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Ash Clayton Blog: January 24

Ash Clayton Blog: January 24

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Here we go, my first World Cup of the season. Arguably the biggest World Cup of the season with all the big names coming to compete. The course had me thrown right in the deep end with big gaps onto rails and halfpipe sort jumps that we called shark fins. It’s the biggest course I’ve hit in my career so far, and I felt wildly unprepared. World Cup training works differently to other competitions. You get two 3 hour sessions, then an hour just before the comp starts. The first session was me just testing the course and riding it to get a feel for the course, and putting down some basic tricks. After training, I sat down with my coaches to figure out a plan for my run to work on in the next training. The second training went better, aside from the fact that the weather wasn’t good enough to hit the jumps at the bottom of the course. But on the plus side, it meant that I was able to perfect my top section which was the hardest part of the run.

Comp day rolled round after being postponed a day, and the weather was having a bit of a paddy. It wasn’t cold, but it was a bit windy and snowing at the same time. The hour of training we got was done with skido laps, which meant we could get more laps, and it was really fun to ride on the back of a skido. I was doing well with my top section, but I was having problems with the speed into the first jump as I wasn’t going fast enough. My coach told me I had 1 more lap before they shut training, so I went to land a full run just before I had to drop. Someone fell in front of me, which made me nervous because I hadn’t landed a full run all training and I had no idea if I was going to be able to put it down. I got back to the top and was told that we had 2 more runs, just because the weather had been bad. I ended up landing the last 2 runs of training perfectly, which made me so happy and filled me with hope that I was going to do well. After waiting around for my turn, I dropped in and landed my run pretty much perfectly, and got placed 8th, right on the bubble to make it to finals. I crashed my second run, which was a shame, but my first run was going to be hard to beat so I wasn’t to disheartened. My final result was 10th out of 19, which in a place like Laax, is amazing. And as a bonus, just inside the prize money spot, so an extra CHF 400 for me!

It was back to Mayrhofen after Laax, more training before my next competition, a Europa Cup in La Clusaz, France. I began working on some better rail tricks and turning my straight spins into corks. I made some good progress on the rails and got more confident with my corks, but not quite enough to do them off the pro sized jumps. I was staying on my own in La Clusaz, which was a nice change from the house in Mayrhofen as there’s quite a few 12 - 15 year old boys on the snowboarding program there. We had a day of official training which was good, but not amazing. The weather was perfect, but as I started to bring my comp tricks in, I was struggling to link 2 tricks together. I was also struggling with speed on the first kicker, and I took 2 heavy knuckles which wasn’t idea for my fragile heel. I dropped first in qualifying as I was the highest ranked athlete and put down a good run. It didn’t score quite where I wanted it to, so I made sure to improve it second time round. I ended up qualifying 6th, right on the bubble, the last one in. If I wanted to get a podium spot, I knew I needed to up my run for the finals. Practice for finals went really well, and I was feeling good about my new run. I dropped first again because I qualified last, and stomped my first run. I had a switch 5 in my run and I decided to up that to a switch 9 on my second run, which I landed very nicely and was so stoked. That run put me into 2nd, so I got the podium place I was aiming for!! Then it was big air the next day, which I qualified for in 4th with a switch 9. The weather for big air finals was far from ideal and also the only day we hadn’t had glorious blue sky and sunshine. One of the girls took a big slam in practice, so I ended up dropping sooner than I expected. Big air finals consist of 3 runs with 2 different tricks of different directions, so for me, left and switch left. I did my left 7 first which I laced very easily, then I went to do my switch 9. I crashed on my first attempt which meant everything was on me landing my last run, so the pressure was on. I ended up landing it and maybe celebrated a little too early, just as I was riding out the landing, but I was super happy that I landed it. That put me into 2nd, another podium place which felt absolutely amazing!

Now back to Mayrhofen for more training. Next stop, Laax Europa Cup :)

Ash Clayton

Ash Clayton

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