Tagged ‘COVID-19’

A Season Like No Other!

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The World Cup Finals were held in Thyon, Switzerland. The GB Telemark Ski Team included Alec and Colin Dixon, Timote (Tim) Gough and I for this event. Our injured team-mate, Sissi Compton, turned up to show her support and Irish athlete, Max Screawn, joined us throughout the duration of these races. The racing kicked off with a grueling Classic where I finished in 4th, Alec in 21st, Colin in 20th, Tim in 19th and Max unfortunately did not finish (DNF).

The following day and subsequently the final World Cup day (as the Parallel Sprint was unfortunately cancelled due to poor weather conditions) was the Sprint event. Here I placed 4th again, Alec in 20th, Colin and Tim unfortunately did not finish (DNF) and Max in 18th place.

I finished 5th this season in the overall World Cup ranking; 4th in Classic, 5th in Sprint and 7th in Parallel Sprint. It was not my best season but its all part of the game that is sport!

Then the snow began to fall (hence the cancellation of the last race) as we made our way to the World Championships in Melchsee-Frutt, Switzerland. Originally the event was meant to be held in Murren (also Switzerland) but they were eventually unable to hold the event due to reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We enjoyed a few powder days before racing again, not ideal race preparation but the good news was that everyone was in the same boat.

The week also included the World Junior Championships (WJC), as well as the World Championship races. The first event was the WJC Sprint where Tim finished 12th and Max in 9th place. The seniors went up to help slip the course; this is part of the true telemark spirit.

The first World Championship race was the Sprint, I finished in 7th, Alec in 11th, Colin in 18th, Tim in 19th and Max in 12th place. This is a career best for Max, Colin and Alec Dixon, and from Alec – the best ever finish in a Sprint from a British man on the world stage.

Following the Sprint, we had a qualification run for the Parallel Sprint and here, I qualified in 3rd with a solid run. I eventually finished in 5th after being knocked out by silver medal winner Beatrice Zimmermann (SUI) in the semi-finals.

Alec finished in 13th, Colin in 17th, Tim in 15th and Max in 14th place. Tim and Max also competed in the WJC placing 11th (Tim, after a huge crash) and 10th (Max, after a close race).

The last race, the Classic, included two skate sections and really finished off the racing in style. I finished 5th, Alec in 11th and Colin in 12th place, both results are career best finishes in Classic for the boys! In the WJC Tim finished in 12th and Max in 8th respectably.

These were not quite the results I was hoping for, it has been a difficult season in so many ways but as always it is a pleasure to spend time on snow and even better to compete, especially with all that is going on in the world right now.

Our training buddies, the French, are losing their coach Julien Annequin. He has retired and is passing the baton to former racer, Antione Bouvier, who I am sure will also do a great job. Julien, or Pingu as I call him, will be very missed.

Now time to rest, and take stock of the season. As always, thank you to everyone making it possible, those people include team and personal sponsors, coaches and team, team-mates, committees, organisers, federations, friends and family.

A special shout out to coach, Sebastien Mansart, and his girls for allowing me to stay with them for several months, and to my boyfriend, Will, for taking a massive risk by joining me this winter.

I feel I have learnt so much, both on and off my skis. Who knew there was so much soul searching, work and investment involved in chucking yourself down a mountain.

The World Cup, COVID and a Podium

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We began training on the slopes back in October with our first camp in Hintertux, Austria. This season, Slovenian athlete; Masa Strakl, has been a regular training buddy of mine, along with the French Telemark Ski Team who have always been close by.

I spent time with the Swiss Telemark Ski Team, training up on the Saas Fee glacier. The conditions were often ideal and I learnt a lot throughout my stay – thank you to the Swiss for having me.  

I was even lucky enough to spend time with the German Telemark Ski Team in Kaunertal, Austria. We were always vigilant to stay within the rules, and as the season has progressed the restrictions have become, well more restrictive.

The pre-season training was very interesting for me, there were many positive points to not-being-able to return home between camps, and spending time with other teams opened my mind to new ideas. I do of course miss my family and friends very much; I can’t imagine this time has been easy for anyone.

As December arrived, so did my boyfriend Will who, during winter, works at Praz Sports just beyond Chamonix. Coach; Sebastien Mansart, managed to organise training in Flaine and then Plaine Joux within France, although much time was spent cross country skiing as the resorts have remained closed here in Les Houches.

The COVID situation within the UK became more serious recently and further restrictions were placed on Brits leaving and entering the country. This made traveling very complicated for the majority of my teammates.

The GB Telemark Ski Team has a new clothing sponsor; Maier Sports. The clothing provides a high-quality, bespoke fit along with a five-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship on all products. We are very grateful to Maier Sports for their support; it will now be very easy to spot us on the slopes.

The racing kicked off in Oberjoch, Germany with two races within each discipline; the minimum requirement for a “full” season. The tour has suffered with cancellations of the Slovenian and French part of the circuit, although much work is happening behind the scenes to replace these lost events. We also had competitions in Thyon, Switzerland in the form of two FIS races, which served as the perfect warm up event for the World Cup races in Germany.

The first two days of racing were both Sprint events, I finished 4th and 7th and GB new-comer, Timote (Tim) Gough finished 24th and did not finish (DNF) on day two. Max Screawn, Irish athlete, finished 21st and a career best of 16th place. As you can see below, it was a good day for Switzerland.

The following two days were Parallel Sprint (PS) events; the PS is always so exciting. I managed a 5th and then 9th place after a crash in the first round of racing. Tim and Max unfortunately didn’t qualify within the top 16 men.

A good friend of mine, Matti Lopez (FRA) crashed in the final, finished 2nd but injuring his knee, a small word to wish him well for the future.

The final day was one to remember! Two Classic events after all those races previously, proved to be grueling both physically and mentally. I finished 2nd behind Amelie Wenger-Reymond (SUI) and ahead of Johanna Holzmann (GER) in the first race which felt a real achievement after a tough week. The second race I collected more penalties and finished 6th but was pleased with the day none the less. Tim finished 21st and 20th after skiing very well; Max was 18th and 21st respectably.

It is great to be back in the start gate after such a crazy year. Thank you to all organizers, sponsors and supporters for making this possible. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I am doing.

Fingers crossed for more races very soon!

End of Season

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The remaining races of the FIS Telemark World Cup season have been cancelled due to the corona-virus (COVID-19). The ski resorts and pretty much everything else, have shut down entirely to reduce the spread of this outbreak. That gives time to conclude another year of work, to reflect and look ahead to the next steps.

A few seasons ago an athlete-movement took place, all athletes met to discuss the viewpoint they have, and what they foresee in the future of our sport. This formed an Athlete Working Group comprising of three athletes; myself, Beatrice Zimmermann (SUI) and Matti Lopez (FRA). Since then we have attended FIS Congress events in Greece, Croatia and Switzerland doing our best to represent the athlete viewpoint.

There is an official organisation under FIS (International Ski Federation) called the Athletes Commission, and until very recently this only included athletes from Olympic disciplines. I am very pleased to announce that a further two athletes have been added, myself on behalf of Telemark and another British athlete; Jan Farrell from Speed Skiing. This is important as it gives a voice to athletes across a broader range of disciplines. We can share and exchange our experiences to develop further.

Whilst training and competing, I am also working my way through my BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) qualifications, aiming to achieve the highest level. This season, I have been working for the ESF (Ecole du Ski Francais) in Les Houches which has been an amazing experience.

Whilst the competition circuit has functioned far from ideally, I managed to collect three World Cup podiums exceeding the former tally to hold a new British record. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that supports, from team and personal sponsors, to family, boyfriend, friends, team-mates, coaches, committees, federations, organisers, and many more.

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