Posted: September 28th, 2011 | Author:tim | Filed under:Latest | Comments Off
Skia Ora Team!
First of all, I apologise for being a little lazy with the updates this winter. Actually, I apologise for being very lazy with the updates this winter! I have seen many of you in person either on the slopes or sporting the blue uniform in Browns Ski Shop in the past few months. It was an exciting winter yet again, including wild weather, deep powder, some awesome events and my best ever result!
As most of you will know, the snow didn’t arrive on schedule this year anywhere in New Zealand. Then it didn’t arrive a week late. Nor 2 weeks. It was slightly over 3 weeks late, and mid-way through the Queenstown Winter Festival before the snow finally showed itself, and it was out of the cannons to start with. Nevertheless when the snow finally came it was in 3 monumental snow storms, all of which dumped heavy snow right down to Queenstown, one of them possibly the heaviest snowfall on record. Kingston was blanketed with 70+cm of snow, Frankton with around 40, and 30 in other parts of the district. Needless to say there has been some seriously dry snow here this year – I skied knee deep champagne powder from the top of Coronet to the valley floor twice this year – once in a lifetime!
Would you believe this was on Malaghans Road? And it was only halfway through the storm!?
Well, since I am a ski racer I should probably talk about ski racing, I guess?
The season started a little late because of the snow, but I welcomed the break. I returned from overseas fairly late this winter, having competed well into April in the USA. The extra time allowed me to rest my back for about 6 weeks, rehab, and get seriously back into physical training. I am happy to say the back has been perfect all winter. Thank you pilates-style core, lots of strength training and an insane amount of stretching!
In order to make the finances work this season 6 national team members; Ben Griffin, Taylor Rapley, Jamie and Nick Prebble, Andrew Wylie and myself joined the Queenstown Alpine Ski Team (QAST). QAST in turn employed Nils Coberger as a coach for us, and helped with some financial support. It was fantastic of them to do that for us. It was also really rewarding for me to come back to my roots, and meet and ski with lots of the younger kids in the team! They have so much enthusiasm and passion…more on this later. In order to make it work for me personally, I worked full time in Browns, and consequently skied mostly 3-4 days a week in the training periods. Again, less time on snow was not necessarily a bad thing; I am a much more experienced athlete these days, so less volume and more focus was a viable way to make a training model work.
The race season was short and sharp this winter – everything was condensed into a month. The competition was fierce, particularly in the Winter Games. We saw record breaking fields, with incredibly talented athletes, and a depth of talent which is only seen in Europa Cup races…the step just below World Cup. The Winter Games was a seriously awesome event – downtown prizegivings with bands, proper public bib-draws and awesome TV snippets each evening. This was topped by blue skies and perfect snow. I finished 5th in the Winter Games Super-G in Mount Hutt, behind 3 Swedes and a Jap. The result was not my best FIS points performance ever but it was in the top 5, and I was happy with my skiing. The result also helped my season; the Winter Games were ANC races, and one of my goals this winter was to win the ANC Super-G title. Following this, we had the Nationals Super-G at Hutt, where Ben pipped me by a few hundredths of a second to take the title, and the GS and SL at Coronet. The GS was less than spectacular for me, and once again Ben took the title. He repeated his trend and pushed me back to 2nd in the Slalom, giving himself a clean sweep of national titles…impressive! I am happy to be 2nd behind him in 2 disciplines though, he is a truly talented athlete.
The ANC finals at Hutt were a successful time for me. The first Super-G was not quite as fast as I had hoped, but I finished in the top-15 to gain some points towards the ANC title. In the final Super-G I managed to find my form. I finished 2nd, just .04 behind the winner Johan Oehagen of Sweden. It was a personal best (by a long way!) 20 point FIS result. My best prior to this was a 26. The result will pull my world ranking down about 25%. I was seriously pumped. It also meant that I won the ANC Super-G title, which gives me a guaranteed World Cup Spot this coming winter and a 31st start position at NorAm and Europa Cup.
Screaming onto Johnny Doles at Mount Hutt. Yes I have been rocking the facial hair all winter.
Despite the success of the winter for me I am changing my approach for the future. I will retire altogether from GS and Slalom competition. I can safely say that I have given these disciplines my best shot and that my results indicate that I have reached my potential. I will continue to compete in Super-G, but I am going to do so in a more low-key manner. I am in the process of trying to organise a summer camp with K-level (11-14 year old) kids from QAST this summer in either Lake Tahoe or Spain with me as the coach. I have been joining the kids at all the races since I finished at Mount Hutt a few weeks ago, and joining them occasionally for training at Coronet Peak. I thoroughly enjoy working with them and can see a bright future for many. I hope to stay on for an extra 2 weeks and race in a NorAm series in Aspen, Colorado to utilise the 31 start-position I have and get a few races in while I am overseas. There are no World Championships or Olympics this coming season. Next winter in New Zealand I will race in the Super-G races at Mount Hutt. The rules have changed slightly, so the races from June 2012 onwards will count for qualification for Sochi 2014!
In order to work towards becoming a better coach and a career in the ski industry I completed my NZSIA Level 2 Ski Instructors last week. The NZSIA have been amazing in facilitating this for 5 of us who are all still on the national ski team, making it free of charge and adjusting certain parts of the course for us. Thanks guys!
For now, the next few months are a bit uncertain. I am looking for any landscaping/gardening work anybody has for now, or any temporary work between now and mid to late December as this is likely when the winter would start for me. Also, if anyone wants a storage tune and wax put on their skis give me a buzz…I will have them all tuned up for $25 and scrape them for free prior to next winter.
So, until next time, I guess! Thank you to everyone who has supported this winter and throughout my entire career. It has been amazing, and I am so lucky to have lived this incredible life.
Posted: July 2nd, 2011 | Author:tim | Filed under:Latest | Comments Off
Well, it has been a long and stressful wait for many for the ski season to finally start here in Queenstown. The reality is that we always knew it would start at some point, but for so many businesses relying on the ski season it was an intense period. You could almost hear the sigh of relief last Wednesday when nzski announced that Coronet would finally open! Remarks opens today with limited terrain, all thanks to snowmaking. The good news is that snow is on the way next week! Personally, I have enjoyed the break from the snow; my back probably needed the extra time off, and I have made the most of the time to physical train and sort out where to go from here.
There are a few changes to the way the NZ Team will operate this winter. Firsly, you will all be pleased and relieved to know that Nils is still at the helm. However this winter in NZ we will remove gender discrimination from our mandate and allow Taylor Rapley to join us for training. This is all part of a new set-up whereby Nils is employed as the elite coach for the Queenstown Alpine Ski Team (QAST) and those NZ Team members who chose to join QAST will be coached by Nils. Why, you ask? Money, politics and the way the winds blow. Nevertheless, I am quite excited about returning to my roots as a QASTie. And, in practise, the training set-up will be exactly the same – we will have our own lane supplied by Coronet Peak at Rocky Gully and will be based mostly in Queenstown. We have joined forces as a team with Queenstown Gym and Alpine Health and Fitness, and on a personal note I have joined POC headgear/protection; the newest, latest, greatest and most importantly safest stuff coming out of Sweden that isn’t put together from an IKEA kit.
This winter I will be working at Browns Ski Shop once again in the rentals 4 days a week, and will also be running Monday demos at Coronet Peak (so please stop in and try some new skis out – free to try!) Obviously without snow I haven’t been working for about a month now, which means I have had to take some extra hours on for the winter in order to get through. I have also decided this winter to complete my BA in Philosophy from Otago, where I have signed up for the final 2 papers needed. And, just because I want to make sure I have absolutely no free time whatsoever, I will shoot for my Level 1 & 2 ski instructors qualifications this season.
As far as racing is concerned we will have a pretty stacked season. The Winter Games are back on again and are shaping up to be a huge showcase of all winter sport, with multiple Olympic gold medallists expected to compete. These will be partly Coronet and partly Mt Hutt for us, and anywhere from Naseby to Snow Park for the other sports in the competition. Coronet will also play host to the NZ Nationals and the Southern Cup in August, while Mt Hutt will host the ANC finals in September. As usual we expect a plethora of foreign national teams training here in NZ, which will provide great racing opportunities.
See you all soon. This time in 10 days we will be wondering what the mountains looked like without snow on them!
Posted: June 3rd, 2011 | Author:tim | Filed under:Latest | Comments Off
Just a quick update. I have started work back at Browns Ski Shop in Queenstown. Browns have been a fantastic sponsor for my entire career. I will be representing at the Snow Show in The Viaduct, Auckland this weekend with some cool postcards and a little display. Hope to see some of you there!
Queenstown has been a tad warm lately, but from next Tuesday it looks cold, so the snowmaking will be all go and Coronet should be open for business next weekend. Good things take time.
Posted: April 25th, 2011 | Author:tim | Filed under:Latest | Comments Off
Happy Easter everyone. I have finally managed to sit down and write an update. I have to apologise for how long it has taken – the last update was just after the Super-G at World Champs and accompanied by a promise that I would be in touch after the World Champs GS and Slalom. I decided, however, to delay the update in the wake of the Christchurch quake, a delay which turned out to be longer than expected. Sorry!
First of all, my condolences to all those effected by the Earthquake. Team NZ’s thoughts were with all of you. It was a very sad day for New Zealand, but as always we will stick together and move forward. Ben and I raced the World Cup at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia with black arm bands in commemoration.
Nils, Ben, Me and Mozy wearing the black armbands.
I guess that brings me back to skiing!
World Champs Continued
The World Championships continued to GS and Slalom, with corresponding qualification races. I qualified in the GS comfortably. In the GS final race I finished 43rd, a result which on paper doesn’t look spectacular, but I am proud of how I skied – this year I was closer to the winner (7.4 seconds) in 2 runs than I was in 1 run 2 years ago at the World Champs in Val d’Isere. I also improved from my start position, which was 60th. Ben unfortunately failed to finish.
My Slalom race, however, was less successful. I failed to finish the qualifying event, meaning I was unable to compete in the final race. However Ben skied very well in the qualifier. While he failed to finish the final he proved to us and himself that he is a strong Slalom skier, even though traditionally he is a GS skier.
Europe after World Champs
Following Garmisch we headed back to our base in Austria for a last stint of racing. For me, the rest of the races in Europe proved slightly less successful than I had hoped. I trained well and put down some decent runs in races, especially in Super-G, but did not improve my rankings significantly. The highlight was competing for the second time in the World Cup GS at Kranjska Gora. Kranjska (cran-scar) is one of the classic GS hills on the circuit, which is notoriously difficult owing to icy, bumpy conditions and flat light. My main goals at Kranjska were to race aggressively and give 100% – previous World Cups were riddled with timid skiing. I skied aggressively right out of the gate on the tough first pitch, but failed to finish further down, with a mistake on one of the blind rollers.
Despite skiing well that day I was frustrated with my results, and frankly I was a little Euro-sick. Spending so much time in German-speaking Austria is a little depressing, especially when things are tough. Owing to the fact that I had not had any great results I decided to travel alone to the US Nationals and Spring Series in Colorado and Washington. I knew I was skiing well enough, so I wanted to give myself the opportunity to score. I left Ben, Nils and Mozy in Europe at German Nationals, skipping the last few races in favour of a busier race calendar and the promise land that is the USA.
Back to the USA
The first stop was Colorado. I skied well in most of the Colorado FIS races and the US Nationals. The 2 weeks I spent there was riddled with heavy snowfall. Most of the western United States has had record seasonal snowfall this winter – Alpine Meadows Lake Tahoe at one point was boasting a base of over 9 meters. So, amongst powder skiing, my best result was a 38 point Super-G at US Nationals, where I finished 16th.
A short 18 hour drive and I was at the final race series in Mission Ridge, Washington. The area reminded me of Central Otago – rolling dry hills, orchards and vineyards with snow-capped peaks in the distance. It was a lovely change. The series was bittersweet. Mission Ridge turned on fantastic weather and hard snow for the event, a big change from Colorado. I am pleased to say that in the first Super-G I scored an equal career best 27 point result. It was my first major Super-G result on foreign soil, and will bring my ranking back down to what it was at the time of the Olympics last year. Check out the footage. Sadly, though, I injured my back in the same run. I knew something was wrong when I felt it seize about ¾ of the way through the run, but muscled through as best I could, as I felt the rest of the run was fast. The injury is nothing major – some strained ligaments and tender muscles. It was enough, however, to stop me from racing the rest of the series. I tried for 2 days but it was too painful.
So that was my season! Thank you very much to all of you. This could never be possible without your awesome support.
I am now back at home in Arrowtown resting up with my family. I am pleased to report that the back is much better after a few days of doing very little. A trip to the physio next week should help confirm that it’s on the mend. From now until the winter my plans are to heal my back, get fit and possibly find some temporary work. I plan to start training on snow with the NZ team once Coronet Peak opens in early June. I am also hoping to work at Browns Ski Shop this winter around my training (Kris, I guess this is your official notice!) This winter will involve some fantastic racing in New Zealand once again, with the highlight being the Winter Games NZ in late August.
Gruss Gott from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The NZ team has finally reached the World Champs. The last few weeks have been a good build up to the race, despite my clumsiness resulting in a few stitches in my chin and some nice skiers’ back pain. During the championships we will be racing 3 events; Super-G, Giant Slalom and Slalom. This is a bit of a ridiculous update. I intended to write it before the races started, and sat down to do so 2 days ago, but was all hyped up and unable to string a sentence together. So, spoiler alert, I finished a career best 31st in the World Champs Super-G yesterday. Read on for the story!
The last 2 weeks have been a bumpy ride, literally and metaphorically. We raced our second European Cup race of the season, which was challenging, and once again saw neither Ben nor I posting results. We switched to Super-G in order to get ready for the World Cup race last weekend and the World Champs. Super-G is my preferred discipline, the one I finished 38th in the Olympics last January and 36th at the 2009 World Championships. So to start the block we raced 2 FIS Super-G races in Austria, which went relatively well. I finished around my rankings.
We decided that prior to the World Champs we needed some training and some high level experience. So naturally a week of training on very icy snow with members of the US and Swiss ski teams, followed by a World Cup race was in order. The training was fantastic, except I managed to split my chin open and get a few stitches, irritate a disc in my back, sprain a thumb ligament and contract a nice cold. Bugger. Nevertheless I bit the bullet and decided to race the World Cup Super-G in Hinterstoder, Austria. In our sport the World Cup is a season long series, and the highest level of racing. It is one of my ultimate goals, to become competitive on World Cup. Hinterstoder was steep, turny, icy and bumpy. It was tough. And honestly, I failed to rise to the occasion. I had numerous mistakes and finished 52nd (or, put more simply, last). To be fair, though, I was the second last ranked athlete at the start, so it was not unexpected. Unfortunately Ben failed to finish.
Needless to say this did not fill me with confidence for the World Championships! However I am proud to say that I stepped it up yesterday in the Super-G. Once again the course was very icy and bumpy, and competition was tough. I finished 31st, just one hundredth of a second off 30th position. A top-30 finish was my ultimate goal, so I have to be happy with the finish! Ben was just on my tail in 32nd with a bit of a rough ride and a few mistakes too.
We have a few days of training, some warm up races and then the GS and Slalom World Champs next week. Ben will be an automatic starter in the GS as he is in the top-50 at start. I will have to finish top-25 in a qualifying event the previous day, and we will both have to qualify in the Slalom.