Skiing in your Head

I crossed the finish line during the first run of the World Cup slalom in Zagreb, Croatia, and I was at a loss. I was wearing bib number 28 at the start, and ended up finishing a rather disheartening 48th place. I couldn’t put a finger on why I was so slow, but as I started to analyze my performance, my head became flooded with all sorts of mechanical cues about what I had to focus on to make sure it didn’t happen again. Unfortunately, the racing schedule didn’t allow for me to go back to the basics and work out the kinks. After a quick Skype chat with my sport psychologist, and some self-reflection time, I was able to take a deep breath and think with a clearer head. Sometimes you just have to try your best to put the past behind you and move forward as if it never happened. I had to remind myself that I didn’t forget how to ski overnight, and that in all aspects of life, not every day can be perfect. As I like to look at it – without bad days, we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones nearly as much!

Struggling to come to terms with my own thoughts, you can only imagine the relief that I felt after I had a pretty solid result in the slalom the following Sunday. Normally I wouldn’t have been too thrilled with a 17th place result, but after the mental battle I had fought with myself, I was more than happy to take it. I was back on track and with three World Cup slalom races to come in the following weeks, I felt that it was all looking up from there.

Brad Spence, Audi FIS World Cup, Men Slalom, Wengen Switzerland - 2010-11The following two races in Wengen and Kitzbuhel I was 13th and 14th respectively, with the highlights of both races being my second runs. It seemed that once I was able to get the first run out of the way, I was a totally different athlete come second run. In Wengen I clocked the third fastest second run time, and a week later in Kitzbuhel, I was second fastest on the second run. Having runs like those are hard to describe in words, everything just happens the way it has to. Nothing feels rushed or forced. Having performances like those is what has kept me addicted to the sport. I realize now after so many years of training that the trick is to somehow ski as fast and precise as possible without thinking about skiing as fast and precise as possible.

Next up was Schladming, the fifth and final slalom race before World Championships. During my first run I finally felt that I had nailed the approach that had brought me success in the second runs in both Wengen and Kitzbuhel. Unfortunately I made a tactical error just over half way down which put me out of the race. Even though it was a lost opportunity, I left there with my chin held high and was able to take out plenty of positives from the race.

B.Spence, J.Jones - Rome, Italy - 2010-11

 

Winding up a very busy schedule in January and with four weeks before the World Championships slalom in Garmisch-Partenkircken, Germany, I had the opportunity to take a 10-day break from skiing before having to pick up where I left off to build up for World Championships. My girlfriend, Janelle, flew over and met me in Rome where we toured around for five days and saw many of the spectacular sights that city has to offer. It was a much needed break both mentally and physically, and having my girlfriend over in Europe with me was a very special treat.

 

 

As of now I am back at our home-base in Kirchberg, Austria, where we have begun our prep phase leading into World Championships. We have been training on slopes close by and raced in a FIS slalom race yesterday that I am happy to report that I won. For me, any chance to get in the starting gate and work on my mental approach is a great opportunity, and yesterdays win helped me fine tune my tactics. I am truly looking forward to competing for Canada in the World Championships slalom on February 20th, and to make up for my heart-breaking race at the Olympics 12 months ago, I am aiming for a top-10 finish. Be sure to tune-in and cheer us on!!

 

Brad Spence, Audi FIS World Cup, Men Slalom, Soell Austria - 2010-11

 

Keep an eye out for my post-World Championship update. Until next time, enjoy the snow!

Brad

 

 

Checkout Brad's Latest Video

FIS Race - Kitzbuhel World Cup
...second run of the Kitzbuhel world cup slalom posting the second fastest run time to finish in 14th place...



Written on Sunday, 06 February 2011 00:00 by Brad Spence

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