I’d like to share with you my impressions of what Interski feels like as an event, especially in comparison to the other events I’ve been lucky enough to represent New Zealand at in the past. I was very interested to find out what it’s like to be at an event that is by nature non-competitive.
The first official day, yesterday, was centred on the opening ceremony. Our part in this was to ski a formation/demo run on the hill. Demo skiing is pretty foreign to us as Kiwis but we have had a small window of opportunity to prepare some formations. As Scotty said yesterday the focus for us is on ski performance and high-end skiing rather than synchro. Our ski performance was relatively high in comparison to other teams but our synchro was less clean than most others. We have the opportunity to ski 5 runs on the hill on Wednesday as our demo day so we will for sure produce some superior skiing and synchro.
In the lead up to the run I felt no pressure. I think this was because in my eyes the event lacked a measurable element – time, judges’ scores, even coach feedback. However when I arrived at the top of the hill a very familiar feeling was in the air. Teams were nervous. There were nerves from all teams, some more than others. There were those who produced a top-performance and there were those who skied below their capability. At the end of the day all the other teams were making judgements about our skiing and about us.
This got me thinking about performances in general; from us or from anyone who works as an instructor in the Snowsports industry. From the Olympics to a judged run at an NZSIA exam right through to a demonstrational basic parallel for our clients we are always trying to execute a top performance. What really became clear to me is that those who are able to produce consistent and quality performances are those who, at the end of the day, are the most respected.
Today the ISIA GS race was on – this is a new addition to Interski. It’s both a competitive race in itself and a qualifier for the team dual panelled slalom event over the next few days. The snow was really icy. I mean proper word cup icy. The pitch was steep. The speeds were up. And teams from Europe brought very strong ex-racers from Europa and World Cup level on proper race equipment who had clearly prepared for the event. It was incredibly intimidating (so intimidating that I have to tell you 3 Aussies pulled out of the race…but they are Aussies after all…)
The NZ team put 5 men into the race – myself, Jon, Ben, Ashley and Toby. We were all nervous after inspection. I am proud to say we all executed quality runs and held our own. After yesterday I feel we all learned to step it up; we skied with confidence and looked the part. I finished around 10th place (official results to be confirmed) and the other boys all had results to be proud of. Celine Arnold, skiing for Switzerland, although also selected to represent New Zealand, skied an inspirational run to finish 4th in the Women’s race. Well done to all.
Whether you read this as a ski enthusiast, a non-skier, an instructor of any level or a competitive skier I would say this as a take-away: Figure out what it is you have to do to execute consistent quality performances. And learn to love the nerves. How to do that isn’t the same for everyone and it’s not easy, but strive towards it…never give up on your ability to do so.
Over and out for now; and here’s to some top performances on Wednesday from the NZ team boys!
words – Tim Cafe
photo – Ben Darlow