Managing an elite sporting career by herself didn’t leave much room for down-time but the season did provide valuable lessons that Rich has learned from. Consequently changes have been made these past five months during the Australian winter ahead of the first World Cup in early September.
“Last season for me was mostly was trying to figure out what will make the world’s best in competition and experience,” Jessica Rich said.
“I was trying a lot of different approaches. I realised I needed a coach for certain aspects and other things I could do on my own.”
“How best to travel, live out of a suitcase and get good results was another learning curve because we were travelling to a different place every week.”
Including a stronger coaching element has been high on Rich’s preparations in Perisher where she has been working with different coaches.
“I didn’t have a coach last year, so that’s what I did learn. I need one. On comp day it’s really good to have a second set of eyes and someone to talk to. You aren’t going to be changing anything technically.”
“Having someone to tell you where the course is running is important.”
Last season’s results have become a baseline for the 27-year-old who first competed internationally in 2013.
“I personally feel like a lot of my results (from the 16/17 season) didn’t mirror how I was riding. I was just not competing well enough. So those results are now a baseline. That’s the worst I want to do by myself. I will be doing better than that.”
“This domestic season from May until now have been about really fine tuning what I learned overseas so that I won’t be in that situation again.”
On snow, Rich has been back to basics and fundamentals.
“It’s about making sure I am technically strong with my riding before I perfect those bigger tricks that I want to execute.”
A typical training day with the coaches begins on snow at 7am until 11am.
“As slopestyle riders we tend to be on the hill the entire day. We don’t just have a two-hour training block. If there’s a sunny or rideable day, I’m out there- absolutely.”
“Depending on conditions I’ll ride until about 2.30pm. Then its recovery, go home for a snack and off to the gym, which can depend on my day. Some days you are just exhausted,” she revealed.
“At the end of the on-snow training, I do the bike to flush my legs and if I can get to yoga after that, I will. Yoga is my mental hour away and the perfect time to tune out.”
Rich has her opportunity to test the changed approach at the first World Cup – and Olympic qualifier, of the 17/18 season at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ in early September. The event will attract around forty competitors.
Snowboard Slopestyle will be competed on September 3 and 4 at Cardrona, near spectacular Queenstown and Wanaka.
“I’m expecting a lot of hard work ahead of me that’s for sure and I know that when it comes to it, I’ve put everything on the table and given it one hundred percent.”
Rich’s main goal is to stay strong and avoid injury.
“There is a major danger element. That’s one thing that’s different with winter sports.”
“Another factor is weather. It could be ninety days between events but seventy of those days could be bad weather.”
After the World Cup in New Zealand Rich will return to her Jindabyne base and is hoping to compete in the now popular ‘Toyota One Hit Wonder’ in Thredbo from September 5 – 9.
“It’s a perfect training opportunity on big jumps,” she said.
Her plans are to stay close to home until mid-October if the snow lasts.
Big Air events are also in her sights – the first of which is in early November in Copenhagen.
Following her Olympic dream does come at a cost.
“Even with sponsorship and OWIA funding, I’m working two jobs. One as a house keeper for an Airbnb and also in a Jindy café. I have amazing and understanding bosses.”
By Belinda Noonan