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 🙂

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New downhill trail in Lech am Arlberg

Since I didn’t take off for Australia and New Zealand this year, I could finally start mountain biking this summer. I’m no talent on a bike by all means, but my skiing and snowboarding friends who kept telling me mountain biking is just like freeriding in winter had me intrigued. In June I pulled the trigger on the SCOTT Genius 30, a full suspension, carbon frame trail bike. To learn the right technique from the start I visited the BIKE Magazine Women’s Camp in Sölden with Karen Eller and the SCOTT Contessa team riders. I discovered that riding single trails toughens me up mentally – perfect training for the winter.

In August the Bergbahnen Oberlech built a downhill trail along the winter tobogganing track, directly behind my house. My initial excitement receded though after the first attempt, since I had to walk most of the way down. “It’s too hard” I thought, making up excuses of why I sucked. I was riding the cable car with tough and experienced looking boys and men, decked out in their gear, worn from regular use. It was intimidating, but I didn’t give up. Today I managed to ride the whole trail and only had to get off my bike once. I’m stoked!

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The steepest section of the new downhill trail in Oberlech

New trainer Phil Anker from Physiofit

It’s been four and a half months since my last blog update and also since I resumed training, which has been progressing in leaps and bounds! The big news is that I’m finally working together with a personal trainer, Phil Anker from Physiofit in Innsbruck. Phil has a lot of expert knowledge and experience in training top athletes, and the gym in Physiofit is state-of-the-art and offers exactly what I need to train as effectively as possible. Given that Phil is a competitive freerider, he fully understands the physical demands in freeride skiing, making the program very specific to my sport. Our main focus is on strength training and coordination, but I’m also doing a lot of cardio (mountain biking, jogging, inline skating).

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My new trainer Phil Anker from Physiofit in Innsbruck.

Coordination training on the slackline

BIKE Magazine Women’s Camp

I just came back from 3 full-on days of riding single trails in Sölden at the BIKE Magazine Women’s Camp run by Die Rasenmäher. 25 women of varying abilities all wanted to learn from three times winner of the Transalp Challenge and biking icon, Karen Eller, and her team of coaches from the SCOTT Contessa Team. We rode some amazing and very challenging trails around Sölden, a favourite biking destination among the coaches. I was actually amazed I managed to ride the trails the coaches chose for us – I just started biking this summer – but the women in my group really motivated and inspired me. The two founders of Flowsister, a biking network for women, were also at the camp. If you’re looking for a fun group of women and friends to ride with make sure you check it out!

The top women's group with Karen Eller, Pic: Mia Knoll