The Swedish slopestyle star explains how he prepares himself to perform bigger and better in each competition

Ski slopestyle made its debut at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and the sport’s fearless athletes can’t wait to go even bigger in PyeongChang. The adrenaline-pumping event involves freestyle skiers performing off-axis, aerial tricks launching from a series of massive kickers. Creativity is also rewarded as competitors ride along sets of smooth metal rails. Judges award points for amplitude, originality and quality of tricks.

“There is a freedom about our sport – you can use your imagination and inspiration to design your tricks,” says Henrik Harlaut, an X Games silver medallist in ski slopestyle who narrowly missed out on the podium in Sochi. “You show your personality and it is almost like creating music or making art.”

Here, the 26-year-old athlete and innovator offers his top tips on pushing your limits at major competitions.

Analyse videos of yourself
“Film and review yourself often. It is so easy nowadays with smartphones. Review everything you do, every step, to improve for the next time. It is a huge tool that I use to be able to push things further. Coaches and friends film me. Whenever I try a new trick, I watch it afterwards because sometimes it doesn’t look how you envision it in your head. It is my best tool to improve my skiing.”

Spend some time alone preparing
“For me, spending time alone helps. Giving yourself time to figure out what you want to do, find your creativity and your own strengths. Give yourself time to visualise what your goals are. I love being with friends and other people, but sometimes it is good to have a few days by yourself. It is like meditation. For me, this has helped a lot.”

Find inspiration from music
“Music is a huge for me – I listen to music always while skiing and visualising new tricks. Basically, I use music for everything to prepare. I listen to a lot of hip- hop, a little bit of reggae and dancehall, but I’m open to anything. I like music from the 1990s and earlier too. It pumps me up and I find inspiration from music.”

Confidence is everything
“You have to believe in yourself more than anything. Confidence is huge. It relates to the part of visualising too. I visualise myself landing every trick and my reaction afterwards. I have it all planned out, so when I actually do it, it is sort of like I’ve done it already. If you don’t have the confidence, you shouldn’t be dropping in [onto the run]. You definitely have to believe that you can land all of your tricks the whole run because our sport is so technical these days. You’ve got to believe in yourself for sure.”

Have fun to succeed
“Having fun is a big, big thing for me. To be able to push the limit and reach your goals, you have to have fun while doing it. That makes it way easier for me. If I’m surrounded by good friends and even eating good food, it’s way more fun. Whenever I’m happy, I ski my best.”

For more advice on putting in your best performance at a major event, visit the Athlete Learning Gateway and take the course “Sports Psychology – Getting in the Zone”