A day in the life: Snowboard Cross
20 January 2017
SNOWBOARD CROSS: Ever wonder what it’s like to travel around the world, racing down mountains for a living? Sochi Olympian Jarryd Hughes takes us through a day in the life of a snowboard cross athlete.
Hughes is currently in Park City, Utah preparing for the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup, which also doubles as the US Snowboard Cross Grand Prix, which is the US National Championship.
A day in the life of a snowboard cross athlete
I usually wake up around 6am but it depends on the World Cup schedule as sometimes we start later on race days, so I try to get a little more sleep because it is one of the best recovery methods we have available to us.
After I wake up, I get straight on the spin bike just to warm up and stretch my muscles, so they know they have to get to work. We don’t travel with a spin bike but we’re lucky that most hotels have one.
I always try and have a good breakfast on race day which is eggs on toast and some muesli with yoghurt.
For the US World Cup, I will be staying at ‘Solitude’ where the competition is. We always try and stay as close to the event venue as possible to minimise travel. Sometimes we don’t have a choice as the accommodation is allocated by FIS and to fit all the teams and athletes in we get pushed a bit further out.
To warm up for competition, I’ll jump on the spin bike again and I like to have an activation warm up with bands, just to make sure everything is firing correctly - this helps get my body ready to compete and also reduces the risk of injuries.
Of course, it is very important to fuel yourself properly for competition and I usually eat lunch on the hill. I have to figure out what type and how much protein, carbs and salad/vegetables I need, based on how long I will be on the hill and competing. I normally try and aim for a lunch which is high in protein meats and carbs for energy. This is typically any kind of meat with a salad... the food on the mountain isn't always what you want.
World Cup Competition
For every world cup we are restricted to the number of training sessions so that everyone is on an equal footing for the event. We start out with an inspection so we know what the course looks like. Then we jump right into it and I would typically get 3-5 runs on the track where I would do some by myself but then I buddy up with other athletes to do mock heat runs and then I would be done for the first day. On the second day I get one run of training and 1 or 2 time trial runs (depends on how well I qualify). Then the third day would be the race.
To just compete at a world cup you need to qualify through the NORAM Cup of the EUROPA Cup and the good thing is we have a lot of Aussies that have qualified for this world cup season. The day before the actual race we do a time trial to determine our seedings into the brackets and not everyone qualifies. The field gets knocked from 70-80 riders down to 48 if we are racing 6 on the course or 32 if we are racing 4 on the course.
I am competing against the best snowboarders in the world: from Seth Westcott the two time Olympic Gold Medallist, to Nate Holland, Nick Baumgartner, Pierre Vaultier the current Olympic gold medallist, Luca Matteoti the current FIS World Champion, and Kevin Hill.
After competition I head back to the hotel and I try to use that time to relax by chilling with music…
I am very fanatical about my warm down so I spend 20-30 minutes on the spin bike and about an hour stretching. I stretch everything from head to toe and then finish with a bit of pilates. So I would start with a calf stretch then go quads, hamstrings, ITB, glutes, back, lats and then I would start from the bottom again but with a foam roller.
Once I have done all the stretching I then start the process of icing my knee with my Game Ready.
I have had 5 knee surgeries on my left knee and have to manage it the best way I can which starts with icing. It is the best way to manage swelling and by using a machine called a Game Ready I can set it to ice with pressure for the right amount of time. While I was in Montafon for the first World Cup of the season I was managing bone bruising which was uncomfortable to say the least and restricted my ability to train for the event.
At each World Cup the OWIA provide us with a physio which is a fantastic resource to have. Usually the physio helps with flushing my legs to make sure that I’m in tip top shape for the next day and they treat any bumps and bruising from the day to make sure overall my body is ready!
We normally have dinner provided and I try and eat everything except desert - gotta fuel your body right.
I try to get to bed as close to 9pm as I can, if not earlier. As I mentioned earlier sleep is one of the best recovery tools we have as athletes so I try and get as much as I can (and I am very good at it).
I love to watch movies and TV shows in my down time. Recently I’ve really gotten into Person of Interest, Stranger Things, The Grand Tour, The Black List… this list can go on forever, or I just hang out with my mates that are on the tour. I am known for my skateboarding in Budgy Smugglers and I try to skate as much as possible as it is great fun.
When I retire from snowboarding I think I will have a crack at skateboarding for the Olympics, or maybe just the coach!