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It was not a complete surprise when I was handed my Olympic silver medal. It was exciting of course but I had worked for it.
The full story behind how I got there is now available in my autobiography “Second Nature”.
I started at the beginning just like everyone and slowly learned how to become an athlete, how to compete, how to win and how to lose. I slowly learned how to be a professional at what I do and that it wasn’t at all luck that I got my results. I was trained and ready to be there that day.
I’m constantly asked how it feels to have been so close to getting a gold, just missing out. And at one point that would have been how it felt, but after 12 years in the sport and with a less than peasy journey, I see it very differently now.
I did not lose a gold medal that day, I simply earned the silver that day. It was my highest possible result, and when you read how I got there, it’s easy to understand why I went home with no regrets.
For details on how to purchase a copy click here
I took some footage during training, to give a bit of a different view on aerials, enjoy!
Update: 1st January, 2011
Starting the New Year on a high, I bring good news from the first World Cup competitions of the year in China.
After a long flight and delayed luggage, allowing only one day of training before the competitions, I managed to put my practice from Finland into action. Landing a very nice jump on the first day and making it into the finals, but unfortunately crashing my second jump and finishing 12th.
The next day, the second competition was cancelled due to very windy conditions which thankfully subsided the follow day. I landed my first jump and once again made it into the finals in 8th position. This time I made the most of this second opportunity and put down a huge jump in the finals, to put myself into 6th, a career best for me.
Despite missing out on a real chance to podium on both days I am very happy with the outcome, and also my own performance in less than ideal conditions.
I am currently having a break from jumping over Christmas and New Year, spending my time in Europe and will fly to Montreal on the 3rd of January for the next competitions at Mt. Gabriel.
I am very excited especially for this competition as I will start to practice my new skill that I have not performed on snow yet, giving myself two – quadruple twisting triple flips, which I believe will finally give me the edge to do some damage in the competitive field and challenge the world’s best.
As previously mentioned one of my goals this year is to place in the top 10 in the World Cup tour, and after my first competitions I am ranked #8.
Update: 1st December, 2010
And so another winter begins, bring on the 2010-2011 season.
After a good 2 months back in Australia resting from the summer training, it is time to put all of the practice into action. Although it wasn’t all rest, given we had a 3 week strength and conditioning camp at the AIS in Canberra. I really enjoyed this because I could work so hard that I wouldn’t be able to walk the next day, and not have to worry about launching myself off any jumps.
And now, thanks to a good 37 hours straight of travelling I have arrived in Ruka, Finland. The same place we trained last year, freezing cold, not much sun, but a sweet jump site and only a few people using it. I leave for China on the 11th for the first World Cup competitions, but I am in no hurry this year to rush into things, we started on the basics, (double flips with twists) and tomorrow will be moving on to triple flips.
This year I’m decked out in my new gear ready to show everyone whose boss, a big thanks to XTM for the thermal gear, especially my heater socks and Oakley for my sweet jumping glasses that everyone wants.
Training has gone very well so far and I’m landing pretty much all of my jumps, I take pride in my ability to land well and plan for this to continue through the World Cups and leading into the World Championships in Deer Valley, Utah, in February.
This year I have the tricks to be a highly competitive aerialist and as always will just to the best of my ability and hope that it’s enough when it counts.
My goals this season are to make the finals at the World Championships and place highly, as well as finish in the top 10 in the World Cup tour this year, I finished 15th last year, being my first World Cup season.
Right now is the calm before the storm, and within the next 2 weeks everything will get into gear and it will be a competition pretty much every week until the end of February, so wish me luck.
Update: 15th September, 2010
With only two weeks to go before the end of my summer training in Park City I am flying into the home stretch. Careful planning from my coach has put us exactly where we need to be going into the winter season with time to spare. I’ve spent the last month learning new skills, and can now boast three different ‘quadruple twisting triple flips’ under my belt. It is not my plan to have to compete some of the skills I can now do, but if the opportunity arises where I could podium at a major event then I will bring out the bag of tricks. I am extremely happy with where I am at the moment in my training and although it has been a long summer, it has proven highly productive.
Many athletes are taking a year off and toning down the training following the Olympics, and I plan to take advantage of that this year. I plan to come out fighting hard and show the World Cup circuit that I deserved to make the finals at the Olympics and that it wasn’t at all just luck that I was there. I predict that I will be turning a few heads this year as all of the basic skill work has dramatically improved my jumping to the point where people will have to perform very well to beat me.
Thanks to great fitness and strength training, as well as frequent physiotherapy provided for me I have managed to stay uninjured throughout the summer and as a result have been able to keep the intensity up right until the end. This includes around 2,395 flips so far, and 127,745 stairs that I’ve walked up to do my jumps.
Unfortunately I won’t get much time at home because we are attending a fitness camp a week after coming back to Australia and soon after heading to Finland to begin winter training for what I can only imagine to be an exciting World Cup season. Attached in the next email is a short video of the different jumps that I have done this summer. You will see why I am confident going into this winter season and I hope to perform to a better standard than the year before as I have always done.
Update: 2nd August, 2010
Coming to the end of our third jumping camp for the summer, with two more to go, my training has been very successful. My coach has decided to stick to a slow plan, progressing only once we have achieved what we wanted on the basics, and letting the skills transfer to the bigger tricks.
This is the first year I have had the time to work on perfecting my skills, as the Olympics are over and I have 4 years to build on what I have already, instead of starting as a beginner.
In the last two camps I have been working on double flips with up to four twists, and used the groundwork from this to move up to triple flips with three twists. Although these aren’t the hardest skills I have done, they are an improvement on what I have been able to do in the last few years, and with the World Championships coming up in January, I plan to be up there with the best in the world, as a medal contender.
The camp was topped off by an FIS water ramping competition that involved most of the Australian, US, and UK aerial teams, battling it out in a head to head knockout competition. I competed against 3 Olympians from the US team (two, ranked higher than I am), and through my good basics training from the last 3 camps, I was able to execute a new skill that I have never tried before, and when a big score was needed, I managed to put it to my feet to take the win.
A good reminder of why proper training is so important, and a nice new pair of skis for first prize is pretty sweet as well!
I look forward to increasing my degree of difficulty in skills the next two camps and finishing off the summer training ready to do some damage in the World Cup tour this year.
Update: 26th June, 2010
After a three month break from Aerials after the Vancouver Olympics, and a semester of hard work back at university, I have travelled back overseas to the USA to begin the four year cycle towards the next Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Unfortunately I will have to defer the final part of this semester at university as I will just not be around to complete the practical teaching classes. I hope that next year I will get a long enough break to finally be able to complete my teaching degree.
Our first camp has just been completed. I have spent a month back on the basics, working on perfecting the skills leading up to the bigger and harder moves. I have been practicing straight back flips and a few twists – which seem simple, but it is important to overcome any bad habits that might have found their way into my technique. I have also been doing trampoline routines and, of course, I am back in the gym getting ever stronger to ensure a safe and injury free season.
Currently I am the only member of our World Cup team jumping this year and I hope to represent Australia strongly in all competitions in the upcoming (2010/11) winter season.
My aim for this (Northern hemisphere) summer is to perfect the tricks that I can already do – given that I rushed up to them to make the last Olympics! The short term goal is to be at my best for January 2011, when the World Championship will be held here in Utah. I would like to contend for a medal and put down a solid performance.
Moving in to our second camp I will move onto the double kicker to work on double flips with twists. I have a new coach this year and look forward to new ideas and a different approach in order to help me progress to becoming the best in the world.
Road to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
I have just left Australia, going into the winter season where I plan to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
I have just over 3 months to train, compete and prepare myself for my ultimate goal.
I will try and keep a little video summary of each week, depending if anything interesting happen
Skiing in Saas Fee, Switzerland
Liz, Bree, Liv and myself, skiing and messing around, also pulling a prank on Liz, then reversing it back on Bree.
Jump training in Ruka, Finland
The winter season has now started, and after a week of skiing in Saas Fee, Switzerland, in probably the most amazing mountains I’ve seen in my life, we have journeyed up to Ruka in Finland, on the boarders of the Arctic Circle where it’s dark most of the time, and seeing the sun is actually worth taking a picture in case you don’t see it ever again! Currently we’re training early in the morning, and we basically get all of the day light during our 2-3 hours of training, sunrise and sunset, very tiring when you’ve been awake for 3 hours and it already looks like dinner time.
With a few weeks before the first 2 World Cups in China, we’ve begun with our basic tricks on snow and will work up to those which we plan to compete.
For me, I usually start on the single kicker jump, to practice my single back flips, but this year my coach decided that I should start on the double kicker.
So I’ve started off with 2 flips and keep adding twists as I get more confident, progressing towards triple flips with 3 twists, that I plan to compete in competitions. I also have up my sleeve, 3 flips with 4 twists, which will definitely come out if I make the Olympics.
After a highly successful training camp in Ruka I am now ready to head off to China, so far amazingly everything has gone to plan. I had a strong few weeks training doubles and triples, learning my new trick, a triple twisting triple flip, landing the first one and getting a good 10 of them off before training was over and I have to start packing for China. My coaches are unable to come with me as they must stay and coach other members of the team in Finland, therefore i will be coached by Chrigi, from the Swiss team who has been watching me train, both on water and snow, hopefully we can have a successful time in China and start the season on a high.
World Cups in China
The last 2 weeks have been very stressful! We (Myself, Bree Munro and Liz Gardner) departed Ruka in Finland on route to China, for 2 World Cups. Very exciting because it is my first time here and I just love going to different countries and continents.
After a good 25 hours of travel, we finally arrived in Changchun, where is was a mild -20 something degrees, I think my lungs shriveled up and died as soon as the air hit them.
Whilst jetlag normally isn’t the biggest of deals, it certainly is when you have to launch yourself of a 4.5 metre jump two days later. It was a one hour bus trip to the jump site from the hotel, only 1 bus so if you missed it, you weren’t training that day. The jump site was amazing and with temperatures in the negative 20s, the jumps were solid, but unfortunately so is the landing hill, nice ice chunks to break your fall.
My coach Jerry Grossi was not accompanying me to China as needed to stay back in Finland to coach other members of our team. So I had a new coach for the week, Chrigi, who coaches for the Swiss team very kindly offered to coach me and has been watching me train for some time so get an idea of how I jump. I had two days of training on the new site, and then a day off before the competition, that’s all the time you get to get up to your hardest tricks when you’re competing on World Cup, it’s quite a shock for a rookie like me, as I’m used to taking my time and getting there slowly.
There was only time for 3 jumps before the competition started. During training I was struggling to get enough speed, so for the competition jump I stepped up further and hoped it would be enough. I competed my Full-Full-Full, triple twisting triple and landed it very nicely, though my coach believed I was underscored, I ended up in 17th place, which is my best effort in a World Cup so far, given I’d only done 2 previously. Only the top 12 make the finals and get a second jump, so my day ended on that, I was extremely happy because I landed my jump the first time I competed it and that’s what I came to do.
Next morning, another competition, not normally are there two one day after the other as it’s very draining to compete. I woke up feeling very relaxed and refreshed and decided I’d make the most of everyone else being tired. Again I had 3 jumps to get up to my hardest trick, today I put different wax on my skis and was going much faster and higher, I didn’t land any jumps in training, but that never gets me down because all that matters is the competition jump, and training is just a warm up for the real thing.
I decided today I was gonna launch one to the moon, and that’s what I did, the jump was big and floaty, I stretched it down to my feet and landed solidly.
I can’t quite explain how excited I was, possibly similar to a little kid getting a puppy for Christmas, jumping around like a crazy person, that was me. I scored 111.57 points out of a possible 121.5, my best jump ever and it put me into 11th, with 2 jumpers to go. Remembering that top 12 make the finals, the first jumper landed well and would definitely beat my score, placing me right on the bubble for the finals, the last jumper went, and as the crowd sighed as he crashed… my grin grew off my face and knocked down everyone around me.
I later found out that I actually qualified 11th so I was in either way, and so the day continued with another training jump to prepare for finals and then the competition. Sadly I did not land my competition jump but I held my 11th position, for yet another personal best for me. That, finishing my competitions in China, and a big thank you to my Swiss coaches for looking after me this week.
Time to rest up for the Christmas break, where I am travelling to Germany and Poland to catch up with some friends, then the team will be reunited in Calgary, Canada for the next World Cup, this time, I’m ranked 15th in the competition.
Christmas / New Years break in Germany and Poland
A big thankyou to the Wiesheier Family for having me stay at the house over Christmas and to Patrycja for inviting me for New Years.
World Cup in Calgary, Canada
Definitely one of the hardest competitions i’ve done, it was very windy, the snow was melting because it was so warm and getting off the jump was a struggle. A tiring week of hiking up to the top of the hill because there was no chairlift to take us up.
I didn’t really have any good takeoffs during the two days of training, and during competition training i wasn’t landing anything either. for the competition jump i started about a metre from the top of the hill and went in as hard as i could with the heavy wind conditions, landing finally and qualifying 7th for the finals, my best result so far. Unfortunately though i couldn’t follow through with the finals jump, crashing it and ending up 11th again, disappointing because i could have done a lot better, but still, finals – i’ll take it.
as of this moment i’m ranked 13th on the World Cup tour, and i am in position for qualifying for the Olympics, one more competition to decide whether I’m going for sure, or if i’ll have to wait to find out.
World Cup in Deer Valley, USA
My 4th World Cup of the year and already it was the last chance that I had to qualify for the Olympics. Basically everyone who had competed last year in the World Cups had earned themselves points towards qualifying, this year I not only had to get my own points, but also catch up to everyone above me who were making more points on top of what they already had. Thanks to my landings, by thend end of the Calgary competition, I’d worked my way up to the last available Olympic spot for aerials, but the Deer Valley competition would determine the final outcome, as I had to hold my spot. To garantee this, I had to place 13th or higher, and with everyone landing big jumps in the competition, the pressure was really on. I was last to go, and to achieve my goal I needed to score higher than I have ever before. And i did exactly that, made 12th, went into the finals and landed my second jump placing me in 9th position.
In just 2 jumps, I scored my highest individual jump score ever, my highest combined jump score, my highest world cup ranking, put myself into rank 12 in the world for just this year, aaaaaaaand qualified to the Olympics.
That’s one hell of a day 😀
World Cup in Lake Placid, USA
Although not the best result in a competition for me, I was very happy with my week. I had some good crashes and also some really nice jumps. Despite an average training session I managed a reasonably good jump, putting it to my feet, the judges were just not in my favour this week, but that’s ok, because it was last week that counted the most.
I had the pleasure of having a few friends come out to watch me jump this time, Scott Kiesel my best buddy from the US, Aimee Athnos whom I have known for years, and a few of her friends also, Mariel, Krystina and Arti. Also featuring this week, the return of Flagman! aka my brother, who as always is the most obvious supporter at the bottom of the hill. And together with a sweet sign made by Scott, I had a cheer squad.
With one more World Cup competition to go, I’m hoping to land and make it a clean sweep, landing every full-full-full in competition this year. I will also be considering the quad twist next week because we are approaching fast the BIG DAY!
World Cup at Mt. Gabriel, Canada
And so ends the World Cup season of 09/10, and I can proudly say that I landed every FFF in competition this year, something that I know a few people did not think was ever possible, but then again, that goes for everything, I’m here, qualified for the Olympics, and all seemed impossible, but there you go!
Not a fantastic competition for me, my jump was not very good, but I will take a landing over a crash anyday. Unfortunately I did not make the finals as they were only taking the top 10 this time, so 12th, just not enough this week. My claim for the week though is attempting my first quad twisting triple flips. The Full-Doublefull-Full, the “daddy” as it’s called, although seemingly harder the trick itself is not that difficult, but the mental effort for me to turn and go to do it wore me right out. The first one, as you can see on the video did not quite go to plan haha. I was set to go, psyched up after checking my skis were attched and my boots were buckled multiple times, and when my coach indicated the wind speed was good i took a deep breath and turned to go, not noticing that my coach had then decided the wind wasn’t so good anymore and was telling me not to go. To late, i was already on my way and when i stood up i knew instantly that i was not going to make it ha. But that’s ok because i was already up the jump and spinning, hoping that i’d at least see the ground before i crashed into it, which i did. The nexxt jump the wind was right and so was the speed coming in, enough for me to land the first one i had a chance of landing. Not as neat as i would like, but that’s the goal for next week before we head to Vancouver.
Olympic training camp
Our last minute training camp was definitely one of the most successful camps we’ve had this year, I have had many but this one topped it off when it really mattered. We participated in two NorAm competitions where I would compete my quad twisting triple flip for the first time to see how I would handle it under the pressure, and the first day of competition during training it was looking so good as I still did not have the feeling of the skill, which would be no big deal given I’d only done 5 of them but I get impatient and like to get things quickly. When the competition started suddenly everything clicked in my head and I got a great takeoff and nice jump in the air and landed it, coming first, even with some World Cup athletes there, so that was a great confidence booster for me, again scoring my highest score ever. The trick was to follow it up the next day because there was another competition, and I just about did except I came in a little bit short on my fullfullfull, and rolled over the front of my skis, this meant I had to make up for it on the next jump, and once again I launched a nice quad twist, better than the day before and landed it again, although only coming 7th because of my crash I now feel ready for Vancouver and we’ll just have to see what can happen on the day when I get a bit amped up!
Vancouver!!! what a place, what an experience! It really is a shame that the weather wasn’t what we all wanted it to be, the media gave them all a hard time for how it was too warm etc etc and everything was bad, when in fact it really wasn’t that bad. And might i say, and i will – if volunteers in every other Olympics had worked as hard as the ones in these, other Olympics would have been phenomenal! they worked so hard to make it the best they possibly could, and they most certainly did! i can really only tell you about the aerial site, where the jumps had tubes of dry ice inside them and it cost about $4000 per jumping session to keep the jump cold enough not to melt, they had crushed dry ice constantly been thrown on the inrun and fire extinguishers sparying on the jumps to keep the surface cold and hard! pretty amazing it you ask me, and for the weather… perfect, yeh it was warm, but there was no wind, no bad conditions, perfect conditions by any standards.
Now – the opening ceremony was definitely one of the highlights of my life, not only is it the thing i wanted to experience the most but when we walked in the crowd went craaaaazy! and that’s when i realised really where i was, i was at the olympics, the pinnacle of sporting achievements and this was gonna be my moment, obviously shared with a lot of other people, but it was mine to keep forever.
I have been so fearful this year leading into the Olympics, obviously i had to qualify and i only just made it, and what a crazy year it was, i would have never predicted the outcome in my wildest dreams, but i was scared that i would hurt myself leading into the games that all of my work over the last 5 years would come down to one moment and then that was it i was done and couldn’t compete, but i managed to start this crazy sport and reach an olympic games with no injury holding me back for more than a week.
So the men had 3 days of training before the event, there were meant to be 6 days but they got cancelled because the jumps were starting to fall apart and they wanted to conserve them for the women’s event, i had only done 2 triples leading in to the last day of practice, the day before the comp, so i was a little nervous, but since i was already here, since i’d made it this far, it was going to be all or nothing, i’d been to my opnening ceremony, lived out my dream, and so i was not going to hold back one little bit. we got up to the quad twist on the last jump of training, and as i started getting ready to head down i was told to go up and do another quad, which i did, snuck one in at the last moment, but you see – my brain had already switched off, it was done for the day so when i hit the kicker and launched up into the sky my brain wasn’t working and i got lost in my twist, ended up doing 3.5 twists and coming rather hard on my neck and chest facing the wrong way. not a very good end to the last day of training, and potentially, the end of my Olympics, but somehow, even though i’d just had the worst crash of my career, still uninjured, luckily not a concussion because would mean 10 days without jumping, that’s the rules. i went home that night, pretty scared for the next day, i had this happen to me in the summer and from the first time i got lost i couldn’t double twist for 2 months, and i was praying that it wouldn’t be a repeat of that because i had no choice.
So the day of the competition, i was pretty scared, i wasn’t ready for the quad at all but we worked our way up through the tricks, and now that is was comp day, again – all or nothing, and i’m going to take all thankyou very much. i landed every jump up until the quad, and then it was time to see what my brain would do, possibly the scariest jump i’ve ever done but i had no choice and i wasn’t going home without competing this trick at the Olympics, i went, and landed it, survived, nothing pretty but i got it around and skied away, then it was comp time.
Just like my last epic in Deer Valley i was last to go, i was going to compete fullfullfull and the quad, i started with fullfullfull and as i stood there at the top by myself everyone else had finished i took it in for a moment, the whole crowd watching me, up there all alone at the top ready to do what i’d trained for. so i turned and went, i landed it, it wasn’t the most brilliant jump i’d done but i landed it, at the Olympics. it wasn’t quite the score we’d hoped for to put me in the ideal position, but we’d take it and hope the next jump could produce something amazing.
And as i waited for the competition to come to a finish i found myself again at the top all alone the last jump of the competition, with the crowd roaring loudly at the bottom waiting for my jump to decide the final result. that there was the most significant moment in my life, just for a few seconds, everyone there, everyone at home, friends and family and supporters all around the World, stopped to watch me for just one moment. the only thing that i could think about as i turned to go is that i didnt want to land on my head, i didn’t want to fall to pieces, the crowd the cameras the pressure, all disappeared because i just wanted a good takeoff so i didn’t break my neck, so i went and performed the best jump i have ever done on snow, the best quad that i’ve ever done and nailed the landing.
I can’t explain how i felt when i saw the score come up that said that i had finished in 13th, and missed out on the finals by 0.89, the thought that 5 years of training had come down to the smallest of margains but not in my favour…
But – i’d made it to the Olympics, not only that, i’d competed both of my hardest tricks, landed them, done them well, represented my country and walked away uninjured, so really there was nothing i could be disappointed about. yes i may dwell on the score for years to come, the score which i have no control over, it’s a judged sport, some days you get lucky, some days you don’t. but i’m going to come back in 4 years and win, just so you know!
so thankyou for sharing my experience with me, i hope it has been as entertaining for you as it has for me, it is not over, and there will be plenty more updates to come so stay tuned!