It’s an early start for halfpipe training on a frosty July morning. It is still dark as I drag my stiff sleepy body out of the cafe onto the lift. I stand on top of the mountain, and breathe in the crisp cool air embracing me. I take in my surroundings as the sun begins to rise painting the entire mountain in its blazing colours of yellow and red. The inversion layer froths down below, over the sleepy town of Wanaka. I feel so blessed to be alive.
However I remember a time when I didn’t feel this confident before an event. A time when I couldn’t tap into the vibe which felt that nothing could go wrong, nothing was impossible and nothing would ever dampen this feeling of pure joy. It was a terrible day, one that I loathe to remember.
It started with the shrieking wind. As soon as I opened the door I felt it pounding against my body forcing me backwards. My heart began to sink; I couldn’t compete in these conditions, with no way I would do well. Negative thoughts continued to cloud my brain. “I don’t want to be here” is all I could think. Even worse, I made no attempt to push them away.
Once I got on the slopes, nothing had gone well. It was bitterly cold, training was going down hill and my head wasn’t in the game. Before I knew it, my name was being called to the dreaded start gate. The wind pressed against my body and held me back. Standing in the gate, I felt a false sense of hope. I finally pushed myself out, hearing nothing except the evil whistling of the wind and feeling the eyes of everyone watching me. All it took was the first jump for me to crumble; I felt the tears begin to run down my face.
At ten years old, failure was not part of my vocabulary yet; I had not planned for such an unexpected disaster. Even before my run had started though I had already crashed in my mind. It seems crazy; there was a time when I couldn’t rise to the occasion, when I couldn’t ski to my best ability, or unbelievably, when I wasn’t happy to be skiing at all.
Beams of sun begin to slowly melt the ice off my goggles, putting a smile on my face. Looking down the halfpipe, I get that rich feeling of being alive. I feel so fortunate and I know there is nowhere else I want to be right now. I cross my skis, look at the sky, pat my chest, breathe in the fresh, cool mountain air.
I am ready to compete.