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

Resuming training

So after 7 months of chronic illness which ended in getting my tonsils removed, I finally have sufficient energy levels to resume my training. Let me tell you, it’s bloody hard work! I started the training regime with a medical assessment of physical performance at the Sportservice Vorarlberg, and the result was not too bad…for a recreational sports person. Basically, my fitness is at rock bottom, and I have to work as hard as I can to get fit enough in time for the coming winter. I’ve been taken up as an athlete on the team at the Sportservice Vorarlberg, which provides me with all the training facilities and support that I need. Athletes from different winter sports train together with a coach on Tuesdays, consisting largely of sprinting drills, speed and agility as well as coordination exercises. So far for me it’s simply been a battle to survive and get through the 3 training sessions of the day. I’m not giving up though and it’s motivating me to be able to train with other professional athletes, so I’m going to stick with it and hopefully it will get better each week. I’ve got lots of work ahead of me!

Medical assessment of physical fitness

 

 

Kästle Adventure Tours Lyngen Alps

This April I spent one week ski touring in the Lyngen Alps, Norway, coaching a group from the Kästle Adventure Tours. The Lyngen Alps offer ski tours typically between 1300 and 1400 vertical metres surrounding the beautiful Lyngen Fjord. The tours can be reached either by road or by boat, the latter providing access to some islands to the north of the Fjord, beyond which lies the vast expanse of the Arctic Ocean. This was my second trip to Lyngen, having spent a week there in 2009 filming a segment for Warren Miller’s 60th ski film “Dynasty”. You can check out the segment here. There is something very special about being 500km north of the Arctic Circle, surrounded by water. The ski touring there feels a lot easier than at home in the Alps because the tours start at sea level. We were based at the Lyngen Lodge which provides an ideal base from which to reach the surrounding tours and welcomes you to relax in the hot tub overlooking the fjord after a strenuous day of ski touring.

 

Kästle Heliskiing Camp 2011

I just got back from the Kästle Heliskiing Camp at Skeena Heliskiing, a program I put together for the Kästle Adventure Tours. Our group was the last week of the season and we got super lucky with some amazing snow conditions. Before the group arrived at the gorgeous lodge at Skeena Heliskiing, located in northern BC, Canada, it snowed 40cm. During the week we kept receiving top-ups of 15 to 20 centimetres of fresh, fluffy powder. Some of the tree skiing we did was like in the middle of February. We also were able to ski the alpine twice featuring huge glaciers of endless space and powder, enormous runs of over 1,000 vertical metres a pop. Camp participants really benefited from daily coaching and video analysis with Hugo Harrisson and myself, showing noticeable improvements in ski technique and confidence at the end of the week. Our guides Giacum Frei and Urs Rentsch were simply awesome, guiding us expertly down steep tree runs, couloirs and some sweet lines in the alpine.

The MX128 in 190cm was everyone’s darling during this week, a surprisingly playful and fun ski which excels in carving fast turns in open terrain but manages really well in the trees too. It skies shorter than you expect and is the obvious choice for a deep powder day. The new pink BMX118 in 168cm was also the star of the week, riding amazingly well in the trees and in tighter terrain, allowing for super quick and playful skiing.

The Kästle Heliskiing Camp will be held again in 2012 and 2013. Sign up for the Kästle Snowletter for important updates about the Kästle Adventure Tours. See the best photos of the week on my facebook account here.

Kaestle Heliskiing Camp at Skeena