The Zen of Competition
by jim moran
The year was 1997, and I was in the lovely country of Japan for my first
time ever. It was time for the World Championship, and they wanted to have
the competition on the same course where the Olympics would be held the next
Japan is a beautiful country. It seems that they are much more concerned
with keeping the wilderness separate from the villages. This is probably because
they seem to have very little countryside left to develop. In the U.S. we
have plenty of land and it seems that money makes the country run. My focus
was on the competition so I found it hard to give a ton of attention to the
country. I will tell you that the orthodontic system is not as good as ours.
I would see a beautiful Japanese lady walking toward me-then she would open
her mouth. The interest was then lost.
The World Championships are exactly like the Olympics in that the five best
men and women from each country can compete. They can be split up, two men
and three women in either direction, depending on who ranks higher. The spectators
are more abundant than typical competitions, and the event takes place every
two years rather than four. The other similarity is the pressure. At the Olympics,
a very large percentage of the world is watching. That will increase personal
desire in some, and stress in others. I personally like when that happens
because the athlete is pushed to the edge of his or her ability.
It's humid in Japan, so the course was icy. It was steep, but a bit less
steep than Deer Valley's Olympic course. The coarse was icy, but my original
home was Stowe, Vermont. If you were wondering if there is ice on the East
Coast, just remind yourself of where the humidity is, and the answer will
With moguls, like everything else in life, I think you have to focus on the
obstacles in your way. My problem on this course was with the moguls right
in front of the bottom air. The majority of the competitors were slowing down
for the air, and the bumps were bigger than usual because of it.
I started with myh usual pre competition routine. I decided that I would
simply be direct through this area so that I would not get in the back seat
(on the tails of your skies). If you do this correctly, it can be like a form
of meditation. At the same time, I would also think about the physical dimensions
of the course, and visualize myself skiing perfectly so that I would be prepared
when it came. My final preparation was to stomp my feet about five minutes
beforehand to increase the blood flow to my legs. I would then relax, realizing
that there was nothing more to do but be confident and perform.
"3, 2, 1, go" the starter said. I was off and starting to fall into the zone.
The zone is the area an athlete will enter when everything is going perfectly
and seems simple. I launched off of the top air and threw my signature helicopter
ironcross. I stuck it, skiing the middle of the course perfectly. I came to
my typical problem spot; being direct worked perfectly.
I launched the bottom air, throwing a very nice triple twister-but I forgot
a very important piece of the puzzle. Being direct made me a bit faster, and
going faster made me fly a tiny bit further. I popped out of the zone as I
impacted the new landing area. I tried to fix the small mistake of being in
the back seat on the first bump, but in the World Championships, a small mistake
could cost you the gold.
Other than that, I skied the bottom perfectly, then looked at the scoreboard
to wait for the results. At the time, it showed me ranked third. But by the
end of the competition I was ranked sixth.
I was obviously disappointed, but life goes on. They decided to give an
award to the top seven men and seven women. It was a nice gesture, but I am
a believer that even second place is losing. They gave me this really cool
Nagano World Championship baseball hat with all of the collector's pins, and
countdown pins on it. I guess it is very valuable. I love the sentimental
value, so because of that I will never sell it.
Unless you got a nice, crisp hundski. Peace out