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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,
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.
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.
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!
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.
We enjoyed sampling the wide variety of food.
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
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.
The Panorama NorAm series are over and now it’s time for a quick break. For the most part, the weather stayed clear for the week however it was incredibly cold with a couple of days approaching -30°C. The snow-making clouds were more of a problem creating some poor visibility at times. My toes suffered a little with the extreme cold but hopefully the numbness will disappear over the break.
It has been an exciting week of racing for me with some great results and PB’s. Starting with Super G and bib 47, I moved into 22nd spot and made a good points result. Day two, still bib 47 I had an amazing run and finished on the podium in 3rd position and made a points result of 19.36 (currently on 53.48) surprising quite a few people as well as myself! Day 3 was super combined and I had bib start 61 as I haven’t raced a combined for a while to get any results. In the super g portion I came 12th, also a points result 21.95 and skied the slalom portion a little conservatively finishing 17th, scoring 39.73 (currently 155)
Moving on to the giant slalom, I made a mistake on day one and came out on a fall-away turn. Day two I started 21 and skied into 9th, couple of mistakes but pretty happy with the way my skiing is improving. In the slalom from bib 18 I moved into 4th place, a frustrating 0.19 sec off the podium. Final day, also slalom I moved into 4th spot missing the podium again by a small margin.
On the morning we packed up to head out of Panorama, the temperature warmed up by almost 20 degrees to a balmy -7°C and snowing. After a successful NorAm series and the long trip home, I’m looking forward to a few days of warmth and leisure before the next section of training and races in Europe.
Many thanks to all the volunteers and workers who braved those cold temperatures for us, putting on an excellent series. Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and all the best in the new year.
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.
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.
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.