This is well and truly an overdue post. There's a lot to cover so it'll be kind of long....sorry!
Preseason started really well then dipped a bit. I'm proud to say that, like last year, I'm sliding better than ever and feeling fast, even if some days it felt the opposite. Starting in Calgary, CAN proved to be a good idea as it's a great place to get back into the swing of sliding. The track is one I know well and the additional training facilities of an ice house and well equipped gym are incredibly helpful. The first few weeks went well and I went into the first North America's Cup (one of the developmental circuits) races feeling very confident. Unfortunately, the races didn't go to plan. I'd been sliding fast all week but self inflicted, unconscious pressure took its toll and I tightened up on race day. Putting pressure on myself to perform isn't new and is something I'm working on to remedy. The fact that it's now an unconscious thought is something of a positive as at least now I'm more able to take the process focused mindset that works into the race. Taking the large amounts of positives from Calgary we moved to Whistler, CAN and that threw up it's own set of challenges.
Whistler is my favourite track and one I'd been looking forward to sliding since concussion kept me out of the World Cup there last season. However, it is incredibly challenging and unforgiving at times. Unfortunately it was in an unforgiving mood, we never clicked and the 2.5 weeks were pretty miserable for me. I went from sliding well to sliding scared (something that hurts to admit) and that NEVER equals fast. Suddenly all of my goals went out the window. We had to revert to getting back the love of sliding, my confidence and getting my head to a place that was somewhat conducive to racing. The most frustrating thing is when you know you can do something but for some reason nothing is working and your head isn't helping. I got glimpses of what I was capable of but mistakes higher up/ lower down the track combined with being incredibly tense cost me every single time.
The NAC race was purely a training exercise in the end as I just needed to be confident heading into the World Cup week. I was happy to be back amongst the best sliders in the world but it still wasn't coming. Probably because I was now trying to force the relaxation in the hope speed would follow. Race day I felt in a reasonable place, both physically and mentally but it wasn't enough. Finishing 21st in the first WC of the season again is incredibly disappointing. The only positive being that at least it wasn't as bad as the first race last season!
As much as that all sounds very negative, there were some positives to come out of it. For starters I finally pushed under 5s (a goal I've had for years) and learnt some very hard lessons. It might've sucked beyond belief but I'm glad it happened when it did. This way I can put strategies in place to combat what happened so that there's no repeats.
We're now in Lake Placid, USA prepping for our next World Cup race on Saturday (Sun morn AUS time). I'm very pleased to say that I'm feeling like myself again and sliding is back heading in the direction I want it. It might take a few more runs to iron out the kinks that crept in but it'll happen :)