February 2017, Europe

February has been a busy month with racing  World Ski Championships in St Moritz and World Cup in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.  It has been a mixed bag of results, highs and lows and some very challenging conditions with snow and weather.  A number of races have been cancelled with the lack of snow and the weather has been particularly warm.  The World Ski Champs in St Moritz were a great experience with a large field of high calibre athletes.  The team was based just outside of St Moritz at Hotel Edelweiss, Sils Maria. Our first race was the Super G and the lighting really made things tough! Very fun course though with 5 built up jumps. I was skiing well on the top half but came into a turn offline and lost all my speed.

We headed back to our base in Austria for a couple of days training before the GS race on the 17th where I started bib 48 having qualified in top 50.  I was really happy with the second run of GS which put me into 31st.(28th on the run) just need to do that first run now! Lighting got really flat for the second run with snow falling heavily.

We had to qualify for the slalom with a race at Zuoz on the day before the WSC race where I finished 4th, then had to attend prize giving at Kulm Plaza that evening for the top 6 finishers.  A massive crowd who were also gathering for the prize giving of the Women’s slalom followed by bib drawer for the men’s slalom created an amazing atmosphere. The sun came out for the last couple of days in St Moritz and the track was perfect for slalom. Unfortunately I went inside on the steep which wasn’t great, but think the skiing was going well. It’s nice to see how much closer I am than at Beaver Creek World Champs!

After St Moritz we had some races at Leogang, Austria and Golte, Slovenia with races cancelled at both due to poor snow conditions.  Super warm some days and raining others meant the snow conditions were difficult so I struggled putting those two runs together again.

From Golte, we headed to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia for World Cup races in a stacked field.  Bib 65 for GS and 71 slalom with soft wet snow meant the conditions were pretty rough with it raining heavily the night before the slalom race.

Time now for a day off before we continue on with some FIS races in the region, weather and snow permitting!

Panorama, Canada

We have arrived in Panorama after some great training on man made snow in Colorado and wrapping up the Copper Mountain race series.  It finally snowed the day before the first race so the first super g of the season had some soft snow to contend with along with some still falling.  The two super g days were good, more of a training tool for me but team mate Willis did well, picking up 3rd. I was happy with my skiing in the gs, just needed to cut out a couple mistakes from day one, then in the second race I got caught in some soft snow and didn’t make it unfortunately. We had cold mornings around -15° C (5° F) but warming for second run. Just one day of training at Vail, however conditions were too lean so took a day off and tried out the Oxygen Bar at the hotel we were staying in before heading north to Panorama, Canada.

We are currently in Panorama having arrived a few days ago and have had some good training days.  Super cold after Colorado though, we were greeted with -20º C at Calgary airport when we arrived late evening.

drive-to-panorama

On the road to Panorama

Training at Panorama has also been particularly cold, around -20º C which takes a few more layers to get used to and the feet start to suffer.  Still not the best snow cover here in Panorama either so it is a bit of a mission some training days to get many runs in with the turn-around time being close to half an hour – catching lifts and traversing back around to the training course. Only managed three slalom runs before the course was pulled yesterday.  We have today off so it’s time to do a grocery shop which is approx half hour drive down the road to Invermere, so it’s good idea not to forget anything!  The whole team has been a bit crook with a bad cough which coach picked up a month ago and generously gave out, so hopefully it’s not so bad when races start again in a couple of days.  The NorAm series starts on the 11th Dec with super g followed by a couple of GS and slalom.

panorama

Panorama

Count Down

skeggsThe end of my Summer approaches rapidly with a final week of strength and conditioning while at home, before flying to Colorado to start on-snow training early November.

Many thanks to the Skeggs Foundation for their continued support as I head away to the northern hemisphere for the next five months, jam-packed with travel and races.  After our first block of training in Colorado we will head to Panorama, Canada for racing.

Training at Remarkables. Photo Cred: Neil Lande

Training at Remarkables. Photo Cred: Neil Lande

 

2016 NZ Season Complete!

Racing got underway 1st August with a GS at Cardrona which came around quickly after just one day of gate training due to the lack of snow conditions.  I picked up a podium in 2nd place and then it was straight back to Coronet Peak where we were finally able to get some gate training in.  The National Championships came around quickly, 9th August, with the GS first.  Managed to pick up the gastro bug going around so felt pretty bad for most of the week but was able to place 2nd behind Willis in the GS and pick up the National Title again for the slalom.  One more week of training on some pretty good conditions at Coronet Peak and then headed over to Australia for the start of the ANC races at Mt Hotham.

Coberger Academy, NZ Ski Team . Pic Michael Thomas

Coberger Academy, NZ Ski Team . Pic Michael Thomas

First men’s races at Hotham were postponed due to the weather but managed to complete all races using up the weather day.  I had some good runs but had trouble finding a good head space which didn’t go well overall.  Flew back to Queenstown and it was straight into racing again with the final of the ANC GS and slalom races at Coronet Peak.  Again I had sections of good racing and managed to take out the AUS/NZ yellow bib for the slalom but found it quite a struggle.

We had a couple of days in Queenstown then headed up to Methven for the final speed races for Nationals and ANC’s.  The weather wasn’t the best with our day of training super g cancelled and the following day we squeezed in three super g races.  After the super g races, the weather pretty much fell apart so we decided not to race the super combined but headed back to Queenstown which was a good call as the rest of the races were then cancelled.

a-barwoodOverall I found it to be a very challenging season with virtually no training to speak of before racing started. Fortunately we have had some excellent training since the races finished with some great conditions both at Rocky Gully and up at the Remarkables.

One day during the last week of training, we had an early GS session at Remarkables which was followed by an enjoyable session with the Gold Members and children on a paneled slalom course.  It was great to catch up with them again to see how they have progressed and watch their enjoyment on snow.

After a week of taking time out it is now full swing back into the next strength and conditioning phase before heading on to the northern hemisphere season.  Once again it has been amazing to have the support of so many, thank you one and all!

early season

It has been a little while since my last post, however it has taken some time for the snow to be sufficient for some training to begin. Much of my time has been spent on strength and conditioning as well as a short back to snow camp at Mt Hutt in June.  We have had a couple of S & C Camps with Ben Griffin in Queenstown and Methven with some testing to see our progress from last year, as well as where we are on a National level.  Pleased to say progress on last year has been good with some personal bests achieved.

Coronet Peak View

Coronet Peak View

The last couple of months have been much warmer than usual and much less snowfall.  The training at Mt Hutt went well although the snow cover was a bit lean in places.  Back in Queenstown our on-snow start was delayed due to lack of snow but we have since managed some free skiing drills on the main runs at Coronet Peak which was a bit of a challenge with the school holidays in full swing.  The last few days we have been doing more drills and started on stubbie training at the Remarkables ski field.  Little bit further to travel but conditions have been OK – snow is a little soft and dry but it is good to be back on skis.

Remarks

Remarkables

Remarkables View

We had about a foot of snow last night so hopefully it will be enough to get Rocky Gully up and running for some serious training!

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.

Copper Mountain -Training

Copper Mt 10Nov 2015

GS Course at Copper Mountain

Arrived in to Dillon, Colorado 2nd November to fairly mild temperatures and not a lot of snow.  Dillon is a small town approx 110km from Denver and pretty centrally located between Loveland and Copper Mountain, about 20kms/20 minutes drive to each so a good place to be based for training.

copper

Training at Copper Mountain. Race gear by One Studio

We have had some solid training since arriving with slalom, giant slalom and also super g. With the colder temperatures and high altitude (12,313 ft / 3,753 m), Copper Mountain have been going full speed with snow making.  This has also been topped up with a few falls of fresh snow and colder temperatures since arriving.  Due to the large number of athletes all needing to get training in and limited lane space, we have staggered starts with the earliest being 6.30am on snow. Other time slots are 10.00am and 1.00pm. We usually get a couple of hours, around 7 – 8 runs of quality training.  Andres Zampa from Slovakia has joined us for the start of the season and it’s great to have him on board, along with team mate Willis Feasey and Coach, Nils Coberger.

Skeggs FoundationThank you to the Skeggs Foundation for their continued support in the latest round of grant applications.  The Skeggs Foundation do a fantastic job helping to support the Wanaka Ski & Snowsports Clubathletes throughout Otago working towards their goals – check out their website!  Many thanks also to the Wanaka Ski Club for their continued support.

one studio bags Awesome gear by One Studio – Taking care of our race suit. Stuffing your race suit into your ski bag when you’re travelling the winter world doesn’t do it any favours and shortens its life. One Studio have come up with a plan to help your suit and your planet. They up-cycling all the off-cuts and print/fabric seconds and turn them into handy protection for the clothes that make you fast on the hill.
Every race suit leaving the One Studio workroom now has it’s own custom suit bag.
Always working to keep your race gear safe and fast – check them out for the best race suits on the hill!