Alright wowee what a crazy couple of months. The build up leading into the games has been so exciting and fun. It really started to pump me up in Canada watching the olympics with the team each night knowing that in a couple of weeks it was our turn to strut our stuff on the big stage. Crammed into a hotel room in Vancouver we watched our fellow countrymen Jarryd Hughes take out the silver in the SBX and it really set the tone for what we as a team were aiming to achieve at the games.
I was super excited to jump on the plane to Korea. After coming off really good training blocks in Canada and then Japan I felt strong, fit and that I was riding well on the board. After the standard excess baggage drama the rest of the flight from Japan to Seoul was cruisey. We were met by Nick, Ben and Sascha from the APC at the airport and they drove us out to the village. After a long travel day we arrived at 9pm, we were shown our rooms, grabbed some dinner then went to bed.
The following couple of days were absolutely hectic with media requests, uniform fittings, team meetings, village ceremonies and flag bearer announcements. On top of all that there was 600 athletes plus support staff (coaches, physio's ,admin ,media) all staying in the village, the place was buzzing. It was hard to go anywhere without getting pulled into a conversation or being asked to swap country pins.
To wrap up the first couple of days we had the opening ceremony to attend. Walking out into the middle of that stadium for Australia with some of my best mates is something I'll never forget I really tried to be present, take it all in and enjoy the moment. The light show was rad and all the performers put on a great show. The only thing was the temperature with it getting down to a balmy -12 my toes were going numb by the end of the show.
After a hectic couple of days it was finally time to get onto the snowboard track. The course was laid out much the same as the test event last year pretty fast and down the line but this year the features flowed a lot better. We had training on the course over two days before race day. The first day I rode really conservatively taking out a lot of speed before the features while I was getting familiar with the course. Unfortunately my team mate Joany went down over a double feature with one of the gnarliest crashes I've seen it was pretty heavy hearing she would be out of the event but I'm so glad she stuck around to support us the rest of the time.
DAY 4 11th Mar
2nd day of training we were on later in the afternoon at 3pm. I was riding better doubling all the rollers and linking turns well down the bottom section of the course. I rode two heats with Simi and just got smoked through the start section I was so far behind into turn 1 because of my disadvantage of it being flat rather than steep straight out of the gate so I was fairly bummed on the bus ride home. In the village my mind went into a semi depressive state where I was feeling more disabled than everybody else. I had trouble sleeping and had weird dreams about the pulling out of the start gate.
DAY 5 12th Mar
Race day SBX
Super early start to the day up at 5.30am for warm up, breakfast and the only just made it onto the 6.30 bus. I decided on the bus that I was going to enjoy the day after dealing with the disappointment yesterday about the start section. We had 8.30am inspection the course had firmed up overnight so a bit crunchy. Training run I had a little bable into turn 1 and went down was riding a little bit off but the rest of my run was ok. Qualifier 1 had a decent run and was looking at getting a good time but stuffed up over the last kicker managed to stay on my feet but lost a lot of time. Qualifier 2 was fairly clean although a bit slower I stuck the last jump so my time was a lot quicker and I went into 7th. My first heat was up against the Italian Jacapo Luchini who had the 10th fastest time. I was a long way behind after the start section as I expected. I just did nice high lines and made sure I rode all the features cleanly I gained a lot of speed through the V turn and managed to catch him through the bottom section. We clipped boards on the last turn and were pretty even going over the last jump I laid it right back to get as much speed as i could and almost got him on the line falling short by .13 of a second. After the race I did a bit of media stuff and got the chance to go up into the stands to see my family. I snuck a couple of beers in then watched on as the rest of the races unfolded. Simi took out the gold on the day and it felt like a win for the whole team. I was pretty stuffed by the end of the day but I had a chance to get out of the village and spend the night with Claire at her hotel which was quite nice.
DAY 8 15th Mar
Training Banked Slalom
After a couple of rest days it was time for Banked Slalom training. Was really rainy in the morning we headed up later for the 11 o'clock training the snow was really weird. The course was set up pretty fun a bit more open than a normal banked slalom course though. We only had one training run I pushed it pretty hard and washed out on a couple of turns. Its meant freeze over tonight so she's going be running like a bobsled track tomorrow. ooweee
DAY 9 16th Mar
Race day Bank Slalom
The snow had iced over night so it was feeling pretty sketchy under the board I did a lap from the top and that was just sheet ice. First run was ok but I'd only had one training run yesterday and I crashed twice so I just took high lines and didn't really push it too hard . 2nd run was a lot better I felt the nervous energy run through me in at the start section and I was really pushing it through my turns. I was pumped when I looked up and saw my name sitting in second a lot of adrenaline was pumping through me and I didn't keep it contained gave mum and a few people hugs and then went down to the athletes lounge. Back up at the start section I took a moment before my last run to soak it all in I sat down overlooking the course and reflected how I came to be there. A lot of adrenaline and energy had flown through me and I was feeling a little washed out before I got into the start gate. I tried to push it but miss timed a couple of my turns and ended up slower than my second run. I finished the day in 5th and was really happy with the result.
The following few days we partied pretty hard checking out some of the local nightlife it was good to unwind a bit after months of preparation going into the games. The closing ceremony came and went before I knew it bags we're packed and we we're on the plane back home and back to reality.
Competing at the olympics/paralympic was never something I'd even dreamt of doing as a kid so I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity it was one of the best things I've ever been apart of. A massive thank you to everyone that has supported me along the way without you it simply would not have been possible. Looking forward to the next adventure.
Cheers for reading,
Banked Slalom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQBnsPZOtfc&t=14898s