Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Freeride World Tour, Stop 1: Revelstoke

words by Nat Segal

No matter how long or hard you train and prepare for a winter of competitions, the first is always fairly daunting. Despite having a history in competitive skiing, I always have butterflies the week leading up to a big event and this one is definitely the biggest so far.

For the last four years I have been competing in big mountain. Last winter I qualified for the Freeride World Tour. It's the boss of all big mountain events, the closest thing we have to a World Cup. There are five stops of the tour, starting in Revelstoke (CAN) this week and continuing on to Chamonix (FRA), Kirkwood (USA), Fiberbrunn (AUT) and Verbier (SUI). Naturally, I am trembling in my boots a little.

It's quite difficult to share the true nature of my butterflies without a bit of a background in big mountain competitions.

Imagine a big beautiful face like the one below. Choose a line to ski (a way down that is), try to imagine it backwards as if you were skiing it and assume everything is much different than it seems. Hike or take a helicopter to the top, wait and then stand alone in the start gate, praying that the left-hand couloir will take you to the 15ft air and not the mandatory 50ft exposure of rocks and then start skiing.

Mac Daddy Face, Revelstoke Mountain Resort
So you are skiing, remember that the judges want to see fast, fluid style but you have to stay in control. No bobbles or hesitations, they want to see you charge down the line like you are skiing a blue run. It's best to include either some exposure (skiing through/above rocks and chutes) or airtime to increase your overall impression. Halfway down your legs will be jelly but just keep on going, there will be no relief until the straight line out the bottom. Pop over your chosen cliffs, jump turn down the chute and enjoy the feeling when you realise that you have hit all your features and you can book it to the finish line.

That's about it. At the end of the run relief will flood over you. You will feel as if you have been skiing moguls all day but in fact you have only taken one lap.

Today marks the first day of Stop 1 of the FWT at Revelstoke. It is currently dumping pow outside and does not look like it wants to relent until later this week. Until that time, I will continue to ski pow, taming my nerves and telling them that when I hit the start gate I will know where I am going; that my body can take the fear and turn it into energy and that when I finally drop in for my comp run that I will feel nothing but pure enjoyment and purpose.

Wish me luck.

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