I write this from the plane to Denver – I’m flying Norwegian Air which was amazingly inexpensive - £230 before baggage etc. and I’m pleasantly surprised – there isn’t too much of a difference between this and BA (who I usually fly to the States with) so I’m very pleased.
I’m really excited to get to Winter Park and to get back on snow. In December I was in Pitztal for a training camp and races, which was really good (despite the races being cancelled due to very poor conditions). My skiing felt like it had really turned a corner and felt great. We were mostly freeskiing again which is really helpful but I’m also excited to get into some gates to get me prepared for racing. I am certain that my progress can be attributed to spending quite a bit of time at Chelski – the ski centre or ‘Urban Mountain’ which I have found has been really helpful in working on my body position and dialling it in, without the other factors that skiing on a mountain often presents, like poor visability, bumps, as well as bypassing t-bars and poma lifts that can be tiring and time consuming. For anyone looking for a bit of practice before going skiing this winter I really recommend giving it a try. Check them out: chel-ski.uk.
I’m (probably understandably) feeling slightly nervous, probably due to the early morning and slightly stressful arrival at Gatwick airport. Travelling with quite so much luggage when you’re relying on disability assistance for help with the kit isn’t particularly breezy, especially as there are no porters at Gatwick airport anymore which is usually what I’d use. But thankfully someone came to help and managed to squeeze my stuff onto a buggy usually reserved for transporting people and I met him at the check in desk. As usual, I was a little worried about my luggage weighing too much (five skis + outriggers in a single ski bag!) but thankfully it was all allowed through.
I now write this from my bedroom in Winter Park, I got in from skiing not long ago (third day here, third day out!) although I am taking a little time to acclimatise on the mountain. It’s very high up here so I get fatigued more easily than usual. That’ll settle soon enough though. I’ve been free-skiing so far, on the GB coach's advice, rather than getting straight into gates. I do, after all, have quite a bit of time here so am in no hurry. Especially as I intend to free-ski almost as much as train while I’m here so I can get them most out of my time here. I’m looking forward to doing all sorts of skiing here, getting better in powder, skiing some more trees (so far I’ve only skied fairly sparse tree sections which I’ve really enjoyed), as well as hitting some bigger jumps too. That, and lots of training of course. So many intentions – right now I’m in bed having sacked off my plan to go to the gym this afternoon! Better work on my stamina!
It’s lovely to be back, I feel so happy here and it’s great to see lots of friends. Winter Park is a really small town so it’s much friendlier than my home city of London. There’s a coffee shop I’ll go to everyday (finding a cup of Earl Grey essential right now after a morning skiing) and it’s nice to be welcomed by name each time by the lovely staff there. Same goes with the bus driver, NSCD staff, gym staff as well as the lifties, amongst others. It’s a world away from London and I feel really lucky to be able to experience living here as well.
One thing I’ve been doing which I’ve found really helpful is journaling my experiences, partly for my skiing as a training journal, but more really for myself. It was one of my GB teammates recommendations and she finds it really helps her mental health. This ski racing business can take a toll on one’s mental health, it’s competitive obviously, but for me it actually comes from being hard on myself. It’s New Year’s Eve today and, amongst other resolutions, I’m going to work on stopping comparing myself to others so much. Each of us have our own journeys and we need to carve our own destinies! Happy New Year everyone!