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.
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.