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He'll likely be competing with his own teammates to reach the podium, but as Hicks explained it's not personal — the athletes do celebrate each other's results.
"Our team atmosphere is actually very healthy, we have a great team spirit which is extremely rare for an individual sport — especially one where the team is the strongest it's maybe ever been," he said. "Our mogul team's (FIS) points alone would have put us third in the overall Nation's Cup standings.
"The reality is that we're largely competing with each other to gain top results ... but we all accept this fact and understand that we're all here to accomplish the same thing.
"We swept the Nor-Am finals podium last season and that was something I had wanted to be a part of for a long time. Mikael Kingsbury and I have spoken a lot about sharing the podium, and after seeing the last generation sweep twice and the World Cup level in the 2010 season, it's really something I would like to be a part of. The only thing better than being on the podium is sharing it with your teammates."
To prepare for this season Hicks said it was business as usual in the summer. Last summer the emphasis was on speed, and that was also a big focus over the summer, as well as jumping. "In the past I've had trouble producing the kind of quality I'm capable of on the bottom air with my cork 720, but all my best singles results have come with a cork 7 as my bottom air. It's something that needs to be there more consistently this season."
Being consistent also means sticking to the plan, no matter what obstacles are there. For example, he arrived at the World Cup in Are, Sweden last season and had only one day of training. Suffering from jet lag he got about two hours sleep before the World Cup the next day, but still managed a fifth place result.
"I was able to really narrow my focus and be very clear about what I had to do to get a result when I stepped into the gate," he said. "This was a really important event for me because it really proved to myself what I had already discovered at Nor-Am events — that to perform at the World Cup level I just need to remain calm, focused, stay within myself and execute the game plan my coaches and I have spent so much time developing."
The coming season could be a big stepping-stone for Hicks. There are no world championships and the Olympics are still two seasons away, but strong results on the first part of the World Cup tour will secure a spot with the national team for next season — a world championship and Olympic qualifier year.
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