I am so excited to race around the world this year achieving new goals at a higher level than ever before. Twenty-Thirteen is kicking off as a great start to something very special for me. It is a year where I have started a couple (too many) goal achieving processes that I hope to actually enjoy or at least focus more on enjoying the actual process of the achievable goals I have set for myself. I am amped up on snowboarding and my goal to win gold in Sochi, not only next month but next year at the 2014 Games. I have new business goals with a crew development in Vancouver with two new landscape designs underway. In addition, I just want to be happier… plain and simple.
This year started as best it could. No, I am not a New Year’s Eve type of guy, I am the day before New Year’s Eve fresh start type of guy. On December 30th, for the last 12 years, it is a solace remembrance of how lucky I am to be alive. I did my annual pilgrimage to the top of Blackcomb Mtn., took in the sites and surfed on bye the cliff in the glacier I didn’t see that took part of my life away from me. As I pass, I accept it and smile on the new life it laid out for me. This year it was sunny and fresh. I felt invigorated and actually energized to start a new year.
The year started off with a bang! It was an honour to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award for my efforts helping get the sport I love recognized as a sport in Canada for people living with a disability. This is something so special that I don’t think I even realize the great depth of it yet. I am just so happy that our sport that many of us have worked tirelessly for the last decade to get recognized is now a paralympic event for 2014. Although I already have the immense pressure lifted off my shoulders, pressure put on by my own ego, I feel I have already won by succeeding at my goal. having Snowboarding in the Paralympic program means countries around the world will now build learning and development programs for children to snowboard. In many places and in more recent times, children with a disability were told they should ski, because that is what people new to teach to the disabled. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to learn to ski before you learn to snowboard, but a kid should be able to do what he or she wants. So if they want to snowboard with their friends who probably do not have any physical disabilities, then they should. Heck, to be frank, most people missing a limb don’t want people to notice and in snowboarding people wear their prosthetic and kids with CP look natural on a snowboard; it is cool and fun and a healthy activity. I can’t express how satisfied I am that snowboarding is now part of the International Paralympic Committee Sport Program. Although it isn’t perfect, it is a start and we are having fun doing it and I am so honoured to be recognized for being part of the many people who helped make this dream a reality. You often can’t succeed at a goal by yourself and I am gracious to be one of many who helped lead this effort.
Speaking of effort, holly cow, was this past weekend a dangerous but exciting race weekend on an amazing course at Copper Mountain. I was so intimidated coming in, knowing the features were made for top level riders in the world (able body riders), but I overcame my fears because I was confident in my training; The process to win and achieve goals. I was exhausted and in pain. The week before we raced at Sierra Tahoe and the course was perfect for our race group in my opinion. It was about going as fast as you can and utilize every effort to attack the course as fast as you can without much worry of injury. The irony is, I did get injured as I caught a toe edge trying to stop after a training run. My Shoulder is done for a couple weeks and I have to shelf my goal of completing the 55km Cross Country Ski Loppet in Gatineau, QC on February 16th. It’s Ok, but I am bummed. Nonetheless, back to Snowboarding, I was going for gold and slid out on an icy (simple) corner on the first run, I put in an adequate 2nd run that put me in 3rd which brought me to the start line of my last run trying to win it all. I knew what I needed to do and was going super fast and that made me change my race plan on the fly and I decided to jump over a feature I had previously been absorbing or rolling and there was my mistake because I didn’t practice it and I hit the knuckle and it tossed me forward and out of podium contention once I hit the ground and lost control. It was a “If You’re Not First Your Last” moment and a choice I am fine with. I was in the “Go for Gold or go Home” State of mind. I came 14th instead of top 3 because you need 3 clean runs. Copper Mountain on the other hand had a very difficult course and I took a cautious run first run (4th fastest) and on the second run I gave it my all and had a very hard fall after a 70’ feature where I caught and edge throwing me to the ground straight onto my back and head. It was a pretty violent crash going for super fast to a thud and a stop without a bounce. I winced in pain and went up for my third and last run. I was convinced to play it safe and go for a 4th place at worse. I could have gone for 3rd but it wasn’t in the cards and I don’t think I could touch 2nd or 1st. That is racing and these races were great training and do not really affect my standings. It is always good to be up there and to be the fastest Canadian.
I have had a couple wipe outs in the last few races that I could have won and I am trying to find the balance between a shot for Gold and Playing it Smart so that if I don’t win gold I am on or at least close to the podium. My strategy will become a safe competent run first, a golden run second and if it works, a golden run third. If my second run is a mess, then depending on the course I will decide to either put it all on the line or play it safe. I don’t mind losing, I just don’t want any regrets.
So that brings us to today, resting and developing a game plan for the Sochi test event and two world cups in March. I will be a away for a while but I hope to not only do my best but get back up on the podium and it will be some serious training and rest in between. I am just trying to figure out and affective training plan that is far more quality over quantity do to my injury and to my lack of restful sleep. These are things I need to work on. Plus being happy; I just want to enjoy the process as much as and more than the outcome. That way it is fun and fulfilling.
Next Stop Sochi!