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
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
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
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!
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.
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.
So almost 5 weeks ago I had my tonsils removed which were totally infiltrated with bacteria which was making me sick. I recovered really well from the operation and didn’t suffer any post bleeding. I’m actually blogging from Smithers, BC Canada, where I arrived yesterday. Together with Kästle team mate Hugo Harrisson I’m going to be coaching the Kästle Heliskiing Camp at Skeena Heliskiing, Canada. We’ve got a great group of skiers together who will be coached on choosing and skiing big mountains lines. It’s going to be awesome! Snow conditions are good right now. Here’s a recent photo from the area we will be skiing in:
The terrain at Skeena Heliskiing, one of the largest heliski areas in the world
So I’ve decided: after fighting with infection all season, I’m getting my tonsils removed. Luck was on my side and I got an operation date straight away on Thursday 24/02. Since I can’t ski and train normally right now I want to operate ASAP. Removing my tonsils will unburden my immune system resulting in less illness and more energy. Since I have chronic tonsil infections, there’s also a risk of the bacteria spreading to other organs such as kidneys and heart, especially as an athlete. I can’t train or do any sport 3 to 4 weeks after the operation, otherwise I could have problems with bleeding. All going well though I’ll be able to enjoy the end of the season on skis.
I’m not even thinking about the Freeride World Tour anymore and the fact that I missed out this year. All that matters to me now is getting my health back. Once I have that I can start skiing, training and competing again – and you can be sure that I’ll be more motivated than ever before. So watch out for me next season!
Our girls ski movie “AS WE ARE” presented by Gore-Tex® was shown in the Postgarage this Thursday in Lech am Arlberg. It was pretty funny because after having toured around with Warren Miller for 2 years to places like Boston, Berlin and Hamburg where there were sometimes over 2,000 people per show, I was so nervous! Would there be enough people there? Would they like it? Did our camera man/director/cutter Mathias Bergmann have to use that drop of me where I didn’t know where I was going…and so on. In the end there was no reason for worry, the audience loved the movie and how motivating it is to start freeriding and doing some fun airs and pillows. People enjoyed finding out more about each of the athletes and how they came to be the skiers they are today. The venue itself was awesome, the perfect place for a film night. Big thanks to my sister Tamara for these pics!
The venue in the Postgarage Lech
Our moderator Stefan Jochum was great as always, and he loved the movie 🙂
Thanks guys for coming!
This has been a tough season so far. I’m still sick with a nasty virus, which is affecting my airways and keeping me from skiing and training. My physiotherapist Bernd Neier helped me heaps by telling me to not regard this as lost time, but as an opportunity to work on other imporant things I now have time for, such as mental and proprioceptive training. And there are lots of other things going on. Warren Miller’s 61st ski film “Wintervention” was shown in St. Anton, and I was there to have a chat to the audience to give them some behind-the-scenes insight into filming our segment at the Arlberg. It was really fun!
Warren Miller's "Wintervention" in St. Anton am Arlberg
Then it was off to the Big Mountain Hochfügen to support the girls on one of the major Freeride World Tour events this season. The conditions were better than the riders expected and the girls rode strong, showing good turns and technique. Janette Hargin impressed the judges the most with a fast, confident line, taking plenty of speed over multiple features, especially a big cliff at the end of her run.
Jackie Paaso and Maria Kuzma, 2 competitors in the BM Hochfügen
At the start of this week I too joined the rest of the winter sports world at the ISPO in Munich. Freeride sport in general was a major focal point, and rocker skis are the shit right now. Here’s Kästle skis new BMX (big mountain) line, complete with rocker in the tip and every width underfoot you could wish for.
Kästle BMX line for 2011-2012
Finding myself on the wall at the KJUS stand