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 10, 2009

The Good the Bad & the Ugly


Wow, so I'm back from Calgary now and let me tell you... it was a bit of a crazy trip for me. First of all, I wasn't sure if I should even go. I had been hoping my shoulder would heal up faster and it was still pretty sore the day I was meant to fly out (and start training in earnest the next day). After an hour long debate with myself I decided to hop on my flight and see what happened.

It turned out the be a good decision because my shoulder was feeling pretty good by the next day. Just in time! That day the pipe was really slow and my wax wasn't great. It made a perfect time to work on my technique of riding the pipe and charging it. I was feeling great to be on snow again and having a good time all around.

The next day we went right into competition. It was qualifiers for halfpipe. Everything went well in preparing that morning: I had a good sleep and a great breakfast; but when I got to the top of the pipe I started to feel sick. My stomach was upset and my legs felt like they didn't have the power I needed them too. I had a really poor warmup and may have only tried my run once, actually I don't even think I did. I started feeling a little bit better in the time between warmup and my first run but I was unable to land my run. I put a hand down on my front 7 and that wouldn't do. In these competitions it's a best of 2 runs format so I still had a chance to redeem myself with my second run. I did end up landing my second run however the amplitude wasn't enough to see my score move me into the next round. BAD. I was happy that I landed my run after feeling sick but I know that I need to work harder before the next pipe competition so that I can do better.

After that I changed focus to slopestyle. The organizers of the Burton Open put a lot of work into this course, they built the biggest (possibly nicest) jumps COP has ever had. The course went from the top to the bottom of the run, which is also pretty cool. I had an afternoon of riding slopestyle after my pipe contest and was more or less ready for the competition the next day. In the Burton Open there are 4 rounds of competition per event: pre-qualifiers, qualifiers, semi-finals and finals. This is crazy compared to the events I'm used to which are for the most part qualifiers and finals.

Competition time: I needed to place in the top 40 of 100 riders in the event. The speed for the jumps changed significantly during practice. At the start of the morning you needed to make a couple speed checks in between the first and second jump. By the end, you needed to go straight between them! So for my first run everything was going really well, I landed my front 7 off the first jump and straight lined to the second jump. I spun a backside 5 but landed on the knuckle (for those of you that don't snowboard, this is the part of the jump right before the downhill landing starts). So I fell on that, but I was happy with how I was riding. I knew for my next run I needed to get as much speed as possible and stomp my run in order to qualify. Well that's exactly what I did. I'll admit, some of my tricks weren't pretty but I landed it all clean and that was enough for me to move on. I was pretty stoked. GOOD.

The next round was even more difficult to make it past (obviously). They were taking the top 10 of the 40 guys that made it to qualifiers. I took a day off riding to allow my body to recover a bit before the competition. It payed off because I was riding really well in warm up. I was stepping it up and landing a backside 7, front 7 combo on the jumps that I've never done before. I was feeling great. My first run of the competition didn't go so well though, I didn't get the full rotation on my first 7 which also made me lose all my speed for the next jump. I was still confident that I could land my next run with the added pressure. It turns out that COP is pretty much a funnel for wind coming from... everywhere. This time the wind picked up and it was point straight uphill. They put the competition on hold for a while to figure out what to do. The riders were having a really hard time making the gap on the jumps. You had tuck to entire course and hope that your speed would carry you past the knuckles. I was lucky to go when the wind was light enough that I was able to make the jump, unfortunately though the change in conditions was enough to through me off. Again, I didn't land the back 7.

If you're still reading this far down you must be really interested in my blog. Thanks!

So back to my adventures: After my second run I was a little angry that I couldn't land the runs that I had been in practice but I was happy with my new improvement. We were just about to leave COP when I overheard someone talking about giving some riders third runs because of the wind. I raced to the top to see if I could get another shot. It turned out that they were in fact giving riders another run. They were saying that only the riders most affected by the wind should be allowed but that wouldn't be fair at all because all the riders were affected by the wind. So we were given one last chance. On my run I tucked into the jump as I did the time before that but this time my speed was too much. I took off weird and flew too far on the jump. I landed on my back and was quite winded. UGLY. I was able to ride away but I was pretty sore. When I got back to Kyle's house, where we were staying, I started to get some pain in my kidney. I was worried about that so I went to the hospital to get it checked out.

I ended up having quite the time at the hospital. It took forever to get seen and once I finally did, I had to transfer to another hospital in case a CT scan was required. Thankfully I didn't need the scan after all and was diagnosed with a bruised kidney. Pretty scary stuff but I'm thankful that it wasn't worse and that I'm fine now. I learned my lesson that when the conditions aren't right, you can't push yourself. Progression happens when everything falls into place and shouldn't be forced when it isn't feeling right.

As for now, I just finished up a lab for my chemistry class and I'm heading back up to Whistler tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting home and getting back to my training schedule.

Take it easy,


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