Tagged ‘FIS World Cup’

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.

Norway

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Following on from Samoens, France, the tour traveled on to Rjukan, Norway for two Sprint events and one Parallel Sprint.

Day one started well, I was sat in 3rd place after the first run but had a small crash on the second run, ending up in 10th place. Louis Hatchwell skied into 22nd, while Colin Dixon ended up in 23rd position; a personal best for Colin in the Sprint.

Day two was more of a success, I secured my third podium of the season finishing in 3rd place behind my training buddy, Argeline Tan Bouquet (FRA) and Amelie Wenger Reymond (SUI). Louis Hatchwell finished 24th and Colin Dixon finished in 28th place.

The final day of competition was the Parallel Sprint. This year the rules are slightly different in that your qualification time is now taken into account for the final result. If you make it to the quarter finals, rather than four athletes finishing in joint 5th place, their qualification time is used to determine who is 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th place. This means that the Parallel Sprint has taken a great step in the right direction and results are easier to follow for the viewing public.

I qualified 4th and then finished in 4th place behind Amelie Wenger Reymond (SUI), Beatrice Zimmermann (SUI), Kaja Bjørnstad Konow (NOR). Coincidentally, Louis Hatchwell qualified and finished in 21st, as did Colin Dixon in 32nd place.

It’s been cool to be mentioned on BBC Ski Sunday each week, who have been following my progress since last season where we filmed a feature together. The show is extremely popular in the UK averaging 1.22 million viewers weekly and it is awesome to see so much British snow sport success.

Unfortunately, the World Cup event in Oberjoch, Germany has been cancelled due to poor weather conditions. I know FIS Telemark are working hard to find a replacement event, all news will be updated here on the main website.

If you wish to catch up on any live-stream footage, you can find that here.

The Olympic Bid

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Following the FIS Congress earlier this year, the International Ski Federation (FIS) voted to put forth various sports (that sit under the FIS) to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Telemark was successful in this vote but was unfortunately not successful at the final hurdle; the IOC stage. The decision took place a few days ago and while the answer was not the one we were hoping for, telemark as a sport is the strongest it has ever been.

The official statement from FIS Telemark

The official statement from FIS Telemark

Prior to the IOC decision, the World Cup athletes headed up a social media campaign which not only raised the profile of our sport, but has shown our unity and that we are a strong force. I spoke with BBC reporter, Nick Hope, leading up to the decision. There was an article published on ‘BBC Sport’ here and ‘BBC Get Inspired’ here.

An article with 'BBC Sport' by Nick Hope

An article with ‘BBC Sport’ by Nick Hope

An article with 'BBC Get Inspired' by Nick Hope

An article with ‘BBC Get Inspired’ by Nick Hope

The story also ran on the BBC World News television channel 7 times throughout the day of the decision. BBC World News has over 378 million viewers per week and over 52 million per day. You can see the report below which includes other international World Cup athletes; Amélie Reymond, Phil Lau and Tobi Muller.

The video below is the version included on the ‘BBC Get Inspired’ news article.

You can read about the FIS sports which did make Olympic inclusion here with an article by ‘Planet Ski’ and how it affects British Ski & Snowboard athletes and disciplines here with their official statements. I believe telemark would bring diversity to the Winter Olympic Games and it remains my dream to one day see telemark make Olympic inclusion. Thank you to everyone that has supported the journey along the way, the job is not done yet.

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