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Tsubota striving to reach new heights

Freestyle skier looks to reBOUND after Olympic crash



Slopestyle skier Yuki Tsubota was eager to get back on the mountain after the first blast of new snow.

The 20-year-old Whistler resident participated in her first Winter Olympic Games in February, finishing sixth in the women's event, despite a crash on her final run which left her with a concussion and broken cheekbone. She had to be stretchered off the course.

Tsubota had surgery for her cheekbone shortly after returning to Canada, and resumed skiing three weeks after the injury.

Still, she acknowledged it took her a little longer than expected to recover the mindset she needs to have, explaining it was gradual process that seemed to finally complete itself at a training camp that wrapped up in Calgary last week.

"This camp was good. I had a tough time this summer getting back into things — I was a lot more scared than I thought I'd be getting jumping again," she recalled. "We did four summer camps this summer, and it was only into the last one that I started doing the tricks I was doing in the wintertime."

Tsubota added that in addition to recapturing her old tricks, she was even able to add a couple new ones to her repertoire.

She noted some of her preferences may have slightly dampened some enthusiasm in the early-going, but said the approach thart time heals all wounds has worked.

"It's weird — I just felt ready," she said. "I honestly prefer winter skiing more than summer skiing. I'm not the biggest fan of summer skiing, so it might have something to do with that."

Tsubota said making her first charge to the Olympics was challenging, but with a little time off to recharge, is focused on the lighter 2014-15 season, which begins next week in Colorado.

"It was a push. Two years leading up to it, everything was about the Olympics — every contest, every meeting, every training camp," she recalled. "It was like all the contests were qualifiers for the Olympics and if you could do well, you could qualify.

'"I've had quite a few months off now. It was stressful and it's just nice to get back to reality and go back to my old life."

Tsubota explained that according to her current plans, her Olympic career might very well be halfway — or more — completed. After the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, she hopes to study either real estate or business marketing.

"I'm still young and I'll be 24 for the next Olympics, and I'm not going to retire from skiing, but I think from competing, I will," she said. "I'm not going to say for sure, but I'd really like to go to school."

Squamish halfpipe skier Roz Groenewoud, who was seventh at the 2014 Olympics, is also on the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association women's team this year.