Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winter Olympics - Vancouver 2010

On Tuesday I competed in the biggest event of my career so far, the winter Olympics, out here in Vancouver. The snowboarding event was held at Cypress mountain which is just on the outskirts of Vancouver.

The day started early for me when I got up at 5am in time for an 8:30am competition start. When we got up to the mountain the competition then got delayed by 2 hours due to fog. I made the most of the time and found a quite spot to have a nap.

Once we got going at 10:30 the sun had come out a bit so we had a quick inspection of the course then 40 minutes training before qualifications began.

I was 3rd to go on the first qualification run and when I got into the start gate the cloud came over again, they held the competition temporarily thinking it would clear in the next few minutes. This was pretty nerve wracking as I was at the biggest comp of my life and I am stuck in the start gate (with a camera looking at me the whole time) waiting to go. Somehow I managed to keep myself relatively calm until I was allowed to go a whole 12 minutes later, those 12 minutes felt like about a year!

I had a solid first run, the visibility wasn’t perfect but I had raced in worse before. That run put me into 5th place.

On the second run I had perfect visibility, I was having a good run until I caught the front edge of my board as I landed awkwardly over a jump and did a front flip! I remember realizing I was about to face-plant very hard into the ground and my gymnastics training from when I was younger kicked in making me tuck my head in and flipped over to land on my back, I have been told by a few people since that it was one of the best saves they have ever seen, although I am yet to see it myself.

After everyone had completed their second run I was then in 8th place which gave me 2nd lane choice in my first heat. I had a good start and did the first few features well to settle into second place behind Mellie Francon who had won the qualifications, with the other two girls behind us, we crossed the line in that order meaning I and Mellie progressed through to the semi finals.

In my semi final heat I had last lane choice so I was stuck with the far right gate. My start was good again (it looks like all that dry slope start gate training in the summer helped) but I didn’t do the first few features quite as well so I was back in 4th around the first turn, I clipped boards slightly with Mellie going off the second jump which caused me to land too far down the landing and lose some speed. Then Mellie made a mistake around the next corner and I overtook her putting me into 3rd place and needing to get into the top two to get through to the final. I of course went for it with everything I had! I was going as quick as I could to try and overtake, then I went off one of the doubles and overshot the landing because of the extra speed I had, I managed to stay on my feet but on the landing I had landed on my back foot on the up ramp of the next roller then got kind of slingshot onto my front foot twisting my knee quite badly. I carried on riding but my knee just wouldn’t let me push into the turns to make up speed meaning I couldn’t catch the other girls up and finished in third putting me into the small final.

I had made it through that round on pure adrenalin but by the time I got back up to the top I had serious doubts about my knee. I got advice from the BOA doctor and physio who were there with me and then I had to choose if I was going to race in the small final or not. I think if it had been the big final I may have taken the risk and tried racing but as it was I was unable to hold the pressure against the snow around the corners and more concerning I couldn’t move my knees up quickly on the take offs of the jumps to suck them up and prevent myself from flying to far or out of control, so I decided not to race and prevent myself from injuring myself even worse by riding without being able to handle the features properly. I pulled out of the start gate in the small final to secure my 8th place but stopped after 2 metres.

All in all with all the problems I faced in the last 12 months on the run up to the games with my governing body going bust and closing my training program down over the summer I am very happy with the result, I was trying to get a medal as I always am but I did everything I could in the preparation and on the day that I could possibly have done and that’s all I can ever ask of myself.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me, BOA, UK sport, EIS, IOM sport, and of course my personal sponsors Pokerstars, BMW, BA, Sno!zone, Donek, Sony, Briton engineering, my whole family who were in the stands, and last but not least everyone who was watching the competition on the TV or over the internet and was cheering for me:)