Finally back from the place they call Middle Earth! This was my fourth summer traveling down to New Zealand in August for some on-snow training. This trip was a bit different for me this year. Last summer I went to the southern hemisphere to compete and that is when I blew my knee. Heading back down this summer — a year after everything happened — I was out for redemption! This was my first competition back and I wanted to show everyone that I am back better than ever.

The first competition was the FIS World Cup halfpipe. I was feeling really good in training and was extremely happy with the way I was skiing. Going into this event I knew I still had so much time left in the season so I kept it mellow, but wanted to get the feel of competing back. I have never had butterflies like that in my stomach like I did going into my first run in qualification. I landed my first run and had adrenaline running through my body. My legs couldn’t stop shaking and — not going to lie — after my run I was so happy I put one down and with the adrenaline I peed myself a little bit from joy. Haha! I went back to the top of the halfpipe to talk with my coach and I just had to lie down on the snow and take a minute to breathe. I was so relieved and happy to get that out of the way. I knew I was going to be nervous, but I think I surprised myself.

The day of the finals we had terrible weather and the competition was pushed back a couple of hours. Once we got some visibility the ladies had their first runs. I qualified fifth so I was late to drop. Two girls ran after me and then we were on hold again for another hour waiting to try to send the last two girls. Unfortunately with the weather we were only able to have a one-run final, but luckily I put down a good first run to my feet so I came out on top. Not an ideal day for finals, but no one can control Mother Nature and sometimes this happens in our sport. It was a great confidence builder coming back down to the place where I injured myself and my first competition back come coming out with a win!

Winning tastes good!

View from my spot in Wanaka, New Zealand

After halfpipe was over I was training for the world cup slopestyle. I was also taking this event on the easier side just because I was just trying to get a top-30 result to get my quota spot for the Olympics. I qualified third and going into finals I tried to switch my run up, but got caught up on the same feature in both runs and wasn’t able to link a clean run together. I ended up in fifth and was happy I was able to get my quota. Even though I didn’t get on the podium I made some great strides in slopestyle and couldn’t be happier. I got some more of my tricks back on snow and was able to tweak some new tricks so I’m stoked on how my progression is coming along. I wasn’t as nervous as I was in halfpipe because I think I got it out of my system.

After the world cup, the New Zealand Freeski Open was another competition I did to get myself into competition mode. This event is a more fun, laid back event. I just kept to my same routine and just wanted to have fun. We skied on the same slope course at Cardrona so I took it more as practice because I was pretty beat by that time. I ended up coming in third in slopestyle and fourth in halfpipe, so all in all I pleased with my trip back to Middle Earth!