Tori Beattie may live in Wanaka, New Zealand but she’s an Aussie at heart born and bred in Tasmania lapping the rope tows of Ben Lomond in her early ski days in what would become a precursor to a snow career that would see her compete and judge internationally in slope style and big mountain.
Today Tori is the coach behind Anna Segal, former world champion and gold, silver and bronze Winter X Games medalist and our Sochi Winter Olympian for ski slope style. The full time coach is known for her quirky instagrams from around the world (and her photo bombing skills) as she documents the Road to Sochi.
She talks with Snow It All in the first of our “behind the podium” series.
How did you get into competitive skiing?
Skiing was just a treat growing up, and when we moved away to London when I was 17, the mountains of Europe replaced my love of the ocean. I moved myself away to Vancouver, Canada after a bit of Uni, and then inevitably migrated up the road to Whistler.
Freeskiing was this new rebellious movement back then, and I just loved everything about it. I did the comps because they were fun. No pressure, just hanging out with rad people.
Competitive Slopestyle pretty much ended for me in 2006 after a broken back at the JOI in Sweden, followed by me completely destroying my knee just a few months after getting back on snow from that. I decided that hitting icy jumps all the time was beyond what I wanted to do to my body, but eventually found a new challenge in Big Mountain comps. I just started dabbling in the FWQ when the opportunity to work with Anna arose. And so have put that on hold for the last couple of years.
You live in Wanaka now, how did you come to settle there?
I first went to NZ when I was 21 in between seasons in Whistler, and couldn’t believe that I had grown up so close to this beautiful country! Snow Park had just opened and there was this amazing energy there.
A couple of visits later I decided to base myself in Wanaka for the Southern Hemisphere winters, and after all these years it still takes my breath away every time I fly back there. I passionately love calling Wanaka home. It’s a very special part of the world.
When did you first meet Anna and where?
I first met Anna when she came over to Snow Park to compete in the NZ Open many moons ago. She was this little chick going upside down doing off-axis backflips! We competed against each other in one of the last comps that I ever did (I beat her) and then would see each from time to time at various places around the world.
When did she ask you to be her coach and was it an easy decision to become her coach?
She first asked me if I would like to coach her for just a couple of weeks at a spring camp that was held in NZ at the end of the season around 3.5 years ago. I both hated it and loved it, so when she later asked if I would like to coach her a little bit overseas that following season I decided to just give it a go. It was strange to step back into the slopestyle world again as a coach after those years away.
What is a typical day for you as a coach of an elite athlete?
There is no typical day, but generally it consists of getting up fairly early to get out on the hill. A few runs to warm up then I stand around with a video camera/ipad/phone in hand trying to stay warm, whilst filming Anna and giving feedback on whatever skill we are working on.
Then it’s off the hill and to the gym to do some recovery and strength work. Then home and bed. Around comps there might be some running around getting her skis prepped, and attending coaches meetings, plus a more focused review of how the day’s skiing went and what needs to be worked on the next day.
What skills do you need to be a coach?
You generally need patience and empathy, confidence in yourself and your decisions plus the flexibility to have your mind changed, the ability to throw out a good pep talk, and the control to handle your own emotional responses away from your athlete. Everyone brings something different to the job and there is no required skill set.
It also depends a lot on the athletes you are working with. For me, I came from competing myself, to judging for a few years, and then to coaching – so I have seen the sport from every angle. I also like to be involved in all the parts of the sum, rather than just turning up to the hill, filming for a bit, and then going home.
You have highs and lows in competition, how do you handle them both and how do you handle them with your athlete?
The highs are so high and the lows so low! It’s either winning, or getting injured, and so I go through these things with Anna first, and then myself later. Controlling those emotions and putting on a brave face of composure and assuredness for Anna is the part of my job that I find the hardest. I live through everything she goes through when we are on the road together.
You spend a lot of time on the road together. Do you ever fight and if so, how do you resolve that?
We don’t ever openly fight. We have learnt that it is important to have our own space at times, and to communicate if something isn’t working.
How big is the team that works with Anna and do you all make decisions together?
There is a huge team behind Anna, but our core team consists of myself as coach, a sports psych, and her physiotherapist. We talk a lot. The next level down involves her strength and conditioning coach and the sports docs, as we deal with managing her injuries and keeping her in the best shape possible. Then below that are sponsors, team managers, the awesome people in the office at the OWIA who manage all of our logistics, and so on and so forth. All decisions are made together, but Anna is ultimately the driver of it all.
Check out some of @tora_saurus instagrams below. Click on any to open the gallery.
Read about Scotty James brother and performance coach Tim James in our Behind the Podium Series here.