Snow season Wrap-up

Ever since I first started snowboarding, I have had the dream of living in a place where the mountains were accessible on a daily basis. Finally, after 5 years of driving up from the Bay, I moved to Tahoe. When the first snows started falling in November, it was like a dream come true. I even arranged my school schedule to I could snowboard 5 full days a week. I got a job next to my favorite ski resort. I didn’t think I would be on my college team, but after walking in on a meeting and asking if I could train with them, I found out I actually could be a part of the team. Everything was so great! I enthusiastically went to every single fall conditioning, thinking about all the pow I would be riding. I thought of all the friends I would make.

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My season started early, on November 6, riding the park at Boreal. It seemed like the season was off to a great start! I remember on “dead day” during finals in December, I went out to Northstar instead of studying. I landed 3 or 4 new tricks that day, which I was very happy with so early on in the season. After finals, I moved to Truckee for Winter break, five minutes from the slopes. And then, on day one of break, Injury number one hit. My doctor told me I was out for the season. Suddenly all the promise of the season melted away like the terrain park on a sunny, April day.

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I kept my hopes up. Between Christmas and New Years, I was able to snowboard in a sling with my family. It was fun and I was glad to be back. School started up again in mid-January, and I was competing with the college team and individually through USASA. I was back to training 5 days a week, and by the end of January, I felt I had fully recovered. In fact, on January 31, I said “I think I’m finally recovered from my injury! Time to start pushing it again!” So I tried a backflip.

I was so close, but backflips should be done in whole numbers. 0.8 backflips just didn’t cut it, and I what-used-to-be-my-good-arm was now my bad arm. That same day, my car broke for the 4th time since it caught on fire in November.

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This time, my determination was even greater, and I was back on snow within 4 days. I kept to a rigorous physical therapy routine, and knew that the season still had promise. I felt like I loved snowboarding even more than before my injuries. Two weeks after my second injury, I was off to regionals for the Collegiate competition league in Mammoth, where I would compete against the colleges from California and Nevada.

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First of all, Mammoth is the BOMB! And I felt like I was truly part of the team on that weekend road trip. Out of complete surprise, I ended up earning 3rd place in the Slopestyle event and 4th in snowboard cross. I attributed it entirely to good luck. A month later was Spring break and I skipped the tropical vacation and got to ride every day, including my birthday, on which I received several feet of snow and blue skies. A week later, I was in Colorado, competing in the USASA national championships. Its now the end of the season, and I can happily say I’ve had no more injuries

I didn’t plan on having 2 injuries. I didn’t plan on spending so many of those 89 days by myself. I didn’t plan on having my car catch on fire. Despite all this though, I am extremely grateful for how my season went. Considering my doctor told me I was out for the season with my first injury in December, my season has been phenomenal in comparison. My goal was 100 days. I got 90, and I had to take about 20 days off snow between both injuries. I got so many sunny park laps. Although I feel I did not improve as much as I would have liked, I can say I did my best with the circumstances. I am way more stoked that I tried a backflip than I would be if I had stayed safe and un-injured.

My season is actually not over. A week ago, I found out I would be working at a summer snowboarding camp starting in June. I am extremely stoked to have this opportunity, and to continue progressing in what is usually the of-season. My luck may have turned in December, but it has turned back around. I come out of this season stronger and with more confidence in my own determination. Without my setbacks, I would not have this.

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Nationals in Colorado

This is my third year doing competitive snowboarding, and my second time going to the USASA National championships in Copper, Colorado. You qualify by competing in local events. This season was difficult because of my two injuries, but I had made it.

I left on Thursday, March 31, getting a ride in the car with one of my good friends. The drive took about 20 hours total, and we did it over 2 days. Finally, on Friday evening, we arrived in Copper Colorado, ready for a full day of practicing on Saturday. I was to compete in Slopestyle, Rail Jam, and snowboard cross over the next week.

The most difficult part about this year was the fact that I did not have a coach with me there, unlike almost everyone else competing. although I knew what to do, I was lonely, and had no one to check in with, or talk to about my competition. I remember on Saturday, Practice day, I fell hard on my first practice run in snowboard cross. With no one to talk about it to, and no one to tell me how I could improve, I felt my day go downhill from there. I tried to pull myself out of it and be mentally strong, but it was very difficult.

Sunday was one of my best days. It was another practice day, and I spend the day riding in the course where my slopestyle competition would be held on Tuesday. After many runs trying to get the correct speed for the jumps, I finally felt confident and ready to conquer it! Later that day, I had a job interview with the resort, because I had applied to work in their summer snowboarding camp. Hopefully I get to spend my summer there snowboarding!

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On Tuesday, I had both Slopestyle and Rail Jam competitions. The weather was not ideal. It snowed all day, and with fresh snow on the ground, it was almost impossible to get enough speed to do the jumps. It turned from a Slopestyle competition into a brave-the-weather competition. However, I stayed on my feet and ended up in 11th place! I still wish I had been able to do as well as I had on Sunday, but I can’t control the weather, so there’s no point in being mad.

Although I do not consider myself a racer, snowboard cross went pretty well. Snowboard cross is the event where four people ride down a course with jumps, banked turns and other obstacles at the same time. Between Saturday and the competition on Wednesday, I got to ride the race course about 5 times. Every time, I fell coming out of the start gate. It was embarrassing, but the start gate was a vertical drop, leading up to a jump with a gap to clear. Having no coach didn’t help either. Finally, the run before my competition, I made it past the start! I fell in the middle of the course but I had the hardest part on lock. My goal was to go through the whole course without falling. Finally, in my race with other people, I made it through the course! Unfortunately, only the first place winner of the race advances to the next heat to race other winners. The other racer got in front of me in the beginning, and I stayed about 10 feet behind for the whole race. I still ended up in 9th overall because of my time trial, which is when they time you going through the course to solve any tiebreakers.

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Now that I am back from Nationals, it was a pretty fun week. I got to stay with my friend and we had some good times off the slopes as well. I am disappointed about the conditions on the slopestyle day, but there’s nothing I can do about it. The biggest thing I learned was the importance of having a coach. When I found out last minute that my coach from SNC would not be coming, I thought I could do it all myself. I did manage it, but it was difficult, and I felt it would have been a lot better with one. Although I knew what to do and how to snowboard, it was difficult being all by myself. My competition season may be over, but my season still has a few days left! The day after I got back, I left early to go to Squaw Valley and train freestyle with some awesome people. Competitions aren’t my motivation. I see them more as a by product of my hard work which is brought on by passion and love for doing my sport.

No Regrets

It is only February and I have had 2 injuries from snowboarding so far. Both of them were dislocated shoulders. I dislocated my left shoulder in December and my right shoulder in January. The first one was pure bad luck, but the second time was because I was trying a new trick.  I think getting hurt is part of snowboarding. A person can do as much as they can to avoid it, but in the end, it is a high risk sport. There’s got to be a first time for every trick.

Some might call trying a backflip on a snowboard pure stupidity or recklessness. I believe I made the right decision. I had literally done hundreds into a foam pit or trampoline. With some fresh snow to soften my landing, I got out there with my coach and set out on a mission to land that backflip. We found a good jump and hit it a few times. Finally it was time to go for it. Four times, I went up to the jump and changed my mind at the last millisecond. it was extremely frustrating. I imagined going home without trying the backflip, and knew in my heart that that day would not end that way. Finally, I went for it, and committed fully. That is the thing with backflips. If you do not commit fully, you land on your head. You could literally die. I figured as long as I got more than halfway around I would be fine. I made it about three quarters of the way around and crashed hard. I was so happy I had tried. Even when I knew I was hurt, at that moment I had no regrets.

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Both injuries were extremely painful and frustrating. The fact that I had to take time off my beloved sport was much worse than the initial pain of injury. I remember when I hurt my right shoulder, my left shoulder was not entirely healed. I was so helpless I could not even open doors for myself or carry anything.

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Before this season I had never had any serious injuries from snowboarding. It was easy for me to say that my passion for snowboarding would make me push through any obstacle, including injury, but putting that to the test was another issue. I used to wonder how I would deal with it. Would I really love snowboarding as much if it wrecked me?

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My first day back on snow after my second injury of the season

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Snowboarding with a view at Diamond Peak

It turned out that my two injuries had made me love snowboarding even more. Every time I felt pain from either shoulder, it was a reminder of how I had overcome my fears and rebelled against my cautious nature. I used to be one of the most careful people you would ever meet. As a kid, I didn’t do diving boards, roller coasters, or heights. When I started snowboarding, I didn’t turn into an adrenaline junkie overnight, but I had found a passion that would pull me out of my comfort zone. I think the danger and having a tangible way to overcome fears is what drew me to snowboarding. I may still not be fearless now, but I like to pretend I am.