Comeback Update #2- Finding Balance

When I was very young my mom told me that life is like a tightrope walk. If we push away the bad and only reach for the good, we will fall off the rope. The goal is to find middle ground while navigating the positive and negative experiences life presents us with. I have carried this metaphor with me through some major ups and downs in my life. With each new challenge I face, the depth of her wisdom sets in a little more. Life is not just about the good stuff. It’s about balance. Without a bad day, we would not know a good one. Without hot, we would have no concept of cold. The contrast is what gives us foundation.

That being said, let’s get into my Comeback Update #2- Finding Balance.

In Update #1 I left off just before the busy competition season began. Since November, I have competed in 3 contests, landed on 2 podiums, traveled to 1 country outside the US and sustained 1 noteworthy injury.

It all started off with a bang! The North Face Open at Copper Mountain, CO was a dream come true. I was reunited with old friends and landed myself on the podium in 3rd place.

Qualifying day at The North Face Open Copper

Qualifying day at The North Face Open Copper

Click link to see the Freeskier article on Qualifiers

Finals day at Copper.

Finals day at Copper.

The podium at Copper.

The podium at Copper.

Click link to see the Freeskier article on Finals

The very next week was the Dew Tour at Breckenridge, CO. Training went great that week but when it came to qualification day, something was off. I was sick to my stomach and thought maybe it was just an extreme case of nerves. I pushed through and placed 7th in qualifications, just missing finals by a spot. It turns out I had unknowingly eaten scrambled eggs with milk in them that morning and I am lactose intolerant. Oops! Lesson learned, people often add dairy to fluff up scrambled eggs.

Reunion of friends at Breck Dew Tour.

Reunion of friends at Breck Dew Tour.

After a month of skiing in Colorado it was time to make the 8 hour road trip home to Salt Lake City, Utah. I happily settled back into my apartment but just long enough to fit in my first powder turns of the season. A day of shooting with photographer Re Wikstrom at Alta, one of my favorite mountains, was just what I needed! Then it was off to Green Bay, Wisconsin for some long overdue holiday family time.

Happy to be home in my favorite halfpipe. Park City with Kimmy Sharp!

Happy to be home in my favorite halfpipe. Park City with Kimmy Sharp!

After the hectic holidays I was ready to get back into a halfpipe. Park City Mountain Resort is home to my favorite halfpipe in the world! Opening day was epic! Great people, great weather and a beautiful halfpipe all to ourselves. Training progressed smooth that week until one day while working on my left 900, I caught the deck (top of the halfpipe) falling 15+ feet onto my side. I knocked myself out and sustained only a minor concussion thanks to my helmet and mouth-guard. I was restricted from skiing for 10 days, forcing me to miss the Copper Mountain Grand Prix. This was a huge let down, for the Grand Prix competitions are very highly ranked in our sport.

After 10 days off, I got back on snow and began to rebuild my confidence. With 1 day of skiing in Utah, I was off to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada for The North Face Open Whistler event. Being born and raised in Bellingham, WA (only 3 hours from Whistler), flying into Vancouver was like coming home. I was greeted outside the airport by air heavy with moisture and evergreen trees abundant. The Pacific Northwest will always have my heart. I placed 2nd at the event and my mom drove up to cheer me on!

2nd place podium in Whistler and my mom was there to cheer me on!

2nd place podium in Whistler and my mom was there to cheer me on!

Click on link to see the Newschoolers article on Finals

It was bittersweet being back in Whistler, where I first met my friend and fallen skier Sarah Burke at a summer ski camp many years ago. That summer Sarah taught me my first 360 in a halfpipe and snuck me into my first bar to go dancing. Whistler was Sarah’s home and where I fell in love with freeskiing. After her passing last January, we gathered in the Whistler halfpipe for a memorial and celebration of her life. Being back at the place where we lit candles to symbolize her light living on in all of us, brought back so many emotions. It was a roller-coaster trip for me. I am so grateful for the support of my coach, good friends and my mom!

Forever in our hearts, we miss you Sarah!

Forever in our hearts, we miss you Sarah!

“Balance” is my mantra for 2013, reminding me to embrace both the ups and the downs this year. For each is vital in knowing the other.

Next up: Park City Grand Prix January 31st. Click link for event Schedule 

The Comeback

I traveled to New Zealand and found old friends, new friends and family, many a muddy sheep, sunny days at SnowPark, powder days at Treble Cone, trials and tribulations and greatest of all… confidence in my health.

It has been a long journey back to health for me over the past 16 years. After 2 1/2 years of intensive treatment, lifestyle food and activity restrictions and both physical and emotional turmoil, I’m happy to report I’m back doing what I love most, SKIING! My trip to New Zealand this past month solidified my triumph over Lyme Disease. After placing 2nd in the North Face New Zealand Open on September 1st, any self doubts I had about returning to competitive halfpipe skiing have vanished. This event meant far more than any in my career. Below you can check out a quick edit of my run at the NZ Open, just click the “NZ Open 2012″ link.

NZ Open 2012

My trip began with a 12 hour flight, giving me plenty of time to reflect on the past few years of my life. How much had changed, and how much was still the same. I was surprised to find butterflies in my stomach as I boarded my flight at the Los Angeles International Airport. Excitement and yes, I was nervous! This was my first trip abroad in 2 years and my first competition back in even longer. I also found myself being nostalgic. I have the fondest memories of my previous trip to NZ in 2007. I met people that are to this day some of my closest friends and won the New Zealand Open halfpipe event. Now I can add my trip this summer to those fond memories. Having only 3 weeks in a halfpipe before my comeback event, I was able to put together a run that landed me in 2nd place. To top it all off, my adopted NZ family showed up to cheer me on with signs! Check it out along with other moments from my trip in the gallery below.

A huge thanks to my family and friends for always believing in me, the Toomey family for welcoming me into their home and going above and beyond as hosts, my boyfriend Reid for being a constant support at any hour of the day/night, Peter Legnavsky for connecting me to anything I needed in Wanaka, Freeskiing NZ for the event footage, Anna Segal for being an amazing friend and the most fun partner in crime, the memory of friend and fellow skier Sarah Burke for giving me inspiration in my moments of doubt, and last but certainly not least my amazing sponsors who made this trip possible ATOMIC and OAKLEY. Also, I want to thank everyone who sent support my way throughout my recovery from Lyme. There is one word that sums up my overall sentiment, gratitude!

Cheers and see you on the slopes this winter, whoohooo!