Monday, April 22, 2013

Skiing in Romania with Hanna Fisher

Reading through the other girls’ blogs on the Chicks with Stix website always serves to remind me how great and variable skiing is. We all love the mountains, and love skiing, yet all participate in completely different events!

One thing I love about competing in Big Mountain competitions is the strange and wonderful places it takes you to. I never would have thought I would end up in a small mountain lodge in a hike-only, no ski lifts apart from the main cable car to take you to the hotel base, in countryside Romania. But yet there I was, just last week, for a Freeride World Qualifier event. We got to spend a couple of days in the capital, Bucharest, for a bit of sightseeing and shopping before making the drive to Balea Lac. 

Checking out an ice chapel
Being a sport that is so reliant on weather conditions can make things tricky. Usually the competition format for the Freeride World Qualifiers is one day of qualifications, then a second day of competition for finals. However, due to bad weather predicted for the second day, our event was just a one day competition with one run. Personally, I don’t mind this so much. You just have to concentrate on one good run. We usually have to hike up (skis attached to your  backpack) to access the runs, in this case it was over an hour of hiking. But a beautiful view makes it all worth it!

View in the Transylvanian mountains
 I decided to take a fairly easy line, with about four nice, steady cliff jumps of around 2-3 metres each. And it seems as though it paid off, as I won! It was my third win for the season (one in Andorra, and the other in New Zealand). This was extra exciting as it meant my overall ranking for the season is 3rd, and so I’ve qualified for the Freeride World Tour for next season, which has been a goal since I first started competing. Now it’s time for some relaxing, off season training, and working to save up and do it all over again...

Hanna on the podium, taking home a handmade, wooden trophy

Friday, April 12, 2013

Winter recap with Britt Cox

Britt charging down the moguls, photo: Kirk Paulsen
One of the best things about my northern season just gone is that I got to do LOTS of skiing. This was the longest season I have ever had, starting on snow in Ruka, Finland in late November and skiing all the way through until mid March. I also got to see some new places and ski a few new mogul courses, which is always exciting. One of those courses happened to be the site of next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In early Feb there was a test event in Sochi, which was a World Cup event. It was great to compete on the course and get a bit of a feel of what it might be like next year. However it's good to remember that things might change. From my experience I know that anything could happen and the course could ski up completely different with varying snow/weather conditions come February next year.

Big backie-cross, photo: Kirk Paulsen
My best result this season was in Lake Placid, USA where I achieved my second World Cup podium (3rd). Lake Placid has been a bit of a nemesis course for me in the past so it felt particularly good to ski well there and flip that around. I also competed in the World Champs at Norway where I achieved a 10th place in the Single Moguls and 8th in the Duals.

Grinning in 3rd Place, photo: Kirk Paulsen
This whole season has been absolutely incredible for the Aussies in winter sport across the board and I think its generating some great energy and a positive vibe for everyone. I feel really inspired by everyone’s achievements.

Since I have been home I’ve enjoyed some sun and surf and I’m now back into training at the AIS in Canberra. Not long now and we’ll all be on snow here in Aus….can’t wait!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

End of Season Blog: Katya Crema

Training with Sami Kennedy Sim

I am happy to say that I have finished off my World Cup season strongly (and in one piece), with a 15th and 8th place finish in Åre, Sweden. With three top 8s this season, my results put me into 16th place in the overall World Cup rankings, making it my best season finish to date.  This weekend in Åre was a double event, making it a long intense four days of competition. Before things got started though, we made the most of the Audi ice driving experience available to World Cup athletes. Driving fast on ice is almost as fun as skiing fast on ice!

Test driving Audis on the lake
On Friday I qualified in 14th place, with only the top 16 women going through to finals. In my first heat  I was in third place and attempted a pass into second which didn't end well. I got caught on Simmerling's skis beside me and crashed in the turn. A little disappointing but happy that I'm feeling confident to take some risks and put it on the line. After all, that's what this sport is all about! In yesterday's race I had the twelth fastest qualifying run and was only 0.25 of a second behind fourth place. 9 girls within a quarter of a second; the times were extremely close! In my first heat I completely missed the start and was in fourth position coming into the first turn. I was not giving up that easily though! I made a pass into third place through the first bank turn, and then another risky pass on the negative turn, forcing myself in second place. I made it through to the semi finals; my second time for the season.

Start section.
In the semis, this time I had a great start but managed to catch an edge before the first turn, forcing me to miss the gate. Extremely frustrating! I finished fourth in the small final after making a big mistake in the mid-section of the course. Again, disappointing but happy with my 8th place result none-the-less. All in all, it's been a fantastic season. I have made some major improvements with my skiing, particularly when it comes to head-to-head racing. I performed well in the two major events of the season; 8th at the World Championships and 11th at the Olympic Games test event in Sochi. I also had a personal best result of 6th on World Cup, and a personal best overall World Cup ranking of 16th.

Unfortunately I couldn't bring home a medal this year, but I'm expecting good things to come for next season! A big thanks to my teammates for being great training partners this season. Also to my coach, Matt Lyons; our guru ski technician Marcos Ruiz; the physios who joined us this winter, Anthony, Claire, Nick and Markus; John Marsden who got me incredibly fit and strong for this season and who joined us for a few weeks on tour in January; and importantly to my family and friends at home for being so supportive day-in, day-out throughout the whole year. I couldn't do this without you!

Northern Lights