Resting and recharging

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Despite poor visibility and a rough start in the FIS Snowboard World Cup, Kelly Clark pulled off a victory.

Some of my competitors are still in New Zealand right now, getting time on snow, but I’m content to be at home in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., working on my fitness -- plus winterizing my house, watching movies and going to the park with my friends who have little kids and know nothing about snowboarding!

When the season begins for me on Nov. 7, I'll be riding lift laps (snowboarding down the hill, instead of on a halfpipe) for a few weeks in Mammoth. Then I’ll have six contests within a six-week period, including five Olympic qualifiers. I know how busy it gets and how exhausting it can be, so for me, rest is better than training right now. I just need to turn my brain off a bit before the Olympic season hits full speed!

Courtesy of Kelly Clark

Gretchen Bleiler sprays celebratory champagne on pal Kelly Clark, after Clark's win at the Burton “High Fives” Open.

I'm thankful that the two events I did in New Zealand in the past couple of months gave me a lot of confidence. The weather was terrible when we first got to Cardrona Alpine Ski Resort for the FIS Snowboard World Cup on Aug. 24. It was a cold-turkey contest: no practice, just go. There was tons of fog and really poor visibility. You literally couldn’t see both sides of the halfpipe. I could have been frustrated by the conditions, but I chose to look at it as an opportunity to practice for that situation in the future. After all, what happens if we see the same thing at the Olympics?

I won my heat in the qualifier, and then fell in the first round in the finals, putting me in last place. But this was also good practice, as I see it. The same thing could also happen in Sochi, because that actually did happen to me in the Vancouver Olympics! In New Zealand, I didn’t get discouraged or tone down my run to play it safe -- I went for it. I landed my run and my performance took me from last to first place!

After that we got a few more weeks to practice before the Burton “High Fives” Open on Sept 13. Because of the extra practice time, the level of riding was higher there. There were three runs in that final, and I fell again on the first run of the final (OK, I think I’ve had enough practice at that now!). But I was able to hang in for the win.

I attempted a new trick in New Zealand, a Cab 10, which is essentially three full rotations riding switch (backward). I didn’t land it, but I know it’ll take some time to get it, and by the Olympics I want landing it to be my new normal. So now is the time to practice it. It was good to win two contests, but the more exciting thing is that in September of this year, I was already riding at the level I was at X Games, much later in the season, last year.

Courtesy of Kelly Clark

After the New Zealand competitions, Kelly Clark and Gretchen Bleiler headed to this spot in Fiji for some rest and relaxation.

After New Zealand, Gretchen Bleiler and I went to Fiji for a little sun and surfing. I shut my phone off and didn’t touch it the whole trip. You fly into the airport, take a cab to the port and then take a water taxi to these little private islands. When you wake up, you’re truly in the middle of nowhere.

We went scuba diving (my first time) and it was like heaven on earth. It felt like being in my saltwater fish tank with just hundreds of fish, stingrays and coral. It was incredible.

It was also nice to have one last summer hurrah. After a month in New Zealand you lose your summer tan, so I got a little color again before I settle into snowboard season here -- and become the palest person out there.

A few more weeks of rest, and then it’s go-go-go!