BY CHAS GULDEMOND
The past three weeks have been crazy. With multiple qualifying events in the matter of two weeks I have been busting my butt trying to land runs, manage a family, and all the while trying to keep my head in the right place. I never thought it would be so mentally tough to qualify for the team. Going into this year I thought I would be the first one to make the U.S. slope team. If you look at my results from the past, that would have been the case. But not this year. I had two great events in Summit County and then when they stacked up three events in Mammoth it really came down to the wire.
Unfortunately the third qualifying event we had scheduled at Northstar was canceled due to lack of snow. I was so pumped to have an event at home where I would be comfortable and compete in front of my hometown fans. Oh well, it was back to Breckenridge. I was optimistic because the course is so good here and I had already competed and done well at the Dew Tour on the same run. Of course the bad weather came in and it dumped all week. We must have seen a couple of feet come down in a matter of three days. To make it worse, I got the flu and my dog Lucy strained her back and I had to rush her to the vet. After a bunch of meetings the U.S. team and the riders decided to cancel the event altogether and run the third qualifier in Mammoth. As soon as I found that out I packed my things and got on the road for my 16-hour road trip back home. I left at 12:30 in the afternoon and managed to push through the night and get home at 3:30 a.m. I was a full-blown zombie but I made it.
I was able to spend a day at home and got some much-needed rest. My dog Lucy was feeling better and it was nice to catch up on some things. The next day I drove down to Mammoth. This is just a short three-hour drive and I swear that I have done it a million times. You basically drive along the whole Eastern Sierra and it is one of my favorites. It still gets old though. I settled into my condo there, which is nice because I own it and it feel sort of like home.
Mammoth did a great job pulling off the slopestyle course due to the lack of snow. The jumps were running really good and the first couple practice days went really well. I was stoked to get some much needed vitamin D out there on the slopes. I think everybody was after being in the blizzard for 10 days in Breck. I was sitting in first place in U.S. points going into these last three events but I needed a top-four to really meet all the criteria.
On Thursday we ran a double event. This something I have never done before in my whole career and let me tell you it was mentally exhausting. I landed my first run in the first event and was able to get a third place. Finally my first podium of the year and it was cool to see Sage Kotsenburg and Ryan Stassle kill it all day and lock down a first and a second. I was feeling good about my chances of making the team so at this point I was going to go for it the next two events. We all ate lunch then went back up to the course to compete again and it was all downhill from there. I did not land my cab 12 on the second jump on both runs and I was extremely disappointed about it. This was not like me and it ate me up inside. Shaun White won that event and locked his spot for the U.S. slopestyle team and I was bummed because I thought it should have been me. Oh well, nothing ever comes easy for me and that’s what makes it more fun in the end.
There was one day off and on the next day it was fifth and final qualifying event. I rode super solid all day but in my runs I just could not put together the full package. I fell both runs on my last jump and blew it. Sage came away with the win and Stassle got a third. I was so humbled that I went from being first in points to third in the matter of these three events. I found out that I pretty much made the team and I was ready to get to X Games to redeem myself. Stoked to see my boys make the team and I think we are looking super strong for going to Sochi!
On to the next.