Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mind Games

After great training runs and solid skiing, Scott was poised to put down a significant result yesterday. He was skiing well and exactly on the line he'd planned when he hit an unseen rut in the shade and got bucked hard out of the course. He recovered without crashing, but not without some fancy footwork. It was a disappointment, but I thought nothing more of it. Tomorrow's another day, right?
Scott acted pretty normal (for a 17 year old) this morning and went through his race day routine. He swung by my position as Finish Referee to say good morning and seemed excited about the race. He watched the top women to monitor how the course was running and was exactly at the point of a major crash. The top seeded woman went headlong into the "A" net at full speed. It took 20 minutes to get her off the course on a backboard. Scott swung by my location again and relayed the accident status.
He had an OK race. Probably 1.5 seconds slower than expected, but still finished 14th (third amongst Juniors), and lowered his FIS points. When he came by to visit I asked him the same question I always ask, "How was your head at the start." For the first time this year he said, "Messed up." Evidently the thought that he was going to get injured entered his mind at the start and he battled it all the way down, losing focus at one point and making a costly mistake. We talked about it for a while and it occured to me that yesterday was the first time he'd ever failed to complete a run through a downhill. That, plus witnessing the accident, must have put doubt in his mind. The good news is that he's thought that all through and put it behind him. He's really excited about the National Championship Downhill tomorrow.
Scott also made another mental error today. He was so disappointed with his run that he didn't even consider where he'd finished relative to the other Juniors. Instead he headed to his room to catch-up on schoolwork. Later he got a pointed text from his coach with a photo of the podium missing one athlete. He got a well deserved butt chewing at the evening meeting as well.
Every day is a lesson...

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