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Step Two; The First World Cup Tour

Lake Placid was the first FIS Freestyle Aerials World Cup of the season – and my first time competing on the world stage.

It went nothing like I wanted it to, and nothing like I had planned for. The lead up was hard, and my jumps were nowhere near where I was or knew I was capable of.

The day before the competition I had landed on top of the knoll pile. This is when a skier ski’s into the jump too slow (due to wind and snow what was unpredictable), and barely makes it off. Though I managed to get off the jump and still do 2 rotations, I landed flat on my face and stomach on the flat area behind the jump before the landing hill starts. Boy, did it knock the wind out of me. And also, my confidence. Since that I had a hard time getting my jumps back to normal.

I jumped in my first world cup – and didn’t land. Results were never something I was expecting in my first season – but I did expect to jump how I previously trained and how I know I can jump. It was a disappointing day and I knew I was a better competitor than that.

And it hurt. It hurt because I knew I was better than this. But I just couldn’t seem to find it within me at that point in time.

Those weeks tested me, and my patience also.

I had to dig deep. I sat by myself many times and asked myself why I am here.

I sat there and considered what the point of doing this is, if I’m not having fun. It sounds cliché I know, but truly. I definitely don’t do it for the money, I don’t do it for anything else other than how much I truly love this sport Freestyle Aerial skiing. Regardless of the results now and in the future, I am in love with the adrenaline this sport makes me feel. I will bring this with me wherever I go in this season (and in my whole career).

Next, was the World Championships in Deer Valley, Utah. This was the event I had been aiming for since I started training for the summer at the beginning of the year. But due to some windy circumstances – I over rotated, landed on my back and concussed myself.

It was heartbreaking. When you work so hard for something and get so close to achieving it. And whilst I love watching everyone compete, the worst part is sitting on the sidelines, knowing you could have been up there competing for your country. But that is life, and that is sport. Sometimes it sucks, it hurts to keep your head held up high, and it’s not always fair.

One thing I have learn over the past year is how resilient you can be if you really want something.

All I can do in these circumstances is never give up and keep going until I reach where I know I can be.

 

The next World Cup was in Moscow, Russia. I wanted so badly to compete there and show what I could do. But due to the concussion coupled with a stomach virus that lasted 6 days with no proper meals, I did not end up getting off the jump. I was frustrated, and that is an understatement.

 

Next up was Minsk. Due to windy conditions, training was limited, and it wasn’t until competition day that I was able to go off the double again since my concussion. I ended up 13th that day – I was happy with my jump but 13th is a hard position to be in because that means you miss out on finals by one spot. The next day they held the first Synchro Aerials Event. I was partnered with my team mate (and 2015 World Champion) Laura Peel – which we ended up placing 3rd. It’s such a great event and in a sport that is solely focused on an individual’s performance, it was a breath of fresh air to be in a partnership. I want to push it become a World Cup event and further to that, an Olympic event.

 

The last stop of the tour was China. I felt good about this event, and I was ready. My training was some of the best I had this season, and so was my confidence. Unfortunately, the warm weather and wind, and my lack of experience left me to finish on not so desirable jumps.

Now the season was over.

This was my first World Cup Tour and my first season competing with 2 new skills. Unfortunately, my competition results didn’t reflect the better part of my training. I had some ups, and some real downs, but learnt more than what I could have possibly imagined. I am overall completely happy with my training on and off the snow, and I ignited a bright fire within myself to become the athlete I want to be (and that I know I can be).

None of this would have been possible without the support team surrounding me this year, to them I am extremely grateful.

 

I’m already hungry for the next season, where I will be doing new jumps, climbing the ladder and keeping my eyes on the prize.

Posted by Abbey Willcox.