I’m going to get straight into it, the past 9 months have been some of the lowest and most frustrating in my life. Usually, I get good luck but I feel like I had a lifetime of bad luck catch up with me, but the main protagonist was injuring my ankle that I have spoken about in a previous post…
Fast forward to this winter in Les Arcs, arriving with no place to live and no idea if my ankle would allow me to ride my snowboard. I was saved by a message from a local French girl who offered me her couch to sleep on until I found a place to live, I’ve never felt gratitude on this level before but she helped lift my spirits as she opened her home to me. I’m still sure she thought I would only be there for a few days but three weeks later I finally found a small apartment to call my home for winter, on a side note, being homeless is one of the worst feelings and something I never want to experience again.
I feel like this was a turning point for my luck, once I could unpack all my gear I could relax again and focus on the next problem, testing out my ankle. This didn’t take long to figure out, my first few days on a board were painful but manageable and I was relieved that I could at least ride around pistes. That sound of clicking binding straps has never sounded so good, I felt an instant pressure fall from my shoulders as soon as my board began to glide along the snow.
Confidence is key when snowboarding, and for me, it took a while to get rid of that niggly voice in my head telling me to put the brakes on, luckily i’m a stubborn guy and tend not to listen.
My first freeride competition was a 3 star event in mid January in Vars and to say I was underprepared was an understatement. I hadn’t hit a cliff or ridden hard at all but figured this would be a great way to really test my confidence, there nothing like jumping in the deep end to test your metal.
I love road trips, and when you have that excitement of heading to a new ski resort to explore the road trip takes on a new perspective. Its great to just drive and not know where you are going to end up, but having that goal takes the journey to a new level and brings a focus to the playing field.
I won’t go into too many details about the competition, needless to say, Itdidn’tt do well and had a big crash. What I did take away from it was that my ankle ,although limiting my movement, was holding up ok and snowboarding seemed to take away a mental block that I think stops me from progressing with recovery.
Leaving Vars on the Sunday we had the 4 hour drive to Bourg, arriving at 11pm with a 6am start the next day to begin the Les Arcs Freeride Week.
We were blessed with amazing snow conditions and I felt more confident, but two butt-checks(see my previous post on Freeride) on the first comp left me finishing 12th and a crash on the second comp leaving me 13th meant for a unsuccessful week of competitions but a really successful week for confidence and for peace of mind.
I forgot how much I missed the feeling of riding a snowboard, and not just the physical act of doing it but everything that goes with it. Getting up early in the fresh ,crisp mornings with the goal of searching for freshest powder or that couloir that is going to make you feel truly alive. Its the complete package that you get addicted to and keeps you coming back for more. Some of the best days are spent hiking with friends and using your knowledge to find good powder only to end up riding crusty hard-pack snow……its that feeling that you made the effort, that you did something with your day…thats what I missed the most during this injury.
Skip ahead to this past week. I know I need medical help to really fix my ankle, but with my confidence restored im no longer worrying about it which is a huge weight off my mind. Its meant that this week, with incredible snow conditions here in Les Arcs, I have been hiking all day, everyday, riding the biggest and most exposed lines in this amazing resort. The whole week we have found the lightest, driest snow on some of the steepest faces and I cant tell you the effect it has on the mind and soul. Each day we have got back to Bourg exhausted, hungry and beaten but with the satisfaction that we are doing exactly what we want, where we want. The mountains give so much to people and I think its true that they can heal. There are not many places you can feel so alive and so humbled at the same time. They really put things into perspective.