Freeride World Tour Fieberbrunn

This past weekend, the Freeride World Tour riders experienced the amazing organisation and hospitality of Fieberbrunn, host to the 4th FWT stop. Unofficially, Fieberbrunn is considered the best stop of the tour, featuring a contest village set-up where up to 2,000 spectators watched the competition on Saturday. As in past years, we competed on the Wildseeloder mountain, with the females starting this year on the lookers left side of the venue. The snow conditions on our venue where excellent with around 20cm of fresh powder, the weather blue bird. The women put on an amazing show, skiing fluidly and without hesitation over the features and drops. We were filmed with a cineflex camera from the helicopter, you can check out the best runs here.

The women's venue on Fieberbrunn's Wildseeloder

I felt really good about this competition; I knew the conditions were great and we could see almost the whole run from the start, making orientation in the face easy. Also the venue was relatively easy without any exposure or unknowns, so us girls could really rip it up! I started as second last female and was able to watch most of the runs from above, but this didn’t change anything about my line choice since I really like to focus on the line I planned and not my competition. I like that about freeriding: it’s about you and the mountain, not about beating your opponent with killer instincts as is required in sports like tennis or boxing, so it suits my personality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very competitive, but more in a way of always wanting to do my best, not necessarily of wanting to beat everyone else. So back to the comp: I chose a fluid line in the fall line with 3 solid airs with the goal to ski it fast, stepping it up from my performance in Röldal. And for the first time, I managed to do just that: aggressive and confident skiing in a competition situation. I was really enjoying my run, slashing the wind lip in the top section of my run twice and getting some great powder turns in, taking all my drops without hesitation and stomping everything cleanly.

Getting some pow (Freeride World Tour Fieberbrunn, Photo Jeremy Bernard)

After my last drop I took a lot of speed into the last slope before the finish, and then disaster struck! The snow changed from powder to crud and the slope became significantly steeper, I was just carrying too much speed and got bucked into the air, bounced off the snow once in a spectacular looking crash, because onlookers thought I was about to collide into a tree. I can’t tell you how disappointing and frustrating that stupid crash was, especially after such a strong run and since I really needed a good result in Fieberbrunn to a) qualify for the finals in Verbier and b) qualify for the Freeride World Tour 2013. I’m not letting myself get down about it though. I still feel like I’ve made progress and I’m trying to remember the bigger picture and that all these experiences are a necessary process in order to reach the top. The judges told me if I had not crashed, I would have places third or fourth, and that is encouraging. Eva Walkner had a great run and placed 1st, Christine Hargin from Sweden placed second and Janina Kuzma from New Zealand third. Congrats girls! The excellent news is that I’ve been selected to receive a wild card for the finals in Verbier!! My goal this season was to make it to Verbier, so I’m over the moon about it. I will have nothing to loose in Verbier and will give it my all. Stay tuned!

 

 

2nd Place Freeride World Tour Röldal

Ok I admit I was apprehensive about competing in Röldal. Previously, I had crashed both at the Revelstoke and Chamonix stops of the Swatch Freeride World Tour and the pressure was on to do well in Röldal or say goodbye to qualifying for the finals in Verbier – the highlight of the tour. But once I had arrived in Röldal at the very comfortable Röldal Terrasse Hotel, albeit to pouring rain, I was able to just relax and enjoy the ride. I managed to forget about overall rankings and just focus on the competition at hand. Due to the extremely icy conditions, it was decided that the original competition face we had inspected was too unsafe to go ahead. Also the second option had to be discarded after discovering boiler plate ice and unsafe conditions. It was the third option in the end which became the competition face, so for the riders it was extremely important to be flexible and quick off the mark to pick and memorize a line.

The competition venue in Röldal

I chose a simple line I knew I would be able to find without any problems. The competitors were flown to the start in the heli to save time, a very good decision since the last competitor must have descended around 4:00pm. I felt pretty good at the start, finally not so nervous anymore, and found my line without any problems. The upper third of the venue was extremely icy, which we were aware of. The rest of the venue however offered great snow conditions with around 10cm of fresh powder. I skied a fluid line close to the fall line with 4 cleanly stomped drops, I was really happy with my skiing at the end of my run. I came in second after Christine Hargin, skiing almost the same line as me, however with more speed, especially over her features. That’s something I’m working on right now and hope to improve for the next stop in Fieberbrunn on 10 March.

My last air during my run at the Swatch Freeride World Tour Röldal

 

Feeling very happy in the finish line after my successful run

2nd Place Big Mountain Hochfügen

I finally have some good news to blog about regarding comps: I came second at the 4-star Freeride World Qualifier Big Mountain Hochfügen last weekend! I came to Hochfügen mainly for training purposes of being able to compete in a low-pressure environment (compared to the Freeride World Tour events) and get over my nervousness at the start. The contest itself is very professionally run and amazing to be part of. The contest face “Ostwand” is awesome with lots of different options and the snow conditions were great with plenty of fresh powder and good snow coverage. The judges told me that the high level of the female skiers surprised them and that it wasn’t much lower than at the FWT events. Yay girls! On another positive note, the female prize money was only EUR 100 to 200 less than the men’s, usually it’s only half the amount.

BM Hochfuegen Women's Podium

The ski women from Big Mountain Hochfügen: 3rd Matilda Rapaport, 1st Pia Nic Gundersen and 2nd Lorraine Huber (f.l.t.r)

I chose a line which I knew I could ski easily, that was also a reason I wasn’t really nervous at the start. And further more I was really looking forward to skiing that line! I drew an early start number (30) and it is really so much better to be able to start earlier in the day as opposed to having to wait for the entire men’s field to race before the women can start – that’s just so nerve racking for me still! This good result gives me confidence for the next FWT event in Röldal, Norway on 25 February. Stay tuned!

Swatch Freeride World Tour Chamonix

I just got home from the 3rd stop of the Swatch Freeride World Tour in Chamonix. I wish I could write something more exciting than what really happened at the comp: after hours of travelling, 2 weather days, inspection in challenging weather conditions, numerous riders meetings and interviews, getting up at 5:00am on the day of competition and pouring so much energy into one run, I had a stupid crash at the very start of my line by burying my ski tips into the snow. Sure it was quite flat light and there was a bit of a wind crust, but when I ski normally I rarely have crashes like that. It was super disappointing! My conclusion is that I’m simply too nervous. My plan of action to deal with my lack of contest experience is to ski as many comps as I can, there are a couple coming up in Austria during February before the 3rd FWT stop in Roldal, Norway: the Eric Themel Invitiational in Schruns and the 4-star Freeride World Qualifier in Hochfügen.

Regarding the competition itself, all in all it was a big success and a great experience to spend time on and off snow with some of the world’s best freeriders. Kästle team mate Jackie Paaso won the women’s event with a gutsy and strongly skied line, stomping all her cliffs smoothly and with confidence, so proud of her! Angel Collinson who is an amazing skier came in 2nd with a technical line and my room mate and line-discussion buddy Janina Kuzma from New Zealand came in 3rd with a fluid run and some stylish airs to the lookers right of the venue. The women put on a great show and the level of skiing was amazing!

The competition venue in Chamonix

Swatch Freeride World Tour Revelstoke

Today was Day 1 of the Swatch Freeride World Tour in Revelstoke, BC Canada. I came into the comp feeling fit, strong and well prepared. We arrived 2 days early to settle in before competing, get over jet lag and to make sure all our gear is here on time; our planning was great. We got to inspect the venue on skis, giving riders a chance to check out take-offs and landing zones. I chose a line to the skiers right side of the face and felt confident that I could ski it well.

I was pretty nervous this morning before my start. After inspecting the course I had time for some warm-up runs: my legs felt soft as jelly and my muscles were cramping up from tension. On my third warm-up run I started relaxing and having fun. I felt pretty good at the start, chatting with my fellow competitors to distract myself and keeping my body warm. Then it was time to ski!

My first small air led me straight to my second feature: a decent sized cliff with some trees along its edge to guide me. I pointed my skis a couple of metres before my take-off and I flew further than expected, opening up a little before my landing. I backslapped which would have cost me points for lack of control, but I didn’t lose momentum and skied to my third feature: a challenging double.

My double (and nemesis) with an arrow showing the take-off

All I had to do was point my skis and commit to the fall line, keeping my weight over the centre of my skis. I knew I could do it and I knew I would clear the bottom 4 to 5 metre drop for sure since the terrain was really steep. I was too fast on my take-off though, due to nerves I think. I took the double but crashed on landing the bottom air, hitting a large amount of soft snow in a compression I had misjudged at inspection. If I had angled my skis a little more to the skiers right I could have avoided the compression – it would have worked out. Anyway, of course I was disappointed about crashing, that always sucks because you only get one chance. On the other hand I skied fairly well and had a lot of fun doing my line. I’m on the right track and hopefully next time it will work out. Now I just have to figure out how to get my nerves under control!

Revelstoke trees

The steep section through the trees at the bottom of the run at North Bowl

Amazing powder at the Arlberg

Today was one of those very special powder days. It snowed 50 cm on top of a decent base in the Arlberg region during the past 24 hours, the deepest powder we’ve had since around 3 years. Although we were a large group of 9 riders – some friends came up from Innsbruck – we skied a lot of excellent runs in the lower elevations (below tree line) in St. Anton where the stability was good. I took my longer and wider Kästle BMX108 in 188cm out today, a good choice for today’s conditions where you could just point your skis and haul arse.

Waiting for the St. Christoph chair to open this morning during avi control work

 

Martin stoked after landing a sweet backflip in the pow pow. This pic was taken before the big dump on Saturday.

 

This week, I’ve really enjoyed skiing the shorter and 4mm narrower FX104 in 184cm, a wood/metal laminate ski, light, regular camber, long side cut (the radius feels longer than 26m). I definitely found it easier to turn in tighter terrain and the ski felt really lively and gave me great control. A really noticeable difference to the BMX108 is how much easier it carves on the groomers.

Kästle FX104

The Kästle FX104 in 184cm

 

On the last run today I dropped a cliff and landed in a big bomb hole, smashing my knee into my jaw. I had to get 4 stitches under my chin which sucked, but knee/teeth/tounge are all good so I got lucky! Skiing again tomorrow!

Winter is on!

Last week it snowed up to 1 meter from the northwest – the ideal weather direction for the Arlberg region – winter is on! I’ve had some great days skiing with the girls at Stubai Glacier and first off-piste runs in St. Anton with Stefan, Björn and Geli. My legs feel really strong and snappy, without the quad burn I typically have at the start of the season. For my first day skiing off-piste again I used my Kästle BMX108 in 188cm, a ski I know well and use for competition. This week I’ll be testing the new Kästle FX104 in 184cm, I’m curious to see how the shorter length will suit me. I’ll report back to you here.

The snow in St. Anton on Saturday was surprisingly good and what we like to call “creme cheese”: a rather compact yet soft snow layer which carries a skiers weight easily, so no breaking through to rocks. Right now I’m mainly focussing on good technique and keeping my weight over my skis. I’m trying to keep the pace high and ski all the way to the bottom of the run without stopping, something I have to do anyhow if I want to keep up with my skiing buddies Stefan and Björn. We were lapping “Bachseite” in St. Anton, perfect terrain to get your freeride legs back. More soon!

Invite to Freeride World Tour 2012 !

I feel so excited right now because I’ve received an official invitation to the Freeride World Tour 2012!! It’s what I’ve been working towards since 2010 when I ranked 7th overall, a result I wanted to improve, but didn’t get the chance to since I was battling chronic illness last season. The good thing is that I could carry over my points from 2010 to this season. Now I can really utilise all the hard work I poured into the last 7 months of training, here’s my chance!

CALENDAR of the 2012 Freeride World Tour (FWT):

1. Freeride World Tour, Chamonix Mont-Blanc 2012 by Swatch

Dates: 21-27 January  Location: Chamonix (FRA)
Disciplines: Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snowboard

2. Freeride World Tour, Røldal 2012 by Swatch

Dates: 25 February – 02 March  Location: Røldal (NOR)
Disciplines: Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snowboard

3. Freeride World Tour, Fieberbrunn 2012 by Swatch

Dates: 09-16 March  Location: Fieberbrunn (AUT)
Disciplines: Men’s Ski and Snowboard

4. Freeride World Tour, Verbier 2012 by Swatch

Dates: 24 March – 01 April  Location: Verbier (SUI)
Disciplines: Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snowboard

Freeride World Tour stops in Rosa Khutor-Sochi (RUS) and North-America are to be confirmed by latest December 10th.

Eccentric Training for Skiing

This is what happens if you don’t prepare your legs properly for skiing by training with ample amounts of eccentric motion (Harry Putz filmed this line of me for “HIKE – A Freeride Project in the Austrian Alps”):

So this doesn’t happen to me anymore, I’ve started eccentric strength training this week. Eccentric movements (resisting gravity on the way down or the lowering portion of a movement) are key in skiing, especially for sticking jumps. This is because with skiing, you start at the top of a mountain, so you can only go down, and by going down, you’re performing all eccentric motion by lowering yourself the entire way down the mountain, resisting gravity the whole time by controlling your body movements during turns and bumps. Some excellent eccentric leg exercises are walking lunges or even better, jump-style lunges.

Eccentric motion is known to produce more muscle soreness and requires more muscular repair than concentric motion (the pushing or lifting part of a movement). I’ll have 2 whole days to nurse my muscle soreness from training with Phil yesterday, since I’m flying to Melbourne in a couple of hours for a close friend’s wedding. Hope to get some surfing in while I’m at home in Torquay!

Film clip about my training

Our new film clip about my training for the upcoming competition season is online! It was filmed and edited by Hanno Mackowitz, with whom I worked with for the first time during the Warren Miller shoot at the Arlberg in 2009. He did an awesome job. We filmed in my home mountains in Lech/Zürs am Arlberg. Let me know what you think and give me your feedback; if you like it they’ll be more to come 🙂

Blogeintrag auf Deutsch