Summer at Windell's
I have always been taught that hard work pays off. Throughout my life I have learned to always put 100 percent effort into my dreams and aspirations. When I first got the opportunity to work at Windell's camp as a counselor during the summer of 2011, I knew that it was the perfect chance for me to take advantage of my work ethic and develop my skills as a freeskier. Unfortunately my summer of skiing ended after only a short few weeks. I broke my ankle, which meant that I was not going to ski until the following winter. In the past, staff members at Windell's that were injured would end up leaving. I chose to stay and finish out the remainder of the summer on one leg. I knew that my fellow counselors needed me and I was not going to run away from my commitment. My presence at camp that summer made in impact on all of the staff members including the head ski coach.
The following year I was hired as a ski coach. My desire to work hard was at an all time high during the summer of 2012. The injury the previous summer had slowed me down but did not knock me out. That summer I learned as much as I could from my peers on how to improve my coaching skills and my skiing. Again, I saw that my work ethic made a positive impact on everyone around me.
The year that followed the summer of 2012 brought up many difficult questions. Pursuing a career in freesking is not easy and the challenges can make or break an individual. I know that everyone goes through times when they have doubt about pursuing their dreams, and I was no exception. As the summer of 2013 approached I knew that many of the questions about myself would have to be answered.
This year I was hired on as a full time coach. All of the hard work I had shown the previous two years payed off. I got to coach from start to finish and as a bonus I was placed in a nice room for the summer. I was geared up and determined once again to become a better coach and freeskier.
I set some big goals for the summer. I wanted to develop my ability to spin to my right side both forward and switch, expand my repertoire of grabs in various rotations, and lock in double rotations that score well in competition. All of these goals required a lot of practice in order to achieve them. Luckily I had plenty of time and motivation. I focused mainly on jump tricks and overall style. Based on my experiences from the previous summers, I knew that my time would be best spent utilizing the jump lines that were available for training. The rope tows allowed me to hit the same feature repetitively within a very short amount of time. This set up is ideal for learning new tricks because the last jump is so fresh in the mind that one can make the small yet crucial adjustments on the next attempt.
Starting during the first session of camp I was determined to use my afternoon free time to progress my personal skills. Unlike most of the campers and other staff members, I stayed on the hill until I got kicked out every day. I was regularly the only person in the medium jump line the last half hour of the day. I looked forward to those prime training opportunities because I could get a jump in every two minutes. Some of my best memories from the summer were during those times. Between jumps, I would pause for a moment and look out into the distance. The music blaring in my head phones hyped me up, and the incredible view from the park gave me the calm intensity to explode off of jumps. I was on a mission.
Even off the mountain I stayed focused. I worked out on a funky, beat-up, old bench press that I moved up to the mountains from my apartment in Portland. While everyone else seemed to be on vacation, sitting in fold-up chairs and soaking up the sun, I spent time getting stronger for the winter season. In addition to lifting weights to increase my strength, I stretched every day to prevent injuries. Some of the most important training I did was off of the mountain at Windell's indoor skate park. With a full ramp and jump into a foam pit, it was easy to spend most evenings skating on my roller blades in the indoor park. I was able to practice the rotations that I was planning to work on the next day on the snow. Once again, I was usually the only person taking full advantage of the facilities and spent many evenings alone in the park. With my music blasting as I sailed into the foam pit, I had so much fun while making huge technical advances. The hard work that I put into skating really increased my confidence on skis. I was able to attempt new rotations on the mountain with no hesitation, which in skiing is the difference between success and injury.
Midway through the summer I had the opportunity to team up with my good friend Noah Wallace and film the first edit ever consisting of two African American freeskiers. "The Darkside" was filmed in the afternoons of sessions 4 and 5 and also during a few full days of session 6, when Noah and I had no coaching duties. The two of us filmed each other most of the time using a Go Pro Hero 3 connected to a pole mount. Skiing with Noah was some of the most fun I have ever had in my life. Both of us put down so many good tricks that it made selecting only the best ones for the final video very difficult. We were both able to capture our best skills as skiers and develop some extreme filming techniques at the same time. The edit showcases the outcome of all the hard work and dedication that I put into my skiing this summer. I look forward to spending time developing "The Darkside 2" with Noah and maybe a few new special guests.
To wrap up the summer, I focused on locking in my double rotations to use in competition during the winter season. Even at the end of the summer I was still typically the last one to hit the big jump, utilizing every minute I could on the mountain. By the end of the summer I had accomplished so many of my goals. I secured a left side forward double 1080, double 1260, switch double 900 and switch double 1080 for competition this season. I made tons of progress on my ability to spin to the right forward and switch. To top it off, the last day on hill I was able to land two forward right side doubles. I landed a forward right double under flip and a forward right double 1080. I worked on these rotations over and over into the foam pit prior to my attempts on the mountain, and I was stoked that it came together on skis before the summer was over. It still amazes me how the muscle memory and air awareness that I acquired on roller blades take over when I commit to these big rotations on the mountain. In addition to achieving my summer goals, I was rewarded with the discovery that anything is possible with enough preparation. As long as I am willing to dedicate myself and work hard, I know that I can achieve anything I want both in my skiing and in life and that I can enjoy doing it.
Before the summer, I questioned what I was doing by continuing to pursue what was only a dream of freeskiing. I was unsure of myself and what the future had in store for me. But by the end of the summer I realized that quitting was not an option for me. It became clear that the joy and fulfillment I receive from skiing is enough to motivate me to accomplish the goals I establish and create my own successes. I know that as long as I continue to improve, anything is possible.