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The 'C' word

The summer that almost didn’t happen has come and gone, and here I am in the beautiful Swiss Alps, back to doing what I love, flipping on snow.

Getting to Switzerland wasn’t as straightforward as simply booking a flight, but thanks to a British passport and an epic support crew I made it half way around the world to start training with my coach in July. There’s something a little bit unsettling about almost empty airports, and perhaps even more alarming, dimmed golden arches in the departure lounge. Being on the road and away from home for long stretches of time comes with the territory of being an Australian aerial skier (this should change thanks to our brand new, state of the art facility opening in Brisbane - Hallelujah!), but this time, my foot hovered a little longer before breaking the threshold of the aeroplane door not knowing the next time I’d be back on Australian soil.

In Switzerland, training kicked off more or less like any normal summer, the infection rate was low and the sun was shining, happy days! Only this time, for the first time in my career I was alone without any of my team, and with no idea of the next time I’d be able to see ‘my people’. Priding myself on being a strong and independent woman *insert finger snap here, I thought, although I had never done it, living alone would be no big deal. As the weeks turned into months, the feelings of isolation started to creep in. Having my home, boyfriend, and coach in 3 different countries on 3 different continents has never been easy, but covid has changed the game.

About 5 years ago I found myself entirely consumed by sport and unhappy. During an 11 month hiatus due to injury I worked hard to find balance and meaning in life outside of sport. I made myself a promise that as cliché as it sounds I would enjoy the journey, and that it would be enough whether or not it was decorated with gold, silver and bronze. I came back a better athlete; happier, healthier and excited by opportunities, instead of frozen by the fear of failure. Maybe not so surprisingly, results followed. Covid has challenged this balance, I’ve found myself forced to choose between what is best for myself as an athlete, and the rest of my life. I would make the same choice again, but covid sure has thrown a spanner in the works! After reaching a significant milestone people often say that it made all the hard times worth it. If you set lofty enough goals there is no doubt that there will be struggles, set-backs and moments when you have to dig deeper that you ever thought possible, but from my experience if you let yourself suffer too much, a moment on the podium isn’t enough to make up for it. A gold medal is a cherry on top, but you’ve gotta bring your own sundae.

This year is famously ‘unprecedented’, it has challenged all of us and with cases soaring around the world, the stability of precedented times remains a distant dream. I don’t know what the best way to deal with covid is, but every day I try to keep perspective and be grateful for my health. I won’t be back in Australia any time soon, but in a few short weeks the Aerial world will reunite in northern Finland for the first World Cup of the season. The countdown is on to be reunited with some of my people!


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