Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Andrew Matthews and I'm a snowboarder athlete from Yellowknife, NWT. I decided to start this blog to keep my friends, family, fans and sponsors up to date about my life as a full time snowboarder. I will be posting about my travels, competitions, training and random awesome things that I come across. Enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Iron Man World Cup Week


Although iron man usually refers to triathletes, the definition (a man of unusual physical endurance) could not be more fitting for my time at the World Cup Jamboree in Quebec. After taking the red-eye and arriving on Monday morning I had the day to prepare the hectic few schedule ahead. Here’s how things unfolded for me.

Tuesday: First day of practice on the Slopestyle course. I show up and immediately think “what have I gotten myself into?” The three jumps in a row were all bigger than any of the jumps that I’ve hit this year thanks to my fib-tib joint injury. I wasn’t sure how it would fare if I came of short or went too far on the jump. Therefore when practice began I took the time to really studied the other riders to determine how much speed I needed. Many of them were struggling to get enough speed for the jumps, not exactly instilling confidence in me. Once I did hit the jumps I was also having issues with speed (surprise surprise). It was a little bit windy, and being a light guy I naturally felt like a feather in the wind. After a few runs I got the speed for all the jumps (by tucking in!) and got some decent tricks on the rails. Not a great first day but baby steps to build my confidence back up.
One of the girls warming on on the Slopestyle rails
That afternoon I received confirmation that I had a spot for Big Air. We had practice in the evening with Qualifiers set for the following night. A common struggle for both events was that speed was an issue for a lot of the riders. I debating skipping the practice to save my knee but decided that I should at least try a couple of jumps so that I wouldn’t go into the competition cold turkey. Luckily I made the jump fine and got a feel for it. Just enough to build some confidence for the next night.
Darcy and I – all smiles at the Big Air practice
Wednesday: We woke up to a beautiful day on Wednesday - sun shining and almost no wind (albeit it was still -15).  I got into a great zone riding the Slopestyle course! I landed my first switch backside 9s of the season. I knew I should probably take it easy and save energy for the comp but heck, I was feeling it! I tried some frontside 900s. I landed a couple but was having trouble looking past the spotting point for a front 7 and thus keeping the spin smooth. It was still nice to get some bigger spins going and overall it was a great practice.

The forecast for Thursday’s Slopestyle didn’t look good. Wind and blowing snow. I knew that having the best wax possible could make the difference between me making the jumps and coming up short. I made it my mission to find the perfect wax. After calling MEC they directed me to another shop which was a half hour walk away. I didn’t have a ton of time  (this was at 3pm and the Big Air started at 7) so I set out on a fast pace to find the key ingredient, fluorocarbon wax, to allow me to send it over the jumps. Although it’s ridiculously expensive, the $150 I spent was a solid investment in my health and performance for both competitions.
Welcome to the wonderful world of waxing...
Fast forward, all waxed up and ready to go for the Big Air. I can’t land anything in practice. Nothing is working. I’m second guessing my approach, then when that doesn’t work I keep trying different things. This is pretty bad for my confidence so I decide to go for an easier trick in the competition–one that I know I can land. Sometimes I need the pressure of the competition to snap out of a funk and perform. When the chips are on the table I usually get into this amazing zone where I’m so focused on executing my tricks perfectly that fear and doubt evaporate. I was almost there on my first run–so close to landing my trick but I over rotated a bit losing about half my points. Now the pressure was really on! I used the pressure to help me get into the zone. It all came together and I stomped my trick! Check out the video below. That was good enough for a personal best 17th place at a World Cup Big Air.

Thursday - No rest for the wicked. We had Slopestyle qualifiers the next day! The weather was as expected, bad, which made it very difficult to clear the middle jump. Our speed all depended how much the wind was blowing during our runs. Thankfully I was able to get enough speed during my last run of practice, giving me a small bit of confidence. On my first judged run I landed my first trick, a switch backside 9. Then I landed a front 7 on the difficult middle jump (albeit it wasn’t pretty). Followed by a nice backside 5. Next the rails, I landed my first trick a gap to frontside boardslide 270 out. I must have lost my focus on my last rail because I fell on my trick (a 50/50 front 3) that I had been landing all day. I locked in on the wrong side of the rail and had to try a different spin out which resulted in a fall. It was tragic to fall on the last feature! On my second run I was fired up to try a backside 7 since my back 5 went so well. In retrospect this wasn’t the best choice since I hadn’t practiced it. I was close to landing it but I landed backseat and put my hands down. That was the end of my hopes of achieving my goal of making the semi finals.
Competition day weather seems to never be ideal but everyone has to deal with the same conditions
It was a tough contest for me. However instead of getting down on myself I’m using this as motivation to do better next time. I’m incredibly motivated again and finally fell healthy enough to push my limits on snow. I can’t wait to learn the tricks that I’m missing (cab and backside spins) as well as progressing the ones I’m naturally good at into better tricks like a switch backside 10 and 12. I have a bit of time to work on my tricks until mid March when I’ll have 4 - 5 competitions in 3 weeks!

Congratulations to my friends who nailed it in Quebec! Darcy Sharpe won the Big Air with an insane Switch Backside 1260. Mikey Ciccarelli won the Slopestyle with a smooth top to bottom run. Check out their videos below.

Darcy Sharpe - Coupe du monde de big air 2015 from Snowboard Jamboree on Vimeo.

Michael Ciccarelli - Coupe du monde de slopestyle 2015 from Snowboard Jamboree on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

World Cup numero six

Hey, thanks for tuning in!
All smiles getting ready to drop into the park on Blackcomb
I’m writing this from the airport in Vancouver on my way to my sixth (and possibly seventh) World Cup events! Quebec City is my next stop where I’ll be competing in the Slopestyle event at Stoneham Mountain this Thursday. I’m also an alternate for the Big Air event this week. It’s an honour to represent the NWT and Canada on the international stage!
Good luck to all the NWT athletes at the Canada Winter Games!
As you are may know I’ve been having some issues with my knee this season, more specifically with my fib-tib joint. My physiotherapists and I have been experimenting with taping, strapping, orthotics, different boots, and different bindings. I’ve even tried working out in my snowboard boots to see if that brings on any pain. Guess what? It doesn’t! It’s a finicky injury and I'm learning how to manage it better everyday. I’m excited that things are moving along with the recovery. I’ve had some great days riding in the past couple weeks. Some of them were completely pain free which is huge.
This exercise was surprisingly hard with less ankle mobility!
Backside boardslide
As much as we try to plan ahead with goals and schedules snowboarding has a way of keeping you on your toes. This year I was planning on focusing more on the Open events–the Burton US Open and Burton European Open. However the organizers of the TTR World Snowboard Tour decided to change things up this year and make those events a part of the exclusive Elite series. I don’t particularly like this decision. It makes it more difficult for up and coming riders to break into the elite group of competitive snowboarders. By making it more exclusive at the top it gives less riders opportunities and will likely result in less people competing.
Frontside boardslide
Luckily for me I had the opportunity to qualify for the World Cup in Turkey which in turn helped me qualify for this World Cup in Quebec. So instead of focusing on the Open events as my high level contests this season I’ve switched my focus to the World Cups. Given my lack of sending it (jumping big jumps) this season I’m not expecting any spectacular results here. In my two previous starts in World Cup Slopestyles I did not land a full run. Therefore it would be a personal victory if I land a clean full run even if it doesn’t include very technical tricks. Wish me luck!
Frontside 360

Saturday, January 10, 2015

#Yolorado Video

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made a last minute decision to go to Colorado. You can see why with this video: sunshine, perfect parks and a great crew! I wasn't in full "send it" mode so my part is the soul boarding segment through the trees. It's key to keep snowboarding fun and get back to the roots from time to time. It's also pretty fun to send it like these guys were...

Yolorado 2014 from Whistler Valley Snowboard Club on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Istanbul Big Air – One Very Cool Experience

Happy holidays!

The stars aligned and my body held up for the two days that it need to for the Big Air Istanbul. My goal going into the event was to do my personal best and as per always, have fun! I’m happy to say that I accomplished the personal best in a couple of ways and had a lot of fun :)
The main event - this was the best scaffolding Big Air jump I've ever hit. Props to the event crew 
The view from the top of the jump

First and foremost, I landed the best trick I’ve ever done on a scaffolding Big Air. I landed a solid frontside 900 (with melon grab) on my first of two runs in the qualifiers. It was the first one I’ve landed in 8 months – since my knee injury – so you could say my timing was pretty good!
Looking down the jump - you don't have much choice but to go straight
One stoked dude after practice went well

Secondly, I placed my personal best at a World Cup Big Air with a 22nd place. The jump was great and allowed the riders to land very technical tricks... tricks that a couple years ago would have made podium weren’t even making the finals! So as you can imagine it was a pretty heated competition. My front 9 simply wasn’t technical enough to crack the top 10 or even the top 20. However it was great to see the guys throw down in the finals and good motivation to learn new tricks!
Metal detectors to get into the hotel - security was crazy in Istanbul
The hotel set us up with a waxing room... I don't think they knew what they were getting themselves into
After the competition was over for me I took advantage of the few hours I had before the finals started to take in some of Istanbul. I couldn’t believe how big the city is... 17 million people officially live in it and closer to 20 million unofficially. Istanbul straddles the boarder of Asia and Europe so I’ve officially been to Asia now. The culture and food in Turkey was amazing to experience... even if it was in what I’ve coined as a tourist blitz.

My new friends from the Austrian team getting shown by our waiter how do prepare a Kabeb the proper Turkish way in one of the most bizarre and delicious dining experiences of my life
These deserts are amazing!

Turkish coffee - I don't think I could drink it every morning but it was cool to experience
Stand and deliver toilets

 I’m so grateful for the entire experience. Meeting great snowboarders, coaches, announcers, and organizers from around the world was a highlight. As well as having the opportunity to challenge myself and represent the North while doing it. A big thank you to everyone who helped make this possible: my sponsors, my family and My Corner (MakeAChamp) Team!

Mosque stretching into the night sky
Mid tourist blitz at on of the many Mosques in the city

Until next time Turkey