David Mor­ris: Aerial skier.

David Mor­ris, 33, aerial skier Aus­tralian PyeongChang 2018 Win­ter Olympics team; 2014 Sochi Win­ter Olympics sil­ver medal­list

The Saturday Paper - - The Week Contents - Richard Cooke

If a jump goes well, it feels like float­ing. If you hit a good take­off, it’s re­ally floaty and very easy and you get a nice view of the ground, and just float into the land­ing. If you miss your take­off or mess it up, it feels like you’re falling out of the sky very, very quickly. The ground comes at you very fast.

This will be my third Games. One Olympic medal, one World Cham­pi­onships medal, a cou­ple of World

Cup medals, and I’m the only boy on the [aeri­als] team. I au­to­mat­i­cally have the Aus­tralian record, which is pretty cool, be­cause I don’t have to do any­thing to get it.

It can be chal­leng­ing at times. It’s great – it’s hi­lar­i­ous. We’re a good team, a tight-knit team. But lack­ing another male to bounce and be boy­ish with can be a lit­tle sad some­times.

In the be­gin­ning, I was a gym­nast and a skier. Kirstie Mar­shall, who’s a for­mer Olympian and mem­ber of the Aus­tralian aerial ski team, came into my gym and saw me tum­bling around and asked if I’d like to try aeri­als. She of­fered to train me for free, just off her own gen­eros­ity, on the week­ends.

The whole thing was in that mo­ment: the right per­son at the right time. If I hadn’t been there or she hadn’t been there, or I hadn’t been tum­bling, I wouldn’t be here at all.

I ac­cept that ev­ery day, maybe this jump will be my last jump. Be­cause I might get hurt, or this will be the end of the sea­son if some­thing goes wrong. It is about pre­ci­sion and cal­cu­lated risk, and per­form­ing well un­der pres­sure, do­ing neat jumps. You don’t just throw your body off and hope for the best. (Although it does look like that some­times.)

We train jump­ing into wa­ter. It’s def­i­nitely men­tally eas­ier, be­cause the con­se­quences of fail­ing aren’t as dra­matic. But land­ing in the wa­ter takes it out of your body more than snow does. If you land on your feet, you come to a stop very, very quickly in the wa­ter. Whereas on snow you ac­tu­ally con­tinue your mo­men­tum down the hill. Ob­vi­ously, if you land on your back you know about it.

The first triple was re­ally, re­ally scary. It con­tin­ues to be re­ally, re­ally scary ev­ery sin­gle day I’m out there, even now af­ter years of do­ing it. It just doesn’t get any eas­ier.

We’re go­ing very high in the air. We’re go­ing up­side down three times. It’s more than any other sport. And it’s just not … it’s just … you’re up at the top and my brain just sort of ques­tions like, “Why am I do­ing this?”, ev­ery sin­gle time. And then, when I land a nice jump it’s like, “Oh, that wasn’t so bad, ac­tu­ally.”

Ev­ery­one’s ner­vous. Peo­ple pre­tend they’re not, but that’s ob­vi­ously a lie. But it’s just some­thing that ev­ery­one’s scared of, and whether you ad­mit it or not is up to you. I’m fine ad­mit­ting that it’s scary be­cause it clearly is. I think any­one who isn’t a lit­tle bit scared of what they’re do­ing ei­ther has no idea what they’re about to do, or they pos­si­bly have a con­cus­sion.

We crash very fre­quently. More than peo­ple would imag­ine we do. Yes­ter­day I did six triples and I landed one of them. I crashed five out of six. And it hurts, but if you’re strong you can take hits and get back up like it’s noth­ing.

Af­ter an in­jury, it is in the back of your mind: “This could hap­pen again.” But if you ap­proach the sport ten­ta­tively, that’s when you re­ally do get in­jured. Com­ing into a jump and do­ing it prop­erly is the safest way to do it, even though it is against every­thing that your mind’s telling you – “Don’t lean back”, “I don’t re­ally want to flip this fast.” Peo­ple be­ing care­ful upon com­ing back from an in­jury, it tends to cause sec­ondary in­juries.

Other ath­letes think our sport’s the cra­zi­est by far. I’ve had ar­gu­ments – I don’t think it is. There are other sports that are way more sketchy. I think that mogul ski­ing is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. We just do ba­si­cally one jump at a time onto a nice, soft land­ing hill, at a set speed, or cal­cu­lated. Moguls go down a mogul course as fast as they can and do two jumps within their mogul course at break­neck speed, hold­ing onto the edge of con­trol.

Alpine ski­ing is men­tal. Skele­ton and luge, those are men­tal. But I think ours is, vis­ually, prob­a­bly the most im­pres­sive. Bor­der­line, you know.

I’m a PE/maths teacher, which is a pretty cool com­bi­na­tion. When I have time, I’ll go back to my old school at White­fri­ars in Vic­to­ria and do a bit of sub­sti­tute teach­ing. They’ll ask me to show them videos, so I have to say, “We’re ac­tu­ally go­ing to do work to­day, fel­lows. You’re go­ing to work.”

It’s a bit of a dual per­son­al­ity. Peo­ple do have a hard time sort of switch­ing from one to the other. Be­cause when I’m a teacher I’m Mr Mor­ris the school-teacher, and I think the kids find that a lit­tle bit hard to re­late to be­cause they think I’m the ath­lete al­ways.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.