Monday, September 24, 2012

Thredbo One Hit Wonder 2012

Anna sizing up the jump
words by Anna Segal

This is the second year that I’ve participated in the Thredbo One Hit Wonder. The event started off in 2009 to showcase Australian snowsports on an internationals stage. Since then it has grown to attract some of the best free-skiers from around the world including, Jossi Wells, Dane Tudor, Bobby Brown and Gus Kenworthy.

The allure of this competition has always been the massive, immaculately built jump which Thredbo’s park crew spends weeks preparing. This year the jump measured 93 ft from the edge of the take-off to the beginning of the landing. This was the minimum distance we had to travel through the air to make it over this monstrosity, safely.

Just thinking about the size of the jump made me nervous, so I tried to keep it out of my mind until I could view it in real life. It was planned that the invited athletes would have a week to hit the jump, which would include one day for the “Peoples’ Choice” competition and one day for the AFP Gold ranked big air event.

With a jump of this size, the weather needs to be almost perfect. The weather gods weren't exactly co-operative, giving us a number of days of wind and/or rain. On the positive side of things, we had two perfect, blue bird days (better than none), allowing the event organisers to pull off both competitions. 

Anna tweaking her tails over the jump
The two days we were able to hit the jump were the two best days of my 2012 Southern Winter season! Over such a humungous jump, I really had time to think about my movements in the air. Once I had the speed dialed and was able to expel the fear from my mind, everything slowed down and became clearer.

So far, I've been the only girl to take part in the One Hit Wonder Down Under. Next year I'll be working with event organiser, Tim Myers, in an attempt to attract more female skiers to join myself and the boys for this amazing event! 

Vote for Anna here!

Anna Segal - People's Choice 2012 from One Hit Wonder Event on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chicks with Stix Season 2012 Throwdown at Mt Hotham


words by Zoe Jaboor

Wow – what an unreal weekend we had at Hotham for the Chicks with Stix Throwdown. The weather gods definitely made us work for it this time with gale forced winds, road closures, and trees falling down all over the place. 

At last, after meetings with the very friendly crew at Hotham events and the amazingly talented park crew, we got an awesome course set up just next to the Swindlers park. Our course ran down a small gully and had lots of little natural and man-made features scattered throughout. We had a flat box, a small wedge over a tree, a hitching post with quarter pipe, a berm with a flat bar, a hip jump and a single barrel down bar.

Shinae McGowan rocking out through the park in pink!
We had 24 competitors registered for the Throwdown, girls with all kinds of different levels of experience. For most competitors this event marked their first ever competition. L

uckily, we had loads of seasoned coaches on hand to dish out advice and guide the chicks through the course. They included:

Hannah Studd (Chief of course) worked with Koppa from the Hotham Park Crew to put up a progressive and fun course that girls could get creative, and learn on.

Ali Deane and Erin Height singing out across Hotham as the announcers for the day. I think we can all agree that they girls were absolute naturals. They kept the event alive and energetic even through the wind, snow and fog.

Merrin Jokic  (Head Judge) organized Mimi, Lucy and myself in scoring the girls runs through two qualifying runs and one finals run.

Anita Jaboor (Chief of results) worked with Amy and Scotti from Hotham Events to compile the scores to get the final result .

Wennie Tan showing us her rail skills
One of the highlights of the day, aside from watching the chicks throw down, was the presentations at Swindlers. We had some amazing prizes to give away to our new CwS champions. Armada have come to the Chicks with Stix party for the last two years and their amazing support shows their strong commitment to women’s freestyle and freeride skiing. 

Junior Women's Podium
Open Women's Ski Podium

All girls on the podium for the Open Ski category took home a pair of Armada skis! Our winner, Dani was luckily enough to get to choose her dream skis.She went with the TSTw – EXCELLENT CHOICE!. 

Open Women's Snowboard Podium

Other prizes included a Roxy Magne-Traction snowboard, with Roxy bindings, Dragon sunnies and goggles, Shafted ski poles, Dalbello jackets, and heaps and heaps of Roxy and Dragon beanies, tees, hoods, scarfs, buffs, and stickers. To cap off the presentations Merrin got each and every girl that was in Swindlers off their chairs, and up and dancing for a “shuffle off”.

I always get such a buzz from holding Chicks with Stix events. There is so much positive energy between participants, coaches and volunteers. It’s a real team effort to get these events off the ground.

CWS has an amazing group of coaches!
I would like to say a big thank you to Mt Hotham for having us come and visit twice throughout the 2012 season. Claire from Marketing, Koppa from the Park Crew and Scotti in Events were all so patient and supportive of our program which has lead to its success.

Thanks so much for everybody who was involved in this years event. I look forward to seeing you all again in 2013 for another awesome season of Chicks with Stix.

Check out the awesome edit of the event from Mt Hotham!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lauren Staveley: My Concussion

words by Lauren Staveley

All I can remember from the 10th of August is driving up to Snow Park in the morning. The next thing I woke up in the hospital throwing up strapped to a back board in a neck brace.

What actually happened after I drove up the mountain that day is...

I was having a great day on the jumps at Snow Park. I had landed some switch back 5's, a trick I have been working on for ages. My coach said it was my best day of snowboarding all season- until I went too big on one of the jumps. I landed on my heel side edge fell onto my back and then hit my head.

I was never knocked out but I did suffer from retrograde and anterograde amnesia. After falling I kept on asking, "Did I land it?", "Did I grab?" for about 20 minutes over and over. I was taken to the medical centre at Snow Park on a back board and in a neck brace. Because I was obviously shaken up and not making much sense the ski patrol decided to air lift me to Dundedin hospital where I had a CT scan on my back and head. The scans only showed concussion there was no bleeding or breaks in my skull... I was moved from the emergency room at about 8.30pm into the neurological ward where I spent the next two days. 

I was pretty confused about how severe my injury was and what had happened since I had a 12 hour memory blank. The doctors at Dunedin told me I would be ok but it would be a fair while until I could return to snowboarding. I spent the next two days in the hospital doing absolutely nothing. I couldn't stimulate my brain very much so the most exciting part of my day was doing memory tests with the occupational therapist. 

I was released on the 13th and stayed in our apartment in Cardona until the 17th when we flew back home to Melbourne. It was probably the most boring week of my life. When we got back to Melbourne I was still getting headaches and couldn't look at bright lights or be around noise without feeling horrible. 

Once we were back in Melbourne I visited Doctor Makdissi at Olympic Park Sports Medical Centre. He is a sports physician who specializes in head trauma. He cleared up a lot of my confusion about the injury. He told me concussion is a very individual injury, and it is hard to predict exactly how long it will take for me to get better. So for now I just have to slowly ease back into life and not aggravate my symptoms too much. I have been cleared to snowboard but not to do anything where I am likely to hit my head again (jumps or rails). 

It's now the 3rd of September and I am still suffering from minor headaches, I am sensitive to noise and find it hard to concentrate for more than a few hours. Concussion is a very frustrating injury to have, physically nothing appears to be wrong with you. It's not like a broken leg, you can't just put your brain in a cast and say it will be better in 6 weeks. You just have to rest and take everything really slow. Which is frustrating for someone who snowboards as a career, it's been a big change! 

I have an MRI on the 5th of September and then visit Dr Makdissi again on the 7th. We are hoping he will give me the all clear so I can start training again. 

Its been a long ordeal and it's not over yet.  With cases like Torah, Kevin, and Sarah it has really made me think how lucky I was. But the one thing I can take away from this is to always wear a helmet, because my helmet saved my life that day. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Chill Series

words by Hanna Fisher
photos by Cassie De Colling

Don’t be fooled by the name, the Chill Series may be one of the most laid-back Big Mountain competitions out there- but it is anything but chill. Set in the rugged club fields of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the competition is home to some of the craziest terrain around - steep mountains, big cliffs, and chutes, such as “Plake’s Mistake,” named after the legend Glen Plake. 

Hiking the Cragieburn ridge to the start

Add to that not only some of the best Kiwi skiers and boarders, but also international talent from the far reaches of the globe - France, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, USA, England, Russia, and of course, two sweet ladies from good ol’ Australia, and you’ve got yourself some wild skiing. The competition is run over four days and two different resorts- Mt Olympus and Cragieburn. Competitors ride one run a day- their best 3 counting to the overall score.

After a rather tumultuous drive up (I’m talking one lane unsealed dirt roads, no guard rail, and a steep drop off just inches from the wheels), we made it up to Mt Olympus for Day One. The club fields bring skiing back to its’ roots - no chairlifts or even T-bars here - just a rope tow, and an intimidating metal device called a nutcracker. The locals tell stories of pro riders that come to film at their ski field, high, mighty and decked out in the latest gear, only to end up storming off in a huff because they can’t get the hang of the nutcracker! But that did not deter Nat and I, and after a couple of rather unsuccessful attempts on my part, we soon mastered it. 

Mt Olympus

Having only spent two days skiing at the Thredbo Chicks with Stix session this season, I was a bit nervous, and my legs felt more like jelly than the pistons of steel that they should have been (this is probably also due to a distinct lack of pre-season year, I promise I’ll do more...). Luckily, the run was the mellowest of the four days, not super steep or crazy, so I took an easyish line, with two rock jumps of a couple of metres each. I had a little side tap on my behind half-way down (think I just got a bit lazy and distracted) but after finishing I felt the surge of adrenalin and a yearning to go bigger and harder the next day. Nat, being the pillar of strength that she is, conquered first day nerves, and rode a solid line, stomping all her drops.

Day Two, and things stepped up a notch. We had about a 45 minute hike up to get to the start, a huge face full of steep chutes and big cliffs. Oh yeah! I’d been checking out one cliff since the day before, and was pretty keen to hit it. Sometimes things like that just jump out at you, and you can’t get them out of your mind. But it’s often hard to know whether to follow your heart (jump off the big cliff) or your brain (it’s pretty big, quite a flat and hard landing, and a big hole to clear at the base). It can be a fine line between pushing yourself, knowing what is possible, and what you are personally capable of. Getting it wrong can result in serious injury. I know that all sounds a bit serious, but it’s happened before, and so is constantly at the forefront of my mind. We’re not allowed to actually go up and ski the face beforehand, so you just have to look through binoculars, and sometimes, such as at this venue, you get a side view from the hike up (but often you can’t). So it’s a matter of trying to figure out exactly where to take off, where you should land and how much speed you need to clear it. In this case, it was all quite clear cut, no rocks in the in-run or landing, so all that was required on my behalf, was commitment. And commit I did. I skied the top part cleanly, jumping off a nice smaller rock, then fighting that urge to slow down too much before the drop, I stomped it. And that is why I love Big Mountain competitions! The challenge of doing something that scares you, pulling it off, skiing out, and just thinking, man, I love skiing. 

Hanna sending it- courtesy of Chill Series

That night, we drove a small convoy over the pass and in to the Craigieburn valley. Day Three, and another beautiful sunny day. The face was a new one for the competition, with plenty of cliffs, and some steep, steep faces and chutes. Very nice indeed. Unlike at Olympus, nothing really jumped out at me, and I was having trouble picking a line. So I just decided to go for a fairly cruisy run, with a couple of small rock jumps. Turns out most of the girls had the same idea, and we nearly all skied the same thing! When watching the guys later, Nat and I kept thinking, man, we should have gone there, ooh, that looks like fun, and so on. 


Luckily, we had a fourth day of competition, and got to do just that - with all the girls picking the steepest part of the venue. The wind was howling as we trudged along the ridge to get to our lines, almost losing my balance a few times. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long at the top. I had a nice run, jumping off one super fun cliff at the bottom, and finishing off with a few long hard-packed pow turns. It’s always a bit of a relief to end a competition, so we were all on a high at the bottom. 

Nat scoping her line

One of the things that always stands out to me at these competition is the camaraderie between the girls. There’s usually not as many of us as there are guys, and so we always wait for each other at the bottom of the run, and I always come out of it having made some new friends. It’s sometimes almost a pity that we get scored and that someone has to win, and someone has to lose.

choosing lines at Cragieburn

In the end, Nat and I were tied by our best three rankings for first place (we completely dominated the competition!). To settle the tie they then added up the actual scores from the days, so placed Nat 1st and I took out second 2nd. Altogether a successful and fun competition!

driving down to Wanaka via the West Coast
Check out some of the action from Mt Olympus: