Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Big Win at the Australian National SX Championships

The Australian National Championships / Australia New Zealand Cup Ski Cross event was held at Mt Hotham last weekend. Like in the past, the event attracted a number of international competitors to Australia for the race. Included in the field this year were athletes from Japan, America, Switzerland, Finland, New Zealand, and of course Australia.

My major competitor this year was World Cup racer Fanny Smith from Switzerland, who had a World Cup victory last season and is currently ranked number three in the world.

A few days before the race we battled extreme weather conditions, with torrential rain almost wiping out the entire course before the races even started. Fog and high wind also prevented us from training on the course, so instead we just trained in the start gate. Luckily by Saturday the storm had passed and we finally saw the sun, giving Hotham a chance to build what turned out to be a fast and technical race course with plenty of big rollers, jumps and banked turns.

Being the first race of the southern winter season and the only ski cross event in Australia, I was very excited to be racing again on home turf. It’s always great to come home from a 4-month World Cup season in Europe / North America, and test out your skills on Australian snow.

On day one I qualified in second position, two tenths of a second behind Smith. I made my way through the quarter and semi finals, finding myself in the final head-to-head with Smith, a Japanese competitor and another Aussie. With a fast start, I managed to take the lead at the top of the course and maintained it all the way to the finish line, feeling Smith on the tail of my skis the whole way down. I crossed the line in first, and as you can imagine, I was very excited to have beaten such a highly ranked world-class competitor. A very proud moment for me!

On day two, I had another great day of racing however couldn’t manage to beat Smith to the finish line in the final, and finished in second place.

Overall, a very successful and enjoyable weekend of racing in the sunshine. I finished with a first and a second at the Australian National Championships…not a bad start to the season! It feels great to take the National title again, making me Australian National SX Champion two years in a row.

I am now on my way to New Zealand where I will be competing in the New Zealand Winter Games. This event is held every two years, and attracts a large number of international competitors. The ski cross will be held in Cardrona, which is renowned for being a world cup standard course. Looking at the way the snow season is shaping up in NZ, I might even get a few powder runs in while I’m here!

Will keep you posted with the results after Friday.

Day 1- 1st place in the 2011 Australian National Championships / ANC Ski Cross, Mt Hotham

Celebrating the win with Michael Kennedy, CEO of Ski and Snowboard Australia

Fanny Smith and I enjoying the sun at the top of the race course