Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1st at the Brits 2009

My last competition of the season was the British national championships, AKA the Brits, which were held in Laax, Switzerland. It is odd, Britain is one of the only countries that hold their national snowboarding champs in a country other than their own.

The weather on the competition day was awful, the mist was coming in and out and at times you couldn’t see more than 50m in front of you. There was some doubt as to whether the comp would go ahead but after putting some dye onto the course to make it more visible the competition got underway.

Because of the time delay waiting for the dye we were restricted to only one training run each. That certainly made things interesting, although some people did sneak through to get two. Yes I am talking about you James Foster!

After the short training we had 2 qualification runs where my aim was to beat all the girls and as many of the guys as possible. I did fairly well coming 1st in the girls and 4th in the guys over the two runs.

Because there wasn’t lot of girls in the comp we only had 8 girls qualify through to the finals so we skipped straight to the semi finals. The weather had closed in before my semi final meaning we couldn’t see a thing! I got out in front right away thankfully so I knew I wasn’t going to catch anyone up and have to be able to see where they were in order to pass. I did get a bit worried when I passed one flag around a turn and couldn’t see the next flag through the mist, I had to just remember where it was and steer around what I thought was the correct side of it. I got it right, thankfully, and won the heat.

In the final there was me, Lesley Mckenna, Ivy Taylor and Dani Stone. I got into the lead out of the gate and led all the way down the course to win the gold with Lesley coming in 2nd, Dani 3rd and Ivy 4th.

I was obviously the favourite going into the race after competing at world cup snowboardcross all season so there was definitely some relief to go along with my happiness at winning.

Also competing in the Brits boardercross was another rider from the Isle of Man, where I come from! His name is Jonny Chan and I have been trying to help him out over the last few months with advice and tips as he has just started out competing this season. He had a good race qualifying in 2nd place in his age category only one hundredth of a second behind the winner and after the competition got invited to join the British Junior team, congrats to Jonny!

I am back in the Isle of Man now where I am for one week before heading back to Bath to start my fitness training for the summer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

World cup finals 2009

I just competed in the world cup finals held in Valmalenco, Italy.

There was a lot of wind during the qualifications which caused troubles for some of the riders who found themselves travelling faster or slower than expected over the jump section in the middle of the course. I managed to avoid most of the trouble to qualify for the finals in 4th place giving me 1st lane choice in my first heat and putting me in a great starting position.

I quickly got into 2nd position behind Olivia Nobs in my first heat and stayed there comfortably to go though to the semi finals.

In the semi finals I got into 2nd position fairly early on behind Dominique Maltais and it was looking like I was going to get through to the final easily until the second to last turn when Olivia made for a pass on the inside of the corner so I stayed high trying to keep my speed so she wouldn’t get in front. Then Dominique went off the hip jump at the end of the turn falling forwards over the nose of her board and because of the angle Olivia and I were travelling we went off the jump travelling in totally the wrong direction! We flew in the air while I did a kind of inverted 360 for what felt like an age before finally hitting the ground, and man did that impact hurt! I spun around a couple of times on the ground before getting back onto my feet and continuing down the course. Dominique was just ahead of me and on her board again after falling but moving very slowly so we both struggled over the last few features looking back over our shoulders for the girl who was in 4th to come flying past but she never came. I later found out that she had fallen half way down when behind us and had decided not to continue in the course after falling. Olivia never made it down after the fall as she had hurt her back so got stretched off the mountain. When I got to the bottom knowing I had qualified for the final along with Dominique all I could say was ow, ow, ow. I climbed onto the ski do to get back to the top and did a quick account of how my body was feeling after the crash. My right knee was pretty sore but I was sure it was just bruised along with my right hip, my right arm was feeling weak, sore and I couldn’t straighten it. I was most worried about the side of my face, I could feel that I had a scrape to my right temple and the feeling of a black eye coming on and the possibility of my eye getting stuck shut as well as a head ache and a small amount of dizziness.

I got to the top and let everyone in my team know I was basically ok after the crash which they had all watched on the TV screen at the top and winced heavily at (if you check out the news article for this event on this site there is a video showing it) There was then around a 20 minute delay while Olivia was being loaded into the stretcher. I used the time to try and calm myself down, stop myself shaking and decide if I was in good enough shape to ride in the final. If nothing else could I pull out of the start gate with how my arm was feeling?

By the time the girls final was called into the gate I had decided it would be safe for me to ride but I was going to have to be careful as I was still dizzy. I pulled out of the gate a little slowly, not surprisingly but passed into 3rd position without too much difficulty and managed to hold that position all the way down to finish in 3rd and take home the bronze medal.

It was really great to end the world cup season with a podium especially because my parents had come out to watch me and that was the first time they had seen me on the podium at a world cup. Also because of the extra points I won it pushed my world ranking up to 5th which is where I now finish the season, 2 places higher than last year.