Introduction

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!

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Overcoming Adversity in the Early Season

Greetings!

It has been a crazy, challenging start to my season. With snowboarding things never quite go as planned. You have to constantly adapt to changes in snow conditions around the world, changing competition schedules and injuries. I’ve been juggling all three this fall! Now it's coming down to the wire with a World Cup Big Air in a weeks time. It seems like a perfect opportunity to challenge myself to overcome adversity!
Overlooking a stunning view in Austria with Mike Ferraris behind the lens!
The first and foremost being a knee injury that I suffered last spring. I went too large on a jump at a training camp in Whistler–like 50 feet past the start of the landing too large. Luckily I was able to land the jump but the impact was enough to sprain my knee.
I spend a lot of time in physio clinics. One thing I've learned is that everything is connected in the body. My knee could be restricted from tightness in my foot, my calf, my hamstring, my hip or most likely some combination of all of them.
In the following months I saw doctors, knee specialists and physiotherapists. I was able to get an MRI which showed that I was clear of any major ligament damage - woohoo! However this injury, which is primarily a sprained/slight dislocated tibia fibula joint, has been a difficult one to get to the bottom of. It’s an uncommon injury and is often misdiagnosed. My doctor suspected a hairline fracture to my tibia plateau and prescribed 6 weeks of rest, AKA limited impact. I took his advice and took it easy in the spring. However when I tried skateboarding after the rest period I immediately felt pain in my knee. There was something more going on. That was around the start of summer. Fortunately I was able to ease back into dryland training and by the end of the summer I was doing full on trampoline training with no pain. It seemed like it was game on!
The town of Mayrhofen, where I started my Austrian adventure
Euro carve in Europe - Mikey photo
So I headed over to Europe with a great plan for early season riding! Similarly to my skateboarding experience, I immediately knew something wasn’t healed when I got back on snow in October. For some reason my knee was fine running, trampolining or weight training but didn’t like being in snowboard boots. So thus began the quest to figure out what I needed to do to get it better and ready to send it on my board.
One day I went for a casual hike and ended of reaching the top of this mountain... in my skate shoes.
The mountains in Austria are amazing
Getting heart-rate high on a stair workout with my Mio ALPHA
Since then I’ve seen numerous physical and massage therapists, all with a slightly different idea of how to get my knee better. In the end I was told to get it really strong as well as work on flexibility. Instead of hitting the slopes hard in November I was hitting the gym harder than ever. But that wasn’t enough. My equipment was also deterring my full recovery. I reached out to my the Austrian sales rep from my new sponsor Salomon Snowboards to get a new, softer pair of boots and bindings. The man in charge, Tom Recheis, was amazingly helpful–especially considering he’s never met me! He got me all sorted out. With the new boots and stronger legs my knee started to feel good enough to ride the park by the end of November.
I arrived at the gym one morning and the lady who works there greets me "Andrew, you are da most fit person in our gym!" I guess that's what you get when you go 6 days a week.

Stoked on the boots, thanks Tom and Salomon!

Our home away from home - Thanks Ruth & Tobias!
The boys apartment - Miles, Hawk, Dave and I
At this point I had committed to going to the Snowboard World Cup ─░stanbul. It was just 2 weeks away and I had to make a tough decision... I was originally planning to stay in Austria to keep training there until the World Cup. However the park was closing in early December and my friends were leaving. So I decided to go to Colorado for some last minute training with my coach Joe McAdoo and the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club. Trips like this do not run cheap! This one ended up particularly expensive because of a booking error with Orbtiz–I had to buy a new ticket at the airport because the name on my ticket was wrong. I am very grateful to have the support to be able to get to the places I need to ride when I need to be there. To my sponsors and support team from my campaign www.makeachamp.com/andrew, THANK YOU, you are amazing!
Join my corner! Photo shoot for my Open Opportunity fundraising campaign on MakeAChamp.com
Alas, another setback... Two days before heading to Colorado my neck (which had been tight for a few weeks) decided it had had enough and seized up. I was able to get some advice from a doctor (side note: the medical system in Austria is great! In and out of emerge with X-rays in 45 minutes). He suspected that it should clear up within few days up to a week. Which it did... until I had a little fall here last Tuesday which put my neck back in the acute spasm phase. When it rains it pours!

Breckenridge - One of the best groomed parks in the world! Take note resorts, the park staff is on it here!

So that pretty much brings you up to speed. My neck is getting better and I'm hoping to at least get a couple days of jumping in before heading across the world to Turkey. They say the best athletes thrive under adversity. I had one of my best performances ever at the Canada Games when a knee injury sidelined me for a month prior to the contest. I had it taped up for the competition and was able to ride well enough for 5th place. Let’s hope I can pull something out for this one too! It’s going to be a sprint to the finish and a Hail Mary! Wish me luck :)

Here's the jump in Istanbul that is currently being built

This was the last time I hit a Big Air scaffolding jump - World Snowboard Championships Big Air in Quebec City 2013