As one would expect, training at the Finnish ski resort also provided our Aussies with a prime opportunity to get their confidence up, according to coach Jeff Bean.
“In the three plus years I’ve been involved in the team this is the best training camp we’ve had,” he said.
“Ruka was the best it’s ever been, mother nature was good to us this year. Of our scheduled training days in an outdoor sport we didn’t lose any, we really got to stick to our plan and it made a huge difference to get that volume in.”
Training wasn’t the only thing that the aerialists were up to in Ruka though. In between jumping, rehab, physio and dwindling hours of sunlight, they also managed to fit in the perfect pre-World Cup warm up by competing in the Europa cup.
“Four weeks is a real grind in Ruka in the dark … by the end of it we only had three hours of sunlight, and it is groundhog say,” Bean said.
“To have a little bit of change and really see where things will sit was a good opportunity for everyone and we had some great results which was great. For all five of the OWIA athletes [it] was the best thing.”
On the first day of the competition, Laura Peel jumped two well executed back somersaults to take first place.
Day two saw Danielle Scott completing two triple twisting double back somersaults to finish over 10 points clear in first place. Peel also claimed her second medal of the competition, finishing in third place.
While aerial skiing is most definitely an individual sport, the incredible bond that exists between our Aussies is one that helps our athletes fly higher than ever before.
“It’s crucial, I’m of the philosophy that success breeds success,” Bean said.
“These guys do push each other because when you see your teammate working hard you want to work as hard. These guys live together 10 months a year, that to me plays a big role in it and I think for both Joe and myself it’s something we’ve tried to push that team environment because success breeds success.”
While physical training is undoubtedly paramount, “the mental side is just as important in a sport that takes three seconds”.
“Any small mental mistake and your jump is over,” Bean said.
“These athletes train 10, 12, 15 years of their lives for seconds, so you want to have all the pieces of the puzzle in place.
“We only have five or six opportunities prior to PyeongChang to work on that ability to compete.”
And with the World Cup season kicking off less than 60 days before the Winter Games, the pressure is on – but the Aussies aren’t going to let that faze them.
“Our focus is business as usual and it’s been great so far this year,” Bean said.
“This group has been coming to this Chinese World Cup for five or six years now, everything is about routine.”
The first FIS Aerial Skiing World Cup of the season kicks off this weekend from the 16 – 17 December. For live results, click HERE or follow OWIA on Twitter HERE or Facebook HERE.
For more on how our Aussies went in the Europa Cup, click HERE.