What I learned from competing again

Angel Collinson, Jacqui Edgerly and Ingrid Backstrom at the recent Freeskiing World Tour in Argentina. Keith Carlsen/Freeskiing World Tour

It's been a while since I've been on the big mountain competition circuit -- so long, in fact, that I couldn't recall the exact year I last did the Freeskiing World Tour. And if I could remember, I would be embarrassed to say because it was so long ago. I've done a few contests since -- the World Heli Challenge in New Zealand in 2009, and the Freeride World Tour at Squaw in 2010 -- but one involved helicopters and only two other girls (automatic podium!) and the other was down the street from my house and I just looked at it as an opportunity to make myself ski a line I had wanted to do for a while.

So when I was invited to Las Leñas to shoot with an Argentine TV show that coincided with last week's Red Bull Powder Disorder FWT stop, and was told that I could compete if I wanted to, I figured I wouldn't. But as it came closer, I realized I wasn't going to be too stoked sitting around watching other people compete.

Still wavering on my decision, I got to Las Leñas and made the mistake of checking my Twitter feed. Various people were making references to my "return to competition," including one story on Powder Magazine's website that analyzed my competitive history against the current skiers and predicted how we'd stack up. (Second place? Ahem! Derek?!) So I did what any person with a shred of dignity would do: I went and filled out the registration forms.

The conditions during the contest were less than ideal -- soft snow on the top half of Eduardo's with barely-covered sharks lurking at every turn. The bottom of the run was covered with frozen-solid chunks. I was not feeling it (case in point: I crashed during an inspection run). Also the mandatory kicker that was introduced for the first time at this competition was not exactly my forte. I figured I would just ski down and not care about the outcome.

Well, it turned out Powder magazine editor Derek Taylor was being kind when he said I would come in second place. I skied quite dreadfully from what I can remember, and felt lucky to have finished in 5th place. He was also right about me not having the competitive mindset that the other girls had: I witnessed that drive all around me, though, and it stirred up faint memories of once having that myself.

In the end, I was impressed, certainly, and inspired. I would like to say congratulations to Crystal and Angel and Rebecca and all of the other amazing skiers. These guys and girls are out there giving it their all -- total focus and strategy and heart.

I've also learned a couple of things through this experience. I will no longer enter any contest without fully committing to it -- this is not a place for the last-minute entrant, that's for sure. And I've temporarily removed Twitter from my phone.