Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Castle Mt., Alberta

Wednesday morning my father and I left YVR on a ski trip. I don't have a ski bag that fits my skis so I ended up having to wrap them in plastic bags and tape (not really that bad). We arrived in the Calgary airport and for a small extra fee, got a BMW 3 series as our rental car. Not only was it the new 2013 3 series, but it was the sport package which included AWD and a turbocharged four cylinder engine. Though I couldn't drive it due to restrictions on rental cars regarding age, I appreciated the heated seats and the surges that came when my dad (conservatively) put down the throttle.

After two hours on the road we arrived at Castle Mountain. One of the most appealing aspects of this trip for me wasn't just the Freeride World Qualifier taking place there, but the draw of skiing a new resort, something I hadn't done in over a year. Due to it's weather and geology and Castle features skiing almost the exact opposite of the BC coast I grew up skiing on. It's rocky, exposed and the fresh snow isn't brought as snowfall but is instead recycled around the mountain by it's harsh cold winds. The extremes of this mountain are visually emphasized by the small two or three person chairs that roll up the mountain. Even though most people visiting Castle are families and school groups, it is a very real mountain, with dangerous terrain surrounding it as well a dramatic views (no other mountain range in North America can contend with the Rockies dramatic landscape).

The first day was all joy, after meeting several people in our hotel/hostel I ran into my friend Dylan Siggers in the parking lot, whom I had no idea was even attending the event. I ran through the qualifying venue three times that day, getting a line that I felt was truly mine (except the last hit, but whatever). I can't say I slept well that night, something about being anywhere in Canada except for coastal BC messes with my body. I don't sleep well, my face dries up, and my stomach runs on hyperdrive. After a jalepeno-bacon pizza for lunch, my physical state before my run was deplorable. I was out of breath from the rocky 20 meter boot back and my stomach was doing flips as if it were preparing for a run I hadn't planned. I put on my music (below) full blast, committed to the mental affirmation of fuck it, and dropped in.



My run had for fairly well, thinking to myself that it could have been more in control in the turns, my confidence was boosted as the crowd seemed to appreciate the three I had done off the last air. Later that day I learned that run had put me in first by a decent margin. I couldn't believe it and left the meeting quietly. I walked down the highway ten minutes by myself, reflecting and thinking about the finals to come.  I had been doing these competitions for a few years, and despite having had some good (maybe better) runs I had never scored like this before. This particular result restored confidence in me, thinking that I am a contender in competitions, as I could ski a run like that almost anyday.

I didn't sleep well that night either, thinking about everything from winning to losing to falling all the way down the steep-treed finals venue. I figured out a line in inspection that if completed would score some points, but with only one run down, I lacked certainty in several features of it. After a second hike up and a long wait I was ready to drop in. This time I chose to listen to something slow, as a reminder that the venue was steep and that I had to slow it down and style it out to stay alive.



I woke up surrounded by ski patrol, headphones pulled from my ears along with my helmet and balaclava. It didn't take long to realize I had fallen, and lost my first place position. I went with the demands of the ski patrol but all I could think about was my loss, the fact that I was so close and had somehow screwed it up. I grew less upset and more concerned when I saw my dad, then realizing my fall may have looked bad. I was loaded into an ambulance and got to know a nice paramedic named Christine. I spent an hour and a half in the hospital getting my neck and leg scanned for fractures, but soon enough I was on my way back to the hotel.

It was only when I visited the my friends who saw my crash did I realize that I wasn't unlucky, but instead fortunate considering the injuries I had sustained. I had fallen a long way down a steep slope unconscious and only gotten a concussion and bruises. The words I received that night confirmed the tight and strong community that freeskiing holds. People that I hadn't known days before told me things that years from now I won't be able to reflect on without serious emotion.

I'm back in Van now, staying at my parents house, watching youtube and trying to get my gear back together. I'm probably going going to ski again in about a week, but there are a few steps between now and then, and my legs still hurt quite a bit. I'll work this weekend and see if I can ski by the time my new helmet arrives in the mail. Until then I'm going to rest hard, then train, then ski.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lately:

I'm not really sure how February went. I got to ski some deep snow at Whitewater one weekend and I suppose that was the highlight. I've been working more than I would like, some days finding my self getting two runs in before I start at 11 and then walking in frustrated because because my skiing felt weak. Since I've been going on some trips, I get back home and work 6 days straight and then leave again. I don't really mind though, other things stress me out.

After that weekend in Nelson I came home and didn't do any exercise. With all those hours on the road and me working at a BBQ restaurant, I simply felt fat. It's very hard for me to ski with confidence when I know I'm not at my full physical potential. I try to flex my muscles for assurance but nothings there, and then I feel the few pound or two of body fat that wasn't there a month ago. It brings me way down. I guess I'm back on a regiment, but I'm only a few workouts in and very sore. I could only take the apathy for so long so when I went back into the gym I did so with intensity and now every muscle in my body aches.

Right now I'm on my way to Castle Mt. for my only legitimate competition of this season, a Freeride World Qualifier. I'd be lying if I said that freeski competitions have worked out well for me in the past, but I think I have a lot of reasons to go to Castle. There is one main reason, and that is to show and prove. I can tell myself and others that I rank with sponsored skiers but to contend and emerge victorious amongst them in a competition provides a concrete statement. I hope I ski my best.

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