John Leslie – Road to Sochi: Part 2
Following my “Fall Adventure” of traveling across Canada with my good friend Mitch I started right into dry land training. I worked with my trainer out of Whistler and built a sport specific program so that the transition from my off season to being on snow would be somewhat seamless. I trained off snow and got myself into pretty good shape leading up to November.
In November, the team made the move to Banff, Alberta, Canada. One of the most beautiful places in the world. We were not greeted with large amounts of snow but enough to get our training done and some of the most beautiful blue bird days. This was the earliest I was able to be on snow in my life and we took full advantage of having time on our side. We started at the beginning of snowboard progression; focusing on ankles, knees, knees and hips. Relearning turn initiation, body positioning, and edging. It was great to spend the month getting into things slow and starting off small. I believe it was key to spend time on these key aspects of snowboarding.
When we weren’t riding at Norquay or Lake Louise we were at Banff Cross Fit working with our trainer Will. He built us an unreal training program and pushed my body to its limits. I don’t think I have ever been in as good of shape as training with Will. Cross fit is awesome and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to get to the next level in their training.
At the end of November the team then made the move to Big White, British Columbia, Canada. Our training mountain for the 2013/2014 season. This is where we took the first month of our progression and moved it into a gate and course setting. We took the skills we perfected in November and learnt how to apply them when going around gates and being in a boarder cross track. When racing at high speeds sometimes you automatically go back into poor habits. We broke these habits and got used to being in a course environment. I can’t thank Big White enough for helping us have the preseason course and run blocked off for us to train on.
I was lucky enough to spend my Christmas Break in Whistler! My home away from home. Although it seemed like the east coast had more snow over the vacation then Whistler I still made the most of it. My very good friend Jason came out for ten days to enjoy the rain and cloudy skies. We managed to find a bit of powder and the Paps helped the mood. My girlfriend also came out for a visit and broke her ankle on the second day. She was a champ though and ended up exploring Whistler and partying in a wheel chair. New Years was a blast at Moe Jos and I could not have asked for better company. I then said my goodbyes to Jason, Ally, and Emilie and headed back to Big White. We had another week training camp before the World Cup season started.
When I got back to Big White the big boarder cross track was up along with the XL jumps in the park. This fit in perfectly with our progression of the season. I was ready to step it up and it was lot easier to break the bad habits because of the new ones I had been working on. At the end of the camp we had two solid powder days. This was awesome spent those days in the trees reminding myself why I love snowboarding so much. Off to the first two World Cups in Colorado!
I had a lot of mixed emotions going into my competitions. I felt very confident in myself with all the training and work I had put into the season leading up to this point. But at the same time I knew that so had my teammates and competitors from other nations. I was excited to see how everyone was riding and where I would stand against this group of strong riders. We could not have asked for better weather or course to race on. It was a close race but I managed to pull off my first career podium. What a feeling. All I wanted to do was go out and celebrate but we had another World Cup the following day so I behaved. I was so satisfied with my best career placing in snowboarding that the following World Cup I just wanted to go out, have fun, and not get hurt….then I got in the start gate and everything changed. I wanted it. I went out and managed to get another 3rd place, getting even closer to 2nd. It was a very successful weekend in Copper and I was so happy to have brought home some hardware for not only for myself but all the people that have been believing in me and supporting me since day one.
Back to Big White for the next two World Cups of the season. This was home soil and the mountain the team had been training on. I was really feeling the pressure. I wanted to do so well and coming off two bronze metals I felt like I could. Everything was perfect for the first day of racing. Course was unreal, weather was perfect and everyone was riding to the best of their abilities. I was able to pull off a 5th place finish. I was happy with this but knew I could do better. There were a lot of areas in the course that I could clean up and gain speed. With a lot of pressure gone and feeling good I went out the next day wanting to have fun. It was another beautiful day, things came together for me and I managed to get another 3rd place finish.
Today was one of most memorable days of of career as an athlete. I podiumed at home on Canadian soil and then shortly after receiving my medal I received my Team Canada jacket. I had been nominated to represent Canada for snowboarding. What an awesome feeling. I love snowboarding and it has become such a huge part of my life. I love the freedom it gives me, the people it get to meet through it, and the places I get to travel. Canada is an amazing and beautiful country. I have been lucky enough to travel the whole country coast to coast with my best friend. We met some amazing people and have some wild stories. The pride I feel knowing that I get to represent a country I care so much about doing a sport I love is overwhelming.
As I type this up I am on my flight to Spain for the last two World Cups of the season. I plan on racing my best but more importantly having fun. I have been nominated to the team and have enough points to go to Sochi. I just don’t want to get hurt and want to enjoy all the ride has to offer. I can’t thank all my supporters enough. To everyone that has been supporting me in one way or another over the past three years I truly appreciate everything you have done for me. I have trained hard for this and will lay down my best possible run in Sochi.
Go Canada Go!!
Words By: John Leslie