KJUS KLUB Freeride Camp St. Anton

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

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

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

My mate Tom and I, stoked after our run in the Malfontal

New KJUS Freeride Line

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!

Training begins, so does the countdown

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!

Feeling positive despite illness

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!

Pause in Training due to Glandular Fever

I fell ill with a bad cold on the 22 September, from which I still haven’t recovered. After visiting different doctors and completing blood tests, I’ve finally been diagnosed with Mononucleosis Infectiosa, also called Glandular Fever, “Pfeifferischer Drüsenfieber” or kissing disease, caused by the EBV-Virus. The disease typically begins with cold-like symptoms, sore throat, sore joints, swollen lymph nodes, then one just remains tired and weak for a month or two.

I’ve been told it’s actually a harmless viral disease, except for the risk of splenic rupture. Roger Federer was diagnosed with the disease in 2008 and consequently had to pause his tennis training for a month. I’m going to pause my training and skiing until my respiratory infection has cleared up. I can only hope it won’t be too long.

My goal is still to compete at the first main women’s event of the Freeride World Tour in La Clusaz on the 15th January. Whether this is a realistic goal I’m not able to say right now. I’m feeling pretty bummed at the moment since I won’t be able to prepare for competition season like I had planned. I’ll keep you updated right here, don’t forget to subscribe to my entries (see link in the footer).

AS WE ARE Film Tour

Last year we filmed our very own girls ski movie, “AS WE ARE”, which is currently touring around Europe. „AS WE ARE“ is a celebration of women’s skiing in a male-dominated world of sports where female athletes are notably absent in most ski movies. The 48 minute full-HD film is more than just great ski action in the backcountry. It tells the story of six freeride girls who started their journey as strangers and end up becoming fast friends, a journey which takes them to the best snow and backcountry terrain in the Alps.

AS WE ARE Film Tour Poster

AS WE ARE European Film Tour presented by Gore-Tex®

– Innsbruck/AUT            27.10.10, 20.00 Metropol Kino Innsbruck

– London/GB                        28.10.10, Freeski Film Festival, Clapham Grand, London

– Hartkirchen/AUT            30.10.10, 20.00 Musikschule Hartkirchen

– Salzburg/AUT            05.11.10, 20.00 SN Saal Salzburg

– Vienna/AUT                        18.11.10, Vienna Freeski Film Festival, WUK

– Amsterdam/NED            19.11.10, Dutch Freeski Film Festival, Amsterdam

– Ebensee/AUT            26.11.10, 19.30, Arbeiterheim Ebensee

– Kitzbühel/AUT            08.12.10, Special Event mit Casino Spielkapital

– Lienz/AUT                        10.12.10, Lienz

– Rosenheim/GER            14.12.10 20.00 Ballhaus Rosenheim

The Movie – Fact Sheet

Athletes: Laura Bohleber (SUI), Lorraine Huber (AUT), Sandra Lahnsteiner (AUT), Giulia Monego (ITA), Melissa Presslaber (AUT), Pia Widmesser (GER)

Producer: Sandra Lahnsteiner

Camera: Mathias Bergmann from sweetshots, Kenny Cowburn

Director and Editor: Mathias Bergmann

Film locations: Gastein (Aut), Lech am Arlberg(Aut), St. Jakob i.D. (Aut), Hochfügen (Aut), Verbier (Sui)

Length: 48min

Format: Full HD pro

Click here for all information, our trailer, and upcoming tour dates.

Girls Ski Movie “AS WE ARE” Trailer

You might have noticed that women are rarely featured in ski movies. So a year ago, five of my friends and I decided to make our own all-girls ski movie, and we’re proud to present you the trailer of “As We Are”. We traveled, skied, planned and lived together last season, visiting each of our home ski areas. The result is beautiful action footage in some of Europe’s best ski areas, and an inspiring tale of a group of girls having fun in the mountains. Get out there girls and go for it!

Athletes:
Laura Bohleber (CH), Pia Widmesser (GER), Lorraine Huber (AUT), Giulia Monego (ITA), Melissa Presslaber (AUT), Sandra Lahnsteiner (aut)

Producer: Sandra Lahnsteiner
Director: Mathias Bergmann
Camera: Mathias Bergmann, Kenny Cowburn
Editor: Mathias Bergmann sweetshots.at

Big changes to the Freeride World Tour 2011 – for better or worse?

The organisers of the Freeride World Tour, into its 4th year, have recently announced some big changes for 2011. This blog is about how these changes might affect female ski and snowboard competitors. Previously, male and female competitors participated on the tour stops together, skiing or riding the same venues, with the exception of the finals in Verbier. For 2011, female competitions will be integrated within Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) events, with the final in Verbier as in previous years. The FWQ events, totalling 14 ski and snowboard events held mostly in Europe, were created to give the next generation of freeriders the opportunity to qualify for the FWT and compete with the world’s elite. So for next year, the women will be fighting it out for points in the FWQ events to decide the undisputed Freeride World Tour Champion. Should this really be seen as a step backwards for the women as the first online reactions of the female riders have shown?

Jackie Paaso clearing her winning air at the FWT10 stop in Squaw, USA

On the positive side, the level of women’s competition will increase due to the larger numbers of female competitors allowed to start at any one event. In the final at Verbier 2010, 23 male skiers competed compared to 7 female skiers. A larger female starting field will progress the sport. Furthermore, there will still be an undisputed female Freeride World Tour Champion at the end of the season, which apparently, is the whole point.

On the negative side, the women may yet again be marginalised at FWQ events as male competitors are given priority on a competition and media level.  There will likely also be financial implications for the women. Whereas competitors are payed to start at the FWT events, the FWQ events have no such financial support. If competitors can’t afford to do as many FWQ events as others, it puts them at a disadvantage (NB: the top 3 results of an unlimited amount of FWQ11 events will determine which riders are qualified for the finals in Verbier).

The role of the women in the Freeride World Tour previously has been insignificant. Media interest has primarily focussed on the men’s competitions. The highly expensive cineflexx camera for example, operated from a helicopter, was reserved for filming the men only at the FWT stop in Chamonix. Furthermore, the Eurosport 26 minute highlights of each FWT stop covered men’s competition only, never even mentioning that women were also competing. One must conclude therefore that the women, on a business level, don’t add any additional value to the FWT events so long as they are thrown in with the men. In this constellation, the men are the show, and it’s not doing the women any favours to have them tagging along.

The solution is a separate world tour for the women, such as the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in women’s professional tennis or the ASP Women’s World Tour in professional surfing. Separating the women from the men allows the creation of an entirely new product which becomes attractive to a new group of sponsors wishing to advocate their women’s line or products. Such an event can be furthermore geared to women’s specific media. On a competition level, the venues and judging can be designed to progress women’s big mountain skiing and riding to the highest degree. It seems that FWT management is heading in the right direction. The organisers state that “female competitions will be featured (in 2011) within their own media showcase with on-line video features and a specific 26 minutes highlights show”.

Finally, I think it’s very important to appreciate what the FWT organisers have done so far for the sport in regards to making it more professional, especially in the eyes of the media. It’s by no means an easy job to do. The female competitors have worked hard to represent the sport well, and together we can make the FWT even better in future.

3rd Place at the NZ Freeski Open

The big mountain contest for the NZ Freeski Open was held today in the Motatapu Chutes at Treble Cone. Conditions turned out to be better than expected, with firm yet grippy snow. Shutting down after any bigger drop was very challenging today, so most skiers opted for more technical lines in steep and rocky terrain which is actually very suited to the chutes. I decided to ski the venue on my Kästle FX84 (84mm under the binding) which I usually use for groomers and firm snow conditions. I was able to come in third after a fast run with good technique. New Zealand Olympian Mitchey Greig came in 2nd with Janina Kuzma taking first place for the 6th time in a row. Yeah girls!

Womens podium NZ Freeski Open Big Mountain

The next contest in the NZ Freeride Series is the K2 Big Mountain Chill Series, a 2-star event from 25 to 29 August in Craigieburn and Mt. Olympus, followed by the Export Gold Extreme, a 3-star event in Mt. Ruapehu, which I will hopefully be starting at!

NZ Freeski Open Big Mountain On Tomorrow

The NZ Freeski Open Big Mountain comp, which has been on hold due to unfavourable snow conditions and bad weather, is being held in the Motatapu Chutes at Treble Cone tomorrow.

The snow conditions have improved since Monday, with a nice light layer of chalky snow last night and some softening at the top of the terrain. It is forecast to snow slightly more overnight which should hopefully top up the snow in there. Head judge Dion Newport reports that there are some wind drifts and pockets that should allow some good lines, however, difficult conditions will demand technical skiing. Competitors will only get one run to convince the judges.

Storm coming in over Wanaka this afternoon

New this year is that the winners of each catogory (mens and womens ski and snowboard) of the New Zealand Freeride Series receive a wildcard for the 2011 Freeride World Tour stop in Squaw, USA. Read more about how the points are calculated here on the Freeride World Tour website. This represents a huge chance for New Zealand and international riders alike to get a foot in the door to the renowned Freeride World Tour where starting places are offered to a select few riders around the world.

With the comp on hold, I’ve had extra time to treat my patella. My knee feels stronger today and if the conditions are ok, I’ll start at the comp tomorrow. Wish me luck!