Opening Ceremonies!

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I just realized that I never wrote anything about Opening Ceremonies! To say that it was an amazing experience is an understatement. As an athlete, I totally understand the importance of the Games (obviously). It’s all that I wanted for more than half of my life. I watched the 2006 games when I was 8. I watched Shaun win and scream with the American flag around his shoulders and I dreamed of the possibility of having that ever since. One thing that I never really understood though was the importance of the event on a global scale. For the last Winter Olympics I was 12. I watched snowboarding again but I think I was busy packing for a trip on the night of Opening Ceremonies. For the Summer Olympics I was in New Zealand and the T.V. situation was bleak. So, this Opening Ceremony was the first one I’d ever seen.

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Crutches √ Sweater √ Smile√

I’d heard all about how Opening Ceremonies is the highlight of the Olympic experience. I was on crutches at that point (2 days post-injury) but there was no way I was going to miss my chance to walk. All of the athletes from the United States that were staying in the Mountain Village met in the lobby of our building. Alone, those sweaters look hideous, but Team USA collectively was looking pretty good. I walked/hobbled outside to the busses with everybody, saw some of the other countries in their uniforms, loaded up, and followed the train of shuttles full of the best winter sports athletes in the world to the stadium. When we got out, I crutched into the stadium in a blur of sore arms, selfies, and photobombs, and joined U.S.A. in line. Each country is lined up in alphabetical order. So pretty much as a group you just walk through the hallways of the stadiums behind all of the other countries until yours gets to the main entrance. Through the hallways, there are tons of volunteers for the event cheering and people taking photos. We got a glimpse of the crowd at one point and I freaked out. 

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Jess and I just before going into the stadium

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This one is for Pam McElmon – 16 and Under Club! (Maggie Voisin, Julia Krass, and myself)

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This one is for Ash and Dad – Alex Deibold and I (and a proper photobomb by Arielle Gold)

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Ron and I stoked on life! Taylor Gold with the pb

When the USA got to the front of the line, we walked out. I always hear about how loud it is, but I don’t think I heard much of anything, the same way I don’t hear anything when I snowboard. The noise was dull but my smile was not. I had the biggest goofiest looking face the whole time, so stoked to be a part of something so big. I gave a few teammates/friends huge hugs and we walked around to our seats. Once we sat down, I looked at Jess and was like “…We just walked in the Opening Ceremonies at the Olympics…”. We both started laughing. I’m really not sure if I did something awesome in a past life that made me deserve the one I have now, or if I won the lottery of life by a stroke of luck, but either way I did. I sometimes think about the opportunities and experiences that I’ve had in only 16 years and can’t help but wonder how I ended up so lucky and fortunate.

The show was really cool. I can’t wait to watch it again on TV and check out the view that people got from home. People were a little bit anxious about something happening there, but honestly it’s baffling how tight the security situation is and our concerns were pretty silly. Still, the first set of cannon explosions went off on stage directly in front of where the whole U.S. team was sitting and I swear everyone jumped about 3 ft. in their chairs. I definitely almost hit the deck.

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The coolest part of the ceremony was the speech that was given. During the speech, the whole thing really sunk in. I thought that the Games were mostly just a big media circus, a chance to represent your country, and another snowboard competition but in reality it is a lot more than that. It’s about international camaraderie, sportsmanship, and equality, and integrity in competition. As it all sunk in, I realized how proud I was of myself for being able to stand where I was. At that point, even though I still wanted to do my best and certainly was not going to hold back in the event by any means, I was really content with what I’d already achieved. It sounds corny, but as the Olympic flag was being raised, I could literally feel it all in my heart. All of the stress from the events prior rolled off as I realized that everything from that point on was a bonus. I was just living in the moment, on a high thinking of how crazy it is that I have the life I do. 

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Olympic Flag raised and waving :)

 

More soon! 

-Ty Walker

Qualifiers

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I know it’s only been a day since my last post, but it was a big day and I wanted to put the whole story out there myself. I skipped the 3rd day of practice to rest my heel and then went up for the event. Originally, I thought only 2 girls were going to make it straight to finals in my heat. I was okay with that. I knew that the competition was rough and that with less practice and a bruised heel, the chances of me doing that were slim. I was going to take my drop and then really go for it on Sunday. Things changed when I heard that they were going to take 4 people from my heat into the final. I knew that with a decent but clean run, I’d be able to get in there. I got in my head that I would be able to go out, ride through the pain, put down a run, and be in the final.

I’d almost entirely convinced myself of that case-scenario until I tried putting my boot on, tightening it, and walking up to the start of the course. I was stubborn. The pain was there but it was bearable. I’d been resting for 48 hours. When Bill and our ATC, Jason, asked me if I was going to hit anything for practice/the event I told them, “yeah”, to which Jason replied “…no, you’re not.” and I said, “wanna bet?”

Strapping in was tough since tightening my heelstrap puts pressure on my heel. Still, I figured I’d at least try to take a practice run and see how I felt before I just gave up for the day.

I dropped in. The first part of the rail section was uncomfortable but not as bad as I thought it would be. Then I got to the 2nd part of the rhythm section. I hit the flat down, which is pretty high at the end. I came off a little early too and dropped a few feet to the relatively flat pitch. My heel hurt but I kept riding and went into the pole jam. When I landed that I started biting my facemask. I hit the first jump and went into the second one completely loaded up on my back foot, not wanting to put any weight on my front. I evened myself out on the take off, hit the jump, went a little big, and landed. The impact from the other features and that jump (especially considering I went a little bit big) was too much. I went straight to my back foot, slid out, and went around the 3rd jump.

I was stupid. At that point, the rest that I’d had was pretty much out the window. I was fully hobbling again heading over to the lift but I went back for more. I REALLY wanted to compete and still somehow had it in my head that if I just figured out the speed in practice I’d be able to send the tricks in the contest. I got to the top, completely ignored Bill’s questions about how I was feeling and what I was going to do, and dropped in again to a very similar run, except this time I legitimately fell over by the time I landed the 2nd jump. I couldn’t even one-foot up the next jump to get off of the course. I started crawling. This was when I knew that I shouldn’t compete. Even if I were able to hit the features, even if I did land a run (however unlikely that would have been), how would those 3 or 4 extra runs have affected how my heel would feel on Sunday?

I made it to the top again and nearly started to cry. Yesterday was not how I imagined the Olympics to be for me. I haven’t been dreaming of taking that run since I was 8. I wanted to go out there, do my absolute best, and be proud to be representing the United States. Instead I received the lowest score you can possibly get and felt like I didn’t even try. I know that it was the smart decision. I know that I could have potentially gotten more injured if I didn’t listen to my body, but the situation still sucks. Most people don’t really understand the importance of this event for me; 99% of the population doesn’t have that one thing that they’ve wanted more than anything for more than half their life. I did have that thing, and yesterday did not live up to my expectations. I did not go out there and live my dream.

When I got to the bottom of my run, someone from the media at the bottom asked me “Are you embarrassed?” to which I responded something about my injury and how I’m going to come back on Sunday. At that point, my real and truthful answer would have been “Yeah I am. I obviously didn’t make it here with the skill-set that I demonstrated in that run. Anybody who gets a score of 1.00 is going to be embarrassed. I’m embarrassed about my injury and embarrassed of the show that I put on for all of my friends and family back home watching.” I came to the conclusion that I need to get over myself. If this were any other event, it wouldn’t have even been a question whether or not I was going to compete. Listening to your body and doing what’s best for you as an athlete and as a competitor is 1,000 times more important than putting yourself in a compromising position because you’re doing what other people expect you to do.

So, to Mr. Reporter Guy: Are you embarrassed that you watched a 16-year-old-girl who’s competing at the Olympics limp off the course after her run and tried make her feel self-conscious about her performance?

My coach said something to me before I took my run that really helped. He said “the Olympics doesn’t start today for you”. That’s the new way I’m looking at it. I didn’t compete yesterday. I compete on Sunday for my spot in finals, and I’ll hopefully compete in finals for a place on the podium. If yesterday were the day of finals, I would have tried my best to do something. But, given the fact that just by getting that 1.00 I was able to give myself a better shot on Sunday, I had to weigh what I would gain and what I would lose. | Gain: 2 days of rest, a better chance in the next round, the opportunity to really show the world what I can do | Loss: round 1, a bruised ego | The best way to look at what happened yesterday is to treat it like a necessary meeting I needed to attend in order to compete.

I’m moving forward and into Sunday’s competition with my head high. I am excited to really show what I’ve got to the world and debut my riding. Thanks again to everybody for the love and support. Keep those happy healing thoughts coming!

Straight from Sochi,

-Ty Walker

P.S. I don’t want anybody to be confused about what my injury actually is. I have a bruise on my knee. I have a very similar looking one on my forearm/elbow. Those injuries are not a problem to me. I don’t have “a bruise on my heel”. I wish that I did. I have a severe heel contusion and damage to the soft tissue within my heel that is causing free fluid to build up within it. It’s not an uncommon injury in snowboarding, but outside of the sport I understand that it might sound like I have a black and blue. In reality, the skin itself is not really bruised. The soft tissue that’s deeper within my foot that protects my bone is bruised and aggravated. A black-and-blue would not have stopped me from taking my runs, believe me.

Practice

Last weekend was nice. I went to the gym and walked around with Jess on Saturday and admired the views of the mountain and the lower village. It is so beautiful here! When we got off of our bus from the airport, you couldn’t see anything. The entire mountain was socked in with fog. It was hard to navigate our way to the cafeteria for dinner, let alone figure out where we were on the mountain or where the mountain even was. I woke up, looked out the window, and found my answer.

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Right there – that’s the mountain.

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 Rosa Khutor

 Sunday was great. Karly, Jess, Jamie and I went up to the very top of the mountain and had an epic pow day. Pretty much the entire mountain is fair game and since it’s closed to the public right now for all of the Olympic preparation, there were virtually no tracks. We got 3 top-to-bottom runs full of white-room slashes, face shots, and smiles. I had some of the best turns of my life. It was incredible. I would have never guessed that I would ride insane terrain and get my first pow day of the season at the Olympics!

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Jamie, Karly, and I shredding the mountain! Photo: Jessika Jenson (@jessikajenson) 

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After-slash shot by Jamie Anderson (@jamieandersonsnow)

 Practice started on Monday. The course is pretty big. Not a lot of girls were hitting the jumps and the rail section is hard to get used to. I taco-ed the donkey rail on the first feature twice and managed to smash my knee (first try) and elbow (second try) on it pretty hard on the way down. It wasn’t a big deal though; I kept riding. By the end of the day, I was confident that they’d make the necessary changes to the course and I’d be ready to turn it up the next day.

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View from the top of the course during an early practice.

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The course got the better of me on day #1 of practice.

 Suffice it to say that the first feature is giving me some issues. I tried to do a few different things yesterday and each one worked out about as well as the last. My first bad idea was trying to heelside creeper the down-flat-down ledge. I got caught between the rail and the ledge, tried to jump out, and went to my chest on the stairset. I penguin slid down, hit my knee again, got another bruise on my elbow, and did a bit of continuous knocking- the-wind-out-of-myself that I’m sure is only possible when you’re going headfirst down a set of metal stairs. Again, I got up and went back for more. I was determined to make this course “my home”.

On the positive side, I’m feeling pretty comfortable with the jumps. They’re lofty but smooth and yesterday I was able to start working into my run. All of that was pretty short-lived though, because a few laps after my awesome firecracker belly slide I made another questionable decision. I hit the far-right down rail at the end of the rhythm section and tried to cross the course to hit the far-left cannon. It was a little bumpy and there was some loose snow; I lost too much speed for the cannon. Unfortunately, the whole course is cut. There’s a death gap onto the butter pad with the cannon at the end and the back of it is cut as well. I was past the point of no return when I realized how slow I was going. It was too late to stop and I rode up the cannon literally yelling, “No, no, no, no!” before I fell 20 ft. to the uphill deck. I bruised my right heel and needed to call it a day.

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Icing my arm, knee, and heel in the medical office at the end of the day.

 With some help, I hobbled down from the mountain. I couldn’t walk. I was given a set of crutches. Torstein Horgmo, another slopestyle rider, broke his collarbone on the first day of training. He said it right in a little blurb about his crash- “…injuries and falls are part of this sport, but the timing is just really bad.” Luckily, my injury is not as bad as his. At this point, I’m doing whatever I can to put myself in the best position for the competition. Today was supposed to be the 3rd day of practice, but I woke up and still couldn’t put all of my weight on my heel.

Tomorrow is qualifiers, but everybody that competes makes it through to the semi-final at the very least (the top 4 will go straight to finals). As of right now, the plan for tomorrow is to get an injection with a numbing agent in the morning and use the day for more practice. I’ll take my runs but keep it mellow, and then work on something better into the weekend that will get me to finals on Sunday.

I’m staying positive. Don’t get me wrong, it sucks that I’m all bruised-and-battered going into my Olympic event, but I’m not stressing or letting it get me down. I made it this far and I’m confident enough in my riding to know that I have the ability to push through and give it my all. So, anyway, here’s to looking forward and making the most out of the cards in my hand.

The journey continues…

-Ty Walker

Team Processing!

We got into Munich at 7:30 in the morning. I was dead tired. Not only was I up all night on Tuesday packing, but I also watched 2 movies on the 7.5-hour plane ride before going to sleep. I thought that I’d meet up with everyone from the team in Munich, but once I got to Dulles I started noticing quite a few big name skiers moving ahead of me on the first-class upgrade list. All of the freeski and snowboard slopestyle athletes and coaches were on our flight- party plane!

When we got to Europe, we grabbed our bags and took the bus to our hotel- the Leonardo Royal. Jess and I shared a room (and managed to get one of the only non-smoking ones in the whole building – major bonus!). I felt like a cheeseburger, and thankfully was able to jump in the shower and clean up before going to team processing.

Before you make the Olympic team you go to a few meetings where they talk about what it’ll be like to be on the team, what happens once you make the team, all the rules about being on the team, etc. They show you pictures from past Olympics and have returning Olympians explain it all to you. I always thought team processing sounded SO cool. In the pictures, all of the athletes were walking around a room with a shopping cart, picking things off of rows of tables stacked with free stuff. As an athlete, I’m most excited for Opening Ceremonies. As a 16-year-old girl, I couldn’t wait to get to team processing and load up on all of the free Nike and Ralph Lauren gear that was available.

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Welcome to Team Processing Selfie with Jess

I was not disappointed. When we got to the team processing building we were given clipboards with a list of all of the things we needed to make sure we got and all of the stations we would need to visit. Ralph Lauren, Nike, P&G, Oakley, Burton, etc. etc. It was awesome! Jess, Jamie, Karly and I all showed up together. We ate some of the delicious Euro-style lunch that was laid out for us and then went in. We started at Nike and were each greeted by a person who would help bring us all of our stuff, change our sizes if needed, and give us their opinion on how it all looked if we asked.

My guy wheeled me out a suitcase filled with stuff- literally- we get black Nike suitcases that say “USA” on them. Looking back, it must have been pretty hilarious watching 4 girls who were really Olympians scream and run around, ripping open packages and fighting over the mirror. We got our medal ceremony outfits too, and I promised myself I’d try my best to put it on again before I left Russia.

We moved on to the O.C. Tanner station. This one was one of my favorites. When I was really young, I worked with Bud Keene a little bit when he coached in Stowe and did the 45 North camps. He always wore 2 of these massive, blinged out gold rings with the American flag and Olympic symbol on them. I was so infatuated with the idea of wearing my own some day. I wanted one so badly for so long that it was kind of a trip when I was sitting in a chair at processing getting fitted for my own. Naturally, I chose the 14K gold one with diamonds. Hopefully I’ll get a few more in this lifetime, but they only come about every 4 years, so why not go big?

I went to P&G next, where they told us all about the family home that they have in the Olympic Village and got our parents’ information. We also got a carry-on sized bag full of toiletries that we unfortunately won’t be able to bring back to the United States, but I’m sure will be great to have for my next few weeks in Russia. I migrated to Oakley where I scored some super-fast looking sunglasses and a pair of red, white, and blue crowbar goggles. I grabbed a new phone with an awesome international plan at AT&T and a watch that’s engraved with the U.S. Olympic emblem at Hamilton. I took some photos, did a short interview, and filled out my medical files for USADA. Then I made my way to Ralph Lauren with Jess. We got to try on and get fitted in our Opening and Closing Ceremony outfits and receive yet another duffel full of free clothes.

Image Not to toot my own horn or anything but I think I’m looking pretty good in that patchwork cardigan.

I’m almost finished! My last stop was Burton. I was reunited with the jacket I’ll wear when I compete (as well as the pants) and got some under-layers, sweatpants/sweatshirts, gloves, mittens, beanies, and all other snowboard necessities. I walked out of the processing center wondering how big our rooms and, more importantly, our closets were going to be in Sochi.

Then ensued a delicious dinner, a long night’s sleep, and a charter flight to Russia with a small lot of the members of Team USA. Once we got off of our flight, we grabbed our bags and jumped on a bus that took us through all of the necessary security checkpoints and up into the Athlete’s Village. Oh, and FYI, if you ever travel to Russia, don’t put a bag of trail-mix in your checked bags. When they go through the scanner, it will appear as though you’re trying to smuggle a zip-block full of pills into the Olympic village and you’ll nearly get jumped by security.

We have 2 days to check out the village and get adjusted to the time change before practice starts on Monday.

Wish me luck!

-Ty

X-Games and My Trip Home :)

It’s been about a week since my last post and so much has happened! I’ve hardly had time to write it all down. After I left from Mammoth I went to Aspen for X-Games. I was originally the 2nd alternate (*they invite 8 girls and then have a list of 3 alternates) but was moved up to being 1st alternate by the time I left. The night I showed up, one of my best friends, Jess (who was the 3rd alternate), found out that the U.S. was going to give her one of the discretionary spots for the Olympics. Another good friend, Karly Shorr, was also given a spot and our team of 4 was solidified. I absolutely can not wait to meet up with these girls for Team Processing in Munich.

Jess and I went up for practice with the rest of the athletes the next day. The course was initially a little bit intimidating considering it was our first X-Games, but over the next few days I was able to get the feel of it and was having a lot of fun. I got really sick at the end of the week though. My body was run down from all of the traveling, competing, and other stress that I’d been dealing with over the past weeks. I knew that 2 girls would probably not drop out of the event. I also really wanted to rest and feel better for my trip to Russia, so I booked a flight home and walked into my house in Vermont just in time to sit down with my mom and watch the women’s slopestyle final.

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View from the top of the X-Games course

The next few days went by quickly. One of the highlights of my trip home was that I got to have dinner with my parents, sister, and two best friends, Kalli and Sandra, on Saturday. We watched X-Games halfpipe on T.V. and ate tons of sushi. It was really cool to just have one normal night in the midst of all of the other craziness that was going on. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break for a second. It’s those times that I realize that even though my life is far from normal, I can still enjoy the little things.

Another highlight of my trip was the send-off that Stowe threw for me on Sunday. I got to meet tons of up-and-coming kids who had just finished with ski-school at the mountain. I took pictures, signed whatever piece of snowboard or ski equipment was handed to me, and ate a few s’mores. Afterwards, a few of my closest friends from Stowe came up into the lodge to eat, hang out, and wish me good luck in Sochi. I loved the support that I got from my hometown. That aspect of making the Olympic team is probably my favorite so far. People really rally behind Team USA and I feel so privileged to be a part of that.  I drove by the Olympic rings that had been laid out on the lawn of my middle school, saw “Go Ty!” sings in a few windows, and even watched people wave posters wishing me good luck on my way out of town. So, a huge thanks to everyone in Stowe for your incredible support!

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Meeting up-and-comers at my Stowe-style send-off

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Kalli saying goodbye and wishing me luck!

Here’s a little piece that the local news channel did on my send-off:

http://www.wptz.com/news/sports/local-sports/stowe-hosts-send-off-for-olympic-snowboarding-star-ty-walker/-/18355682/24130696/-/xaa275/-/index.html

I had a lot to do on Monday and Tuesday as well. I did quite a few interviews on the phone and in-person, visited my old teachers, had lunch with a friend, went to the gym a couple of times, and also made it to one or two appointments in Burlington. All of that might sound like a lot, but it’s just the beginning. I haven’t even started discussing how much schoolwork I needed to get done in those 4 days. When I arrived at home on Saturday, I had 60% of an English course still waiting to be completed by the time I got on my flight. I planned my days by the hour and managed to finish 25+ assignments and take my final before Channel 5 News came over to film me pack on Tuesday night.

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So. Much. Schoolwork.

Here’s the video they were filming me pack for:

http://www.wptz.com/news/sports/local-sports/living-the-dream-at-sixteen/-/18355682/24187020/-/o7yyis/-/index.html

Making it onto the Olympic team didn’t make the rest of my life stop. Finishing my schoolwork for the semester was a huge priority and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it. One of the biggest struggles that I have is balancing how much time I should spend on-snow with how much time I should be hitting the books. Most professional athletes are out of school. They’re singularly focused and have only one job. Once they’re done snowboarding for the day, they might go to the gym or write some emails, but that’s really the extent of what their job entails. Then, at the same time, most teenagers aren’t professional athletes. The only thing they really need to focus on is their schoolwork and extracurricular stuff. Somehow, I ended up doing both.  It’s hard, too, because I wouldn’t give up either thing. I love snowboarding and everything about my lifestyle and I also love being smart and being a good student.

Lucky for me, I don’t have any more schoolwork to do going into these next few weeks and I’m grateful for that. Right now, I’m waiting in the Burlington Airport for my flight to Dulles (where I connect to Munich). I couldn’t be more excited! Getting to go home for a few days was awesome, but even considering how much I enjoy my bed I think I’d pick sleeping in the ones in the Athlete’s Village every time if was given the choice.

More to come!

-Ty Walker

The Olympic Qualifiers

Long post, but there’s a lot to cover!

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This season has been hectic, to say the least. All of the athletes had five Olympic qualification events to do within a five-week period. Going into this season, I’d heard a lot about what to expect, but I really had no idea. I had heard that this past December and January were going to be the most stressful two months of my life, but I’d never had the experience myself.

In all honesty, it was exactly as people said it was going to be. I felt like one minute, everything in my life was normal and then- within the blink of an eye, I was competing in “the biggest event of my life” every couple of days. (*In case you didn’t know, qualifying for the Olympics for the U.S.  is a process where they look at your top 2 results in a series of five qualification events.) Fortunately, I felt really good with my riding in the beginning of the season. We had a camp in Breckenridge before the Dew Tour and I was able to get all of my old tricks back and then some. I was confident that the season was going to go smoothly.

My opinion changed when Dew Tour didn’t go my way. I was extremely nervous going into the Copper World Cup. I kept thinking, “What if I mess up again and put myself in a position where I need to get 2 great results at the next 3 events?”. I could only take so much of freaking myself out though, so whenever I got into a negative place, I started repeating “I always land my runs in Copper” over and over in my head. I squeaked into finals at the event after a basic but clean run in some challenging qualifying conditions. In finals, I ended up just off of the podium in 4th place and was the top American girl for the event. 

Here’s a photo of my teammates and I after practicing at Copper:

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That result took a massive amount weight off of my shoulders over the holidays and going into January. I knew that I pretty much had 3 events to get one top-3 American finish. Our next qualifier was originally supposed to be in Northstar, California but it got moved back to Breckenridge due to a lack of snow in Tahoe. Like I said, I needed to be focused going into every event, but I was much more relaxed than I was in Copper. Both of my qualifying runs had scores that would have put me into the final. I qualified in 6th place as the 2nd American with my 2nd run score. Just after our event was over, a massive storm rolled into town. The next few days brought over a foot and a half of snow and 60+ mph winds on the mountain. We couldn’t compete in a final. The people who did well in the qualifier, myself included, wanted the qualification results from the event to be used as the final standings. Unfortunately, that was against the rules and the contest was treated as if it never happened.

At this point, I broke a little bit. I knew that the cancellation of that event meant that we’d have 3 more qualifiers to compete in the next week at Mammoth. I was exhausted from all of the riding and stress, and I knew that the worst was yet to come. We flew to Mammoth on a Sunday, I put myself together on Monday and got into a positive frame of mind, practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday, and competed in back to back events on Thursday. In the first event, I put down a decent run and got 3rd place. I was really happy with my result and knew that I’d put myself in a great position. However, I also knew that I wasn’t   officially “locked in”. I went back up for the second event. On my second run, I went deep on the last jump on a back 7, over-rotated a bit, caught my toe edge and hooked into the sponsor-banner fence on the side of the course. I’m pretty sure almost everyone has seen the crash at this point, but if you haven’t then here’s the link to a video of it (if you’re friends with me on Facebook) and a picture of my helmet afterward.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=659753214084811&set=vb.100001504147412&type=3&theater

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I was pretty sore the next day but went up to practice and tried to change up my run a little bit. I wanted to do a trick I’d never done in an event before for the last qualifier. My jump line was switch back 5, front 3, back 7. I landed on the first run but it was rough around the edges. I really didn’t have any fight left in me; I fell on my second run. When I got to the bottom and the event was over, I knew that I’d qualified for the Olympics with my 1st place American result in Copper and my 3rd place finish from the first event in Mammoth. I didn’t really believe it at first, and also had mixed emotions considering the event that day wasn’t my finest moment. I got over that pretty quickly once I realized that I’d achieved the big-picture goal. I just kept asking my parents “Are you sure?… “Are you absolutely positive?” It didn’t really sink in until the next day when I was announced to the team with the other athletes that qualified in Slopestyle and Halfpipe. I got the jacket that I’ll be wearing for my event in Sochi and became a member of Team USA.

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Switch Back 5 – Final Olympic Qualifier – Mammoth, CA

Photo: Diana Sciandra

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TEAM USA

I’m still kind of in shock. Even though I leave for the Olympics in less than a week, the whole situation still seems sort of surreal. I guess I’m so used to having it just be a dream of mine that I have a hard time thinking of it as my new reality. I am so excited and honored to represent the United States of America in Sochi at the first ever slopestyle event. HUGE thanks to my sponsors, family, friends, coaches, and supporters. You’ve all helped make my dream come true and I hope that I can do our country proud in Russia!

Until Next Time,

-Ty Walker