time in the gym trying to increase my overall strength focussing particularly on my leg power and core. Alongside this I worked and caught up with friends.

On July 20th I headed back out to New Zealand for summer training and races. I arrived late, as I didn't want to miss both my sisters' graduating from University.

This left me only 9 days of training to prepare for the Wanaka Tech Series (1st-4th August) which I felt was adequate time to get back into the swing of things. We has some great days training both slalom and GS with early morning sessions requiring 5.15am wake ups (welcome to the gruelling side of ski racing although its totally worth it especially when you catch the incredible sunrise!). Following skiing everyday we have recovered at the gym or back at the lodge doing a combination of light spinning, gentle jogs, yoga and agility training - this included one fun afternoon of ladder drills with one eye blindfolded, which is surprisingly difficult as it alters your depth perception.

Above and Below: two of the many incredible sunrises 

One of my roommates Maddie and I

Much to my benefit the first set of races were postponed until the 9th, giving me eight additional days of training prior to my first races of the 2012/13 season.

Tori Ramona and I
On August 6th I celebrated my 19th birthday! We trained slalom in the morning in coincidentally out first day of sun following a series of foggy days plagued with bad visibility. I personally can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday. Later the girls went out to ‘Amigos’ for a Mexican dinner, where they surprised me with presents and a cake.

By the time the races approached I was still feeling slightly unprepared and not as strong as I had felt at the end of the northern hemisphere season at Easter. Having raced slalom at Cardrona three times previously however, I was feeling fairly confident despite my usual nerves. On the first day of slalom I scored an 86 – my personal best. Unfortunately I straddled on my second run of day two. Regardless I was very happy with my skiing and felt my confidence returning. 

Cardrona Slalom - photo taken by Martin Barwood

Tori and Tessa looking positive during
second run inspection despite
the foggy conditions
Following two days of slalom at Cardrona we moved onto Giant Slalom. The first day was not particularly successful result wise and my skiing was messy – on run one I misjudged the gate behind a roller and had to throw my skis sideways in order to make it (accompanied by my usual squeal). For this mistake I can only blame myself due to a poor inspection or lack of concentration but all in all I feel my GS has come on leaps and bounds since this time last year regardless of points and position. Day 2 we woke up to severe fog; after a sketchy warm up in varying visibility run one commenced. I finished in the top 30 however was not pleased at all with my skiing. This day was a reminder that I need to work on my mental approach so that conditions do not faze my attitude. Much to my relief run two was indeed cancelled as you could barely make out the second gate from the start area. 

Besides from skiing most afternoons we managed to catch highlights of the majority of Olympic events – I personally enjoyed watching GB’s successful performance in track cycling and also Tom Daley winning a bronze medal! 

Japanese FIS slalom
This year the snow was lacking slightly in comparison to previous years and the weather was generally a lot warmer, with much rain and fog. One morning our training was delayed by an hour and a half as freezing rain that fell in the night had caused the chairlift to break down; it had also created an ice rink in the car park which created a challenge during our daily warmup and stretches!! The poor conditions also caused grass and rocks to surface at one of the Japanese FIS slalom races at Coronet Peak – fortunately I chose not to race that day however in the photo you can see what some of our boys experienced!!

Fortunately a clear night followed causing the surface to freeze and the following day I competed in the second of the Japanese FIS slaloms. I skied fairly tentatively but overall my performance was neither bad nor good, and the points were somewhat disappointing. This also described my performance in the two Japanese FIS GS races on August 17th and 18th.

A very organised girls van with 18 sets of race skis!!
 I ended my trip with an ANC (Australian New Zealand Cup) slalom race at Coronet peak on August 21st in yet again more fog. Having skied 8 consecutive days I was feeling a little tired and my first run felt like a nightmare; I dropped my pole for a section of gates and it all seemed very messy on injected snow conditions. Time-wise it wasn’t too bad and my second run was reasonable. I finished 16th and scored 105, a decent score when racing against the liked of Eva-Maria Brem from the Austrian World Cup team.    

The following day I travelled home with a growing excitement inside of me to get back to Europe and compete in more slalom races this upcoming season. Once again a huge thanks to all the support I received from TCRA and in particular the Girls Team coaches Chrissi and Schreder, and of course to the head coach Guenther Birgmann. 

Myself and Tori Bell at the start of the Cardrona Slalom 

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