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!

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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.