AST Athlete Journal: Avery Lebsack
Hello my Ski Community!
I’m Avery Lebsack, I am one of eight female athletes on the Alberta Women’s Ski Team, and this is my second season with AST. The past six months have been a grind in the gym but our recent trip to Europe has me so excited for the season to begin.
This summer was one of the most mentally challenging off snow training blocks I have endured, with no time on snow and all our focus in the gym or on the track. It was challenging at times to stay motivated to work out not knowing what the on-snow future held. I, like all of my teammates, worked a full-time job this summer (to try and help with the costs of this sport), which also made it difficult to focus solely on training with time commitments for both being intense. There were, however, benefits from a strong dryland program and not being on snow for that long, because I am currently in the best shape of my life and have never felt stronger going into the 2021-22 season. The time in the gym allowed me to exceed my physical goals for the dryland programming and be able to work on my mental ski training with a sports psychologist.
After a long summer, this September brought our team to an on-snow training camp in Europe where we trained in Stelvio Italy, Hintertux, Austria and finally to an indoor training facility in Belgium. Stelvio was the perfect place to begin as the terrain was gentle and made the transition from five months off, painless. Stelvio was a beautiful place to train, and I won’t forget the homemade pasta and gelato we had to refuel, but too soon we were off to Austria.
Our first day in Hintertux was an adventure, a storm rolled in bringing with it snow and fog so thick, it was an effort to find the lifts. 40cm of fresh snow left the training runs in rough shape but for the next week, these conditions motivated us to finish and be aggressive each run because the alternative of getting bucked out of the course was much scarier than skiing tentative. The snow did get better, and the GS and SL training was amazing and everything I have been working on started to come together. We then made our way to Belgium for SL training.
The indoor training facility in Belgium was unlike any ski hill I have ever been to before. I would describe it as a hockey rink on stilts. The ice was very challenging to get used to and exposed my every SL flaw! I had to be adaptable and use ice technique in order to stay on my feet which was both demanding and humbling. It was fun for the first two days until I had collected enough bruises on my arms and legs from the gates whipping back. The fact that my whole body hurt inspired me to alter my technique fast and the bruises acted as immediate feedback as to whether I was truly changing or not. Overall, I thought it was a really good experience and now I can say I’ve skied indoors.
After Belgium both the Men’s and Women’s Alberta Team had the privilege of going to the Solden
Women’s World Cup to watch the competition and cheer on former Alberta Team member (and BFF) Cassidy Gray and Britt Richardson. The energy of the crowd was electric, and it was inspiring to be able to see world class skiing in person as these events are such a rarity in Canada. Seeing such talented female athletes competing reminded me of where I want to go in skiing and has further motivated me to work hard to reach that goal.
Since being back in Canada, I have been in the gym, doing one last push before I focus on maintaining strength for the season and my team has been at Norquay, technical free skiing, and will soon move to Nakiska. The next few weeks are going to ramp up in intensity as we will be training at Nakiska and then
Panorama to prepare for all the races yet to come. I am incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such a strong support system and would like to thank my amazing team, including my two coaches Jim and Gavin, trainer Nate, and my parents for making the best of the last year, for pushing me, holding me accountable and being there for me through it all. I cannot wait to see what the season has in store and am ready to move forward and start racing again!