Australia’s Ski Cross queen resists the snowy temptation
2 June 2017
SKI CROSS: The Australian winter season is officially underway with resorts expected to open early after a blast of snow and dropping temperatures but Australia’s female Ski Cross supremo Sami Kennedy-Sim is holding back from a quick trip to the snowy ranges this weekend – despite the urge to do so.
Coming off her most successful international season, where she captured her first World Cup medal claiming silver in Sweden plus four top ten finishes, Kennedy-Sim is currently focussed on strength and conditioning.
So much so that she has given up full-time work as a Winter Sports Administrator for the NSW Institute of Sport in Jindabyne and her growing fitness business ‘Team Sami’ to concentrate on the season ahead and the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang next February.
“I’m not working at all this year,” she explained.
“I started training again this season at the beginning of April with John (Marsden – OWIA Head of Athlete Preparation) and all my time is spent on that.
“Having the ability to focus solely on training is allowing me to introduce some new elements and techniques.
“I’m able to put in the hard work,” she said after a session running and hopping up and down sand dunes on a northern Sydney beach.
“I was so tempted to go to the snow this first weekend but I won’t go until July. Being able to get onto snow is becoming a reward - like dangling a little cherry on a stick.
“These last two months are paying off and I’m feeling like I’m in really good shape. Recent testing has shown we are definitely on the right track.”
Australian Ski Cross head coach Shawn Fleming believes getting the work done early and building the base in this off-season period is critical.
“For Sami, it’s building on what she already had and continuing to make the work, work.”
“We did have a better season (2016/17) and it’s not always roses. There’s the work to be done and improving skills across the board.”
Those skills include the mental as well as physical in a sport where four racers go head to head and split-second decisions need to be made in pressure situations.
“A big part of my training program now is mental preparation alongside strength and conditioning. The split-second decision making is a focus which we’re practising in day-to-day life and it has made a difference.”
Kennedy-Sim cites achieving a happier outlook as one of the biggest changes so early this season.
“When I came home last Christmas after a particularly heavy racing period in December my mum said to me – 'It would be nice to see you smile on TV.'
“I’d forgotten to stop and smell the roses and made a decision to embrace and enjoy more. Sometimes the results are not what you want but it’s important to take away the positives.
“I started to realise how much I love this sport…… this crazy sport. It’s about loving your life.”
The close-knit Australian Ski Cross team is small but glued together.
Head coach Shawn Fleming is backed up by assistant coach Danny Geiger and ski technician Martin Palacios. Together with Ski Cross teammate Anton Grimus the gang-of-five are mostly self-sufficient apart from visiting medical and support staff in Australia.
“We are a little team and do things a bit differently to other teams by making the most of the situations we’re in and taking something out of each day. Back home there’s John Marsden (physiologist) and Tom Hammond (psychologist). Having constant and open communication between all of us makes it work," Kennedy-Sim said.
“This season it’s all about managing expectations. I do get pretty excited and you have to be on your toes a lot. At the moment, I’m reminding myself it’s only the last day of May.”
If team work, dedication and a love of your sport is anything to go by, Sami Kennedy-Sim and the Ski Cross team are heading in the right direction – even if it’s a bit sandy rather than snowy for another few weeks.