Second Victory in Hochfügen!

After a disappointing run at the 4-star Freeride World Qualifier in Engadin on 31 January where I placed 4th, I was determined to give it my all at the 4-star Freeride World Qualifier in Hochfügen, the fantastically organised Big Mountain Hochfügen. I came into the contest knowing that a first or second place would clinch the deal for a spot on the Freeride World Tour 2014. At the same time, I didn’t want to put pressure on myself by thinking too much about results. A mental game!

Snow and weather conditions were perfect; the right conditions to choose a big air to impress the judges. Sweden’s Matilda Rapaport, who has been skiing very consistently this season with a podium at every contest, and Austria’s Nadine Wallner, who has placed second at stop 1 and stop 2 of the Freeride World Tour this year, were also at the start, as well as some other experienced female skiers. I knew it was time to step it up.

I chose a line I could ski very fast in the top and middle section, coming into a steep section of around 45 to 50 degrees in the bottom part of the venue and ending in a big cliff drop. I chose this specific cliff because the landing had a perfectly clean run-out, although I knew the run-in would be very skied out with bib number 42. There would also be sluff to deal with, which can be compared to a small loose snow avalanche. It can knock you off your feet so you have to think about where the sluff is going to fall down to make sure you’re out of the way.

Big Mountain Hochfuegen Venue

The competition venue “Ostwand” at the Big Mountain Hochfügen, a gorgeous face!

For this contest I was very well prepared, I had studied photos and previous competition videos for the past two days and I could visualize my line in my mind and how it would look like from a skiers perspective. Being well prepared helps me feel less nervous at the start, and I was looking forward to skiing the amazing, fresh powder and dropping my big cliff at the bottom. I skied my run almost just as I had planned with a lot of fluidity, landing all my drops cleanly. It was an amazing feeling!

Big Mountain Hochfuegen_Straight line

My goal was to ski fast. Photo credit: Michael Neumann

Big Mountain Hochfuegen_Lorraine Huber_Cliff

Committing to the last drop in my run. Photo credit: Michael Neumann

I knew it was a good run but I didn’t allow myself to think much about what result I would get until the prize giving ceremony at 4pm. When my name was called out last of all for the top of the podium, I couldn’t have been happier. All the hard work, all the perseverance and all the determination were worth it now. And lets be honest, winning is so much more fun if you’ve made it back through the tough times, right?  

Big Mountain Hochfuegen, Podium Ski Women

The podium ski women at the Big Mountain Hochfügen (f.l.t.r. Matilda Rapaport, Lorraine Huber, Laure Vailley)

2nd Place Big Mountain Hochfügen

I finally have some good news to blog about regarding comps: I came second at the 4-star Freeride World Qualifier Big Mountain Hochfügen last weekend! I came to Hochfügen mainly for training purposes of being able to compete in a low-pressure environment (compared to the Freeride World Tour events) and get over my nervousness at the start. The contest itself is very professionally run and amazing to be part of. The contest face “Ostwand” is awesome with lots of different options and the snow conditions were great with plenty of fresh powder and good snow coverage. The judges told me that the high level of the female skiers surprised them and that it wasn’t much lower than at the FWT events. Yay girls! On another positive note, the female prize money was only EUR 100 to 200 less than the men’s, usually it’s only half the amount.

BM Hochfuegen Women's Podium

The ski women from Big Mountain Hochfügen: 3rd Matilda Rapaport, 1st Pia Nic Gundersen and 2nd Lorraine Huber (f.l.t.r)

I chose a line which I knew I could ski easily, that was also a reason I wasn’t really nervous at the start. And further more I was really looking forward to skiing that line! I drew an early start number (30) and it is really so much better to be able to start earlier in the day as opposed to having to wait for the entire men’s field to race before the women can start – that’s just so nerve racking for me still! This good result gives me confidence for the next FWT event in Röldal, Norway on 25 February. Stay tuned!

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

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!