This season I was lucky enough to have a fun filled winter packed with travel and adventure on the Freeride World Tour. I started out the winter getting in top form at Wright Training working on my overall strength on and off the hill. With great early season snow I spent November and December shredding Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole with friends before heading to Europe in January to start the competition season off in Chamonix, France.
It was a great feeling traveling to Europe this season. It was my second year on the tour, and knowing what to expect I didn’t feel the pressure as much as during my first year. I was confident in my strength and ability, making me mentally strong and excited to get the first competition underway.
Chamonix may be one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and terrifying places on earth.
It is nearly unregulated skiing. In 2 minutes of exiting any tram in the valley you can be skiing the craziest run of your life. You really feel blessed to not only ski there, but also get to compete in such an iconic place. The organizers had a hard time finding a safe venue to compete on due to an extremely bad early season in Europe. After a week had passed the venue was finally picked and it was time to compete.
I wanted to ski a fun line that I knew I could ski fast and confidently. It wasn’t until last minute that I decided to not spin or trick any of my features, and instead focus on getting a solid result. It turned out to be a beautiful day of competing with great skiing and big crashes. I skied a smooth line with good flow to it and ended up in 7th place, a good top ten finish to start the season!
From Chamonix the adventure continued through Austria, and Switzerland. The crew of us Americans and Canadians traveling together were able to ski amazing snow at every resort along our journey. For two weeks we skied fresh powder in St. Anton, Fieberbrunn, Stuben, Kapple, and St. Moritz. Unfortunately, with all that snow came extremely high avalanche danger. This postponed our event in Austria, sending us to the tiny country of Andorra where our final two European events would go down.
Andorra is an extremely small, but also wealthy, beautiful, and tax-free nation in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains, full of good people and great skiing. It may be the cheapest place I have ever visited on a ski trip, making it one of my favorites places. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hit great snow everywhere we went. The days leading up to our arrival consisted of high winds ripping through the mountains, taking all the snow with it.
Organizers again had a giant task of finding us not one, but two good competition venues. With weather and snow not in our favor we had our first venue picked out. It was less than ideal, but you can only work with what Mother Nature gives you. I tried not to change my game plan. The goal was to ski fast and confident, but this time I wanted to spin 360’s both ways. Everything worked out great and I finished in 6th place giving me another top ten and great overall standing.
For the final competition in Andorra I only had one thing on my mind, which was to ski well enough to finish top ten and qualify for Alaska. The venue we were competing on was much longer and much more dangerous, sending many athletes down and some even to the hospital. Watching all this happen before my run made me take a step back and I ultimately decided to back down my line a bit and ski smooth, safe and confident. I only could hope that it would be enough to finish where I needed to. The judges luckily liked my run giving my best result of the season- a 4th place finish, qualifying me onto the Alaska event.
After a successful two weeks in Andorra, a large group of us went to Barcelona to relax before flying back stateside. After over 40 days, 5 countries, and 3 competitions I was heading home sitting 5th in the overall standings. Once back in Jackson I had 4 short days at home before heading to AK. It had always been a dream to ski in Alaska and it was finally happening.
I realized the day we arrived in Alaska that it would live up the all the stories I had heard about. We landed in Juneau only to find out our connecting flight to Haines was cancelled due to weather. We spent over two days in Juneau waiting the weather out until we were able to catch a ferry up the inlet. After finally reaching Haines, the weather didn’t let up. We spent two weeks hiking, fishing, disc golfing, and playing hacky sack while waiting for the weather to clear. Just when we all started to lose hope it looked like the weather was cooperating and we would get to compete. It was crazy knowing I was about to compete on the biggest face, during biggest stage of the competition, with only one run under my belt in over two weeks. I tried to not let it affect your mindset but it’s almost impossible to not think about it at some point. It felt as though I had a great run going. It felt fast, fun and longer than anything I had ever skied. Unfortunately, on my last cliff section I got hung up sending me into a rag doll. As soon as it happened I knew I had blown my knee and possibly broke my leg. It was a terrible feeling knowing right then my season was over and I wouldn’t be able to compete in World Championships. My dream to compete at Verbier was done in an instant. It’s a hard thing to swallow but knowing I have such a good support system and sponsors, I will get back stronger than ever and compete next season and live my dream of competing for the world title.