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Ash Clayton: End Of Season Blog

Ash Clayton: End Of Season Blog

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March was a very busy month with the Laax Europa Cup and the Silvaplana World Cup back to back. Laax was amazing as always with the same course as the World Cup in Jan, I felt like I had a bit of an advantage. They had changed the shark fins back to a kicker which was nice, and they didn’t have the quarter pipe and the rails at the bottom, so less features to worry about. I kept my run mostly the same from the World Cup, doing a 2 on; changing my back 2 out to a front 4 out; right 5 safety, switch left 5 blunt, left 7 safety. We didn’t get a lot of training due to the weather, and they even had to everything on the last day because the weather hadn’t allowed qualis one day and finals for next. For the girls, we had some training in the morning with the boys but we weren’t competing until the afternoon. The boys had to run first to make a final because there was too many of them to go straight to finals. All the girls went straight through to the final just because there wasn’t enough to make it worth doing qualis. Because it was so hot, we didn’t start till about 13:30. The snow was quite slushy and slow so speed was a bit of an issue. Being the highest ranking athlete, I dropped in first for the girls. Unfortunately, I hit a lump of slush which threw me off and affected my speed for the second jump. I knuckled and decided to miss the last one so I didn’t hurt myself. So I’m back at the top for my second run, knowing that I have to make this count to make it onto the podium. This time I avoided the slush lump and comfortably did the switch 5 over the second jump. Then, I was coming into the 3rd jump tucked for speed, when I realised I was going too fast. It was too late to pull out so I hit it, setting my 7 really slow to account for the extra time I had. I ended up landing at the bottom of the landing in a deep squat. I managed to hold the landing, but there was a hip at the bottom of the course that wasn’t included in scoring. I hit a bump just to the side of it and wiped out. I was so upset because I thought that counted as a fall and I would get a bad score. I got back up to the top of the slope and checked the scores on my phone; the run had been counted! I had jumped all the way up to 1st place! The next girl dropped and I dropped to 2nd, which is where I ended up finishing. Another 2nd place under my belt :)
I then went home for a couple of days to rest before flying back out to Zurich for the Silvaplana World Cup. I did my first World Cup here last year so I have some very good memories and I feel comfortable enough to not be too nervous. I had a little plan of what I was going to do and when I saw the course, nearly all of it went out the window; it was not what I expected. I got cracking with training, getting used to the course and putting the pieces together in my head. It was a very long course with 7 features in total, 2 rails, 4 jumps and a right hand quarter pipe. After the first training, I had done all my preparation tricks and chosen my rail tricks, so second training was all about making sure I had the main tricks nailed with grabs and a nice clean run. Comp day rolls round and it’s boiling hot by the time it’s our turn to drop in the afternoon. First run for me. 2 on, left 3 mute, left 7 safety, right 5 safety, switch left 9 blunt, right 3 japan, front 2 out. It was good but my landings on the left 3 and the sw 9 were a bit scrappy, so second run would be clean up time. I did manage to clean up the 3 and sw 9, but I messed up the 2 on and the front 2, so I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t put down a fully clean run. Nevertheless, the atmosphere at the event was amazing and I saw many of my friends from the World Cup and Europa Cup circuits. I left Silvaplana early as I hadn’t made it to the final and headed back to the WAY house in Austria for another couple of weeks.
We had a lots of good weather days which was great for progression. I got a new left 900 in Kaltenbach which was super nice and I also put in a lot of work for my cork 7s as I wanted to put those in my comp run in the last comp of the season, Corvatsch Europa Cup. I was doing them perfectly on the 2nd Kaltenbach large, which is a pretty good stepping stone for doing them off pro lines. I had my eye on the weather, looking out for more good days to go to Penken park to hit the pro. One came round and it was all go. I got to warming up with my 3s and straight 7s, getting the speed perfect and getting used to the feeling of the landing. After 4/5 attempts, I felt ready; I wasn’t really scared, I trusted myself. I did a few practice sets at the top and told myself to set it slow and trust the speed. I chose a tune, thumped my chest and told myself not to chicken out and dropped. I got to the lip, popped, set, spotted, landed! First try! I was so happy that I cried a little, proud of myself for finally doing it. I must’ve done at least 15 times that day, wanting to get super comfortable in the air.
The next day was also amazing weather, but we were only going up for a couple of hours because we were leaving for Corvatsch that afternoon. I wanted to do more corks that day, so I made my warm up quick and got corking. Unfortunately I couldn’t hold a landing and spun out into the net to the right. Immediately, my arm was in loads of pain and I couldn’t move it. I could still move my fingers but I couldn’t get my arm to move. I screamed for my coach who was on the knuckle, who quickly came down and realised my arm was broken. It was clearly a serious break as he got someone to call for a helicopter. I got to the hospital and had it x-rayed and one of the technicians gasped when she saw my arm, so I was nervous it was going to be bad. They then wrapped me in lots of this sticky bandage that held my arm to my body which covered nearly my entire torso. I then saw the doctor and he told me that my arm was broken in 3 pieces, and that I would need surgery to fix it. But the catch was that they couldn’t do it at that hospital because the surgery was too complicated. I then had to wait for my insurance company to find a hospital that would do the surgery, and that took 4 days! I had the pre op appointment at the new hospital 6 days after the crash (Friday) and had my operation on Monday. After the operation the surgeon told me that my arm was actually broken in 5 pieces! They had to put at least six screws and a plate in my arm to put it all back together. I then stayed in hospital for another 4 days before flying home. I’m going to be left with a massive scar going from my shoulder to my elbow on the back of my arm! All this just from wiping out in the slush, a very unlucky accident. The doctor said it’s at least six months before I can ski again to reduce the risk of further injury. My summer will be spent resting and recovering from the operation and doing all I can to regain my strength for next season :)

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