„Wenn ich mich auf ein Lernziel konzentriere, ergeben sich die Resultate von selbst“

Das Interview führte Mila Hanke exklusiv vor dem Freeride World Tour-Finale. Mila Hanke ist Sportpsychologin (asp) und Journalistin und lebt derzeit in Aschau im Chiemgau (Deutschland). Infos zu ihr und ihrer Arbeit gibt es im Netz unter www.sportandmind.info, www.die-sportpsychologen.de/milahanke und www.milahanke.de). Das Interview ist zuerst im Blog „Die Sportpsychologen“ (Link zum Original) erschienen.

Lorraine Huber gewann 2017 die Freeride World Tour (FWT) der Ski Damen – die Weltmeisterschaft der Freerider. Seit Jahren fährt die 38-jährige Österreicherin aus Lech am Arlberg ganz vorne in der Weltspitze mit. Wer die Wettkampfbedingungen nicht kennt: Die Teilnehmer dürfen den zu fahrenden, mit Felsklippen durchsetzten und meist sehr steilen Tiefschneehang nur von gegenüber per Fernglas besichtigen, um sich vorab eine möglichst spektakuläre Abfahrtslinie zu überlegen. Einen Trainingslauf gibt es nicht. Für den Wettkampf steigen die Fahrer und Fahrerinnen nach oben zum Startpunkt und müssen dann die Linie ihrer Wahl möglichst schnell, flüssig, mit tiefen Klippensprüngen, Tricks und sauberen Landungen abfahren. Judges bewerten den „run“ nach einem Punktesystem. Diejenige mit der höchsten Gesamtpunktzahl aus fünf weltweit verteilten Contest gewinnt den Weltmeistertitel.

Seit Januar steht Lorraine Huber in der FWT 2018 unter dem Druck, ihren Vorjahrestitel zu verteidigen. Die ersten drei von fünf internationalen Contests liefen nicht wie erhofft, Lorraine lag danach nur auf Platz acht der Gesamtwertung. Beim Contest im Österreichischen Fieberbrunn am 10. März musste ein Knoten platzen, um doch noch unter die besten Sechs und damit ins Finale am 31. März in Verbier einzuziehen. Und dieser Knoten platzte: Lorraine siegte in Fieberbrunn und schaffte als Gesamtvierte doch noch den Sprung ins Finale (siehe Video des Runs unten). Auch aufgrund ihrer mentalen Vorbereitung.

Im Interview mit Journalistin und Sportpsychologin Mila Hanke verrät sie, welche Mentaltechniken ihr wann am meisten helfen. Außerdem interessant: Weil Lorraine die mentale Stärke im Ski-Sport so wichtig ist und sie auch andere Sportler in dieser Fähigkeit unterstützen möchte, absolviert sie gerade ein Masterstudium zum Mentalcoach an der Universität Salzburg.

Photo: Zoya Lynch

Lorraine, wie wichtig ist der „mentale Faktor“ in deinem Sport?

Beim Freeriden ist er enorm wichtig. Es wäre aber ein Trugschluss zu denken, dass innere Stärke ausschließlich im Kopf, also durch die richtigen Gedanken entsteht. Je besser mein Training in der Saisonvorbereitung lief, je stärker ich körperlich bin, je ausgeruhter ich mich fühle, je mehr ich meinem Material vertraue usw., desto stärker bin ich auch im Kopf. Körper und Geist hängen eben immer zusammen und beeinflussen sich gegenseitig.

Von welcher sportpsychologischen Methode hast Du bisher am meisten profitiert?

Von ideomotorischem Training, auch Visualisierungstraining genannt. Vor jedem Wettkampf stelle ich mir meine geplante Abfahrtlinie im Detail vor, vom Start bis ins Ziel. Und zwar aus meiner eigenen Perspektive. Beim Freeriden ist das enorm wichtig, da wir den zu fahrenden Hang nur von gegenüber „besichtigen“ können und es keine Trainingsläufe gibt. Du fährst also oft für dich komplett neues Gelände. Vorab stelle ich mir nicht nur das Gelände vor, wie es aus meiner Perspektive aussehen wird – die Rinnen des Hanges, die Felsen, die ich umfahren muss, die Klippen, die ich springen will, die Landeflächen usw. – , sondern auch das Rundherum am Contest-Tag: das Geräusch des Helikopters, der uns oben am Berg absetzt, die Atmosphäre am Start während des Wartens, meine Empfindungen direkt im Start-Gate – so lebendig wie möglich und mit allen Sinnen. Wenn ich die Bilder im Kopf mit den Emotionen verbinden kann, die ich an den verschiedenen Orten und Zeitpunkten im Wettkampf empfinden möchte, dann ist die Wirkung dieser Mentaltechnik umso stärker.

Seit Beginn der Freeride World Tour 2018 im Januar stehst du unter dem Druck, deinen Weltmeistertitel vom letzten Jahr zu verteidigen. Der Saisonstart lief aber nicht so gut und bis zu deinem Sieg in Fieberbrunn sah es sogar aus, als würdest du es nicht ins Finale schaffen. Wie gehst du mit hohem Leistungsdruck um?

Dabei hilft mir die richtige Zielsetzung. Ich konzentriere mich voll und ganz auf mein Skifahren – also wie ich technisch fahren möchte – und nicht auf das Resultat, das ich erzielen will. Es ist gut, eine übergeordnete Vision wie einen Weltmeistertitel zu haben, um Zugkraft zu generieren und Ressourcen zu fokussieren. Aber während meiner Wettkampfsaison hilft es mir enorm, den Fokus auf kleinere Teilziele zu lenken, bis hin zu dem, was ich am Wettkampftag frühstücke oder wie ich mich aufwärme. Ganz wichtig ist für mich zudem, bei jedem Contest neben einem Leistungsziel auch ein Lernziel vor Augen zu haben – wie zum Beispiel einfach Spaß zu haben, möglichst viele Erfahrungen zu sammeln, von Konkurrentinnen dazuzulernen. Wenn ich mich auf das Lernen und meine persönliche Entwicklung konzentriere, dann ergeben sich die Resultate von selbst. Diese Lernziel-Perspektive war auch ein wichtiger Baustein dafür, dass ich trotz des Rückstandes fokussiert und motiviert geblieben bin, den Contest in Fieberbrunn gewonnen und es doch noch ins Finale geschafft habe.

In deinem Risikosport könnte ein Fehler schwere Verletzungen mit sich bringen oder sogar tödlich sein. Was hilft Dir, mit Ängsten umzugehen?

Beim Freeriden wie auch bei anderen Sportarten hilft es zunächst, Gefühle der Angst zu differenzieren: Wovor genau habe ich Angst? Sind es Ängste rund um die eigene Gesundheit? Und/oder Versagensängste? Und/oder Zukunftsängste? Wenn ich zum Beispiel Versagensängste empfinde, bin ich meist blockiert, was dazu führt, dass ich sehr verhalten bzw. verkrampft Ski fahre. Indem ich sportpsychologisch daran arbeite, verschiedene Eigenschaften in mir aufzubauen oder zu stärken (zum Beispiel mehr Mut, mehr Entschlossenheit), kann ich mich selbst von einem blockierten in einen mutigen Zustand verändern. Bestimmte Eigenschaften stärke ich unter anderem durch diszipliniertes Denken (unterstützende Wörter, Sätze und Bilder durch meinen Kopf gehen lassen) sowie diszipliniertes Verhalten (unterstützende Körperhaltungen, Gesichtsausdrücke). Dabei gibt es eine Vielzahl an mentalen Techniken, die ich einsetze. Ein Beispiel für diszipliniertes Denken wäre, mir in einer angstauslösenden Situation nicht innerlich zu sagen: „Boah, das ist ja brutal steil! Wenn das jetzt schief geht…“. Sondern mir zuzusprechen „Ich habe mich bestmöglich vorbereitet, um eine Passage wie diese zu meistern. Ich schaffe das!“

Welche Mentaltechniken nutzt du sonst noch in einem Wettkampf?

Wenn ich oben am Start stehe, muss ich „vom Kopf“ – also von der ganzen akribischen Planung und Analyse vorab – „in meinen Körper“ kommen. Nur dann gelange ich bei der Abfahrt wirklich in einen Flow-Zustand. Mittlerweile funktioniert das bei mir sehr schnell über eine Routine aus Körperreizen. Zum Beispiel vor dem Start die Oberschenkel abklopfen, Fäuste ballen, tiefes Ein- und Ausatmen, in die Hände klatschen. Dann lenke ich meinen Fokus auf das Hier-und-Jetzt und bin auch körperlich aktiviert und „ganz da“, um meine Leistung genau jetzt, in den folgenden Minuten, erbringen zu können.

Interview: Mila Hanke, zur Profilseite von Mila Hanke

Women’s Progression Days 2018

I have been organising women’s freeride camps for 10 years now, so I was pretty excited to run this year’s Women’s Progression Days as a freeride and ski touring camp for the very first time, from 12 to 15 April in Lech am Arlberg.

Looking back, it was one of my favourite camps of all time! Being on the mountain early and following the sun’s rays to harvest beautiful corn snow is simply magical. Being able to do this with 21 motivated and passionate women is even better. Due to the warm weather, we caught the first lift at 8:30 am and skied without a break until mid afternoon, after which all three groups were able to meet up again on the mountain to share a well-deserved lunch. Participants were able to test the TX and FX models from Kästle, improve both their skinning as well as ski technique, hone their skills in avalanche rescue, learn from their guides to read terrain better and make more informed decisions on line choice, and of course ski a bunch of beautiful runs. And this is probably the most powerful thing of all: getting the chance to ski with so many other ripping women who are equally passionate about skiing is truly special and something you just can’t experience in mixed groups. Anja Schmidt, a participant from Vienna, captures the essence of what I mean in an email she wrote me a few days after the camp:

“It’s incredibly motivating to ski in a group of strong women – strong both in regards to their skiing as well as their personalities; when girls are shredding on your left and on your right and you just feel so much joy watching them and gratitude for being part of it. I’m still so stoked, inspired, motivated and empowered…THANK YOU so much, you have no idea how POWERFUL you are, especially with your initiative to bring women together to ski and learn.”

In the evenings we practiced yoga and enjoyed dinner at various locations in Lech together, with plenty of opportunities to make new friends.

I especially want to thank my guides Melissa Presslaber and Gerlinde Stickler who did an incredible job at keeping the participants safe and happy. Thank you also to Kästle Skis for providing the ski test and to Strolz for looking after all our needs regarding equipment and gear storage. And finally thank you to all the participants for joining and being part of such an amazing event – the feelings of being motivated, inspired and stoked are definitely mutual! See you next winter!

If you have a friend/girlfriend/wife you think would enjoy participating at the Women’s Progression Days by Lorraine Huber, then go ahead and share this article with them!

Freeride World Tour 2017 Video Highlights

In this video you can follow me on my road to the crown at the Freeride World Tour 2017. After 8 seasons of competing and two recent injuries, 2017 was the year everything finally came together. Developing the mental strength skills to compete in a high pressure situation was the crucial factor for me last season. It allowed me to find flow during my runs and, as a by-product, win the championship. I’m currently studying a master’s degree in mental strength coaching at the University of Salzburg, Austria, and I can’t wait to continue honing my mental strength skills during competition this winter and learn as much as I can as a future mental strength coach. As always, I’m continuously honing my technical skiing as well and I love this ongoing process, because there is always something new and fun to learn.

I want to thank my sponsors for the great partnership over many years now: Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Kästle Skis, Bergans of Norway, SCOTT Sports, and the Olympiazentrum Vorarlberg. Being able to focus on skiing for the past decade and grow as an athlete would not have been possible without you! Thank you and here’s to many more years of excellent partnership!

Saying Goodbye to Matilda

Like for many of you, my world was turned upside down ever since I was informed about Matilda passing away in an avalanche in Chile. I have not been able to write about her until now since I needed time to gather my thoughts and calm my feelings. I have been thinking about Matilda, her Mattias, and her family countless times a day. I have been talking to both people who loved her and knew her well as well as people who knew her only fleetingly or through the media. She touched the lives of so many.

The hashtag #inspirelikematilda couldn’t be more appropriate to celebrate the unique person Matilda was and continues to be through our thoughts and feelings about her, and more importantly, through our actions inspired by her. Matilda was a person who did what she loved in life. Her life was a product of amazing, challenging and beautiful experiences that she had purposefully created. She loved her Mattias, she loved skiing, she loved her family and friends, she loved creating things and bringing people together. She was beautiful, both loving and gentle, yet courageous and fierce.

In Mattias, Matilda found her soulmate and experienced a relationship in her life that many people literally never experience. As a professional skier, Matilda learnt to face her fears, grow as a person, and challenge herself like many people don’t often do in their lives.

Looking at it in this way, Matilda lived a rich and fulfilling life, a life that can inspire us to do the same. Do what you love! Life is too short to waste time doing things you don’t like or even hate, to spend time with people who don’t enrich and inspire you, to not be doing the things you love out of fear or other reasons. You could be living a perfectly safe life, and then become involved in a fatal car accident or be shot down tomorrow going about your normal day. We simply don’t know when our time is up.

So that’s what I have taken away from Matilda’s passing. Matilda is a true inspiration and I am so very grateful to have spent a lot of very special moments together with her, especially during our time filming together for Shades of Winter in Alaska and during the many years of competing together on the Freeride World Qualifer and Freeride World Tour.

I want to extend my deepest sympathies to her husband Mattias Hargin and her family during this most difficult of times. We are all thinking of you and sending you much love and light.

 

THE SCHOOLING

Getting into more serious ski mountaineering has always been on my list, but it was mostly ranked behind my freeride skiing and sport climbing. Last year, I decided that if I really want to get into ski mountaineering and become an equal rope partner on the mountain, it’s time to refresh some technical skills and learn the ones I’m still lacking. After some research on Google, I soon found what I was looking for: the ‘Alpine Expedition Course’ with Adventure Consultants from Wanaka, New Zealand. Managed by mountaineering legend Guy Cotter, Adventure Consultants is a world-renowned mountain guiding company with a legacy of climbing expeditions to the world’s highest peaks, and wilderness treks to the more remote corners of the globe. The also offer a comprehensive course Program in New Zealand, Europe, and North America.

A couple of months later, I found myself on route to the beautiful lakeside town of Wanaka, where I had spent a couple of winter seasons four years earlier. In a way, it felt like coming home. Shortly after my arrival, I was on the way to the AC HQ. There I met the other course participants and my guide Jono Gillan, who was to become the funniest but also most competent teacher I could have wished for.

The crew: T.J., Denis and our guide Jono Gillan

The crew: T.J., Denis and our guide Jono Gillan

I was pleased to find out that we were a small group of only three participants: Denis, a successful and highly intelligent engineer from Brisbane, Australia, T.J., an officer in the U.S. navy who flies in F18F fighter jets and is trained to be as deadly as possible, and myself. After some slightly nervous first introductions, gear and weather check, comes the news: there’s weather coming in from the SW, we wont be locating to the Remarkables mountains in Queenstown today, but doing some rock climbing at Hospital Flat in Wanaka instead. Soon, I was climbing my first routes in leather mountaineering boots, a very strange feeling indeed. With his 90 kilos, T.J. seemed comfortable enough for me to belay him. T.J., Denis and I were checking each other out, trying to gage how we would fit together during the course. After all, we would be spending the next 12 days together, and in close quarters too. It soon became apparent though that we’re going to make a great team. Jono seemed impressed with our climbing level, which made us feel very good about ourselves.

Climbing in leather mountaineering boots takes some getting used to

Climbing in leather mountaineering boots takes some getting used to

Remarkables was on the plan the next day. With almost hyperactive energy levels, Jono shows us the ins and outs of correct crampon and self-arresting technique, and building snow anchors. Then it started dumping, so we decide to head down and cover some theory: roping up on the glacier and pulley systems. Especially Jono’s clear explanation of pulley system theory was incredibly valuable. In no time, I was building and combining 2:1 and 3:1 pulley systems with more clarity and confidence then I’d ever had.

Practicing pulley systems

Practicing pulley systems

Dumping at the Remarkables

It’s dumping at the Remarkables

That night, we cover how to plan food for an expedition and pack everything required for a full week spent in a hut in a very remote location. The following day, we drive towards Mt. Cook village, check into our accommodation for the night and head out to climb one of Jono’s favourite routes on Sebastapol Bluffs, the only crag in New Zealand with true multi-pitch within 10 minutes of the carpark. To challenge ourselves, we choose to climb in our mountaineering boots. Still feels weird.

On our way to Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park

On our way to Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park

At the crack of dawn next morning, we’re up and preparing to fly via helicopter to Tasman Saddle Hut. The weather report had been correct and finally the sky was clear. The flight over the 27 km long Tasman Glacier is awe-inspiring. I’m immediately struck by the seriousness of the mountains flanking the Tasman. Although not particularly high, they look like Himalayan mountains with their steep and heavily crevassed flanks and precariously balanced ice seracs just waiting to peel off the mountainside at any time. I begin to understand why climbing Mt. Cook is so dangerous.

Ready to fly to Tasman Saddle Hut

Ready to fly to Tasman Saddle Hut

Stoked for the heli!

Stoked for the heli!

The mighty Tasman Glacier

The mighty Tasman Glacier

Our home for the week, the Tasman Saddle Hut at 2300m, is perched on a death ridge with huge seracs on one side and a sheer, vertical rock wall on the other. Walking carefully over the icy snow, we carry all our supplies and gear down to the hut from the landing zone. But first, Jono tells us about an experienced climber who died here last year after slipping and falling to his death carrying a box laden with food down to the hut. We put on our crampons and carry only one item at a time. Then we gear up to make use of the remaining good weather. We head towards Hochstetter Dome while getting interesting insight to correct rope travel and route finding through glaciated terrain. Streaks or so-called “angry bird” clouds (at least that’s what Jono calls them) warn us of oncoming bad weather and we decide to head back to the hut, the Hochstetter Dome left unclimbed behind us.

The Tasman Saddle Hut (2300m) is perched on a slippery ridge above big exposure

The Tasman Saddle Hut (2300m) is perched on a ridge above big exposure

The mountains around the Tasman resemble Himalayan mountains

Mt. Green, Tasman Glacier

It's good to revise proper glacier travel

It’s good to revise correct glacier travel

Weather is coming in fast

Weather is coming in fast, with the Minarets in the background

Forced to turn back, but still happy

We couldn’t summit Hochstetter Dome that day, but still happy

For the following 48 hours, 200 km/hr winds, freezing temperatures and 50 cm of new snow was the order. We tie in to a fixed rope to walk a few meters through the storm in order to use the outside toilet. I had to muster all my strength to be able to open the toilet door against the wind. Jono though doesn’t let us get bored. With the hut to ourselves, we spend a couple of hours cleaning the kitchen and disposing of left behind and out-of-date food supplies. Then we delve into practicing building rock anchors and crevasse rescue, as well as orientation, weather, and snow and avalanche awareness theory.

Tasman Saddle Hut is comfortable if you have it to yourself. Dress warmly!

Tasman Saddle Hut is comfortable if you have it to yourself. Dress warmly!

Tying into a fixed rope to get to the outhouse safely in a 200 km/hr storm

Tying into a fixed rope to get to the outhouse safely in a 200 km/hr storm

As soon as the weather breaks, it’s go time. Since it’s too dangerous to climb any peaks due to the extremely wind affected snow, we head down the glacier to some huge seracs and spend the day ice climbing and building ice anchors using ice screws and V-thread anchors. We climb until we are completely saturated from the dripping ice, arriving back at our refuge just before dark.

Ice climbing on the big seracs lower down on the glacier

Ice climbing on the big seracs lower down on the glacier

Jono and me

Guide Jono and me

The sunset just before getting back to the hut

Returning to the hut at sunset

After radioing through to base, we find out that more bad weather is on its way. After a quick meeting and with heavy hearts, our group decides to leave the Tasman in favour of doing some alpine rock in the Remarkables area, where the weather is forecast to be better. We still have one morning of decent weather to play with, so at 4 am we’re up and getting ready to reattempt Hochstetter Dome. Jono sets a furious pace and pushes us on as fast as possible towards the summit. We don’t have much time and we still need to get back to the hut, call the heli, pack all our gear and supplies together and carry it up to the landing zone before the weather comes in, and it was already coming in, fast.

Breathing hard, I hammer a snow stake into the hard snow, top clip with somewhat fumbling fingers and yell to T.J. that he’s on belay. T.J. charges up so fast I have to work hard to pull the rope fast enough through my belay device. Definitely using the Munter hitch on the next pitch. T.J. and I move fast and only speak when necessary, passing the other climbers ahead of us who had camped out in the snow. We finally reach the summit, pausing briefly to admire the view. We don’t linger long however, and soon we’re carefully retracing our steps along the very narrow snow ridge, belaying each other back down the icy ridge of Hochstetter Dome. After the ridge, we’re practically sprinting downhill through the knee-deep snow to get to the hut. Poor Denis is roped up with Jono and has to fight to keep up. We make it out of there just in time before the helis are forced to shut down due to a lack of visibility.

Making snow pitches using snow stakes for anchors

Making snow pitches using snow stakes for anchors

Descending back down from the summit of Hochstetter Dome

Descending back down from the summit of Hochstetter Dome

The evening is spent showering and cooking and eating lots of food. Heavenly! We admire the audacity and skill of the early Mt. Cook climbers at the visitor centre the following morning and then drive back to Queenstown. Although the weather has been tough, the mood in our group is excellent. Jono and T.J. are getting along famously, talking for hours about aviation and flying jets. There is much banter and joking, as well as sets of ten push-ups every time one of us said the word “mine”, which, in Jono’s case, was an awful lot.

Jono had to do a lot of push-ups in those weeks

Jono had to do a lot of push-ups in those weeks

Upon arrival in Queenstown, we check the weather again and are disheartened to find that it has worsened. Nevertheless, we decide to use the last days camping out in the Remarkables as planned. I’m keen to go over expedition camping skills, tenting, snow caving and bivvies too. Once again, we are forced to turn back on an attempt to climb Double Cone due to high winds, but it was still such a positive experience. We wrapped the course up with another day spent on Hospital Flat, where Jono teaches me the art of placing nuts and cams. It was a steep learning curve and that day I lead my first trad route, with much encouragement from the boys. Finally, we practiced some advanced self-rescue skills on rock including hauling and lowering, and felt very good about how far we had come indeed.

Gear discussions are lengthy and interesting

Gear discussions are lengthy and interesting

Our awesome snow camp at the Remarkables

Our awesome snow camp at the Remarkables

IMG_0494

The Remarkables

Jono up to his usual antics

Jono up to his usual antics

Eying Double Cone, the Remarkables

Eying Double Cone, the Remarkables

Weather can be difficult in New Zealand, but we were unluckier than most perhaps. But thanks to Jono and his huge efforts to pass on as many skills as he possibly could to us, the Alpine Expedition Course was still a big success. I learnt many new skills and gained a lot of confidence in alpine climbing techniques. Rarely have I laughed as much as during those twelve days, and I have made three new friends for life.

Lake Wanaka on the way to Hospital Flat

Lake Wanaka on the way to Hospital Flat

Climbing my first trad lead at Hospital Flat

Climbing my first trad lead at Hospital Flat

FWT 2015 Reflections

What happened previously

My last blog entry about the FWT revolved around learning about how I had been overly focussed on the overall title instead of enjoying each stop for what it was and just thinking about skiing my best. I came to this realisation after having broken my ankle at the start of the season, a good reminder for me that there are more important things in life than winning the FWT. After a sensational third place finish at the FWT Fieberbrunn and a mid-field finish at the FWT Andorra, I had managed to qualify for the much sought-after FWT stop in Alaska, as well as securing my place in the FWT 2016. This in itself is a success, considering my injury and the fact that I had to miss the first stop in Chamonix. I have to keep reminding myself of that however, since I’ve also been struggling with feelings of disappointment after having placed 7th overall in the FWT 2015 ranking. So this is what happened after Andorra.

Haines, Alaska!

copyright: FWT Alaska 2015 by David Carlier

Swatch Freeride World Tour Haines, Alaska, 2015, photographer David Carlier

For me it felt akin to returning home after seeing a lot of familiar faces from having filmed here in 2013 with the Shades of Winter crew. People here are so friendly and welcoming! Hosting a FWT event in the mountains of Alaska is an enormous undertaking. The remote location, accessible only by helicopter, the extremely fast changing und unpredictable weather, all the logistics and technical equipment required to provide a live stream, the list of challenges goes on. For us riders, it meant patience. We had a total of three false starts before we actually were able to compete on the face.

Competition tactics, or lack thereof?

My experience told me that if I played it safe by skiing a clean run, I would probably place very well on this face. I knew the terrain was challenging and that the snow would be unpredictable with all that fresh powder. For me, one thing was clear: I wanted to ski a very special run at this historical event in Alaska. So I decided to go for it! I planned on hitting a big double in the middle of my run, and got to watch some of the snowboard men hit it before being flown to the start. It was good to go! I started my run, excited to be finally skiing the face. I skied beautifully in the top section, then I approached the double, and that’s where everything went pear shaped. I angled the first part of the double a little more to the right, wanting to avoid previous bomb holes, and landed on unexpectedly hard snow from a small slab having broken out there. The snow here was fast, not fluffy powder. The next surprise: the second take-off  of the double was much further away than I had expected (the terrain in this face is just enormous, the greatest difficulty certainly was judging the sheer dimensions of it). Instinctively, I tried changing direction somewhat before the second take-off, since straight-lining this section would have sent me off the jump at mach speed. However, I became unbalanced in the air and couldn’t land the jump on my feet. I crashed, and it was over. In just a matter of seconds, all the build up, all that waiting, all that planing and energy going into one line, gone! I skied down the rest of my line, totally disorientated and demotivated. It was a pretty low feeling and I can tell you, I was bummed. But I was healthy and able to qualify for the finals, the Xtreme Verbier! That gave me consolation.

Here’s the video of my run:

20th year edition of the Xtreme Verbier

It was go big or go home for the women’s ski field at the Freeride World Tour finals in Verbier yesterday. Hazel Birnbaum skied an exceptional line with a huge amount of confidence and control, sending a massive double at the end of her run which hasn’t been done before by a female skier. So inspiring! Silvia Moser came in second with a really creative and new line with lots of features, and Christine Hargin came in third showing super solid and fluid riding in the classic line on the lookers right of the women’s venue. The other five ski women qualified for the Xtreme Verbier, including myself, opted to start from start number two on the lookers left of the venue, featuring an obligatory air of around 7 meters. Due to a bombed and skied out landing area on very firm snow, we all unfortunately lost our skis in the landing and none of us could finish our run. Luckily there were no injuries, especially after such huge crashes.I’m hugely inspired by these ladies and am very proud to be part of such a talented group of skiers!

I wasn’t too disappointed about my crash since I felt really good in the air and was committed to stomping my line, that’s the important thing to me. It’s part of the sport of freeriding that you can’t always know 100% what the snow will be like, and both male and female competitors struggled with the conditions on that part of the face.

Video of my run at the 20th year edition of the Xtreme Verbier 2015

Photo gallery Freeride World Tour 2015

New Kästle BMX Line

Kästle is launching a completely new BMX line for 2016 which I’m very excited about. With an entirely new shape featuring rocker in tip and tail, a longer shovel and a shorter turn radius, the BMX 105 and BMX 115 are super fun and versatile without losing that trusted stability at speed which people love and expect from a Kästle.

I was involved in helping design these skis, a first in my career, and a great challenge for me.

Kästle BMX 105

  • 105 mm underfoot
  • 173, 181, 189 cm
  • 181 length has 21 m radius
  • comes in a full fibreglass version OR with two sheets of metal
  • the Kästle BMX 105 HP (metal version) in 181 cm will be my go-to ski for everyday freeriding. It’s highly versatile, great in tricky conditions, has excellent float and holds an edge incredibly well on the groomers.

Kästle BMX 115

  • 115 mm underfoot
  • 177, 185, 193 cm
  • 185 length has 24 m radius
  • no metal
  • the Kästle BMX 115 in 185 cm will be my choice for those deeper powder days. Highly versatile for the width.

 

Freeride World Tour 2015 Update

What a season of ups and downs! The down was mainly comprised of a broken ankle after skiing into a hidden rock just after Christmas; the up was my rapid comeback and third place finish at the Freeride World Tour Fieberbrunn just 5 weeks after the accident.

But lets go back a step. Last season, I came closer than ever before to achieving my goal of becoming Freeride World Tour champion. After a crash at the finals in Verbier, I placed second overall behind Arlberg local Nadine Wallner, who showed nerves of steel with a solid run that placed her in second on the day, and first overall. I had tasted blood however and was super motivated to keep training and improving. During my off-snow training, my main motivator was the overall title. My thoughts returned to that title often. From July to December, I worked with my conditioning trainer, Phil Anker, and we made great progress in getting my body strength almost perfectly symmetrical (an issue I had been battling with ever since I ruptured my ACL and MCL in 2007).

Training with Phil Anker. Photo: Marius Schwager

Training with Phil Anker. Photo: Marius Schwager

Come December, I was at the top of my game, feeling physically and mentally stronger than ever and also excited about skiing on the new Kästle BMX skis I had helped to develop. Then, on 26 December, disaster struck. It was a low tide season with little snow fall, and that day it started snowing in earnest. All day we had been skiing low angle, grassy slopes and were having a ball. Suddenly, while skiing in the Seekopf area in Zürs, I hit a rock hidden under 30cm of snow and came to a complete stop. I broke my ankle on impact. I can tell you, it bloody hurt. When I heard my doctor give me his diagnosis of 5 to 6 weeks rest, my world started crumbling around me. I couldn’t stop the tears welling up in my eyes. That means I’m going to miss Chamonix, and maybe also Fieberbrunn! After all that hard training, I’m forced to stay off skis! I had built the main purpose of this season up on the FWT championship, and now that goal seemed far beyond my reach.

I worked day and night to help my body heal from my ankle injury. My family was also an invaluable support to me.

I worked day and night to help my body heal from my ankle injury. My family was also an invaluable support to me.

It took me all but a day to build myself up again. I quickly realised there were more important things in life than winning the FWT. I had to use crutches for 4 weeks. I mostly missed being outdoors and up in the mountains, where I get a lot of my energy from. I missed that even more than the skiing. All I wanted was to just get back on my skis in time to join my friends at the FWT stop in Fieberbrunn. The title lost a lot of the importance it used to hold for me.

Psychologically, that was a really interesting learning curve for me. I realised then that I had focussed too much on the overall title the previous season, instead of directing my focus from one event to the next, aiming to just ski my best at each competition.

Since I was so happy to be back competing on the FWT only 5 weeks after breaking my ankle, I was completely free in my mind during the competition. That, and a good dump of soft, fresh snow, helped me in skiing a solid line and finally placing third in the women’s field.


FWT15 – Run of Huber Lorraine – AUT (Lech… by FreerideWorldTourTV

Swatch Freeride World Tour Fieberbrunn Kitzbüheler Alpen 2015

Swatch Freeride World Tour Fieberbrunn Kitzbüheler Alpen 2015, Ski Women podium

Things weren’t as easy for me during the following stop in Arcalis, Andorra. The hard snow, flat landings and bad visibility at inspection freaked me out. Would my ankle be able to handle that hard, tracked out snow? And those flat landings? I was little inspired in choosing a line, but finally settled on one after getting some help from my mates, and decided it would be ok. I placed midfield in Andorra after skiing a solid line, but one that lacked any higher airs or highlights. I just scraped through to qualify for Alaska, and for the FWT 2016, in seventh place overall. Puh! What a relief. My heart went out to the many good riders who weren’t able to make the cut, which is a particularly hard one this year.


Run of Huber Lorraine (AUT) – Swatch Freeride… by FreerideWorldTourTV

I’m going to use the time now until Alaska to ski as much as possible, get my skiing legs back and get completely dialled in with my new skis. Find out more about the 2016 Kästle BMX lineup here.

Women’s Progression Days 2015

Es ist immer ein Highlight meiner Saison, die Women’s Progression Days – das Freeride und Yoga Camp in Lech am Arlberg für ambitionierte Geländefahrerinnen – zu leiten. Auf Grund einer Knöchelverletzung, die eine Auszeit auf Krücken von insgesamt vier Wochen mit sich zieht, konnte ich schweres Herzens leider nicht selber mit den 27 motivierten Teilnehmerinnen aus Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz Ski fahren. Zum Glück hatte ich ein Guides-Team von am Arlberg lebenden Skiführern, bestehend aus Angelika Kaufmann, Geli Häusl, Liz Kristoferitsch und Paul Pöcher, auf welche ich mich 100% verlassen konnte.

Trotz schwierigen Wetter- sowie Schneebedingungen kamen die Teilnehmerinnen am Nachmittag mit strahlenden Gesichtern jeden Tag retour. Die Highlights vom Camp waren für viele das intensive Üben an der persönlichen Fahrtechnik sowie an der Linienfindung im freien Gelände, das halbtägige Safety-Workshop inklusive Üben mit der Notfall-Ausrüstung, die Möglichkeit täglich einen anderen Kästle Freerideski zu testen, vom Profi-Fotografen Alex Kaiser fotografiert zu werden sowie natürlich viele neue Freundschaften mit anderen, skibegeisterten Frauen zu schließen.

Bedanken möchte ich mich auch bei meinen Camp-Partner Kästle, Blue Tomato, Lech Zürs Tourismus sowie Bergans of Norway für die tolle Unterstützung.

Die Women’s Progression Days 2015 sind das siebte Freeride Camp für Frauen welches ich leite, und die Resonanz ist groß. Die Women’s Progression Days 2016 finden voraussichtlich wieder im Jänner statt, es empfiehlt sich jedenfalls, sich möglichst bald nach Freischalten der Anmeldungen zu buchen. Ich wünsche euch jedenfalls alle eine hervorragende und erlebnisreiche Wintersaison!

 

Women of Freeride Movie Night

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Skiers and snowboarders around Verbier, listen up!

The ‘Gâra abada movie nights’ are putting on a WOMEN OF FREERIDE film night this Saturday, 17 January, at 8:30pm in the Cinéma de Verbier. A special film night dedicated to female ski and snowboard athletes, celebrating authentic grace, real beauty, genuine comradeship and a shared love for skiing and snowboarding. The feature film of the evening embodies this perfectly: Unicorn Picnic’s ‘Pretty Faces’ by Lynsey Dyer, an all female ski film nominated for film of the year by Powder Magazine.

The WOMEN OF FREERIDE film program was put together by Lorraine Huber, professional freerider and runner-up Freeride World Tour champion. “This film night provides a cross section not only of the high level of female freeriding today, but also features films with a unique approach to filmmaking: films that highlight feminine strengths instead of trying to simply emulate male ski and snowboard movies”.

Special guests include Geraldine Fastnacht and Estelle Balet, who will be on stage to talk the the audience personally. Natalie Segal, a competitive freeride skier based in Verbier, will be moderating the evening instead of Lorraine Huber, who unfortunately can’t be present due to injury.