Surreal FinlandAndre Barbieri
Greetings from Santa Claus land! We’re within the arctic circle, far north in an area called Lapland. It’s colder than cold here, we registered -28°F for a couple days; even colder than that up the mountain with the breeze. That got me a sore throat and cough that have been hanging out for many days:( —I got tested and it’s not covid.
The sun goes out around 10am and hangs out on the horizon line for about 3 hours, then dark again. There was a blizzard before we arrived so lack of snow was not a problem here.
Some great snowboard riding here, it was so good coming to a real mountain after being on the artificial slope —nothing against Landgraaf, but there’s something about real nature… I’ve been improving a lot and it’s noticeable, makes me very happy!
Now, on to the famous Pyhä Snowboard Cross race course. It’s made for able athletes, there’s no “break” for para athletes, the thing is as hard & technical as they come! I’m glad we arrived about 10 days before the races to get used to it, because I was having a hard time. It’s up there on the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life.
When I say hard, I mean some of the athletes were saying this course is harder than Paralympics level!!! To the point where at first we even discussed (coach & I) I may not race if during training I was not improving and could get hurt during racing. Fortunately, I kept improving every day and was able to race both days with no worries.
The more you do something the easier it gets and the more confident you grow. I was confident but I won’t say it was easy; it became easier but the start session was rough! Even seasoned veterans were having a hard time and falling. Me? I fell most of my runs on the start session; when I finally got one right the whole place erupted! All my teammates were screaming and happy, even other competitors, rivals & the judges cheered me on! That moment to me felt as good as winning the race:))
Race was a different animal. 2 races, exactly the same, in 2 consecutive days. I tried my best and kept improving; but was also getting more tired every hour which withdrew energy from my performance.
I’m not making excuses but racing with me were some of the best in business, and a few “beginners” like me. I’m not really a beginner but considering how many races I’ve done in total, that’s how I feel.
It’s been a while since I’ve had the butterflies in my stomach, which came to me right before the race starts when I’m at the gates. Man, they came out in full force! I missed that!!
There’s 4 riders that leave together in snowboard cross (SBX), so a lot can go wrong in the start, like getting tangled with someone if you don’t take a straight line. Thankfully it didn’t happen on my runs, it all went smooth.
I took 9th place out of 12 athletes on Day One and 10th out of 13 athletes on Day Two. I am happy with my performance! I wasn’t last place, I scored points, kept improving, all in all, a great experience & I grew a lot as an athlete in this whole month training & racing.
Thank you to all that follow my trajectory, I’ll keep you posted on my next adventures and may have good news soon, when they update the world rankings in my sport.