Tagged ‘Matti Lopez’

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.

FIS Congress in Costa Navarino, Greece

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This season was significant for a number of reasons though something I haven’t mentioned until now is the athlete involvement that has taken place. I should imagine it’s obvious that for me, telemark is more than a passion, it has been my main source and measure of personal development, for which I am very grateful.

Corinth Canal, Greece

We saw the Corinth Canal on the way

The FIS Congress in Costa Navarino, Greece

The FIS Congress in Costa Navarino, Greece

Our accommodation

Our accommodation had some nice features…

The beach

The in-resort beach

Enjoying our lunch hour in Costa Navarino, Greece

Enjoying our lunch hour, could be worse…

This year, I attended the FIS Congress in Costa Navarino, Greece with fellow athletes; Beatrice Zimmermann (SUI) and Matti Lopez (FRA). We went there to communicate and represent the athlete viewpoint from athlete-centred meetings conducted within the winter season. The FIS Telemark Committee were polite and receptive, it was an extremely positive week which has taught me so much about the governance of our sport.

While we were there, 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 and the next stage continues in June later this year. Whether or not we become an Olympic sport, this is still a significant step in our sporting development.

This is the official statement from FIS Telemark: “We’re delighted to announce that our proposal for Telemark Parallel Sprint and Team Parallel Sprint to be included in a proposal to the IOC has been approved by the FIS. The next stage is the IOC vote in June.”

Matti Lopez (Athlete Representative, FRA), Beatrice Zimmermann (Athlete Representative, SUI), Andrew Clarke (FIS Telemark Committee Chairman, GBR), Jasmin Taylor (Athlete Representative, GBR), HP Birchler (FIS Telemark Committee, SUI), Neil Dixon (FIS Telemark Committee Representative, FRA)

Matti Lopez (Athlete Representative, FRA), Beatrice Zimmermann (Athlete Representative, SUI), Andrew Clarke (FIS Telemark Committee Chairman, GBR), Jasmin Taylor (Athlete Representative, GBR), HP Birchler (FIS Telemark Committee, SUI), Neil Dixon (FIS Telemark Committee Representative, FRA)

You can easily following this movement on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by tracking the FIS Telemark social media account and hashtags.

#FISTelemark #MakeTelemarkOlympic

An amazing telemark family, long may it last and grow. It would be amazing to see telemark make it all the way to the Winter Olympic Games, to think it could now be a reality is so exciting. Please follow the story and spread the message far and wide.