Staying calm and focused

Courtesy Chris Owen

During the pressure-packed Olympic season, following the same precontest ritual for each event helps Elena Hight feel calm and prepared.

It’s finally the Olympic year, and we’re all feeling the pressure.

We’re competing more often and with higher stress. There’s a lot on the line to perform well at every event, since we’re trying to earn one of the four spots to Sochi.

Handling all of this isn’t easy, but one thing that helps me feel as prepared as possible is having the same precontest ritual each time. I’ve developed it over the past few years, and it prepares my mind and body for the upcoming event. Having certain things that I always do helps me to stay focused on the task at hand: to ride to my full potential.

It all starts the night before the event. I get all my gear together to be sure that I don’t forget anything. I also pack a backpack to bring to the hill with all the essentials: extra goggles and lenses, water, snacks, extra headphones, an extra layer to keep warm, my helmet, my bib, my iPod, sunscreen, ChapStick, gum -- pretty much anything that I could potentially need or want. There is nothing worse than forgetting something that you need, especially in a high-stress situation.

Elena Hight

Elena Hight does a yoga sequence on the morning of every competition.

On the morning of a contest, I always start with meditation and a short yoga sequence. Then I visualize my run, light some incense and listen to music while I get ready to head to the hill. I make tea (usually yerba mate), eat breakfast and do my warm-up so that my body is ready for a full day of snowboarding.

The only thing that I never compete without is a crystal. I have recently started learning a lot about different crystals and their metaphorical meanings, so I always bring a crystal with me. It’s for luck, grounding, calming and positive energy.

When I’m up at the pipe, I drop my backpack off, put my headphones in, choose my music for the day and walk to the drop-in at the halfpipe. I like to stand at the top of the pipe before practice starts, while everything is still calm and quiet, and just visualize.

There is something special about the top of a halfpipe before the event starts. There is so much energy, yet everything is still. It is a perspective that few people get to see, so it grounds me and reminds me how lucky I am to be where I am.

These moments before the warm-up starts are an extremely important part of my ritual. No matter how nervous I am, this is the time that I take to try to let that all go and just focus on enjoying the moment.

It might not seem like much, but having this routine that I know I am going to do before every event is extremely important. There is so much that is uncontrollable, but I know that I can control doing these things.

Then, I feel prepared to take on the day, no matter what it may bring.