Monday, February 18, 2008

Adventures in the World of Comps

Well, I jumped back in to the comp scene again after a two year hiatus. The only thing holding me back was fear of failure, so why not sign up at the last minute again and go for it?
US Freeskiing Logo
To quote some greats:

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you must stop and look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Mark Twain: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear— not absence of fear.”

Herodotus: “Great deeds are usually wrought at great risk”
Get the idea?

So many people never achieve what they are truly capable of because they never get started, mostly due to fear. The fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of the unknown, all seem to be an inhibitor- but learning to face our fears and to then take action anyway, is the foundation of success in anything we do.

Just a day after getting word that our Pakistan- Gasherbrum II ski expedition is a go for this spring, I decided to tackle the Subaru Freeskiing Comp with my new found optimism. The first and last time I competed in a freeski comp was two years ago in the Telluride event- I finished 7th. This time I was cut-off, to my surprise- which happens in judged sporting events. In the 2006 comp, I skied a fast, fluid line and qualified for the finals going in at 8th place; I moved up one spot in the superfinals to 7th. This year, I tried to take advice from a previous judge who told me to incorporate more airs to podium. I did three small airs, with a technical start, and two more then most of the ladies, but was eliminated, I think, due to a long traverse to my last air. No falls, no weird moves, I just didn’t ski a line that the judges liked this time.

To succeed in these type of judged competition forums, it seems wise to sign up for the whole series and thereby learn and apply knowledge gained from one event to the next. You also get to know the other competitors, judges, and venues so as to improve as you go along. The periodic appearance does not bode well for even the best skiers out there. Flipping through result archives, you see that the #1 skier this year could have had 2-3 low finishes in past year. The "it" skier changes every time, and every year.

You learn so much every time you step up to the plate, and this time was no different. You have to learn to fail in order to understand success, but disappointment sure can be a tough pill to swallow, especially in your hometown. I placed behind girls who fell, who have been skiing for only a few years, and other interesting scenarios-- but now I am just hungry for redemption. Maybe Crested Butte’s wait list?

A few of us that competed on Friday had missed the boat on the original sign up for the Subaru Freekskiing Comp events, which filled up in a mere two hours in late November. If you think you want to give this type of competition a shot, it is a very worthy experience and can be invigorating and humbling at the same time. You also come out a better skier every time just from the experience itself, and with new friends and new perspective.

The event organizers appear to be able to get people in off the wait-list…but this is absolutely no guarantee. To sign up for an event- and it is also highly recommended to become a member of the International Freeskiers’ Association to support the “club”-



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