Being a pro snowboarder taught Katie many lessons – Here she shares what she learnt.
“I learnt lots of things whilst being a snowboarder, mainly about snowboarding (obviously), but also about myself, Mother Nature, and life in general! I guess after a 14 seasons, you begin to pick things up…”
My “wisdom” mainly comes from just living a normal snowboarding/ seasonaire life, as well as through competitive snowboarding. Here goes – this is my top 10:
1) Nerves are hard to control
It might be different for a lot of people, but for me there was nothing I ever found to help me with my nerves. I got them BAD. I tried imagining people in their underwear, drinking Rescue Remedy like they were shots of tequila, actually having a tequila shot, used breathing techniques, had a go at yoga, played music…you name it, I tried it. I guess it was good as it showed I really cared, but on the flip side, it would sometimes really affect my performance in a competition.
You’d think the more competitions you do, the easier it would get, but it went the other way for me. The more comps I did, the more important they became, and I would often ask myself why I was putting myself through it at all! It wasn’t just competitions though, as I’d also find myself getting nervous about everyday riding. Trying out a trick for the first time, hitting a new feature or even testing out a jump – it’s definitely an all round nerve-racking sport!
In the end, the only way I found to successfully deal with my nerves was to use them to my advantage. So the more nervous I got, the more energy and ‘balls’ I had, and this would drive me to nail that trick or win that competition.
2) Fitness off the mountain is just as important
I went for years thinking just snowboarding on it’s own was enough to keep you fit. Well it is, but if you want to see an improvement in your riding, concentrating on your fitness off the hill will help. Snowboarding is such an intense sport that your body needs to be as strong as possible. It was only when I started going to the gym and working on my core strength in particular that I started to notice an improvement.
Even taking days off riding and working on your fitness, strength or agility is ok. Trust me, it really works! In a recent blog I wrote about how incorporating warm ups and warm downs into your routine are also really important. I used to skip these (you know, places to go, people to see), but I could really tell the difference the next day if I didn’t do them.
“Obviously a hot tub session and a massage are essential parts of the warm down routine…you know for medical reasons…”
All of this will not only prepare you mentally and physically for snowboarding, but it will also help to prevent injuries. If you need more convincing, read my previous blog about how to improve your snowboarding.
3) Rest your injuries
If you are unlucky enough to have an injury (it’s inevitable with snowboarding I’m afraid), you have to rest. I know it’s so hard to miss out, but you just have to do it. Resting it in the beginning will prevent you from being out of action for too long and reduce long-term damage. I definitely learnt my lesson the hard way.
It actually took me years to realise I was being stupid by gritting my teeth, strapping myself up and taking painkillers to “ride through it”. Taking care of your body is such an important thing; if you haven’t got your body then you haven’t got snowboarding. It doesn’t matter if you are missing the BEST powder day of the season, nothing is worth compromising your body for. Just use it as a good excuse to put your feet up, watch an addictive series on Netflix and get your friends to run around after you. Rinse the sympathy card!
4) Take time off snowboarding
I used to think that in order to get better at snowboarding I had to ride every single day. If I missed a day I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough or wasn’t going to improve. To be honest, sometimes I totally ran myself into the ground, dragging myself up to the hill no matter what. I even forgot my snowboard once! That’s when I realised that sometimes you need a break.
In fact, a break can be the best thing for your riding. Not only does it give your body a chance to recover, it will also keep your snowboarding fresh, as you’ll have some mental space from it. You can almost have too much of a good thing with snowboarding and stop appreciating it. So take it as an opportunity to do something totally different such as ice-skating, head off on a road trip or practice your 100 meter hurdles… After a rest day (or a few), I will guarantee that you will have more energy and more enthusiasm for snowboarding.
5) Good days and bad days
Same as any sport, or life in general, there will be good days and bad days with snowboarding – just roll with it! Sometimes there’s no explanation. Why could I land my trick yesterday but not today? Why did I feel like Shaun White yesterday, but a big fat snowboarding slug today?! Some days you’re just “feeling it”, and those are the days to go for it. Go wild and try those new tricks, and don’t stop until the last lift. The days when you’re not so stoked are the times to call it a day and do something different. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. Don’t feel disappointed in yourself, as tomorrow is a new day.
6) Snowboarding is a mental sport too
Your body is probably capable of more things than you realise, and it’s actually your mind that is holding you back. Yes it’s good to be sensible, but you need to learn the difference between being scared to try things (that you actually could do) or genuinely not being ready physically.
Learn tricks in stages, as that will really help to build up your confidence mentally. And again, listen to your body. That way you’ll know if you’re ready and you’ll learn to know your limits.
7) Your crew are important
The people you ride with are really important, as they will inspire you and quickly become your mountain family. Everyone has a preference on the different types of rider they like to shred with. So figure out the people that make you tick and surround yourself with them.
I love riding with positive people that don’t take themselves too seriously, but work hard, and don’t dilly dally along too much. I love big groups of girls/ boys with lots of banter, so you can all bounce off each other and have fun, but I also enjoy doing hot laps with smaller groups! I generally like riding with people that are stocked on snowboarding, and I hate riding on my own.
8) Mother Nature is boss
You can control most things with snowboarding, but the one thing that is completely out of your control is Mother Nature. She has her own agenda. She can be the most beautiful and spectacular thing…but also seriously scary. You need to respect her and just go with whatever she decides. If you challenge her, you could end up in trouble.
9) Don’t take snowboarding for granted
It’s easy to forget when you’re doing it everyday, but take a moment every now and then, to look around you and remember – you’re in the mountains and it’s beautiful! I am definitely realising it now living back in the UK and wished I had appreciated it a lot more when I was out there doing it, day in and day out. I didn’t realise how lucky I was, but anytime I get the opportunity to ride now, I’m definitely more in love with the whole experience, and try to absorb every second on the hill. So just take it all in and live for the moment.
10) Remember the bigger picture
At certain points in my life, I became so wrapped up in getting sponsored, training, competing and keeping
everyone happy that I forgot why I was actually snowboarding. I’d have to give myself a reality check when I felt like this and remember I was snowboarding because I LOVED it, then everything was plain sailing. Don’t forget that snowboarding isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, and that there are other important things in life too.
Original Article : https://www.tickettoridegroup.com/blog/south-africa-settling-in/