After finishing my first World Cup season in 2012 in 31st place overall I was all geared up for the 2012-13 season hungry for an improvement in my rankings. However the season was a lot tougher then expected. At the first World Cup in Montafon Austria I got a conussion in the time trial and missed the event and at the Sochi Test event I tore my ACL in practice and had to return to Australia. This meant effectively I had missed half the season.
On my return to Oz and in consultation with the knee surgeons it was decided that with intense rehab and without surgery I could still compete and finish the season without an ACL so that I could stay in the hunt for Olympic Qualification. Incredibly after 3 weeks I went back to World Cup and qualified in 12th spot in Veysonnaz. I was taken out in his first heat but still earnt valuable Olympic Ranking Points to keep me in contention for qualification to Sochi. I was still 33rd on the Olympic Ranking Table and had met the minimum qualification criteria to compete in Sochi so the plan worked!
On my return to Australia I had surgery with an Achilles tendon allograft ACL reconstruction by Dr Craig Waller and worked hard in the gym with NSWIS, my Physio Tim Needham and Tom Carter from the Sydney Uni Sports Science Department to get me back on snow, which happened, in Cardrona NZ in October.
Everything went well on snow in Cardrona even though I was limited in what I could do as part of my return to snow program it made me hungry to work out hard in my last training block at NSWIS before the start of the World Cup season. Before I could leave I had to go through the final round of NSWIS testing to make sure I was ready!
All the physical stuff ticked off, it was time to hook up with my Coach Jon Casson from Team Utah in Austria for a month of on snow training prior to the first World Cup. But of course whenever there is training in Europe there is also the opportunity for POW!
FIS Snowboardcross World Cup Montafon Austria
There were lots of things swirling through my mind leading up to my first World Cup after my knee surgery, but the constant was that I knew I had done all the work I needed to be fit, strong and competitive and all of the on snow training meant that I was ready.
On training day the weather was blue bird perfect and the course was running super fast and everything was super big, which is exactly the way I like it! Feeling pumped after a day of quality training I woke up the next morning to overcast skies and fresh snow on the ground. After a few hours of training in variable weather it was decided to postpone the time trial until after lunch – this was a great decision by the race organisers. Sure enough later that afternoon the visibility cleared and the course was running much faster. Time for qualification! After my run I was sitting in 6th and by the time all 70 or so rides had been through the course I finished in 12th place. Big props to my team mate Mick Dierdorff from the US who qualified 4th! The beauty about qualifying in the top 24 is that you don’t need to do a second run – job done for the day!
Competition Day was a blur, The top 48 riders in brackets of 6 racing down the course doing 80km’s with the top 3 riders transferring to the next bracket. First bracket I got out of the gates well and transferred to the next bracket with a 2nd place. Straight back to the top and into the next bracket I finished in 3rd to transfer through to the semi final. The semi final was going to plan, I sat back got into a drafting position and waited for my opportunity to pass and had a crack, the only problem was the door slammed shut on me and I got bucked out! Still I finished 5th and would get a chance to improve my overall position in the small final. I rode well in the small final to finish 2nd which gave me 8th 0verall – this was my best result – a Top 10 Finish at World Cup.
My best results previously were 10th in my very first World Cup and 11th at World Championships earlier this year.
Overall I am pretty stoked with how I rode, I got a bit of luck which I needed it and know there are plenty of areas for improvement, but I have come away hungry knowing that I am close to cracking a final at a World Cup.
Congratulations to Markus Schairer 1st, Omar Visintin 2nd, Kevin Hill 3rd and a huge thank you to my Coaches Jon Casson and Cody Brown, my wax tech Jeff Sadis (the waxing bear), my team mates Mick Dierdorff (17th), Jenna Feldman (25th) and Torah Bright (20th).
Look out Lake Louis – here I come!