Posts Tagged ‘skiing new zealand’

Training and Playing in Wanaka, New Zealand

August 11, 2010

I decided to spend 2 months in Wanaka, New Zealand, again this year. I felt fantastic after 3 months training and competing here last year, and was skiing stronger than ever. There was a down-side though: after back-to-back winters of skiing and not enough time in the gym, I’ve started developing tendinitis in my patella on my operated knee. Wake up call! So it’s back to the gym to do some strengthening work. Luckily for me, I’m under the very competent care of Ginny Bush from Wanaka Physio, chief physiotherapist for New Zealand’s Winter Olympics team.

Strength training in the gym

Lots of strengthening work can be done outside the gym too

As a skier, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to train than Wanaka. Freeriding at Treble Cone ski resort, park skiing at Snow Park and Cardrona resort, mountains for hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing, 2 fully equipped gyms, Wanaka skate park, olympic sized trampolines, Yoga, Pilates, you name it!

Hiking up Mt. Roy

It's never too late to learn something new!

After a week off skis, I was able to head up to Treble Cone again today on a perfect, blue-bird day. Conditions have improved after a substantial dump of fresh snow of 20cm on 7th August. Temps have been low since then so the snow is still dry. The knee is feeling good.

View from the Summit at Treble Cone. Notice Mt. Aspiring in the background, top right.

The New Zealand Freeski Open Big Mountain, which I’m prequalified for, is on 16th August. Other comps here include the K2 Big Mountain Chill Series and the Export 33 Extreme in Mt. Ruapehu. I’ve decided to compete if I’m feeling fit and strong enough, so stay tuned to see how I go!

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Chill Series Part 2: 1st Place at Mt. Olympus

August 31, 2009

From the start it was clear that the normally 2 day big mountain event at Mt. Olympus of the 2009 Big Mountain Chill Series would be reduced to skiing on Saturday only; so far the event had been plagued by wind, rain, and gale force winds, and the same was forecast for the last day on Sunday. Luck was on our side though as we awoke to blue bird skies on Saturday – comp day! The chosen venue this year was a ridge line referred to as “Little Alaska”, where competitors are given the chance to ski two lines to impress the judges: one on the left and one on the right of the venue .

Comp venue 1, Little Alaska, Mt. Olympus

Comp venue 1, Little Alaska, Mt. Olympus

Comp venue 2, Little Alaska, Mt. Olympus

Comp venue 2, Little Alaska, Mt. Olympus

Us comp girls before skiing the first line

The first line I skied was more technical than I usually choose at a comp, but I liked the challenge it posed for me and I decided to hit it. I carved the first two turns in beautiful dry powder over a spine and wind lip before the terrain narrowed into two tight chutes (tighter than I had anticipated!) separated by two large rocks. Taking the skiers right chute I managed to stay on my feet, a couple of hop turns between 2 boulders, and then I came maching out of the chute at full speed. The remaining 150 vertical meters went by in a blur of 3 huge turns. Thankfully I managed to hold it together, what a rush!

My first line, Little Alaska

My first line, Little Alaska

I really was looking forward to skiing my second line – the face was quite short but packed with features to play with. As I was watching the competitors before me at the start, it became quite clear that the conditions were icy. Should I change my line? Ski a more mellow one but be sure to stay on my feet? No I decided, I know I can do this! Finally it was my turn to start. My heart pounding, I waved my poles above my head before dropping in. As anticipated, the snow was wind-scoured and icy, and I was only just able to make a turn to the left and to my first drop after my steep entry. Two turns later and I was at the first cliff, I hesitated briefly seeing some rocks in the landing, but managed to land to the left of them. The snow was fast, but I could use the terrain to my advantage by making a long turn to the right, taking out speed before turning to the left towards the largest cliff at the bottom of the venue.  Sliding over the snow band on the top of the cliff, I jumped at an angle to the left and stomped it! I was so stoked to have skied my line just as I had planned!

My 2nd and winning line, Little Alaska

My 2nd and winning line, Little Alaska

I was able to take first place, with Katerina Kuncova from the Czech Republic and Naomi Richards from Australia taking 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

A well deserved beer after a strenuous comp day

Marc and Jake enjoying a well deserved beer after a strenuous comp day

1st place at the Big Mountain Chill Series 2009

1st place at the Big Mountain Chill Series 2009

Chill Series Part 1: Craigieburn Valley

August 31, 2009

The Chill Series big mountain competition, held this year for the 10th time at Craigieburn Valley and Mt. Olympus, is renown in New Zealand for its challenging terrain and positive vibe. I couldn’t wait to be part of it this year and finally get the real New Zealand “club field” experience. The club fields are usually non-profit organisations run by enthusiastic club members and seasonal staff. They exist solely for the purpose of skiing and snowboarding, not for commercial gain. These grassroots, unpretentious club fields also have one more enticing element—namely, steep, gnarly terrain that remains relatively untouched. Bowls, chutes, cliffs, short and long hikes are the flavours of the day. Terrain is accessed using high capacity rope tows and so called nutcrackers – more about that little adventure later!

After a 6 hour drive from Wanaka with Jake and Freeride World Champion Susan Mol, we arrived at the cosy alpine lodge nestled in the native bush of the Craigieburn valley. It had been absolutely pouring all day, so our expectations regarding the snow conditions weren’t too high. Furthermore, we were being pounded by gale force winds of up to 120 km/hr. The rope tows were forced to remain closed the following day, so we made use of a brief clearing to explore the area by foot, before it started snowing again in earnest.

Craigieburn's Siberia Basin, with 1st to 6th Gut visible in the background.

Craigieburn's Siberia Basin, with 1st to 6th Gut visible in the background.

Day 2 brought more snow and gale force winds, but luckily for us we were able to ski 5 runs before the rope tows were closed again due to the wind. However, the comp was on hold for today. But we did get to learn, albeit in extreme conditions, how to clamp our nutcracker onto a high speed rope for the first time. What scared me most were the pulleys which hold the rope in place – never once did I forget to take my hand off the rope so as not to get it caught in-between the rope and the pulleys. Without a doubt this day was one of the funniest ski experiences ever!

We were almost blown off the mountain but had a great time

We were almost blown off the mountain but had a great time

Day 3: The Expression Session

Really strong winds again today. The clouds whipped past the mountains so fast it looked like a time lapse. The top rope tow remained closed but that didn’t stop the event staff from organising an expression session in Gut 2 and 3. What looked like a ho-hum little area turned out to be a great playground showcasing the talents of the New Zealand freeskiers: getting super creative and throwing down in terrain a European skier would simply overlook. Super inspired and motivated, I joined the skiers and snowboarders in finding sketchy straight-lines and doing ollies over rocks at high speed, something I would otherwise not attempt. What a great day of skiing! To top it off, I was awarded the best female performance for skiing strong lines from top to bottom. A great way to end the Craigieburn Valley section of the 2009 Big Mountain Chill Series.