Aimee Fuller: A Day in the life of a Pro Snowboarder
It’s the final World Cup before the Olympics, and pro snowboarder Aimee Fuller needs a top 8 finish to secure her spot at the Olympics with Team GB. The pressure is on. But she falls on her first run. And that was a backflip – her safety trick. If she falls again, it’s all over. Everything she’s worked for over the last 6 years, the last 2 of which have been full time, would all be down the drain.
It’s time to really focus and get into “the zone”. And every athlete has a different way of doing it. Tennis players like Andre Agassi tend to scream and shout at themselves, golfers like Tiger Woods “ice over” and go into their own little world of intense concentration. But not Aimee. If you’d been on top of that mountain in Canada that day, you’d have found her and her team mate Torah Bright dancing and belting out Spice Girls songs! Relaxed and feeling good, Aimee then nailed her second jump, blitzed the semi-finals and finished in 5th to secure her seat on the plane to Sochi. Job done!
So how has Aimee been preparing for this? Well, she very kindly agreed to catch up for a quick chat to give us a glimpse into the life of a pro snowboarder.
The alarm goes off at about seven in the morning, and Aimee and her team begin to gather around the table. Meals times tend to be very sociable. They like to have fun, and enjoy every minute of being on the mountain. There’s a lot of work to be done later that morning, so breakfasts tend to be big and wholesome.
“Usually porridge mixed with greek yoghurt with loads of nuts, seeds and fruit thrown on top and a big spoonful of almond butter… I need something that keeps me going”.
After breakfast, Aimee does her warm up and some light exercise to wake up her body and get it ready for the day ahead. Then they’re piling into a car and heading up the mountain to the slopes. That’s when the tunes come on. She tells me how important they are. I kinda laugh, but it turns out this is no laughing matter!
“It’s about getting into the right vibe. Getting into the kind of place where you’ve feeling good and feeling relaxed… that’s when the progression happens. It just doesn’t work otherwise!”
And it’s really got to work. Because Aimee’s event involves flying through the air upside down 20 feet above an icy surface. If you’re uptight and stressed you can get it wrong, and when you get it wrong you can get hurt. Badly.
It’s a physically very demanding sport. Aimee devotes an entire month during the Summer to getting her body as strong as possible, with lots of gym work, cycling and sleep. Nutrition is something she takes very seriously, and was something she became interested in as part of her PE A-level. A recent nutrition camp with Dr. Graeme Close helped provide her with further insights and guidance.
Aimee typically packs a small snack to take with her, in case she gets peckish while on the slopes. But nothing too big – she doesn’t like to feel too full. Sometimes, she’ll take rice cakes with her, covered in almond butter and banana… other times she’ll take nuts or our tubes of ProMix. It just depends what she’s in the mood for.
A typical morning’s session will last 2-3 hours. Although recently she’s been cutting back and just doing shorter sessions.
“Over the last few weeks we’ve just been doing short blasts. It’s all about pacing yourself at this end of the season. Especially when you’re feeling tired and under a little bit more pressure”.
I find this to be extremely insightful. And impressive. Given that there was only one tournament left to qualify for the Olympics, most people in Aimee’s shoes would have spent their every waking hour practicing. And they would probably have arrived at that tournament both physically and mentally exhausted. Yet Aimee had the confidence and discipline to put the snowboard down and get off the slopes.
Having done a decent morning’s work, the gang will typically head back to the chalet for a spot of lunch:
“Lunch consists of good carbs and protein… lots of eggs and chicken, with quinoa and veg like sweet potato. We also have salads, with lots of protein thrown in”.
The afternoon will then be spent either at the gym, or at “Woodward” – a specialist training centre that’s famous for its huge pits full of foam. These provide a soft landing, so that boarders like Aimee can perfect their backflips and somersaults in a low risk environment.
And then it’s back to the chalet for dinner – “things like steak, good carbs and lots of veggies”. They usually take turns cooking for each other. Aimee likes to cook! The evenings are then spent watching movies, emailing, catching up with friends and family on skype and spending a lot of time in the hot tub! They tend to have a lot of fun and laughs, but booze is actually not part of their lifestyle:
“I’ve had one drink in the last two months… my last night out was in September! It’s a personal choice … I know that when I drink I tend to get run down, and that’s when I get sick”.
Again, it’s this ability to listen to her body that has helped her get to the highest level. But she doesn’t seem at all fazed by prospect of competing in the Olympics:
“It’s a massive deal and a huge honour, but when it comes down to it it’s just another snowboard competition…. that’s the best way to think of it!”
This sort of maturity will stand her in good stead in Sochi – we wish her all the best!
PS: Check out Aimee’s blog here:
PS: Follow Aimee on twitter @aimee_fuller