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 analysiswithHugo 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 🙂
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.
This weekend I skied with 11 participants of the KJUS KLUB Freeride Camp in St. Anton am Arlberg from 27 to 29 January. The group of men and women were awesome, the vibe great and the skiing level high. On day 1 we took advantage of the perfect weather and booked a helicopter to the Mehlsack, one of only 2 allowed heliskiing drops in all of Austria – both of them in Lech am Arlberg. Most of the KJUS KLUB skiers were first-time heliskiers so there was plenty of excitement and nerves in the air.
Heliskiing Mehlsack, Lech am Arlberg
Snow quality was great although we had to keep a sharp eye out for rocks – we still have below average amounts of snow at the moment. Other classics around here followed: Spielmäder, Liezen and a run out towards Juppenspitze. We were stoked!
Lisi getting fresh tracks skiing the Mehlsack, Lech am Arlberg
On Day 2 Andy Thurner guided us on a beautiful tour to the Rendelscharte – Malfontal. This is good choice for long, gentle slopes where you can still find powder many days after a snow fall. The afternoon was spent photoshooting with photographer extraordinaire Sepp Mallaun – an amazing chance for the KJUS KLUB participants to have professional skiing pictures taken of them. Everyone was stoked! And I realised how much I love coaching again and seeing people stoked on skiing. Thank you all for joining us – we’re definitely organising another freeride camp at the Arlberg next winter!
My mate Tom and I, stoked after our run in the Malfontal
KJUS team mate Lucas Swieykowski and I are involved in creating a new freeride line with our ski wear sponsor KJUS. Our job is to help the design team understand a freerider’s needs in order for them to make perfect, uncompromising ski wear for the demanding and experienced skier. We’re gathering ideas, sending the team ongoing feedback and photos, and generally spending a lot of time thinking about the perfect freeride jacket, pants and overalls. The new KJUS FRX line will be available in retail next winter. We’re currently working on the 2012/2013 line, I can’t wait for our creations to hit the shelves.
Getting creative at the KJUS international headquarters in Cham, Switzerland
Yesterday I had my first day freeriding again in St. Anton am Arlberg. Stefan Häusl and I found some nice skiing despite the fact that it had poured rain in the valley the previous day. Conditions were dangerous in higher elevations as well as lower elevations of all aspects due to the weight of the drenched snowpack. On the Schindlergrat we saw a huge fracture line of at least 2 metres on a ridge triggered by avi control. We skied the Schindler couloir, the safe option.
Stefan on the Schindlergrat, St. Anton am Arlberg
I was in the best mood yesterday after a good day of freeriding, it’s scary how much I need to be out there to feel happy. Skiing on the groomers or doing some gentle off-piste runs is great but not the same. I definitely felt my lack of fitness and today I’ve got sore muscles, all good though!
Today was the third day of training for me after a substantial break of 14 weeks! Yikes! I’m starting with 45 minutes of moderate spinning daily, core work and balancing on unstable surfaces (such as an air cushion) to activate my VMO on my right knee: the all-important muscle on the inside of your knee that stabilises the knee cap. Since I haven’t been able to train my knee’s condition isn’t where I would like it to be.
This is where I train, in the sport.park.lech
It sure feels good to be doing something again and working towards a goal: that is the Freeride World Tour stop for the women in Hochfügen, Tirol, from 4 to 8 February. It gives me 4 weeks to prepare. Health wise I’m feeling better, which is encouraging. It’s slow going though. Since I’m missing 2 major events of the women’s FWT I’m going to have to ski all the more solid once I’m back competing – I need 3 good results to make the finals of the FWT in Verbier. The top 5 women make it. But maybe I shouldn’t think like that because it might put me under too much pressure. Anyway, going skiing tomorrow on my brand new Kästle LX92 (1cm wider than this year’s Kästle LX82) which arrived in the mail on Friday – woohoo can’t wait to ski again and tear up some groomers!
Today I skied for the first time again since 19 December. According to a specialist I saw recently I’m allowed to do moderate exercise, around 60 to 70% of my normal level. The funny thing is, I had to really motivate myself to get out there, despite the nice weather. Is it from simply feeling low on energy? I think it’s also to do with skiing alone – I really don’t like skiing without my mates, who are all skiing off-piste over in St. Anton. So in the end I went out for the afternoon with my Dad and stepmum, a very rare occasion, skiing the firm pistes in Lech. It was really fun and I even did a little carving workshop with Dad – even a ski instructor of 40 years is motivated to learn some new tricks! We ended the day with a super delicious Kaiserschmarren in the Burg Hotel – probably the best in Lech Zürs in my opinion. If you can find a better one let me know!
My doctor said I contracted Mononucleosis infectiosa a long time ago, I just never knew it. Since then my immune system hasn’t been functioning as it should, and I’ve actually picked up all sorts of nasty germs, including Hepatitis A – probably in Bali. I’m actually feeling quite positive these last few days, because I’m so glad to finally know what my problem is and apparently it’s quite treatable, it just takes time. I can’t wait to get back to skiing and competing while feeling totally on top of my game, something I haven’t for the past 3 years!