National Championships - by Heather McPhie
It is interesting because as an athlete it is assumed that one of my main motivations would be winning. However, most of the time, I have found that thinking about winning is a distracting thought, and does not work for me. That being said, I have always dreamed of being National Champion in my sport of Freestyle Mogul Skiing. Nationals is an event that only happens once a year. We have several of the top girls in the world, including the overall world cup champion, so the competition is tough and it is always our last event of the year. We are jet-lagged, ready to unpack and sleep in our own beds, and about ready to take a break from skiing.
All of these factors go into Nationals, this year it was also 70 degrees, which adds a whole other element. They had to use dry ice for the jumps, and we were in shorts and t-shirts under our team uniforms. It was one of the first days I can remember competing that I was incredibly motivated by the thought of winning. It felt like time. I have not been at the top of a podium in a couple years. I tied for my most podiums in a season on world cup this year, and had a great season of pushing the sport by throwing a more difficult jump every single event. I was happy with my season overall, but to finish it with a win, with my d-spin (an off-axis 720) was an incredible feeling!
Our new format makes it so you have to do three good runs to finish on top. I qualified 2nd heading into the semi-final round, then qualified 2nd again heading into the final round comprised of the top 5 ladies. In the final round I laid down a solid run, with big jumps and few mistakes. It is a judged sport and I had not seen everyone ski, so the suspense at the bottom of the course was intense as we waited to hear the results. When they announced Hannah Kearney in 2nd I jumped for joy, knowing I earned the top spot for the day!
Although mogul skiing is an individual sport, countless people have helped me get to where I am today as an athlete. I ran over to my first coach Mike Papke who was at Nationals with the local team from Bozeman, Montana. After that it was off to find John Dowling who helped me take my technical skiing to a new level when I moved to his program in Colorado and trained 6 days a week. Finally, my main coach on the U.S. Ski Team, Lasse Fahlen, came down from the top, where he has stood with me in rain, sun, and everything in between for the last three seasons. He has encouraged me through several ups and downs and it was incredibly rewarding to stand at the top of the podium!
Heather McPhie, SmartWool Athlete Ambassador