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World Championships 1995

by jim moran

The world’s best from every country came to play the big game. I had done this before in 1993 at Altenmark, Austria. The pressure or my injuries (maybe both) got the best of me. The best thing was that I was bound to improve on my 69th in 1993.

My year had been OK so far, but my confidence was low because of my injury. The year before, two weeks prior to the Olympics in Norway, I had torn the ACL in my knee. It was starting to stress out on me. If I worked it too hard, I would be forced to take days off after my competitions to recover. I felt I had worked it well last summer and my strength was pretty much back. The pain was bothering me every week though.

I had done fairly well this season, but never could place with the elite competitors. I was always 7th, 10th, 15th, 6th. That was not where I desired to be. The test for ultimate success had finally arrived. In my mind, this was the time to test my ability.

We were in La Cluza, France. This was the hometown of the famous Frenchman Edgar Gropiron. The sides of the course were packed four or five deep with spectators. They all loved their Frenchman and disliked the rest of us. “Edgar; Edgar; Edgar” the French screamed all day long.

The situation was like every other time we have competed in France. Mother Nature saved the day with a huge storm prior to the event. It was wet and goopy but there was snow now rather than grass. The moguls formed up quickly and the competition was on.

I pulled into the gate for my first run. I had that intenseness that makes you feel calm. I was near the end of all the competitors for the first run. As typical, Edgar and Jon Luc Brassard from Canada were sitting in 1st and 2nd.

I had chosen one of the sidelines. I really did not care for the weird indirectness of the centerline. It was very difficult to stay direct and control my speed. I pushed off skiing a little conservatively to make sure I was in the finals. My run ended up good, and I had placed myself in 9th.

Edgar Gropiron, a 5-time World Cup Champion and the Olympic Gold Medal winner, was in 1st. He drew in fans from everywhere and they where screaming louder than ever. I felt that my chance for glory was today, and not Edgar or anyone else would stand in my way.

The centerline was the most difficult, but all of the top competitors from the semi-final had been skiing in there. It was quicker by over a second, and I felt that the judges knew it was the most difficult line to ski. I felt the winner would get chosen from that group! I made the choice to switch my line, even if it was more difficult. My objective was to win; not to take second. I felt that it was impossible to win anywhere else.

We got two runs to inspect the course before the finals. On both of my prior runs, there was a section before the bottom air that got me going very fast every time. It became death defying rather than style for me. I decided to watch Jon Luc and Edgar ski through it. They were making what is called a double-turn. This is when you hit the mogul high so that you can make turns down the backside without being un-weighted. I made the decision that I would try the same.

I said to myself ,“If they can do it, so can I.”

I made the trip back to the top and was called on deck to make my run. I was nervous, but I knew what to do.

My coach and I went through the typical routine of running in place and stamping my feet to warm myself up physically. Then I would calm my muscles thinking of every mogul, every air, and every turn mentally. At that point, you turn it all off and realize that you have prepared yourself in the best way possible, so you relax and let it happen.

They called me into place for the start of my final run. They gave me the countdown and off I went. My run was great and my top air was perfect. I skied through the middle section and it was time for the tricky section. I turned, and turned, and turned, and had stuck it! The problem was that I had forgotten to calculate my speed!

I’m a big guy. If you know the effects of weight and gravity, you can understand my problem. I was going to go big and I was unsure exactly were I would land. I decided to go a bit to my left. I was lucky that there was not a big bump in the way. Slowing to controlled skiing became my problem. I tried hard, but the forces of nature got the best of me. I had to straight-line the whole bottom section to avoid death with a major fall.

It was not my day! The way it turned out, the Frenchman got 1st place, and I dropped to 10th place. As with everything in life, you can look at it as positive or negative. I always evaluate both sides. It was better than my 69th, and I was placed in the top 10.

I realized that my life would go on and I would have another chance in two years. You must try to always learn from your mistakes. My lesson learned was to always plan ahead, or have to count on luck. I suggest you chose the first.