It has been great here in Spain. I celebrated christmas in true Spanish style with Chio and her family! I am now in Sierra Nevada. A huge thanks to Chio for assisting in arranging me to train with the Spanish SX team and arranged lift passes and of course accommodating me.
We have managed to get in some good training early in the morning before the public come out to play, practising speed. We managed to do some start gate timing and practised a small wutang out of the starting gate. Thanks to the team for having me!
I will head to Granada on the 30th and celebrate New Years Eve down there before heading back to Munich on the 2nd January and onward to St Johann in Tirol, Austria for the next world cup. Be in touch soon!
I am writing this whilst sitting on a train from Munich to Innsbruck. After successfully driving the Vectra aka "Vicky Vectra" from the UK across to Austria, we were unfortunately greeted with pretty bad weather conditions, which kept Molltaller Glacier closed most days. The first world cups were rapidly approaching and I had not yet skied a single feature or pulled out of a starting gate.
I turned up to Innichen, not feeling the most prepared I have ever felt, but certainly with a smile on my face. It was FREEZING! Again, it was about –20degrees celcius. It was great to get back into a SX course, and the training was quite good. In the first race, I didn’t ski well, I made a big mistake on the most vital part of the course, the jump down onto the big flat turn. I was disappointed, not really by the result as I didn’t expect anything, but more than I made the same mistake so many runs in a row. The 2nd race I managed to get the jump right but still mucked up the turn on the flat, so a better time and certainly improvements but not really what I had hoped. I finished in 28th position on both days and now I am off the Spain to catch up with my good friend Chio and her family and have a rest, enjoy xmas, eat some jambon, throw some confetti, see Granada and train in Sierra Nevada with the Spanish SX team. I am looking forward to the races in January. I can’t wait for this year to end, 2011 will be a good year! Merry Xmas!
It has been a very busy couple of weeks! But it does feel good to know that after 8 years of University, very part time, I have finally completed my bachelor degree in Multimedia (Business Marketing).
I have also been offered a scholarship from Smart Connection to start a Diploma of Management in 2011, in return for being a guest speaker to their Diploma of fitness students. This is a great opportunity to continue my studies and obtain further qualifications in Management.
With my degree under my belt, I had my strength testing which all came out with great results, it has been an intense couple of months and it has been paying off which is always good to see. A huge thanks to Mick and Dave for all their help and support in the recent months.
So off I set, Europe bound, with a stopover in Beijing to catch up with an old friend who I used to ski race with before hitting the UK on the 1st December.
I will drive across to Austria on the 4th/5th of December (pending whether the Vectra will make it...but I have high hopes) and hope to start training on snow on the 6th December. First 2 World Cup competitions are on the 18th and 19th December in San Candido, Italy. With only a few days preperation on snow, I will take these first 2 comps as a bit of a warm up and training opportunity, before hopefully performing optimally in January.
I will be in touch soon!
Gemma Biggs is a friend whom I used to race for with many years at the Australian University Games. Now a qualified myotherapist and business owner, Gemma has kindly offered to assist me with massage and myotherapy treatment for this busy and intense training period.
Gemma has provided me with such great support. She is very knowledgeable and professional and has a very friendly and kind manner. She has helped me greatly through this difficult and intense training period and in my preparation for the forthcoming coming World Championships and busy World Cup season. I can not thank her sufficiently for her support.
I highly recommend Melbourne Myo to anyone needing professional musculoskeletal assessment, treatment or advice and thank them kindly for their support! Here is the link to their website:
On the 1st October, Andy and I took the early bird flight from Melbourne to Brisbane and made our way to Apollo to pick up our Apollo campervan and get on the road. It was a last minute decision to take this break away, but with 100% support from Apollo, they provided us with a campervan for 6 days and it was decided, we were going on a holiday! We were stoked to receive a brand new Apollo Campervan 2 Euro Berth with only 20km on the odometer!
Off we set, and headed north stopping at the Gingerbread Factory in Yandina (I was lured in by the gingerbread manon the highway) and it turned out the gingerbread factory was in fact not that interesting. However, we did enjoy a Devonshire tea and a lovely homemade scone with jam and cream right next door at a little guest house. I picked up a pamphlet on Lady Musgrave Island which is the most southern part of the Great Barrier Reef which is accessed by boat off the shore of 1770. This was a new addition to our agenda in two days time!
We departed 1770 at 8am on a 90 minute boat ride with 2-3 metre swells. It was a difficult boat ride, I didn’t think I got sea sick…well I do…as did most on board including the crew! But when we arrived at Lady Musgrave Island, wow, we were faced with the most amazing blue, calm, beautiful water. The Great Barrier Reef is seriously GREAT! We spent the day walking the island, held a sea cucumber, swimming with sea turtles, snorkelling, a fantastic buffet lunch and perfect weather. It was picture perfect and the crew were lovely! I particularly enjoyed the complimentary cheese and kransky on the boat ride home...which I might add was absolutely fine and really relaxing!
That night we drove to Bundaberg and slept there. We slept right on the beach front and in the morning travelled down to spend the day in Noosa. We cooked up a bbq right on the beach of Noosa Heads. We had amazing weather and lapped up the sun for the day.
We decided to spend out last day in Currumbin, so we travelled down in the morning and lapped up the 30 degree weather and enjoyed the warm waves before heading back to Brisbane to drop off our Apollo camper with over 2000km added to the odometer. Thanks to Apollo for providing us with the holiday we probably would not have had without their support. I am feeling refreshed and ready for a 7 week slog coming into the ski season :)
I have been very fortunate to have received a scholarship to do a diploma of management starting in 2011 through Smart Connection.
Smart Connection has asked me to give a lecture to their diploma of fitness students discussing my journey as an Olympic athlete, overcoming a serious health condition, open vascular surgery, the recovery process, and returning to the elite level and elite strength and conditioning programs.
In return for this service, I will be granted a scholarship to complete a diploma of management which will really increase my skills and make me more employable after my skiing career comes to an end. It is also nice to know I can further my education whilst competing over the next year or two, I like the balance it gives me in my day to day life.
I am very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to finishing my degree in Multimedia (Business Marketing) in November, before heading back to Europe and North America to follow the world cup season once again!
It was time for the Apollo Campervan shoot that we had been planning for months, so I got on an early flight to Queenstown NZ, where I was greeted by Sarah Murphy, NZ's biathlon Olympian. Sarah and I would be spending the next few days in an Apollo campervan travelling, living and laughing!
After relieving my toenail from built up pressure in my ski boots, with a red hot paperclip, off we set to the Mt Aspiring Campervan Site in Wanaka. I was greeted by the Project pro Extreme team, Nikki and Alex and Jasper the photographer, all the way from the Netherlands and Jason who was in charge of recording.
Sarah and I shared an Apollo 4-Berth Euro Camper. We each had a comfortable double bed, and loads of room for all our gear. We even had a toilet, refrigerator, shower, sink, cooker and TV! it was really comfortable! I slept like a baby, and come 5am, Nikki and Alex jumped on board and we drove up to Treble Cone whilst still in bed! We stepped out of the camper in the Treble Cone carpark to the most amazing view with a gorgeous sunrise, well worth the 5am wake up!
We got a number of magnificent photos and some great footage. We enjoyed a nice breakfast and headed up the mountain with head cams, Sarah on snowboard and myself on skis. We hiked up to the top of the summit and took runs in the saddle area, managing to get some great shots. The view from the top of the summit was breathtaking, (the walk up was rather breathtaking too haha). We were blessed with bright sunshine, amazing scenery and plenty of snow.
I had a few days in Wanaka and Queenstown and managed to catch up with Mitchey whom I spent a lot of the last 18 months training and travelling with world wide! Sarah also took me shooting, she was target practising and taught me how to use her gun which was pretty exciting! I also managed to squeeze in a trip to Cardrona to watch the World Junior Championships SX event, although I had to leave early in order to catch my bus to Christchurch airport.
All in all a great trip, short but sweet and very pleasurable!
Check out my new video too under Media Gallery - Videos...very cool!
Back to uni, training and mascotting, ciao for now!
I spent the week up at Hotham, my first time on snow this season. We were faced with variable difficult weather conditions. High winds, snowing, bad visibility and variable snow conditions. The Hotham events team did a great job, putting a lot of effort into getting the course prepared for an inspection/training on the Friday.
Saturday morning we were faced with similar conditions and we managed to get the qualification run off the ground. I was happy with my run, particularly after I entered one of the berms in the middle of the run expecting it to be ice, committing to the turn appropriately to find it was wind blown soft snomw which threw me back hitting my back on the ground pulling myself forward to continue the run, qualifying in 2nd place. The weather was too bad, and the snow too soft in areas to make it safe, so the finals were postponed until Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning the conditions were still difficult but the snow was harder and the course had been worked on . After qualifying in 2nd, I ended up with good gate selections, and progressed into the big final. I was pleased to find myself in such a good position after what has been a difficult year. It was myself, Katya (AUS), Yulia (RUS) and Violetta (RUS). I had a decent start but have to say I was justvery slow along the top flat, and found myself right on the back of Violetta in 4th place. As we progressed down the course, Violetta moved out to take more direction into the hip jump and I went more straight, causing us both to scream and land on top of each other over the hip, thank fully we both stayed up, and it was close coming into the final turns, and I finished in 4th position. I was pretty happy with the result as much as I would have liked to have held my 2nd place, but it was a good quality final and good racing all round!
In the second event, I qualified in 3rd place behind Katya(AUS) and Yulia(RUS) which I was again pretty pleased with. I progressed through each of the final heats, found myself achieve a nice overtake across the bridge in the semi final rouns, and yet again found myself comfortably in the big final. It was the same 4 of us battling for the podium once again. I had a pretty good start and once again just found myself slow across those top rollers, there wasn't any overtaking and I managed to enter the last couple of turns and crash out. After all the hiking up to the start gate which was about 200m above the chairlift fighting a head on wind, and 2 events worth of heats plus training runs all in one day, all our legs were pretty spent! All in all it was a great weekend of racing and I was stoked to find myself comfortably in the big final for both events. Be in touch soon!
I thought it was about time to write and give an update of where I am and what I am up to. As you will see I spent some time giving my website a facelift! I had quite a lot of new photos and content after my Olympic debut. I returned to Melbourne end of March, straight back into week 4 of University. I played catch up at uni and had a few much needed weeks break from training, trying to let my injuries heal up. I tried to get some wakeboarding in, but sadly that injury to my shin when I hit the fence persisted in giving me grief. Had a great time away at Bonnie Doon none the less.
I managed to pick up a job as a mascot. I work usually 3 or 4 times a week as Gilbert the Gecko (see photo below) which has proved to be really good fun. I am also assisting to run the snowsports dryland program at St Catherine's School in Melbourne. I am still working as a PA as well when needed. I have started back physical training and am coming into my last week for this semester at University. I will be completing my last subject next semester and should have my degree in Multimedia (Business Marketing) come November 2010. My 3 jobs are flexible and with just one subject at University next semester it should allow me quite a lot of time for training leading up to the next northern season. I am unsure of my plans this southern season, I will try to get on snow if I can, and have been asked to do a photoshoot in New Zealand early September for Apollo Campervans which is awesome. My injuries are getting better and physical gains are coming back slowly.
I rocked up to the event in Meiringen hobbling with bandages in my boots, full of anti inflammatories. They moved the course at Meiringen which I was happy about. The course looked good very busy but I knew in the pain I was in, this was going to be difficult for me. I took 4 pain killers and started training. The course was so busy that first run I got a little lost, and missed one section, I could feel the pan in my lower legs. 2nd run was an improvement and 3rd was going even better until I headed into the fastest section fo the course where there was a jump into a long compression with an up jump. As I was heading into the up jump full speed, approaching the take off, suddenly the gate keeper raised a yellow flag, I couldn't do anything! I started to panic, straightened my leg as a natural reaction, knowing dam well there was another competitor lying on the other side off the jump and I had no idea where, this caused me to launch off the jump, mid air I saw Sanna Luedi (SUI) lying in the fence, I knew I wasn't going to hit her, but I was heading straight for the fence lower down, I landed with a fence fast approaching and only had one thought in my head "Broken legs for sure" then a split second later BANG full speed flat ski straight into a fence. Isi the Spanish coach and one of the Canadian coaches came running to help. I was in pain but was ok considering. Now my tib/fib joint was really hurting me, my shins…well I had just gone straight over the top of them into a fence, so they were killing me and somehow I managed to tear/pull my groin quite badly, unsable to lift my leg. How any normal person would say...ok stop now. But no, I got to the top, in a decent amount of pain, to find out that training had been extended by 5 minutes because of my crash..and of course the only person who didn't get another run because of it..WAS ME!! Didn't make a lot of sense. I took 4 more pain killers, (taking the total to 8) and decided I wanted to do my qualification run so as not to finish the season with a full speed crash into the fence to dwell on over summer. Struggling to move at the top, with tears streaming down my face and the people closest to me on the circuit saying..."Sar maybe you should just stop now", I started my qualification run, produced a terrible time, and knew that my next stop was home. Ken was shocked I managed to finish granted my physical condition, I left Meiringen limping, knowing I was already finished mentally and emotionally but now I was finished physically as well. Just to top itoff, I broke my race skis too. Brilliant! A huge thank you to Ken, your help was very much appreciated. I spent the next 24 hours hobbling around, stiff with whip lash trying to book myself back to Australia as soon as possible.
A few minor things I need to achieve in the next 48 hours or so:
1. Getting to France to pick up my car after the back suspension broke off on the highway and we left it near a garage on the side of the road a month and a half earlier.
2. Driving the Vectra 12 hours back to the UK knowing dam well it probably won't make it further than Dijon
3. Changing my flight from Heathrow to Melbourne asap
4. Cancelling my flight to Spain (where the last world cup was)
5. Making it in time to catch my ferry to the UK after missing 2 buses and 2 trains to go and get my car, and what should have taken 4.5 hours taking 12.
6. Leaving the Vectra in Fareham with family and getting to Heathrow with all my luggage then venturing into London to pick up yet another bag of kit I had left there.
7. A short 32 hour journey home London to Melbourne via Honk Kong and Auckland.
Catch up on 3 weeks of university I have missed
A busy time, but I am looking forward to getting home, and spending the next month resting and catching up on University. "On the road again...like a band of gypsies we go down the highway..."
After spending much of my time at the Olympics filled with disappointment, suddenly it was the closing ceremony and Team GB was off on a BA flight back to London. The next event was in Sweden in Branas, and whilst I felt like I wasn't really there mentally or emotionally, I made my self press on as usual. I flew to Stockholm Arlanda and got a lift with Tuomas from Finland to Branas (About 5 hours) rocking out to his favourite death metal tracks along the way...I was stoked when he pulled out his Roxette cd for a change... I can assure you!! The course in Branas last year was amazing, fast paced, lots of features, big jumps down the last flat, and big double/triple along the last run into the last jump. I had always planned to atleast finish the season with Branas as the course was great. This year it was flat, no features, tiny rollers you could absorb and a total gliding race. In training I managed to get off balance in the air off the last jump, landing on my inside edge and I think hitting my femur straight onto the top of my tib/fib joint. Nothing painkillers couldn't get rid of. So other than starfishing off the first jump, I just wasn't fast which just added to my mental/emotional burden. Chio had an equally disappointing time there in Branas and we both decided maybe the Europa Cups in Spain were looking more appealing than the following world cups in Swizterland. Unfortunately due to bad weather the races in Spain looked like they weren't going to go ahead, so it was a 5 hour death metal filled ride back to Stockholm with Tuomas (greatly appreciated) and onwards to Geneva. I did find it a little strange at Arlanda Stockholm airport (The supporting airport of the Swedish Olympic Team) that when I tried to check in my 20kg ski bag with two pairs of race skis in it, that they refused and said we can not have two pairs off skis in one bag, it is against the airport rules. Now I gotta be honest, I am not convinced that Anja Paerson travelled to the Olympic Games with 20 ski bags for her 20 pairs of skis. But even better, they handed me a plastic bag to put the other pair in. (Not convinced Anja Paerson travelled with her race skis in plastic bags either!!!!) With tears dwelling in my eyes, I asked to speak to a manager and tried to explain to them that I simply could not travel with my world cup race stock competition skis in a plastic bag. After 45 minutes of arguing, a long queue accumulating behind me, and my boarding time approaching, I gave in and yes my world cup skis travelled to Geneva in a Scandinavian airlines plastic bag. What was better was upon arrival in Geneva, bumping into Jeff Sadis the tech for a few girls on the circuit, who had lost all his luggage and was fuming, however, managed to crack a big smile and have a good laugh as I cruised up to him with my skis in a SAS plastic bag over my shoulder. It was then that Jeff came out with one of the finest comments I have ever heard, and it was so accurate that it almost made me cry "It shits me how much of this sport is not to do with what you actually do on the race course" and that is it right there, the story of my skiing career.
Three words to describe my Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic experience... Amazing, inspiring and disappointing.
On the 23rd February I headed to Cypress Mountain for my Olympic debut. The conditions changed from bright sunshine that we had all week for training, to cloudy with wet snow falls. My training had been going well all week. Along with most of the competitors I sat in the tent at the top of the course watching the live coverage of the first few competitors, if I could go back in time, I would change this... but I can't. I sat watching the first 24 competitors go down the Cypress Mountain Olympic course before deciding to get myself prepared. I started to shake while watching the other competitors and left the tent feeling breathless and stressed. I don't know why this happened, no one had put any pressure on me, and no one had any expectations of me, after all my life long dream was to get to the Olympic Games, I was living my dream, yet I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to perform just ten minutes prior to my qualification run. I don't think I will ever understand what happened that day.
I left the starting gate, missing my start, missing my pole plant, twisting sideways and barely making it over the first "Aztec wu-tang" feature. Interestingly all the competitors had spent most of their training time just practising the first two features, we had all never skied anything like them, amazingly the Canadians flew over them with no problem every run... amazing what a year of training on them will do. I lost 1.5 seconds from the winner in the first 10metres. On a good day I will be 2.5seconds behind on a full length World Cup course of 1minute8sec in length. The course in Cypress was 1.2km and I had already lost 1.5 seconds in 10metres. If that wasn't the start to a shocker...I don't know what is. I continued on down the course after a terrible start trying to catch up time. The first few features I skied well, then about a third of the way down off the big Olympic ring jump I landed long, took an indirect line and just lost all my speed heading into the flat section of the course. I unfortunately had lost my speed and couldn't do anything about it. I didn't manage to clear the jumps along the flat (which had not happened on any ofther run!!!), I had an on coming head wind and I hit the back side of the triple and the double, and then landed dead flat on the corner jump, crawling into the two final jumps. I knew I had stuffed the run up, when I saw I was 33rd with one more competitor to go, I felt disappointment, I smiled for the camera tried to appreciate my Olympic experience. But when I saw the final time on the scoreboard, that is when I just fell into a heap. The time was really slow, slower than I could even imagine. I had never been that far out in my life... why did it have to be on the one day I have worked towards for 14 years when the whole world is watching???
I finished the event in 34th position. I was totally disappointed as I had been so competitive at the events coming into the Olympics. I think my result was a representation of what I had endured physically, mentally and emotionally in my journey to the Olympic Games but I guess I had hoped it might all finally fall into place, and instead it was quite the opposite. Everyone keeps trying to remind me I am one of only 35 women in the world who qualified for the Olympic Games for ski cross. I know I travelled a different journey to most, I know how hard I worked to get there, and then I got there and it was satisfying. But for a result that bad to come along and crush that dream which I managed to achieve, it is pretty devastating. I spent a lot of the following days in Vancouver punishing myself over it. It is easy to say snap out of it and appreciate what you have achieved...but I guess you always want more. I don't think I will ever be satisfied with my Olympic experience, I am better than that, but maybe one day I will be able to appreciate the hard journey in achieving my dream.
After days of devastation, I was pretty pleased to have achieved swapping my GB pins for an official pin from all 17 nations that competed in ladies ski cross. My collection is complete.
The closing ceremony was was a great event. I would describe it as organised chaos, but it was enjoyable. Last night we had a final athletes party in the athletes lounge in the Vancouver village. After punishing myself all week and not hitting the town at all, I decided to give it a go. I thought it wasn't going to happen after enjoying a cup of tea with Chio at mid night. We gave it one last shot and thankfully I felt a change and we danced into the early morning. I managed to swap a number of pieces of clothing that night - a Czech Republic pyjama top, Swiss furry jacket, Swedish T-shirt and a Danish Curling top (I tried my heart out to get the men's Norwegian curling pants with colourful diamonds all over them, but he refused! He said it was because he had to do media stuff upon his return... I wasn't convinced...all in all, my outfit was incomplete). Overall a good night and finally a smile on my face. I have really enoyed the company of my GB Freestyle team mates Sarah Ainsworth (aerials) and Ellie Koyander (moguls). It has been a great experience for the three of us and I look forward to reuniting at the next major freestyle event.
Team GB departs the village today. We will set off for a final team lunch on the water, before heading to Vancouver airport and flying back to Heathrow. It has been fantastic to meet so many athletes from other sports.
I have extended my trip to try and finish the remainder of the ski cross season, I just haven't had a chance to enjoy myself this season and I need to remember why I do this sport, why I love this sport and why I enjoy this sport. I can't say I feel good at the moment, but hopefully after another month of events I will. Then back to University to play catch up and hope to knock a few more subjects off the list. My next goal is to complete my University degree by the end of 2010. An Olympic Games and a degree in one year would be pretty pleasing. I am now in the process of trying to realise my next life goal. I will be in touch soon.
So I am back in Vancouver and have had two days training on the course at Cypress. For a mountain with no snow...they have done a great job! The ski cross course at Cypress is ..in a word...big!!! Out of the start you have sharp steps cut into the snow followed by two large wu-tangs, when I say large, they are 15feet! They also have steps cut out of them, making it even more difficult to clear, making the start super important! After these, the course really starts to get busy and fast! You take a big jump into the first banked turn, and then you follow a long track of big jumps, double rollers, banked corners, step ups, step downs, a triple, a corner jump and finishing with the 2nd last jump that kicks you high into the air, with a long flat section coming into the last jump built from scaffolding and wood, which is 4.5m high, throwing you half way down the landing ramp and into the finishing area. It is a long busy course, some describe it "like doing 60 squats with heavy weight".
The mens event was spectacular today! Michael Schmid from Switzerland being unbeatable, clearing out on the competition, Andreas Matt of Austria in 2nd and Audun Groenwald of Norway snapping up the bronze after Chris Delbosco, the Canadian favourite got thrown high into the air on the 2nd last jump and crashing down on his side. The whole event was just spectacular and truly intense to watch!
We have another day of training tomorrow before the ladies ski cross kicks off on the 23rd with qualification 10.30am Vancouver time and the finals starting 1pm. Training has been going really well for me so I hopeit all comes together on the 23rd. I am super excited!!!!!!!!! A few photos below with the ski cross ladies while waiting for the bus to Cypress, roasting in the sun!!! And the view of the athletes village from across the river!