Yesterday was a rough day. Coming off of the best season of my life last year, I had a lot of expectations for myself this year. My skiing is coming along very well- I feel really strong, spins are becoming easier, amplitude is coming more effortlessly, but for some reason, the stars aren't quite aligning like they did last year.
Last week in qualifiers for Grand Prix a snow snake caught me going into my last hit, almost taking me down, but my strong legs kept me up. Then in finals, a low landing on an alley-oop 540 caused an insane pinch in my knee- shooting pain, and a bit of fear. Turns out I lopped off a piece of cartilage. For the next 5 days I just focused on getting the swelling out of my knee, eating well, minimizing sodium, physio, chiropractic, kinesiology, ice, ice, ice.
Tuesday was day one of training in the pipe at Breck. I took 4 runs through it. The swelling in my knee was causing my quad to shut down and I didn't trust my leg to handle anything but perfect landings. So I skied very little. Yesterday was qualifiers. My knee was significantly less swollen, and my quad seemed to be firing better. I warmed up with a run of straight airs. Then did a run with two 540s and an alley-oop. The third run I washed out on alley-oop, but gave in to the fall as to not hurt my knee. 4th run, Elana (my coach) got me fired up and I did a full safety run- 540 mute, mute grab, 540 japan, alley-oop critical, mute grab, tail grab, 720 tail. Phew. Finally a run had come together, not ideal, but it would do. Now I would need to do that again when it mattered. Ideally, land my first run and then do first hit 900 on my second run.
Wasn't in the cards. First run, first hit 540, landed high tranny and walked right out of my ski for no apparent reason. I went for a bit of slide down the pipe and took my time hiking back to my ski. Frustrated. Confused. But, it was a fluke. I can land this run in my sleep these days. Forget about, focus on the next run. Do the same thing, just better.
I got back up to the top and Todd Rash, my Volkl tech, tightened my bindings. They wouldn't be flying off for no reason this run. Some of the other girls' scores came in, and I knew that my run would score high enough to get me into finals, even though it wasn't my ideal run. Stick to the plan. Don't be distracted. You don't need the 900 right now, you can save it for finals. Save your knee. I dropped in for run 2, ready to get things done. Big 540 mute, safety grab, 540 japan, alley-oop mute, mute grab, tail grab, going really fast, don't hold back, 720 tail grab. Then the unexpected- left butt cheek nailed the deck, but somehow I stayed on my feet. Riding out switch. Wind knocked out of me. Sounds like demons are trying to exit my body through my lungs. The score came in 67.50- not enough to make finals.
More physical pain than I feel like dealing with. More emotional pain than I'm ready to deal with. As time passed, reality began to set in. The 2010 AFP World Champion in halfpipe, back-to-back X-Games Gold Medalist, didn't make finals at The Dew Tour. WTF? But such pressure is unnecessary. Sh*t happens. We can't be perfect every day of our lives. But somehow I expect myself to be. I expect myself to be superhuman. To be able to ski through injury, to ignore the pressure and stress that I'm feeling from home, pressure and stress that I feel from the industry, pressure and stress that is primarily manifested in my brain.
This is not me. This is not why I ski. I ski because I love it, I ski because it's fun. I ski to do my best on any given day. To make the most of my situation even when things aren't perfect. Well, Jen, guess what? Things weren't perfect yesterday, and you did make the most of it. Life will go on. The season is long. Without your health you can't ski at all. Take a break. Take time for yourself. Refresh, restart. Chill out. It's all good.
Find something you love and do it for life. I'm so lucky to have found what I love, but apparently I still need a reminder once and a while, that this is what I chose. Easy is boring. Skiing is hard, skiing is life.