January 24, 2008, 12:05 AM
Hi guys! Sarah Burke here to preview Winter X. Wow, it's great to be here in Colorado. So far I've had an awesome season: traveled all over, ripped powder in Whistler for a few weeks, competed in a World Cup just a few weeks back in France ... to be honest it's all going by pretty quick. I can't believe it's already X time! The World Cup was back on January 13th, and amazingly enough it was my first time riding pipe since May ... the snow was just too good everywhere else! But here we are in Aspen for the biggest and best contest of the year and I'm ready to ride pipe, pipe, pipe for a few days. Plus, it's like a big reunion whenever I come here. This is the center of the winter-sports universe and it's great to be a part of it.
I have to admit, I expected my pipe skiing to come back a little easier. I'm not saying I'm rusty, but I'm having to walk through everything just a little bit slower than I expected. Don't worry—I'll be ready come Friday night. My primary motivation? I'd have to say it's the feeling of accomplishment I got last year after getting Gold. But this time around, my game plan is a little different. I definitely want to get the 900 again (that will probably be the go-to trick for a lot of girls this year) but I'm possibly looking to do a 1080 as well. I'll need to train pretty hard these next few days, but I think I can do it. Amplitude and grabs are the other areas I'll be focusing on these next few days. A lot of girls (and guys) tend to let go of their grabs too early, so that's something I'll be thinking about constantly during my runs. I want to hold them longer and make them smoother than I've had in the past.
The girl skiers have a certain camaraderie that the guys might not have. It's a small group, so that's probably part of it. But we're all really close and we all genuinely support each other, even on contest day. I mean, earlier this week, when Grete Eliassen went down in the pipe during a practice run, my heart almost stopped. Don't get me wrong—we're all competitive and we all take it seriously, but we don't necessarily see it as a "me versus her" thing. In men's pipe, Simon and Tanner are huge rivals, even though there isn't any bad blood there. Grete and I aren't exactly like that, but we both know each other's strengths and weaknesses in the same way Simon and Tanner do. We both accept the fact that only one person can win, but at the end of the day we're out there to have fun.
As far as other girls to watch, don't forget about Angeli Van Laanen. She's killing it right now with her amplitude, and she seems to have more tricks dialed in than she did last year. I'll be anxious to see what she pulls once the bibs come out. She's making me nervous! Kristi Leskinen and Jen Hudak are two other usual suspects—you never know what they're going to do on any given run.
Mirjam Jaeger and Roz Groenewoud are throwing right 5 and left 5 combos, so that makes for a solid run. Roz has a 900 as well, so you never know what's going to happen there. To be honest, I think the 900 will be the trick that separates the field. I've been doing them for a few years now and so have a few other girls, but it seems like more and more of us are figuring out how to land them and make them look smooth. To win, it's probably going to take that trick plus a really clean, totally stomped run with big spins on both walls. That's when grabs come into play as well—you can't just pencil out, and focusing on the grab is something girls are getting better at too.
So check us out on Friday in the pipe. We'll be ripping!