It’s been a mixed day for weather with heavy cloud hanging over the Boardercross course but it was well worth me heading up the mountain, although when I did my first run through the course. The first run through you get of the course is just side slipping through to check where each of the features is but without actually racing over it. A good thing too as you literally couldnâ€™t tell if you were going on a bend, roller or kicker until you were on it! Thankfully they sprayed everything with blue paint before we started our official warm-up runs so even when there was no sun you could at least see what you were about to hit.
I decided to drop in quite slowly for my first practice run, not slowly enough though as I sailed over the first kicker and saw the landing vanish way behind me and I landed on the flat half way to the first roller….speed checks and pre-ollies were definitely called for as you came out of the gate that was for sure. After a second warm-up run where I timed the first kicker a little better we started our timed qualification runs. We each had two of these to determine seeding and gate choices for the races themselves.
My first run was OK, but I was a bit unsettled on the triple rollers so was actually quite pleased when I arrived back at the start to find that the timer system had failed and I needed to do a further timed run. After catching my breath I dropped in for my first official timed run and the sun came out, this time I rode much better, rode smoothly over the rollers and then felt I’d done a good time. My second timed run wasn’t so good, I caught a heel edge as I went up the third roller and landed on my hip & back half way to the first corner…OUCH! Not only had I half lost my goggles but totally winded myself as well, I wasn’t going to let this stop me though so up I got and started riding to the next 2 bends, straightening my goggles as I went and frantically waiting for my lungs to refill with air. I have to say it’s quite a scary experience but I figured that my riding with my mouth open enough air would find its way in to me before I suffocated. Luckily I caught my breath before I hit the kicker line but it wasn’t enough and it turned out that I qualified in 2nd place, 0.7 of a second behind the first place qualifier. Suddenly my doing boardercross for fun did an about turn and I wanted to win.
We lined up for the final, and the start gates dropped, I got away in second behind Philippa Tattersall, the girl who’d beaten me in the timed runs, I had a feeling that she’d beat me away but I bided my time and hit the kicker a few feet behind her. Just as I thought, she’d taken it too fast and on overshooting the landing she fell, I landed, curved to the right and passed her as she lay in the snow. From this point on I focused on my technique and keeping as much speed as I could, I had no idea how close behind me she was so I hit the rollers, making sure I sucked my knees up to avoid getting air, rode the banks pumping to get faster and then just ploughed on to the finish. It worked and I won!
So that’s one comp down and 3 more to go, tomorrow is the Big Air and I’ll be aiming to hit the 13m kicker as well as I did last week. Hopefully the weather will be good and my legs will be good to me, I really want to land two good clean grabs and ride away without stacking this year, I believe I can do it; I just need to make sure my body believes it too.
A special mention has to go to Hayley Sutherland for competing alongside me, at 46 and only having been snowboarding for a year she overcame fear and panic to complete both timed runs and the race…a well deserved and earnt third place!