Andi Naude of Canada’s Olympic moguls team does some training on Apex Mountain prior to competing at the Olympics in South Korea. Mark Brett/Western News

Naude: 2018 Olympic Winter Games — the experience

Penticton’s Andi Naude writes about her Olympic experience

And that’s a wrap!

I can hardly believe that the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games have come to a close. I am beyond thrilled, honoured, and thankful for this opportunity of a lifetime. Representing Canada and cheering on my teammates at the Olympic Games was more than a dream come true. Being a part of the strongest team in the world truly leaves me speechless. I am going to be completely honest and say that I’m still finding it difficult to find the right words to express how I feel about my time in PyeongChang. It has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotion; filled with incredible highs, lows and everything in between — and for this, I am truly grateful.

Related: One more hill to conquer for Naude at Olympics

My teammates and I arrived in PyeongChang ready to tackle the world. After an amazing training camp at Apex, we were primed and incredibly eager to ski on the Olympic course. The course itself was quite a challenge, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. After a few days of training, we were ready to perform on the world’s largest stage. Life in the village was simple, and we could really focus on the task at hand. The living quarters were amazing, and the food was fantastic. The Canadian Olympic Committee did everything in their power to make sure all of our needs were met.

The qualification round went very well for Team Canada, and all four of the women moved on to the first final. I was having a lot of fun skiing the course, and managed to put down a clean, fast, technical run scoring me a second place finish. I was so excited I could hardly stop smiling; I was on top of the world.

After a day of rest and light training, it was time for the three final rounds. I started off the evening feeling calm and confident. I had prepared my entire life for this moment. The countless hours of training, hard work, and mental preparation had left me in a good position to just go out there and ski. I had done the homework; I had left no stone unturned.

Related: Lots of Olympic love for Penticton’s Naude

My first final run was not great, by any means. In fact, it was probably one of the worst runs I had skied all season long, but it was enough to get me into the second final. I regrouped, spoke to my coach, and was off again for another run. It was a big rush between my runs, as live TV waits for no one! I basically skied from the chairlift straight into the gate. I really had to force myself to take a deep breathe and bring myself back to the task at hand. I just needed to ski. I knew I could do it.

I had the run of my life in the second final. I climbed from 10th place to first place, and moved on to the third final as a gold medal favourite. I could hardly believe it. I had only ever qualified at the top of the pack a few times in my life, and there I was, at the Olympic Games, last to ski. All eyes were on me. I was the only skier able to upset the already determined podium. I was not stressed, I just had to ski the run I had already skied, the run I had skied hundreds of times.

The next thing I knew, I was being thrown out of the course. It’s still hard to say what actually went wrong in my last run. I thought I was doing everything the same, I had the same focus, I felt good. Mistakes happen, and unfortunately it happened to me in my third and final run at the Olympic Games. It was not a medal, it was not the number result I was aiming for, but I am not going to let the lack of a medal define me. I will learn from this experience, and as much as it stings now, I will rise above the disappointment. Onwards and upwards!

Related: Naude close to realizing Olympic dream

One of the most important things I want to say to you all is how thankful I am to have all of your support. The amount of love, well wishes, and kind words I have received is overwhelming. You raised my spirits, you made me smile, you made me laugh, and you even brought me to tears.

I find it hard to express how truly thankful I am for all of you in just words. That being said, I want you all to know that you have played a huge role in my journey. Thank you Apex, Penticton, the Okanagan, British Columbia, and the entire country for standing behind me every step of the way. I could not be more proud to wear the Canadian Maple Leaf.

Thank you again for making my dream come true.

Olympian Andi Naude is a moguls skier for the Canadian Freestyle Team and is an Apex Freestyle Club alumnae.

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