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Ash Clayton Blog Mar/April 23

Ash Clayton Blog Mar/April 23

Georgina Clark |

This March, I was off away again. Firstly to Laax, Switzerland, for a Europa Cup Premium with 4 others and my coach Bobby. After a 3am start, one plane, 2 trains, and a coach later, we arrived. The first day was amazing, beautiful weather and perfect conditions (although the jumps were shut due to some wind and snow in the run in). The rails that were going to be in the competition were out, so we hot lapped those for the day, with a few long P60 laps. Great progress was made on these rails, and my comp tricks became second nature. Day 2, conditions were all over the place. Laax is one of the resorts with the fastest changing conditions. It was flat light with varying wind speeds, but the jumps were open. We got about 5 laps before the conditions changed and the wind picked up to a speed which was dangerous for jumps that size. Comp day rolled around and it was amazing weather. I qualified 4th, putting me comfortably through to finals, which was supposed to be the day after. Athletes were up and ready at the bottom of the gondola, but minutes before it was due to open, finals got postponed due to the weather conditions at the top. Despite this, Bobby and I decided to go up anyway to practice some other tricks in the medium park. Some good progress was made, and I went down early in order to give my shins some rest before finals the next day. It snowed a little that night, which made me nervous because I really wanted finals to go ahead, I still had more to prove. I was checking the webcams anxiously and saw that there were piste brasher tracks going onto the course, which was a good sign because it meant that they were getting rid of the layer of snow. Finals did go ahead, and I ended up coming 4th overall with 2 new tricks that I had just learnt in comp practice. I was happy with the result because I gave all that I had, with no regrets.

Next, it was off the Silvaplana for my first World Cup! I was very excited yet very nervous. All my idols and the skiers that you watch on TV were there. The set up of the week was a bit different to Europa Cups, with two 3 hr sessions for practice, and a bonus of free lunches for the week! On comp day, we got an hour to practice and get the speed for the jumps. I was one of the last to drop in qualifying, unfortunately on my first run I crashed and twisted my back slightly. I got up and got back to the top to talk to the physio and do some stretches before my next run. I was also unsure as to which trick I should go for. I had just crashed on a switch left 9 blunt, and my confidence was knocked a little. I thought about playing it safe and going for the switch left 5 blunt, but I didn’t want to have any regrets so I went for the switch 9. I was so determined on my 2nd run that I ended up going big on all my jumps and couldn’t hold the landing of the switch 9, putting my hands down. I was still over the moon with the fact I had just competed in a World Cup, and had a decent score on the board, placing 19th.

April had me gearing up for the last 2 competitions of the season, Corvtasch ECP and Stubai EC. I went away to Italy to start with, to get some extra training on snow with SSE. On the first day, I made loads of progress with my switch lip ons to rails and pipes, which is huge for me because a switch rail tick can boost your points in competition. I then went over to the pro line to get some big tricks going but unfortunately I knuckled the jump and bruised my right heel. I was quite painful, I couldn’t walk on it and it put me out of skiing. This was a big worry because in 4 days, I had the Corvatsch ECP. I rested up for 3 days, with ice and painkillers, sitting in the cafe at the top of the park, engrossed in my new hobby of crochet. I made a few little squares and also made a mesh pocket for the side of Bobby’s bag. On the day of comp practice, Bobby drove me over to Corvatsch. I took the skiing easy, and was delighted to feel that I had no pain in my heel. I skied until I had put my complete comp run down, then decided to stop to make sure my heel didn’t start hurting again. The next day was the comp, but the weather wasn’t doing great. Heat 1 and 2 for the mens had gone ahead that morning, and it was our turn that afternoon. It was my first run of the day and the first run of practice. I went off the first jump, and a gust of wind picked me up and blew me to the very bottom of the landing. I went splat and skidded all the way down to the transition of the second jump. The impact of coming down from that height had bruised both heels badly. I think I was very lucky to only bruise my heels, if I had landed any different, I think I would’ve done some serious damage to my body. I couldn’t continue to ski, so we headed down. It also meant that I wasn’t going to be able to ski in Stubai, so I ended up going back to Livigno, and getting an early than hoped flight home. The rest of April, I have been resting both heels with lost of ice, elevation and painkillers. It has been a bit mind numbing, but crocheting has kept me busy 😊

Ash Clayton

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