Three continents, four races, one world championship, 20 days. That is the snowboardcross team schedule this month.
We raced in Austria and had some good results. Now we are in the midst of the World Championships in Korea. I just finished racing snowboardcross on Sunday. The PGS in under way today and there's still PSL, halfpipe, and big air in the schedule.
Korea's mountain culture is very different from what we are accustomed to in B.C. The resort consists of one massive hotel at the base of the ski hill that's about twice the size of COP in Calgary. Koreans know how to have fun in the late hours of the night, or should I say the wee hours of the morning. On weekends, the lifts stay open until 3 a.m. There are speakers all over the hill that blare Korean pop music, and all the teenagers seem to know all the lyrics of every song.
I have been here three times and this year is the first time I saw a glimpse of what Korean powder is like. That being said, we only got about 5 cm in about two hours on the morning of race day. Other than that small snowfall, this part of the country doesn't seem to get any natural snow at all. The hills around the resort are bare and it's evident that the snow under our boards is 99.9 per cent man made.
The combination of man-made snow, a funky coastal moisture in the air, and the frigid nighttime temperatures of about minus 20 to minus 30 make for long hours for the team's board technicians. J.P. Trottier, our SBX tech, had his work cut out for him as even after one run the boards were getting edge burn.
Qualifying day didn't go as planned. According to Marcel Mattieu's timing (he's our technical coach/guru) our guys were running the fastest in most training runs. I was fast on the top half of the course but didn't have the bottom bit figured out.
Seven of the eight of us qualified for the finals, but not in the top spots. This usually isn't a big deal as the start sections of courses are usually fairly even. Unfortunately this course had a very narrow offset line into the first corner. This made for very little room for four riders to pass evenly into the rest of the course, so we had to fight for position all day - a disservice that you shouldn't set yourself to do for World Championships.
Needless to say, two of us made it through the rounds and got into the big finals. Tom Velisek and I were all geared up ready to go. We both had last pick for lane selection but luckily we both seemed to be fast out of gate. Not fast enough though. Both Tom and I were out of the second berm in fourth place... And remained that way until the finish.
Two top fours at Worlds is a good result, just not the results we were looking for. Own The Podium 2010 has invested money to help us perform, especially at big events where pressure plays a significant role in the race outcome. We need to be capable of handling that pressure well, very well, before next year. I'm very eager to get back into that zone as I did last year in February and March.
There are a couple more big events this season for us to do just that. We are heading to Aspen for the X-games to race this weekend. We then get a small break before showing our stuff at the Olympic venue at Cypress.