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Start of a ski race

Back on track – gold medal at the North American races!

By Jane Sowerby

Wow, it’s been a busy few months! I’ve been on snow since the middle of October; I went out to train on Hintertux Glacier in Austria earlier than usual to try to make up for some of the lost time last season when I was out due to injury. The conditions were really tough and not great for building up confidence. Very icy, super bumpy, extremely windy, terrible visibility, the usual for early glacier skiing! However, we still had some great training which I eased myself back into slowly.

Then we had a metre of snow fall within 24 hours – I came back from skiing to find my S-MAX buried in powder! I’d driven out at the start of the season again; it’s so great to have a vehicle out there, especially one with winter tyres and snow chains in the boot!

The British Disabled Ski Team’s pre-season training camp was exceptionally well supported with a ski technician to prepare our skis, a physio to ease our aching muscles, a strength and conditioning coach to ensure we’re getting the right off-snow training, and a sports psychologist to try to manage our emotions to maximise performance. Plus, of course, our coach and assistant coach. 

I’ve had a tough time psychologically since getting injured; I wasn’t skiing well and was struggling to get my confidence back. It was starting to come together after a few weeks of solid training out in Austria. However, when we got to the first Europa Cup races it seemed to vanish again. I didn’t perform as well as I should have, and was starting to question why I was doing all this.

So I made the really difficult decision to pull out of the World Championships and come out to Winter Park to sort my head out. It feels so comfortable here, surrounded by friends, good coaches and a familiar mountain. After just a few days I remembered exactly why I do this, discovering again how much I love skiing! I worked hard in training to find my race mojo again, and had more than a little fun in the powder and terrain park!

The conditions were excellent for training, apart from the week when the temperature plummeted to -35 C! We focused mainly on Slalom and Giant Slalom, before getting some speed training leading up to the NorAm speedy races in Canada.

We had a fun 4am start to fly out to Spokane Airport, Washington, and continued the rest of the journey by car to Kimberley, Canada, which really kept the cost down. There were two days of Downhill training, flying super fast down a hill with so much micro terrain – loads of little rollers giving the racers a fair bit of air (especially the sit skiers). I fell hard a few times; after landing on my head for the third time I decided maybe it was a sign! I had a black eye and a very sore neck/back/head, so unfortunately wasn’t in a position to run the Downhill the following day. 

After 24 hours of resting I’d recovered enough to take on the Super G. I felt a lot more comfortable than in the Downhill, managed to land straight every time I got some air and was so pleased to make it over the finish line. Even better, I found myself in the lead! A gold medal for Great Britain! It was just what I needed to boost my confidence. It wasn’t my best skiing, but given the circumstances I was happy with my performance and it’s highlighted some things I need to work on. As a team we got a total of four medals over there – pretty impressive for British skiers!

So for the rest of this season I’m content with continuing to build on my confidence and improve my technical skills. I’m so happy to finally be back on track!