Farewell NZ – Hello NH!

Final round-up to the season came with the Snow Sports Awards at Wanaka where I picked up the Alpine Athlete of the Year award and my coach Nils Coberger picked up the Coach of the Year. (below with Corey Peters Adaptive Athlete of the year)

The last couple of weeks of my brief taste of summer at home went far too quickly but managed to get in some quality strength and conditioning sessions with Ben Griffin and the team.   Also had time for the odd bike ride and a few Pilates sessions.  One Studio  organized a really interesting session for us at the Auckland University wind tunnel where we worked on finding our best tuck positions.

We headed over to Europe a little earlier this year as we get ready to start training on the World Cup piste at Sölden, Austria and arrived into Munich on the 16th October to a pleasant 20º C  blue skies and looking very green!  It will take a few days to get used to the time zone but after that long series of flights we were pretty exhausted.  We then made our way south of Innsbruck, Austria towards our base for the next couple of weeks where we will be training before the first World Cup at the famous Sölden!

Many thanks again to all my sponsors, supporters, friends and family.  It is going to be a big season and I’ll do my best to keep you up to date.

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End of Season Review

It’s been a long season but I am now back home after a couple of weeks getting away from the winter life, enjoying company of friends, warmth and  a change of scenery in Utah and also exploring a very small part of my home country.  Thanks Tucker Marshall for the Utah images!

And a quick road trip visiting some pretty cool spots around the South Island, NZ

To cap off this Season, I have posted the review by my coach, Nils Coberger and his take on our season!

TO ALL OUR FRIENDS, SPONSORS AND SUPPORTERS,

Warm in Aspen!

What a season 2016/17 has been for the New Zealand Men’s Ski Team, arguably our most successful in 25 years! Adam Barwood and Willis Feasey went from strength to strength during the northern hemisphere campaign. The season started early November in Colorado at our base in Dillon where we had four weeks of excellent training at Copper Mountain. When the racing season started in December we moved to Panorama, Canada to focus on the Nor-Am tour. Kicking off in Panorama the boys achieved some great results. At the 2nd Panorama Nor-Am Super G, Adam skied from bib 47 into 3rd place and followed that up with two 4th places in the Slaloms. Willis finished 4th in the next day’s Super-g and then 7th in the GS. After eight weeks on the road in North America it was time for a well-earned break so we headed home to spend time with our families over Christmas and New Year’s.

Soon enough we were back in Europe and racing again. Our first World Cup was in Adelbolden, Switzerland and the boys got valuable World Cup experience after having Beaver Creek cancelled in November. Having had just ten days in Europe we were off to South Korea and the Olympic test event in Yongpyong, the venue for next year’s Winter Olympic GS and Slalom events. Willis finished every race of the Yongpyong Far East Cup tech series in the top 10, and Adam was only slightly behind finishing inside the top 20. After our Asian excursion, it was back to Europe to prepare for the 2017 World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The Swiss put on an amazing World Champs, the slopes were prepared perfectly and the location was breathtaking. Willis started the World Champs well, finishing the Super-g in 34th. That afternoon we returned to our base in Maishofen, Austria to train and test skis at Hinterreit for five day before heading back to St. Moritz. Because the boys were both top 50 on the start list they go into the main event and didn’t have to do the qualifying race so this gave us a day of GS training two days before the main GS race. We were paired with the French and Austrian GS teams for training, the two strongest GS teams in the world. Hirscher, Leitinger (Gold and Silver 2 days later) and Pinturault, Faivre and Muffat-Jeandet (Adam’s doppelganger) were all training. After the training session was finished, Adam had the 1st and 3rd fastest times of the day and Willis was only a couple of tenths out. ‘Belief’ is a powerful thing, once earned! But training is just that – training! In the GS race Adam finished 31st overall, but in the second run, starting 42nd he had the 28th fastest run and was top 15 in the middle split (very steep), finishing only 1.9 behind winner and World Champion Marcel Hirscher. Two days later in Slalom Willis started bib 65.and at the first split he was 37th and at the 2nd split he was 38th. Unfortunately he crashed at the last roll over, but he could have qualified top 30 and made the flip – in Slalom! And if Adam had skied the first run like his second, he could have qualified top 30 and made the flip in GS!

This event was the real turning point in the season, or light bulb moment, for both Adam and Willis, although surprisingly not in their preferred events. So even though they didn’t qualify, these series of events over the six days at St. Moritz proved to be highly valuable. Both saw their own potential and what they were both truly capable of achieving! The process of believing in oneself is not easy. Confidence needs to be earned through hard work, tenacity and experience. Embracing the environment and living in the moment, today, now! Competing without fear of failure and only thinking about how to succeed. In this regard, this World Championships was huge, and in my opinion, will be remembered as a key moment in the boy’s careers. Having the All Blacks manager Darren Shand there with us was a real treat. His mental skills knowledge about ‘belief, winning, process and culture’ is inspirational.

After the World Champs our focus was back on the Continental Cup tour. We originally planned on more Far East Cup races in Japan and eastern Russia at the end of March, but we made the call to go back to North America for the Nor-Am finals and the U.S. Nationals. We knew the Canadian and US World Cup men’s teams would be racing and this would give us minimum penalty races and a better bench mark of where we were at. Willis started the Nor-Am finals with a 4th, 5th and 7th in the speed events and a couple of solid top 20’s in the tech races. Adam started with a 6th, 7th and 11th in the tech races and then 6th and 12th in the Super G.

Time out before Aspen and Vail races

On the 29th March the programme was over but we felt the boys were skiing fantastically well and should seek more opportunities to lower their points. We decided to send them to the FIS Spring Series in Aspen and Vail, Colorado with the help from locals Tim Cafe and the Derwin family, while Oli and I made our way back home. The Aspen series turned out to be the most successful race series ever for the NZ Men’s Teaml! Adam won 3 of the 4 races and Willis was 2nd twice, 4th, 7th and 8th. The end of season internal base points list has now been published – Adam 82 and Willis 88 in the world in Super-g, and in GS, Adam on 9.40 points is #44 in the world and Willis 10.12 is #60. This puts the boys in the same league as the greats of NZ ski-racing, like Simon Wi Rutene.

I feel the success of the season is only the beginning. Both the boys now have goals well beyond what was achieved this winter, which shows me that a vital step has been taken and the belief and path way is there.

South Korea

A quick overview of South Korea in some pictures.  Racing started in Yongpyong on the Olympic hill with some Far East Cup races – very icy injected course.  It has been a long time since we’ve been on anything as icy as this so while I had some good skiing, I did struggle a little.

adambarwoodalpinefecpresidentcup2017blvmjipmhxdx

We enjoyed sampling the wide variety of food.

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From Yongpyong, we moved five minutes down the road to Alpensia for a couple more Far East Cup races.  For most of our stay in Korea, the temperatures were around the -12°C

alpensia

I will update a little more when the schedule is not so busy.  We are now back in Austria racing and training before the World Ski Champs in St Moritz.

European season underway!

After a very enjoyable, although brief taste of summer in Queenstown it was time for the very long set of flights back to Europe where we hit the ground running.  Off to the HEAD factory for some new gear before making our way to Adelboden for the first World Cup race of our season.

Adelboden is said to be the toughest hill in the world cup circuit with steep (60° pitch) and terrain – it was certainly very testing.  Fresh snow overnight with fog and snowing on the day of the giant slalom made for even more difficult conditions. Many athletes had riming on goggles which makes it even more testing. Started bib 65, unfortunately I didn’t make it to the finish line.

The slalom day was similar conditions, again bib 65 but I fell  inside so was a DNF.  It was great to catch up with some coaches from over the years; Tanja and Pascal who live and work in Adelboden and Yannick Bellon from Morgin, Switzerland, also Kyboi Wyssen – all from around ten years and more ago!

From Adelboden we headed on to Davos, Switzerland for a couple of Europa Cup giant slalom races, feeling pretty exhausted.  While I had some good skiing, I made too many mistakes so wasn’t happy.  Plenty of fresh snow. On the move again from Davos straight after the race with part of the journey including driving onto a train, on our way to home base near Saalfelden, Austria ready for a Europa Cup slalom at Zell am See the following day .

I felt I had some pretty good skiing and was really pleased to be able to take advantage of the yellow bib for a 32 start instead of 76.  Unfortunately missed the top 30 flip by 0.6 sec.

Back to base where we are now busy packing ready to head to the airport on our way to Korea which is going to be a new experience in many ways.

 

Season End

It’s good to be back home to the start of Autumn after a mixed European leg to finish this season.  March continued with varied snow conditions and weather for some tough race conditions.  We also got some excellent training and the odd bit of sightseeing thrown in as we made the most of our time.

Singapore stopover

Singapore

March started with three World Cup races in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia (2 x GS, 1 x SL) with a large field of the world’s best and some tough conditions out there:   fog-snow-rain-mist, and the announcers were saying the course was “brutal, rough, rugged, rutted, potholes” – and that was all after just the first 7 racers.  It was by far the toughest gs race I have skied, the announcers had it right! They moved the start down again for the second run due to poor conditions.  It was also pretty tough conditions in the slalom starting 74 in a field of 80 athletes.  I think I gained a huge amount from the WC races, definitely a worthwhile experience.

From the WC races, we moved on to Bad Hofgastein, Austria for a couple of GS races with the first being cancelled due to snow conditions and warm weather. The cable train we had to catch to get to the race start was crowded with over 50 athletes and all their gear.  Managed to get day 2 of the GS completed, unfortunately I made a few mistakes which cost time.  Again a large field of 134 athletes with a real international mix of top athletes.

After a couple of days training, we moved on to Hinterstoder for four days of races.  While it was pretty frustrating with my results, I had some good skiing and feel I am improving, getting stronger and faster but needing to put it all together into two runs.

It was good to get a couple of days off before travelling to races in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia again. In the GS I was frustrated with a mix of good skiing and too many mistakes.  I felt I was skiing really well in the slalom, unfortunately, came out near the finish in the 2nd run.  It was good to be able to take some time out in the afternoon to do a bit of sightseeing around Lake Bled and the castle before heading on to races the following day at Zagreb-Sljeme, Croatia.

Snow conditions in Zagreb were very lean to say the least, as you can see from the photos below.  Day one of the slalom races was delayed for a couple of hours to see if the salting and watering of the course could firm it up enough to race on. First run was set by Kostelic and a pretty classic set of his – with a delay into hairpin, gate, into royal flush into delay into hairpin.  Again had some fast sections of skiing, but disappointed to not finish the second run both days.  It cooled down a bit for day two and the small amount of snow held up surprisingly well.

From Croatia is was a bit of a long drive through to Tarvioso, Italy for a super g race at Sella Nevea.  After only having super g skis on once before for the season and the race course being one of the toughest super g’s I’ve been on, I was happy to finish, although not very fast!  Started bib 32 and ten athletes either side of me didn’t finish.  The attrition rate was quite high with just 43 of 75 athletes finishing.

From Italy, as soon as the race was completed it was a rush back to our home base in Saalfelden, Austria to pack and catch the plane from Munich, Germany the following day (26th March) then the long trip home.  The northern hemisphere 2015/2016 season has had it’s ups and downs with some goals met and some not quite reached.  Overall it has been a successful time for me with my world ranking lowered which always helps, but also I know my skiing is improving all the time.

I would like to acknowledge the many people from all over the world who make ski racing possible – from the mountains and their race crews to the many volunteers, parents and athletes who all put so much time and effort into making so many awesome races.  Also to the international coaches and teams who helped us out with training space.  Many thanks to my coach Nils Coberger for his huge input and our Team Manager, Hamish Edwards for his continued support.  Thanks too, to Guenther Raedler for your ongoing assistance.  A big thank you to my family, all my sponsors and supporters who, without your help, I would be unable to continue.  A short break now to debrief and then it is back into my dryland training programme – many thanks Ben Griffin for working on our programmes, continually tweaking them to get the best out of us.

February 2016 Europe.

Hinterstoder

Hinterstoder, February 2016

February has been a challenging month with the warmer conditions and lack of snow being a bit of a problem.  After finishing a couple of World Cup giant slalom events at Hinterstoder, Austria we have just returned to our base for a bit of training before our next races. The first day at Hinterstoder stayed cold and the weeks of hill preparation meant the  course held out really well until the end of the field, although a little bumpy even for the top 15. By the final day of giant slalom the temperature had warmed considerably and while some of the salting had worked there were quite a few sections that didn’t so were rough and difficult to ski. The GS hill in Hinterstoder is a tough one. The top, right out of the start, breaks over a huge, rounded knoll into a very steep, rough pitch.  The first fifteen gates on the steep were particularly icy.  As the hill flattens, there is a road crossing and more terrain, both large and small. While it never gets steep again, it keeps coming at the skier with varying terrain features. Then a small pitch into the finish as widens to reveal the crowd.

World Cup GS, Hinterstoder

World Cup GS, Hinterstoder

I had a loaded ski going off the jump as well and landed closer to the outside gate than the inside, so was pleased to make it (a number of athletes didn’t).  Gained a lot of confidence from an extremely icy, challenging World Cup at Hinterstoder. Unfortunately some mistakes to eliminate but looking forward to the next world cup races.

WC GS Hinterstoder

Course inspection, Hinterstoder

Prior to the WC GS races, I took the train to Imst-Pitztal where I stayed with aussie athlete Alec Scott and travelled to a couple of night slaloms in Schwende Horne, Switzerland. Team mate Willis and coach Nils stayed behind in Austria for some races in Saalbach. I was pretty gutted after straddling in the first run day one as the course looked pretty sweet and all the work done, including salting/watering had it pretty solid.  Day two saw too many mistakes in the first run but I was happy with my final run at Schwende.  Also got in some good training runs at Pitztal

Alec Scott and Adam, SchwendeRace Schwende 2016       salting the course, Schwende

Night slalom, Schwende

Night slalom, Schwende Horne

Also went to some races in Lenzerheide and Hochficht for giant slalom but struggled with the soft flat conditions.  We travelled a few times to other races only to have them cancel due to poor snow conditions – check out the race course surrounds of Maribor, Slovenia looking more like Spring – our slalom race here was cancelled.  Our World Cup gs race at Garmisch, Germany was also cancelled.

Maribor

Maribor, Slovenia

Bit of a breather for a couple of days with a little time off and some more training before we start March out with our last World Cup races in Kranjska Gora!

End to the Season

It’s been a bit of a tough finish to my season, unfortunately.  Have just arrived home after spending five days in hospital in Zell am See, Austria.  Snow conditions haven’t been the best this season with a lot of races canceled, warmer and less snow – looking positively spring-like when we left

mutters by Adam

Race day, Mutters

March started with some slalom in Mutters with some pretty slushy weather and a couple of DNF’s.  We then went to a few giant slalom races in Flumserberg in Switzerland, Petzen in southern Austria and Hochficht, northern Austria.  In Flumserberg, the snow was a little on the soft side and very flat hill – I needed to be a couple tenths faster to make a result but managed to move from 30 to 16th both days.

Piesendorf

Piesendorf, slalom race

My last series of races were some super g and super combined at Innerkrems.  I had trouble with the super g, feeling crook and little energy, and was unable to start the slalom leg of the super-combined and progressively got worse.  On visiting the doctor, I was put into hospital on a penicillin drip for acute tonsillitis, but further tests confirmed I also have glandular fever (mono). Not ideal! missed veinThe nurse had a bit of trouble getting  the IV lines in,  went through the vein but eventually managed to get one in!  Breakfast wasn’t too bad apart from the gumboot coffee to start, but reduced to 3 slices white bread and enough jam for one, and the following day a bowl of warm milk with a couple slices white bread.  hospital breakfast

It’s great to be back home but it’s going to be  a long process renewing strength and conditioning, not to mention replacing the lost 6kgs. Thanks to my coach Nils Coberger for everything, and to teammates Willis and Nick. Thanks again to all my sponsors, supporters and family for your ongoing support and encouragement, every little bit helps and I really appreciate your belief in me. Also a big shout out to Dave Stewart, One Studio for our awesome gear! Time now to heal, in readiness for the coming New Zealand season.