Saturday, December 29, 2012

Second top 10 for the season

Four World Cups in four different countries and over two continents in just over 2 weeks… Now that’s a busy schedule!

After the race in Telluride, Val Thorens was the next stop on the World Cup circuit. We had just three days to fly to Milan, drive to France and get over jetlag before the third race of the season. Val Thorens didn’t go quite as well as I would have hoped, just missing out on finals by 3 spots. Conditions were difficult for all the athletes, with more than 50cm of fresh snow over the past 3 days and limited training on the course. I finished 19th, meaning that I didn’t get a chance to race head-to-head against the top 16 qualifying women. A bit disappointing after such a great result in the US just a few days earlier.

After a post-race nutella crepe, the team once again jumped back in the vans and headed to the Dolomites, Italy, for the last race before Christmas. San Candido was the venue for the next event; a beautiful town in the north of Italy nestled beneath some of Europe’s biggest mountains. San Candido has been a stop on the ski cross circuit for four years now. Although I love the place, it has never been my favourite race venue purely because of the ‘average’ results I have had there.  I was convinced that this year would be different!

A fast qualification run put me into 13th place out of a field of 43 girls; a big step in the right direction after Val Thorens.  In the quarterfinals, I had a solid start and pulled out in second place behind Kelsey Serwa of Canada. Half way down the track I made a mistake through one of the turns and was passed by Marion Josserand. I fought the entire way down to make a pass again, but the regrettable mistake kept me back in third, knocking me out of the semi finals. An exciting heat none-the-less. I finished in 10th overall, making it my second top-10 result this season, and putting me in 13th place in the overall rankings.

The women’s big final was undoubtedly one of the most exciting ski cross races I’ve seen. A pass made by Serwa from fourth into first in the middle of the course was textbook and inspiring; an intentional ‘elbow’ from Ophelie David right before the finish caused the Swiss girls to crash hard into the fences; and a last minute disqualification of one of the sports leading athletes (Ophelie David) made for a very exciting race! On a well-built course like this, the sport is incredibly dynamic, vibrant and exciting.

I now have a break over Christmas where I will be spending time with friends and family in Europe. The Aussie ski cross team then re-groups early in the New Year, and we head to France for some training before the next World Cup in Les Contamines.

Public bib draw with local kids before finals, Val Thorens, France.

Plenty of snow in France.

My biggest fans; Mum and Dad. At the World Cup in Val Thorens.

Froggy-style moves in San Candido, Italy. 

Getting air in the Dolomites during qualifications. 

Last minute tactics before finals; San Candido. Scotty, myself, Anton and Matt.

View from my bedroom at the Australian Institute of Sport in Varese, Italy.

La Sella Ronda, Domolites.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

First movie edit for the season!

Check out all the action from the first month on the World Cup tour in North America.

Katya Crema- Ski Cross World Cup- 2012 North America from Katya Crema on Vimeo.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A New PB - 6th in Telluride World Cup

Today I achieved a new personal best result, finishing 6th place in the Ski Cross World Cup in Telluride, Colorado.

Yesterday I had a solid run in qualifications, posting the sixth fastest time amongst the ladies. A good confidence boost coming into finals! Today I was excited to race head-to-head on what has been one of the best tracks on the World Cup circuit. Telluride did a great job in building a world class course, with some of the biggest and most technical features we've seen since the Winter Olympic Games and X Games.

I had a great quarter final heat, finishing in second right behind Fanny Smith of Switzerland. In the semi finals, a couple of small mistakes and some aggressive skiing from the ladies meant that I didn't make it though to the big final. I finished second in the small final, putting me in 6th place overall. A great result for the second World Cup of the season! 

The Aussies had four athletes in the finals today, so a great day for the team. Well done to teammates Scott Kneller, Anton Grimus and Jen Owens who finished 11th, 18th and 11th respectively. 

Tomorrow we fly to Europe where the Aussie SX team will prepare for the next World Cup in Van Thorens, France, on Wednesday and Thursday of next week (18/19 December). No time for jet lag on this schedule!

Here are a couple of shots from today. As you can see I'm elated with the result. Hopefully there are some more good things to come this season!

Relieved with a 6th place finish from bib 24 in the qualifications yesterday.

The race with the finish right in Telluride Mountain Village (courtesy of Jeff Books).

Second in the quarter finals.

Marielle Berger (France), Fanny Smith (Switzerland), myself and Karolina Reimen (Poland) in the quarters.

 Making Tommy proud.

 Small finals finish; Marte H Gjefsen and Julie Jensen of Norway.

Marcos, our ski man, hard at work at the top (courtesy of Jeff Books).

Enjoying ourselves at the top of the course; Jen, Marielle, myself and Sami.

 Nothing like a little head-to-head go karting before the race in Grand Junction to get us ready (courtesy of Jeff Books).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

World Cup opener in Nakiska, Canada

The Ski Cross World Cup season kicked off this weekend with the first race in Nakiska, Canada. I was feeling confident after my podium finish in the Canadian National Champs last weekend, and was excited to race in the season opener.

True to form, the Canadians built a great course; challenging, technical and exciting to ski. I laid down some fast times in training, however come qualification I didn't quite pull it off. A couple of small mistakes down the track pushed me back to 23rd position, just half a second from the finals cut off (top 16). A bit of a disappointment for the first race of the season, given than I'm feeling fitter and stronger than ever, and confident with my skiing.

Fortunately the Aussie boys both qualified and represented the team in fine form in todays finals. Anton Grimus had an amazing day and finished on the podium in third place. Scott Kneller was not far behind, finishing a solid 12th place. Well done boys!

We are now on the road to Telluride, Colorado, where the next Ski Cross World Cup will be held on the 12th and 13th of December. I've heard great things about this course; big jumps, berms and some technical features. Looking forward to learning from my mistakes from this race, putting it behind me, and starting fresh in Telluride.

Athletes inspecting the wu-tang out of the start.

Sucking in some air after the 1min 14 second course (Courtesy of Joe Fitzgerald). 

Scotty and Anton in the finish (Courtesy of Jen Owens)

Anton taking out the bronze behind the two Swiss boys 

The boys' competitiveness continues on the podium... (Courtesy of Jen Owens)

Cheering from the sidelines. Myself, Karolina, Langley and Em. 

Canadian traffic... 

Rocky Mountains, Canada 

 What else to do on a day off but build a gingerbread house?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Some footage from Canadian National Champs...

Semi finals, Canadian National Ski Cross Champs.
I'm on the left in the blue jersey, black helmet!

Crema- Semi finals Canadian Ski Cross National Champs- Nakiska from Katya Crema on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

3rd in Canadian Ski Cross National Championships

3rd place in the first race of the season

Scotty and I taking out the bronze in Mens and Womens

Yesterday was a great day in the office (or rather in the Rocky Mountains…)

We competed in our first race of the season, the Canadian Ski Cross National Championships. Being the only race before the first World Cup next week in Nakiska, it was the perfect opportunity to put our off-season training to practise.

Like always, the first race of the season brings mixed emotions. I was very excited to race, yet completely nervous and anxious all at the same time. The first race is always nerve-racking. You never really know where you stand amongst the other competitors after 8 months since the last World Cup, and whether or not you’ve been doing the “right thing” in the off-season. The Aussies obviously have been doing something right…

I finished 3rd in a field of 21 girls, 16 of which were World Cup athletes. I had some great starts in my first two rounds, progressing me through to the big final against Marte H. Gjefson from Norway, Fanny Smith from Switzerland and Ophelie David from France. Starting with yellow bib in the final (the slowest qualifier of the four and therefore last gate choice), I didn’t have the best start however managed to make a pass on Ophelie half way down the course and jump on the podium. I was proud of my performance today, and I hope to bring this confidence into next week’s World Cup. The hard work I’ve put in on-snow and in the gym is paying off and I’m really happy with how things are shaping up this season so far.

Aussie teammates also had a great day, with Scott Kneller finishing in 3rd place in the Men’s, and Anton Grimus making the small finals and finishing in 8th. Unfortunately Sami and Jen didn’t have their best day, but there’s definitely more to come from those two. Thanks for the cheers in the start gate!

A big thanks to Marcos, our genius ski technician, for making my skis absolute rockets on race day.

The Nakiska World Cup is this coming Friday and Saturday (7th/8th Dec). I’ll be sure to keep you posted with results and broadcast times on Eurosport back home in Australia.