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Jay Hebblethwaite: New Year Blog 23/24

Jay Hebblethwaite: New Year Blog 23/24

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Unfortunately, the UK seems to lack access to 70ft+ massive Snowpark jumps. While it’s possible to use Dryslopes and indoor Snowdomes to practice rail tricks, to be able to compete in Europe on the international slopestyle circuit, my jump game must be perfect. While I wait for my next trip to the Alps, where all the proper training facilities are located, I've delved into the world of gymnastics.

Gymnastics has many similarities to freestyle skiing; not only do you have to be extremely strong, but the aerial skills needed for both sports mean that training in one can improve the other. In freestyle skiing, forwarding-throwing rotational axis scores better than the backward axis; this is where I’m focusing my effort. In the gymnastics training facility, I’ve been training these forward flips on the trampolines, into the foam, and on the different tumble tracks. Learning a new sport has been very fun, rewarding, as well as being beneficial to my skiing. Especially when I’m back on the big jumps in the Alps. Having all the extra aerial training will help me know where I am in the air, helping me avoid big crashes and injuries, as well as giving me the edge against other competitors.

Alongside my gymnastics pursuits, I've been putting in the work in the gym. My strength and conditioning coach has shifted the focus to Olympic lifts, specifically the power snatch. This is where you have the bar on the floor, and in one movement, you lift it to above your head. It is the best exercise you can do for explosive power in the gym. This does require a lot more technique than your usual gym exercises, such as the plain bench press, squat, and deadlift. To work on this complicated exercise, my coach has split the movement up into smaller movements to work on the specific techniques so that I can do the whole lift safely and properly.

Over the Christmas break, I’ve had to acknowledge that my energy isn’t endless in the pursuit of both studying Mathematics and Computer Science at one of the top UK universities on top of competing at an international level in freestyle skiing. To avoid burnout, I’ve needed to take a couple of weeks resting over Christmas, to reset my mind and body. With the demanding workload at university and the intensity of skiing over the next coming months of 2024, I recognised the need for a strategic pause. This will allow me to enter this next crucial phase of competition and academia with the capacity to train and study effectively.

These last few weeks have been very intense with taking exams for my 2nd year of university. I had to put 10-12 hours in every day for several weeks so I could get a first, the top grade you can get on the exams. Hopefully, I have done enough, but I will have to wait until the results are out to see. As a reward, I went to the Chill Factor ski slope, and even though I hadn’t trained in a while, I felt better than ever on my skis, landing three different 270 on pretzel 450 off on the rail consistently!

Looking ahead, I'm excited about the prospects that the next few months hold. I have plans for multiple national and international competitions as well as being excited to continue my studies in Manchester.

Jay H