Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I WON A NISSAN CAR!!!

Xavier De La Rue and I were the winners of the Nissan Riders Award

The Verbier Xtreme went down on Sunday March 22nd. I was a little nervous in the morning, but after the hour hike to the start my nerves seemed to have calmed down and I was ready to throw down. The line I had chosen was straight forward for my skiing style: not too technical with 2 big airs involved allowing me to ski strong and fast. The last thing I wanted to do was ski conservative or veer away from what has been working for me this season at the last stop of the FWT. I was going for the win! The snow conditions were not exactly ideal, but they could have been a lot worse.

The first big air I ended up crashing on- the snow was a little grabby and I should have kept it perfectly fall line. However, I am stoked that I went for it and that I crashed on something that wowed the crowd instead of falling from a stupid mistake. My goal this year was not so much to win the Overall but rather win Line of the Year. Accordingly, making sure that I stayed on my feet by skiing easier lines was not going to lead me to this objective. If you are not willing to take risks then a goal like this is hard to achieve. I really want to help progress the sport of women's big mountain skiing, and I felt honored when one of the ski judges thanked me after the Verbier comp for pushing women's skiing this year in competition.

The things you have to do to get to your lines in Europe...

In the end my hard work has paid off- at the awards ceremony my fellow competitors voted for me as having the best female line of the season from my run in Squaw Valley- and so I won the Nissan car!!! It is such an honor to be given an award from your fellow riders- it reflects the respect that they have for you and your skiing. Wow, I won a car!!! I also ended up 4th Overall, not too bad considering I crashed in 2 of the 4 events this season. Ah... another competition season is over! I am flying home tomorrow and will focus on filming with the Levitation Project to finish out my season.

At the final awards with all the riders

This is just part of the audience watching the Verbier Xtreme

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Prepping for the Verbier Xtreme


In less than 24 hours we will be competing on the infamous Bec de Rosses- the women are taking the skier's left shoulder and the men are taking it from the top. I can't say that I'm jealous this year of not going from the proper top like the men, the snow conditions are less than ideal. The wind has affected the face a great deal. You can feel the slight anxious tension amongst the competitors. I don't feel quite nervous yet, but no worries, it will be there tomorrow morning! The women are going first (wahoo!) and I drew bib 9. There are 6 women skiers and 6 women snowboarders. I'm really excited to ski this face, and hopefully all will go as planned.

The left shoulder of the Bec where the females will be competing, the two starts will be next to the two prominent rocks on the top

Marja Persson, my Swedish roomie, checking out the view from the top

This year the organization decided to let the riders inspect the face by hiking to the starts, a change from the past. With the idea that there will be more confident and agressive riding that will take place as a result of this extra inspection, we were all excited for the opportunity. However, once we got to the top of the women's face the inspection was nothing short of adrenaline pumping. To get a good look from above we had to shimmy around some rocks and scale up a tight shaft. It's amazing how much safer I feel when I have my skis attached.

You can see the tiny crack we had to climb up to get to the best view

Jess McMillan getting ready to do the squeeze

In tight quarters...

The view from the top... where's my line..?!

Photo of the day... the Swatch girls giving a show at the street party

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Skiing in Switzerland!


Lucky for me I am spending a total of 3 weeks in Europe. Two of those weeks are dedicated to competing, but the one week between the Tignes and Verbier comps I was free to do as I please. Wanting to take advantage of Europe's great snowpack, I headed to the German side of Switzerland with a group of frenchies to get in some filming and photos. The group was made up of Thibaud Duchosal, another FWT competitor from Les Arcs; David Allemoz, a freerider from La Plagne, Thomas Allemoz, the filmer, and Stephane Godin, the photographer.

The view across the valley from Disentis

We first headed to Disentis. To get there in the wintertime you have to load your car onto a train to reach the first valley of Andermatt and then another to get to the valley of Sedun/Disentis. Disentis was a bust for us. Even though there are plenty of cool things to ski the temperatures had warmed up significantly all over Europe, and because the resort of Disentis is mostly south facing the snow was ruined.

David and I enjoying our day at Disentis

The next two days we decided to check out Andermatt which reaches a higher elevation and has a lot of north facing aspects. We kept our accomodations in Sidentis since it was really easy to access Andermatt from there. In the morning we would suit up in our ski gear, catch the train, get off at the top of the Sedrun ski resort, ski down to the Andermatt valley, then jump onto the tram there that took us to the top of Andermatt.

David and Thibaud loading the train to Andermatt

A few shots here, a few shots there, we were working really hard to make the most of it. It's not easy to get those A+ shots that we hope for, but it was a fantastic experience! The guys I was with were really fun to be around and we enjoyed ourselves greatly. Andermatt has so much to offer, more mini-golf than big lines but that didn't matter- I was able to really push myself and prepare for Verbier. And now onto the Verbier Xtreme!

Andermatt

Thibaud catching some air

David and Thomas scoping lines

One of the fun lines I skied

The town of Andermatt

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Freeride World Tour Event #3 in Tignes, France

Picture of Tignes Village from the Grande Balme

After several days of waiting through stormy weather we were finally able to compete. The venue was the infamous Grande Balme and I definitely had some mixed emotions going into it. The last time I competed on this face I was badly injured, but that was nothing compared to watching a fellow competitor die. Of course you have to push all of those thoughts out of your mind, but after a day like yesterday it makes you wonder why we keep competing on such a life-threatening face. The snow conditions were very limiting this year and disallowed a great deal of the venue. Even though there is heaps of snow covering the rest of Europe, Tignes has had a problem this year with the wind taking it all away.
The comp ended up being quite interesting- there were two really bad injuries, and I was the last female skier (women go after men) so that amounted to waiting for over 3 hours at the start. Not that I'm complaining because it's not good when people (friends) are getting hurt. I still managed to ski really well and ended up in 3rd place. There were lots of people that thought I should have won- but that's the name of the game when you're doing a judged sport! Either way it will make it very interesting for Verbier. I've really got to ski to my maximum potential if I want to win because the competition is going to be intense! Should be fun.
Stay tuned for the Verbier Xtreme, it is suppose to go down next Saturday March 21st.

The Grande Balme (but from another year, this picture shows way too high of a snow level, I wish it looked like this, there would have been a lot more options for line choice)

Powder skiing and taking a long lunch during a down day with the Swedes Kaj and Marja...

as well as Mitch, Bibi, Henrik, and Sverre

We hit up the gym a few times as well while we waited to compete
as Kaj and Eric demonstrate
Marja and Sverre working the bikes

Monday, March 9, 2009

Freeride World Tour Event #2 in Squaw Valley

Last week the 2nd stop of the Freeride World Tour came to Squaw Valley USA. Finally the infamous Tram Face was to be skied! I was so excited.
At the beginning of the week Squaw was unfortunate enough to receive a bit of rain, which completely ruined the Tram Face that we were to compete on. The only way we were going to compete on the legendary face was to receive at least another foot of snow. Because Friday February 27th was forecasted as the only possible blue day during our event's waiting period, the organizers acted quickly and decided to take advantage of the situation and moved the event to an area at Squaw called Silverado. With sunny skies and and a few inches of Sierra butter on an already smooth face, the event went off with a bang. The men went first and holy cow did we some amazing skiing and snowboarding go down. The women were to follow the men, and as I had drawn first for the females in the bib draw I felt the need to continue the superb level of skiing and show that the women are able to keep up with the men. My run was fast, smooth, and had 3 nice sized airs throughout. My run was so much fun, I was completely stoked when I came through the finish! It wouldn't have even mattered where I finished in the placings, runs like that are what we live for.
Wonderfully I ended up in 1st place, and with a bit of a lead in the points I had a nice cushion going into the Tram Face. The next storm came through Squaw and started off very, very wet. As any Tahoe local knows, this was no big deal. These kind of storms usually result in heaps of snow with a stable snowpack. Unfortunately, the organization decided to cancel sticking out our waiting period to ski Tram Face, which was until March 5th. They believed the conditions to be unsafe and thought that the stormy weather would not break, and would rather focus their attention on the next event in Tignes. As I left Squaw Thurday morning, March 5th, to catch my plane to France I stared at the beautifully tranquil Tram Face with 3 feet of fresh snow covering it under blue skies. The storm had broke! Alas, once again the face prevailed and it continues its legacy of not being properly ridden. I can only hope that next year I will once again get the chance to ski this taunting face that I have been staring at and dreaming about for the past few years. Vive la Tram Face!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Filming with the Levitation Project in Utah

After the first stop of the FWT in Russia, I headed straight to Utah to film with the cool kids, aka the Levitation Project. Utah stayed true to its roots and snowed tons during my stay, 3 weeks of glorious powder skiing! Can't ask for much more out of life: good snow, good skiing, and great friends to share it with...

Dawn patrol in Grizzly Gulch with Nico and Bridger

Getting the goods with Julian Carr

What is there not to smile about?!

Julian showing who's the boss...

Another early morning hiking up Mt Superior, this is the opposing view

Jamey Parks preparing to slay a line in Dry Fork

One of the fun lines I skied

To check out more great pics from my time in Utah go to the Levitation Project's website and go to the ski blog: www.skiblog.thelevitationproject.com