Sunday, January 30, 2011

13th in Germany World Cup

After the Europa Cup in Switzerland last week, we drove to Grasgheren, Germany, for the next Ski Cross World Cup. We had two days to kill prior to the race, so we decided to train some GS at Oberjoch. This mountain doesn’t bring back great memories for me. I raced in my first Europa Cup slalom here four years ago and it turned out to be a disaster; a night race in gale force winds, torrential rain, no operating chair lift (which meant hiking) and a broken thumb. Not my idea of fun! Four years on though and how things have changed! From Europa Cup slalom to a World Cup Ski Cross.

On Thursday we did ski testing with the Swiss Team in order to figure out which skis were fastest on this type of snow.

(Ski testing)

Training was held on Friday in Grasgheren. When we arrived, there seemed to be a lot of hype surrounding this particular World Cup. Media vans filled the car park, as well as fans just to watch training. The course was equipped with 18 cameras to capture the race for live TV coverage; almost as many cameras as the Olympics! Apparently Ski Cross is huge in Germany after the sport’s success at the Olympic Games. It was the second most watched sport in the nation (behind biathlon of course!), with over 3 million viewers. Germany is right behind the new and exciting sport.

(Course inspection with a view!) 

(Anton on top of the step-down)

The course was the longest track on the World Cup so far, over 1 minute and 15 seconds. Tiring and leg burning when you’re taking four runs in under an hour, including hiking to the start.

On Friday night, an athlete presentation was held in the town square. There was a massive turn out, with a huge number of people showing up to support the athletes. It definitely established some hype and excitement for what was to come on race day tomorrow.

(Team Australia) 

Yesterday was qualifications and finals in the one day. Fans lined the entire course for a view of the action. I qualified in 12th position, with a couple of minor mistakes. It’s difficult to ski a perfect run, especially when you’re pushing it and taking risks. In a 1 minute 15 course, I was just over 2 seconds behind the winner and current World Cup leader, Heidi Zacher, of Germany.

Between qualifications and finals, I made the most of the stationary bike we travel with by doing some spinning in the back of the van for recovery, trying to remove the lactic acid from my legs. I needed to be fresh for finals in the afternoon, not slow and lethargic.

(Spinning in the van before finals)

In my finals heat was Katrin Mueller of Switzerland, Andrea Limbacher of Austria and Nikola Checova of Czech… a tough heat! I had a great start and pulled into second position off the first jump and around the first turn. I maintained this position right down the course, staying tight to Mueller who was less than a ski length in front of me. Coming around the second last turn, Limbacher managed to pull into my draft, and in the long straight section before the finish, she pulled out and accelerated past me. I was pipped right at the finish line, and finished in third. Devastated! So unbelievably close to making semi-finals and a top 8 result. My qualifying time put me in 13th place, still a great World Cup result.

(The crowd at the bottom of the race) 

Although it was extremely disappointing to be beaten on the last turn, I was happy with how I raced. The head-to-head racing is definitely improving, and my confidence is building. I know I can mix it with the best girls in the world; it’s just a matter of time, and each racing is getting better and better!

What made my day was when the Australian national anthem was played for Andreas Matt of Austria, who won the men's event. I thought it was strange whilst watching the prize giving ceremony why I knew the words to the supposed Austrian anthem...

I am now at Munich airport, waiting to board my flight to Salt Lake City, Utah. Next on the schedule, World Championships!!!

(Packing for the States. One way to save money on an airline ticket!)


Will keep you updated!

(Traditional gondola)

(Team shot for our hotel owners)

(Interesting benches at a German cafe)