Without a doubt, I covered more ground this northern hemisphere winter than ever before.
I worked out that my total accumulated travel (air, road, rail) from Wanaka --> The World --> Wanaka, was about 67,830km!
For reference, the distance around Earth is about 40,000km, from Vancouver to Auckland is about 11,000km, from Auckland to Queenstown is about 1,000km and I am only 1.79cm tall.
So if you think about it, that is 37,893 Sam Lee replicants lying end to end...
Which is an entirely pointless way to try and visualise distance, but the idea makes me laugh!
In short, I covered a lot of ground in 3 months.
After a huge winter, it feels good to be home in Wanaka, right back into gym training and preparation for the NZ winter, including organising the Treble Cone Freeride Programme!
It was amazing to ski in so many different parts of the world, although next year I'll do a few less side missions!
To finally set foot in Japan was the highlight of my travels, I have always wanted to go there.
The Pow was legendary, the people welcoming, and the general
Japan-ness of Japan was a totally new and incredible experience!
I was pretty inspired by the place when I first arrived and I made the tune below, ideally listen with headphones or speakers as the bass is usually lost on laptop speakers! -
Following my travel highlight, comes the best day of the season, which was a few days before the FWT stop in Andorra, (also my favourite comp run of the season)
I'm not sure what it was, but the whole FWT family was going 100% that day!
When it comes to my comp season, I felt like it was a bit hit and miss this year.
All too often I was making mistakes and not quite nailing it.
Although I was on point during my runs in Andorra and Kicking Horse, which I am proud of!
Initially, I couldn't understand how I could be dropping the ball so much in competition, when I had also been skiing better than ever before in the lead up.
Eventually, through some fairly heavy self analysis, I realised a few things.
Firstly, in light of an exceptional 2017 season, I figured I had finally mastered freeride, and therefore set my competition goals and expectations much higher than before.
As it turned out, I was aiming too high, and the pressure of my expectations filled me with the stress of placing high and I lost sight of the excitement of skiing as a way to express myself.
In addition to that, when I was setting my goals, I never considered that while I was improving, so was everyone else.
I am starting to understand that moving between top 10s and top 5s in a world tour event is a massive step, and that as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes it comes down to luck, good or bad.
The whole crew pushed the level way up this season, and I have to say that although initially I felt like I under achieved, when I take a step back and broaden my view, I realised that I am doing pretty well to be in the mix at all.
A few seasons before qualifying for the FWT, I remember thinking, "I'd be happy with one season on tour, and maybe I will call it after one anyway!" This was at a time when I was pretty sure it would take me at least 5 or 6 more years to qualify, if it were to happen at all!
That pretty much means anything after my rookie season is bonus points!
Having the opportunity to live the life I do is something I am mighty grateful for, although occasionally, as was the case this season, I become disillusioned as a result of putting too much pressure on myself, and my expectations and fears start driving the bus.
Expectations and fears are narrow sighted, and should never be trusted with a bus.
Every now and then I look back on photos and videos from my earlier years of competing, or I read an old blog, and I remember my passion and love for skiing, which is the only reason I keep nudging this thing along.
Passion and love are much better bus drivers, because they remind you to look out the side windows and appreciate the journey, instead of blindly pushing on to the final destination.
Qualifying for my 3rd FWT season in a row is something I never imagined, and I am super proud to make it to this point!
Thanks again to all of my family, friends and sponsors and everyone who helped me out this season.
You guys are pretty cool.