Deciding to sit out on the World Cup races in Germany early this February could have affected me in two ways heading to the Olympic test event in Russia. The time away from competition could have left me rusty and lacking confidence. Obviously this wouldn’t be a beneficial state to be in heading into what is arguably the most important race of this season. I used the time off to my advantage and really worked on getting strong again, becoming faster, fixing small nagging muscle problems at physio and using visualization techniques as much as possible to keep my head in the game. Looking back now, I can say that staying back to rejuvenate my body was the best thing I could have done to prepare me for this next lag of racing.
The course in Sochi, Russia was the biggest we have seen all year. The jumps were intimidating, there were new features I had never before seem and to top things off we were amongst one of those ever popular coastal storms that wouldn’t blow away. A temperamental Mother Nature seems to be the theme for this years racing schedule. To date, two of the nine races this season have been cancelled due to uncooperative weather systems; we were not willing to lose this race too. The first two days of training were completely cancelled leaving us with two more days to run training, qualifying and finals. In a miracle act of what seemed to be choreographed pockets of visibility mixed with rigorous course maintenance the race got off successfully, and not a minute too soon; less than 5 minutes after the men’s final heat of racers crossed the finish line the clouds above began to dispel their contents.
My race day went smoothly and I saw myself in the finals with teammate Marielle Thompson and two Swiss racers. When we were getting lined up for the finals I overheard one of the ski technicians talking to his athlete in a last minute attempt to fire her up as much as possible. Little did he know that his words would benefit me more than they benefited her. He said to his athlete, “Ok it’s your turn to do well, you’ve got this”. I thought to myself, “screw that, we don’t take turns here. Whoever wins today wins because they deserve it, not because it was simply their turn”. Ironically for my competitor the words that were supposed to give her the confidence to succeed gave me the confidence to win. I pulled out of the start with all my might and found myself in the lead. I knew the other girls wouldn’t be far behind so I focused on staying as aerodynamic as possible while working every but of terrain that lay in front of me. Twice I felt someone come from behind to try to make a pass on the inside of a turn; I kept my energy moving forwards and was able to hold her off. Desperate to make the pass into first Fanny tried to pull a risky manoeuvre on the last turn of the course. She ended up landing on my leg and skidded to her side. At that point I knew I had won the race. I hadn’t just won any race though, I had won the race where the Olympics will be held in one year from now. Boohyah!!