After taking some considerable time off from skiing to rest the heel, it was time to give it a go for the World Cup Slopestyle. Trying to ski on it the weekend before the World Cup with Sabine, and for the most part was fine, until I tried to hit a jump. With two days left before the first practice started, and a couple of trips prior to a PT. I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to ski without any pain.

 GoPro laps with Willie Borm

GoPro laps with Willie Borm

With some less than ideal weather starting to roll in, I took those two days to rest as much as possible. Although bummed at the time, I was hyped to see good friends make their way to Innsbruck. When it was time for the first Unofficial practice, I had very low standards for how my heel would perform. Taking it slow, I tried to begin the practice like any other contest. Not trying to rush into anything and wanted to see how my heel felt. Thankfully it was better than expected, but decided to not ski too hard.

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The following day was the real scheduled practice, and for that I was up early and out the door before 7:30 to make it in time. Thanks to a ride from Victor and Brad. During the practice, I again had low expectations and decided to just give it a go. Surprised once again, I was feeling awesome on the jumps. Being able to do a majority of my tricks without any pain, and even go big and be ok with the impact. This gave me a nice confidence boost going into qualifiers the following day.

Heat 2, last to drop.

 The early morning essentials courtesy of One Fresh Cup & JLab Audio 

The early morning essentials courtesy of One Fresh Cup & JLab Audio 

Since I was Heat 2, I had to be up early to catch the first gondola. When the alarm goes off at 5:30 am, I usually have the feeling of denial for why I'm awake when it's still so dark. After rolling out of bed and having a cup of Joe courtesy of One Fresh Cup. Feeling more ready for the upcoming day, I make my way out to Victor and Brad waiting for me.

 Photo from: Prime Skiing

Photo from: Prime Skiing

Heading up the first gondola with an anxious crew waiting to see what the day would bring. To our surprise, the weather is much better than expected. With wind only affecting the front side of the glacier, and leaving us with calm sunny weather. Although a little delayed to start our practice, we eventually started, and I was able to put the finishing touches on my run. Since I was last to drop in my heat, I ended up taking a handful of laps to keep warm, and hit some rails. After 40 mins of the contest starting, I was ready in the start gate.

 Photo by: Brad Prosser

Photo by: Brad Prosser

Getting the music going, currently listening to "Father, Father" by: Jay Prince. Saying a quick prayer, then dropping in. Thankfully was able to put down my most solid run of the day, and put me into 2nd place with a score of 86.66. This would secure me for finals. 

Finals.

Following the qualifier, we had a down day before finals started on Sunday. With the girls competing instead. We were able to enjoy a needed down day. Just like it was with the qualifier, we were up at 5:30. One Fresh Cup, some food already packed up, and out to catch the first bus out of Innsbruck. Sabine was able to finally join and watch, and was the first time she had seen me compete since we started dating, no pressure.

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Getting up to the top we were greeted with high winds, and fresh cold snow. Delayed for a time, all the athletes did their best to stay warm in the hut. Thankfully the winds died down a bit on the course, and we were able to start our practice. With speed being an issue for almost everyone thanks to the fresh snow and wind. It was a frustrating practice, not being able to do what I wanted, and for my run I had to mix it up and go for a different line than expected.

 Photo by: Stubai World Cup

Photo by: Stubai World Cup

 Hanging with Henrik following our second run

Hanging with Henrik following our second run

Thankfully I had some speed for my run, and was able to put one down good enough for 3rd place. During our 2nd runs, the speed only got worse. With speed and wind becoming an ever changing variable, only three people out of the entire field landed their second run. I was sitting in 3rd place almost to the very end when Colby Stevenson laid down one hell of a run! This unfortunately bumped me out podium contention. The next rider to drop was my Canadian homie Evan who also put down one amazing run, putting him up in 2nd place. In the end the podium would be Oystein, Evan, and Colby. 

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Although not on the podium, I'm happy to start this year off with a Top 5 finish. Already looking forward to the Dew Tour coming up in a few weeks! Back home to the states in a week. 

Till next time,

-Noah

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