That's right, for 8 seasons I've been competing on the Freeride World Tour. It's been a whirlwind of emotions and to be honest a bit of a struggle to find the right combination of competing smart and doing what makes me happy. I'd suppose I've been going for the overall title for 8 years but it's really only the last few seasons that made me understand what I missed back in 2010.
It was my first full season on the FWT and I had one of my most favourable moments in my free skiing career at Squaw Valley during the Tram Face event. I walked away with my first tour victory and skied the line I wanted to ski. For some it may all be about the victory but for me it's more about the performance. I've had multiple wins on the FWT over the years and although a win is a win some definitely feel better than others. After my victory in Squaw I entered the final event in Verbier with the golden bib, the current tour leader. If that where to happen today I think my strategy back in 2010 would of been different. However I'm proud of 2010 Jackie because she didn't ski for the points, she skied strictly for herself. I fell that day in Verbier and managed to lose my top spot in the overall and ended up in third. It didn't really bother me then because I fell trying something I wanted to do.
Since 2010 I've had a few podium finishes in the overall, the highest being 2nd overall in 2016. Sure, I've managed to stay on the tour for 8 seasons which some would say is a feat in it's own but the title of World Champion has eluded me for 8 seasons now. In the beginning it was a battle against myself, I wanted to ski the big lines and they didn't always work. I could of course play it safe and at times I did and sometimes that meant victory, podium or somewhere in the middle. The one thing it didn't mean was satisfaction. To me it was boring and not pushing the sport and showing what I wanted to show, it was just racking up points in order to fight for that title.
The past two seasons I've gave it a good try in the beginning of the season. Staying in the top three for the majority of the season and fighting for those points. Unfortunately I lost my shot at the title in Alaska the past two seasons as well. Whether it was due to a crash or skiing too cautiously in order to maintain those points and go for the win. In 2016 I chose to keep playing it smart and go for the Xtreme Verbier title as well as 2nd overall. The plan worked and I won Verbier with what I would consider a smart yet boring run.
So in 2017 I again had a shot of course of winning Verbier and again taking 2nd in the overall. That would mean more prize money which is always a bonus, but is that really what it's all about? I knew I could ski a smart yet challenging line with a high chance of success but that was not what I was looking for from that event. The whole season had been about playing the game and going for the points. It came with some success in the form of podiums, recognition and prize money but it did not make me happy. I wanted to challenge myself. So I did just that, I found the line I wanted to ski right away. I knew at least 4 guys had done something similar before so I knew it was possible.
That morning I was nervous and stressed. I felt like I had little time in the start to prepare and try to calm my nerves. Sometimes that's just how it goes. When I finally dropped in for my run I made a small mistake right off the bat. At times that is enough to throw me off my game plan and make the decision to keep it mellow. It took me a second, going a little mellower on my second cliff in order to regain my composure. When it came time to my final and most challenging feature I was composed and ready to commit. I went from being nervous to okay lets just do this! I knew I needed to commit long before the takeoff otherwise I was not going to make it and that would be a disaster. So, I did what I needed to do, a few big fast turns then straight when the last pepper was on my left. All was good in the takeoff, mid air, then... I thought I had it, then at the last minute the wind took my skis and pushed me into the backseat. Unfortunately, before I had time to react the landing came and I ended up in a tomahawk. I knew when I was done falling that I had hurt myself. It's an unfortunate part of sport, injuries happen no matter the size of the cliff and that is what happened to me.
I ended up with an MCL tear, fortunately no need for surgery and I should be feeling better in 6-8 weeks. Am I disappointed? Yes and no, of course I wanted it to work out and to walk away with the win. Yet, the conditions where perfect and there was no need to make changes to my plan. I would of been more upset with myself if I strayed from the goal and chickened out even if that would of meant a victory and prize money. For me it's not about that and if it was I don't think I this would be fun. Ultimately I ski for myself and I'm very fortunate to have family, friends and sponsors that support me along the way. So now it's time to rehab and prepare for the next adventure!