So here I am back in Laax, Switzerland for the 4th year and my 4th British Championships. My first trip out was in 2005 and it was proably the scariest experience I’ve ever had. Each year it’s got a bit easier but I fully admit that the competiton park out here has always felt a little bit out of my reach, although I’ve improved year on year I’ve never felt fully happy with the way I’ve ridden. Part of that is my own high standards, and I think part of it is that it’s just too big a step up from riding in the UK for someone who only rides on real snow a week or two a year.
This year I’m doing my best to counter that by having a week of lessons focusing on kickers before the comp kicks off next Monday. It’s been good so far and Marc, my instructor, hasn’t laughed me off the mountain (thank goodness!). Yesterday we started off in the Beginner Park so that Marc could take a look at my level and make sure I would be able to put my money where my mouth is with the request of what I wanted to learn. He made a few tweaks to my binding angles and forward lean on my highbacks (I’m now riding +24, -12 as opposed to +21, -9) and he adjusted my body position running in to the kickers and I immediately felt less sketchy and a bit happier riding at speed. After we’d done a few laps of the park we moved over into the Swatch Park (part of NoName), where there’s a row of 3 kickers of increasing size (7m, 8m & 10m) and we started sessioning these. It’s always a bit un-nerving, I find, hitting new jumps but having survived the first run through, hitting the first 2 kickers I started to relax and enjoy myself. My 2 hours was soon up and after lunch I spent the afternoon working on my “homework” and practicing hitting the kickers ot get used to taing more speed into them and speed checking less. By the end of the day I’d hit all 3, although I did go a bit too fast over the last kicker and scared myself by almost clearing the landing.
Today was another good day, starting off straight away on the Swatch kickers we spent 2 hours building up my speed and as I became more settled I started to jump a bit more off the kickers rather than just riding over them. I’m still not quite able to over-ride my nerves between kicker 1 and kicker 2, Marc’s been trying to get me to hit the 2nd jump without speed checking but I keep putting in a little scrub of speed. I am getting better though.
Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to dump tomorrow (Metcheck), so I’m not sure what the conditions are going to be like for sessioning jumps or whether my lesson will be cancelled, I’ll just have to wait and see…if it doesn’t go ahead then it looks like I’ll be off with the boys playing in the powder.
These are the first two kickers in the Swatch Park