Kristi Richards focuses on training

Canadian mogul skier Kristi Richards announced this week that she will follow the lead of numerous other elite athletes by taking a season to focus on training over competition. As such, she will not be joining the rest of the Canadian Team in Ruka, Finland as they prepare for the opening FIS World Cup of the season.

The two-time Olympian, who is committed to making a run for the Sochi Games, said that she believes taking a rest from the grinding pace of the World Cup season will give her a break from the stress of competition and give her an opportunity to focus on technical advances she needs to push towards a medal shot in 2014.

It worked in the past for two-time Olympic mogul skiing medalist Jenn Heil, and it also worked for world class athletes Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. Now Richards, like her teammate Alex Bilodeau, hopes it will work for her.

Richards said, “Spending a season to focus exclusively on training will give me space to address some physical re-conditioning and alignment issues that have accumulated over the years. It is rare that we actually have the time to make big technical gains during a competitive season, so this is my year to do that and come back to competition at a whole new level. This plan feels right; and makes me excited for the possibilities to come.”

Richards who, like the majority of female competitive mogul skiers, typically performs a 360 and a back flip in her competition runs, said that she believes the winning run at the 2014 Games will require women to up the ante on their aerial maneuvers, by adding difficulty without compromising form.

As such, she will spend a great deal of this year working on perfecting her back full – the full-twisting back flip that she wowed the Olympic crowd with in Vancouver.

She said, “There are enough girls learning d-spins and back fulls now, so hopefully the level of jumping will step up for the next Games. I love to push my sport, and I love to push my own potential. My goal is not to just do the tricks, but to be exceptionally good at them. This is a year for me to focus on doing just that.”

Richards will make Apex Mountain Resort, and her namesake ‘Kristi’s Run’ her home base for training this winter, although she hasn’t completely discounted the possibility of participating in a World Cup or two, stating, “that will be decided at a later date.”

Richards’ decision is supported by her coach, Darcy Downs, and other members of the Canadian Freestyle Mogul Team coaching and managerial staff.

The rest of the Canadian Mogul Team opens its season at the FIS World Cup in Ruka, Finland on December 10, 2011. The newly-formed Canadian Halfpipe Team debuts in competition at the December 9, 2011 World Cup at Copper Mt., CO.