OLYMPIC CHAMPION | ENTREPRENEUR | MUM
WELCOME to my site – a place to share and reflect on the life experiences I’ve had as a professional athlete, mum, wife and business owner. A place to share my journey and the amazing people who have helped me get the best out of myself. It’s also a place for random snippets relating to food, family, travel and gear I can’t seem to do without. Enjoy!
It’s hard to believe a few months ago I competed at my fourth Olympics. It seems like yesterday that I was clicking on skis for the first time. Now, I’m a veteran with an approaching use by date. Where did the time go? Did I do my best? Did I give it everything? What could I have done better? Can I do more? Reflection is tough even when you know the answer to those questions is an undeniable ‘yes’. These questions still torment me.
Sochi 2014 was another great Olympic experience. I went there as the defending champion (always a good place to be) a mum and on a mission to achieve something great. I wanted to be the first woman ever to perform the quad twisting- triple somersault- a dream of mine since I started Aerial Skiing 14 years ago. I had an up and down season leading into the Olympics, struggling to find my normal consistency, but I still managed World Cup Silver and a World Cup Win and my form was improving the closer I got to Sochi.
I went into Sochi with big dreams that consumed me day and night. I wanted to win and I wanted to break history and do the quad twisting-triple somersault. Everyone knows that the physical training load of elite sport is heavy, especially leading into a major event when you want to peak, but I’ve always wondered what goes on in the minds of other top athlete’s leading into major events.
I’m sure we’re all different. Our thought processes are different and our coping mechanisms are different. I know that my goals leading in Sochi consumed me. I visualised myself realising my goal every day. I fought hard to immerse myself in positive thoughts, deflecting any negative thoughts or energy from other people. Other than my son, I thought very little about anything else.
I knew that I was in for the biggest challenge of my career. I knew it was going to be a tough night of competition. But I believed I could do it. Since clenching Gold at the Vancouver Olympics 4 years earlier, the competition format had changed drastically.
Here’s what I remember about that night in Sochi…..
Instead of having qualifications on one day and finals on another, they were now all on one day, which was going to make the day twice as long. Instead of being a 2-jump final where both scores were combined to find your winner, it was now going to be 3 elimination rounds where scores were wiped clean after each round.
The first step was making it through qualifications to make it into the top 12. Qualifying has never been my forte. Somehow, I am more nervous and I guess its just fear that I would miss my chance to show what I’ve really got. Nevertheless, I made it through in mid-field at seventh – a good low-pressure spot to sit.
After qualifications there was about a 1-hour break, which is not enough time to really recover, but enough time for the body to cool down and stiffen up which was another down side to this format. In retrospect, it would have been much more sensible to just continue the competition all the way to the end. But no, the race directors must think it’s a good idea to make an athletes life even more difficult on the biggest event of their careers.
After the break, we had to do another practice session, which went for an hour. So much strain on the body before we could even jump it out for the medals! I had a crash in the practice before the finals where I hyperextended my knee. For a while, I froze. I couldn’t put weight on my leg and I instantly thought. “Shit. I’m out. I’ve done my knee”. I hobbled over to our team radio. I spoke to my coach Mich and asked him to send our physio Ashley down straight away. Our team docs pulled up a chair for me to sit down. With cameras trying to get a glimpse of the drama that had unfolded, we spoke quietly and I showed no emotion. Inside, I was pissed off and thought. Seriously? Could this be happening? I explained to Ashley and the docs what I felt – a crunch at the back on my knee, which was giving me sharp pains when I put weight on it and straightened it. I rubbed it and tried to keep it moving and decided, “Stuff it”. Let’s keep going”. I told Ashley to meet back up the top under the jumps with some painkillers and some tape so I could get my knee strapped up. I skated back over to the lift, not showing the discomfort I was feeling and ordered the beast inside to “Rise. Get me through this”.
While everyone else was continuing their warm up, I slid down to talk with Mich and get my knee strapped. It was a funny site. Mich lifting my ski suit up while Ashley was strapping my knee. I didn’t want the drama, but somehow it found me that night and forced me to dig deep. My knee seemed ok if I kept it moving. So that’s exactly what I did. I rubbed it, moved it and continued to jump. I jumped gingerly for the rest of the warm up…missing my landings to save the impact going through my knee. Honestly, I was shit scared. Scared of blowing it out completely before the competition had actually even started.
Finally after 5 ½ hours, the final was underway. The top 12 would all jump and the best 8 would advance. Then the top 8 would do another round of jumps to decide the final 4. The final 4 would then fight for the medals in the super final. The format was a real drainer. It wasn’t about who could do the best jumps, but who had the grit to survive, stay focused, hungry and on their feet throughout all the rounds. Any small mistake would mean you were eliminated and out of the running for a medal. This format was long, drawn out and exhausting.
Somehow, I kept my cool throughout each round, taking it one jump at a time and staying completely present, rubbing my knee and moving as much as I could while I waited for my turn to jump. I remember that night so clearly – just like the night I won Gold in Vancouver. But this time was different. Vancouver was a walk in the park compared to this. I had to dig deeper than ever before. I used every trick I knew to keep myself in the right state of mind. I reminded myself constantly of why I was there, I chanted (inside my head) my affirmations and why I deserved to be there. I looked to the moon and the stars for extra energy, I prayed for strength, I expressed gratitude for the opportunity I had and to top it off, I put a mean snarl on my face that said. “F*ck it. Nothing will stop me from doing the quad TONIGHT”.
I advanced one round at a time to the super final. Nailing my triple somersaults. Relief was all I could feel after each jump and then it was about quickly refocusing for the next round. Each time I had to pass through the media and when they asked how my knee was, all I said was “All good”.
I had advanced all the way to the super final. Through all the shit, I had made it to the final four. It was no surprise to see that the final four was made up of the best and most fierce female aerial skiers. I was in good company and this was going to be a good competition. We had been jumping for 6 ½ hours and I had done 12 triple somersaults, which is double the amount I would do in a normal training session. But all those jumps didn’t matter now. The super final, one final jump out of 6 ½hrs decided all. The 6 seconds it takes to complete a jump from start to finish decided who was going to be the Olympic Champion.
I had a choice that night to back down and do an easier jump that I was familiar with. But there was no way I was going to give up the chance to be the first woman to perform the quad. It was so important for me and even though I had only done two in my life a couple of days before, I wasn’t scared. Even after 6 ½ hours, I welcomed the challenge. I though “Yes. This is why I am here”. My coach Mich, the best in the business, agreed. We had made that decision in my room at the Olympic Village. It was going to be all or nothing and I went for the quad. As soon as I took off, I new I had too much speed and I through my arms up above my head to slow down my flip speed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and I missed the landing despite my best effort to save it.
¾ girls in the super final crashed their jump – which says we were all going for it and we were all exhausted. My good friend Alla Tsuper from Belarus took the Gold – the only person to land her final jump. Tao Tao from China, who was a little closer to landing than I was, took silver and I came in with the bronze. It was one of the most intense competitions I’ve ever been in and it wasn’t necessarily the best person that won, but the one who survived the rounds and stayed on their feet. It was physically, mentally and emotionally draining leaving us all very emotional and completely exhausted. I sat in the finish area completely spent hugging the other athletes. I had nothing left and I just sat there and the tears streamed down my face. I was happy it was over and that I survived the night. I wasn’t upset with my performance. How could I be? I had another medal! I knew I gave it everything and given the drama of the night, I had done myself proud. Of course it would have been great to have landed the quad and take the Gold, but in sport, it comes down to the wire and that night, it came down to 1 km of extra speed.
I celebrated that night. I don’t remember those details, but I do remember getting back to my room, jumping into the shower where I broke down (again) and cried my heart out. I was in there for at least 2 hours. I was so tired, but I just lay there in the warm, safe place and had a moment to myself. I thought about my 2yr old son Kai and all the times I had to say goodbye and leave him behind. I hoped he was proud of his mummy. I thought about my up and down journey and the fight I put on that night.
It’s bitter sweet to be so close and that jump has replayed in my mind over and over. I struggled to sleep for months. But it was a massive effort to just make it to the final 4 and I was happy to have the opportunity to do the quad. I didn’t win gold, but I definitely won a spot in history and achieved another important milestone that I set for myself 14 years ago.
Where am I now? I’ve been to 4 Winter Olympics. I have 2 Olympic medals. I have a life beyond sport that I am excited for…..but somehow, I still feel the tug. I’m not ready to let go. Time and an expanding family will surely clarify that for me xxxx
I am constantly on the fly. Packing and unpacking is continuous and where I go, my yoga mat goes. It never gets left behind. It’s an essential. It’s like my magic carpet. I only have 2 requirements in a travelling yoga mat.
- Be light
- Be grippy
Lululemon’s Un Mat is the best lightweight yoga mat on the market. No doubt about it. It weighs in at 0.9kg – so it’s not going to break the excess baggage budget and it’s double-sided with different textures so you can choose your grip. Thin, lightweight and a choice for grip. Need I say more?
Shop the Lululemon range here
Our bub is the size of a lemon!
I have noticeably ‘popped out’ this week. My goodness what a difference 1 week has made! I’m officially in the 2nd trimester and feeling like my energy is gradually increasing each week. I’m still on the Metamucil and it looks like it will be my friend for a while longer. My skin over the past few weeks has settled down too and is looking much clearer. No more hormonal breakouts please!!
It’s been a busy week with work but we spent half the week up at Mt Buller skiing and escaping the weekend crowds. The weather was magically still and clear….so we’re trying to enjoy as much of the Aussie ski season while we can. That’s the beauty of running your own business. With complete responsibility and accountability comes complete flexibility. The latter suits us just fine!
Skiing with a toddler in between your legs all day is a pretty good workout! Glutes and back are definitely firing…probably not in a good way, but none the less, the body was working. As anticipated I pulled up pretty tight and stiff in my back and hips so I’ve taken extra time this week to get some good yoga and stretching in to loosen everything up as well as my pelvic floor/stability exercises.
Along with the exercises posted in Week 9, you can add the following ones too. Remember, these are subtle exercises designed to train and activate specific muscles. Anyone can do these, they’re not just for pregnant women. They can seem finicky, and you’re not meant to work up a sweat, but they are really important for general back/pelvis health and have been a part of my pre-hab (preventative exercises) for quite some time.
1. Glute Max Bridge
STEP 1: Tie a piece of Theraband or elastic tubing around your knees and lie down on your back. Knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip width apart.
STEP 2: Activate your pelvic floor and TvA and squeeze your knees out so they’re hip width apart. You should feel tension on your elastic tubing (but not too much).
STEP 3: Bridge up so that you glutes are firing and your pelvis is in a straight line with your knees. Hold for 10secs and repeat 10x
2. Sit to Stand Squats
STEP 1: With your Theraband around your knees, place a chair or gym bench behind you within sitting distance.
STEP 2: Press your knees out in line with your 3rd toes.
STEP 3: Contract your pelvic floor and TvA and hold it while you squat down to lightly sit on the chair and stand up again. Keep you weight over your heels and pull your belly button to your spine. 3 x 10 reps
3. Wall Ball Squat
STEP 1: Stand with your back against a Swiss ball on a wall.
STEP 2: With your Theraband around your knees, press your knees out in line with your 3rd toes.
STEP 3: Contract your pelvic floor and TvA and hold it while you squat down to 90 degrees and stand back up again. Keep you weight over your heels and pull your belly button to your spine. 3 x 10 reps
PROGRESSION: Once you’ve got that nailed you can add a side shit. When you squat down to 90 degrees, shift your weight to one side contracting the glute on the side you shift to. Maintain your pelvic floor and TvA contraction. Try for 4 x 4 reps each side. It’s a butt burner!
Next week, I’m excited to be back in Melbourne and back in the gym to tinker with a 2nd Trimester gym program. Stay tuned for some more exercises!
Finnish cuisine isn’t typically enjoyed worldwide and before I started visiting Finland about 12 years ago, I knew very little about how simple yet flavoursome their cuisine is. I fell in love with some flavours instantly and have brought them home to share with my Cypriot/Italian family and friends who also now love them. I’m going to be releasing some of my favourite Finnish recipes from time to time, so stay tuned and enjoy!
Salted salmon is so easy to do yourself and in my opinion is way more delicious than cold smoked salmon. It has such a beautiful, fresh and delicate flavor. Enjoy it with boiled potatoes, wild mushroom sauce and delicious rye bread.
Half a fresh salmon, filleted and with the skin left on.
1 handful rock salt
1/2 tsp sugar (white)
Rose Pepper (If you can’t find it I would use white pepper)
- Lay the fillet skin side down on some baking paper
- Grab some kitchen tweezers or a pair of your own from the bathroom (washed) and run your finger along the fillet pulling out any remaining bones that you can feel poking through the flesh.
- Sprinkle rock salt over the fillet followed by sugar. Spread whole rose pepper (or white) over the fillet and lay whole dill stems with leaves on top (no need to chop the dill).
- Wrap the salmon in baking paper (or if using whole salmon, sandwich the other fillet on top) and place on a shallow tray in the fridge. It’s also a good idea to place weight on the fish – a weighted plate will do.
- Leave in the fridge for 10-12 hrs. (Turn once if using whole salmon)
- After the salmon has cured in the fridge, rinse under cold water and pat dry.
- Take a sharp knife and start slicing off thin layers starting at the tail end.
- Garnish with fresh dill, lightly crushed rose or white pepper and lemon wedges.
- The salt cures the salmon so the longer you leave it, the saltier it will be. Also the more salt you use, the saltier it will be. I like to leave mine for no more than 10hrs.
- Slice off pieces as you need them and store what remains in baking paper in the fridge. It will keep for 3-4 days. We often use the leftovers on home-made pizza or in pasta which is delicious!
I got my results back this week from my blood test and scan I had last week and all is very positive. Everything is looking great! My bowels are much happier which is a relief in EVERY sense of the word and I’m feeling fairly normal. My energy levels are good and I really want to keep up the exercise as it feels so damn good!
My bump is on the rise (well it’s not going to get any smaller) and it’s starting to poke out now especially at night..it looks 3 times bigger than in the morning!
Kai, Mum and I took a trip to Mt Buller this week and had a ball. Kai absolutely loved it and just wanted more and more. I skied 3 days straight with Kai in between my legs and managed to have a ski by myself as well. It’s great to be back on snow, although I’m predicting my hips and glutes are going to be tight after skiing in a snow-plow for 3 days with Kai between the legs! Oh well, we had fun (whilst being cautious) so that’s the main thing!