Monday, March 18, 2013

Great end to the season

I am happy to say that I have finished off my World Cup season strongly (and in one piece), with a 15th and 8th place finish in Åre, Sweden. With three top 8s this season, my results put me into 16th place in the overall World Cup rankings, making it my best season finish to date. 

This weekend in Åre was a double event, making it a long intense four days of competition. Before things got started though, we made the most of the Audi ice driving experience available to World Cup athletes. Driving fast on ice is almost as fun as skiing fast on ice!

On Friday I qualified in 14th place, with only the top 16 women going through to finals. In my first heat  I was in third place and attempted a pass into second which didn't end well. I got caught on Simmerling's skis beside me and crashed in the turn. A little disappointing but happy that I'm feeling confident to take some risks and put it on the line. After all, that's what this sport is all about!

In yesterday's race I had the twelth fastest qualifying run and was only 0.25 of a second behind fourth place. 9 girls within a quarter of a second; the times were extremely close! In my first heat I completely missed the start and was in fourth position coming into the first turn. I was not giving up that easily though! I made a pass into third place through the first bank turn, and then another risky pass on the negative turn, forcing myself in second place. I made it through to the semi finals; my second time for the season. In the semis, this time I had a great start but managed to catch an edge before the first turn, forcing me to miss the gate. Extremely frustrating! I finished fourth in the small final after making a big mistake in the mid-section of the course. Again, disappointing but happy with my 8th place result none-the-less.

All in all, it's been a fantastic season. I have made some major improvements with my skiing, particularly when it comes to head-to-head racing. I performed well in the two major events of the season; 8th at the World Championships and 11th at the Olympic Games test event in Sochi. I also had a personal best result of 6th on World Cup, and a personal best overall World Cup ranking of 16th. Unfortunately I couldn't bring home a medal this year, but I'm expecting good things to come for next season!

A big thanks to my teammates for being great training partners this season. Also to my coach, Matt Lyons; our guru ski technician Marcos Ruiz; the physios who joined us this winter, Anthony, Claire, Nick and Markus; John Marsden who got me incredibly fit and strong for this season and who joined us for a few weeks on tour in January; and importantly to my family and friends at home for being so supportive day-in, day-out throughout the whole year. I couldn't do this without you!

Start section.

 Proud to be representing ISFT.

Through to the semi-finals.

An attempt to get rid of my goggle mark in the afternoon sun....
Test driving some fast Audis on the lake.

Training with Sami Kennedy Sim (Photo by Yannick Enting). 

Northern lights. This photo doesn't do it justice!

Monday, March 11, 2013

8th at World Championships

Yesterday is up there as one of my career highlights. I finished in 8th place at the World Freestyle Championships in Voss, Norway. This was my third World Championships event, and like all major competitions (but this one in particular!) the pressure was on.

Fortunately we were lucky to have blue skies and sunny weather for the whole week. This almost felt like a first for us this season when it comes to racing.

Two days of training on the course meant that by race day, I was more than ready to go head-to-head with the best girls in the world for a shot at the World Championships title. The course was very technical, with some cranking bumpy turns that lead to quick transitions and some big airs. I was ‘feeling it’ after training, and knew that if I could put together a clean qualification run, I should be fast. I qualified in 9th place, my second best qualification this season.

Qualifying fast is one thing, but Finals is a whole new race. Besides gate choice, the top 32 men and women start from scratch. In my first heat, I had a great start and took the whole shot from the first turn. I maintained my lead over Alize Baron of France, and crossed the line in first, progressing through to the semi finals. In the next heat, with third gate choice, my start was solid but there wasn’t enough room from the right gate to get into first or second. I snuck into third and didn't give up the whole the way down, looking for an opportunity to pass. Unfortunately the opportunity didn’t arise; Baron skied extremely well and left no room for overtaking. I finished in third place in my heat, so 9th overall. To my luck, a disqualification of one of the girls in the semi final due to ‘unfair contact’ pushed me up to 8th.

Teammate Anton Grimus also had a great day, finishing in 7th place. Two top 8’s at the World Championships for the Aussies; not too bad for a little team!

We have just arrived in Åre, Sweden, where I will be competing in two World Cups over the weekend. These are my final events for the winter, so let’s hope I can finish this great season strongly, increase my World Cup ranking (which is currently at 16th), and produce two more great results.

 View of the ski cross course. Courtesy of Anton Grimus.


An impressive jump on the slopestyle course.


 Lambs head. A traditional dish in Norway. Can't say I was brave enough to try this one....