Tagged ‘Murren’

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 Final World Cups

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We arrived in Rjukan, Norway for a training day prior to the Norwegian round of World Cup racing. The conditions were superb and the set up was as perfect as ever. Rjukan is the location for the World Championships next year so it very much felt like a warm up in preparation. It was just myself and Robbie Houstoun competing from Great Britain and the racing kicked off with an afternoon Sprint. I finished in 5th and Robbie finished in 37th place.

The scenery in Rjukan, Norway

Gaustatoppen in Rjukan, Norway

The race hill in Rjukan, Norway

The race hill in Rjukan, Norway

The following day was the Parallel Sprint event and after a tricky qualification run I was paired against World Cup winner, Simone Oehrli (SUI). Simone took the win meaning I finished in 9th place. Robbie unfortunately didn’t quite make the qualification cut.

Parallel Sprint in Rjukan, Norway

Buckling up for the Parallel Sprint

Out of the start gate in Parallel Sprint

Out of the start gate in Parallel Sprint

Shaking off the previous day, I took the Parallel Sprint start gate once more though this time with a fresh perspective qualifying in 7th place. I met Gøril Strøm Eriksen (NOR), moving on to the quarter finals where I met Argeline Tan Bouquet (FRA). After winning the first two rounds, I raced Beatrice Zimmermann (SUI) in the semi finals and unfortunately missed a gate meeting Guro Helde Kjølseth (NOR) in the small final. I was pleased to finish back on the podium in 3rd place. That race was also broadcast on NRK1, which is a main TV channel in Norway at prime time viewing and a great achievement for the sport.

The podium in Rjukan, Norway

The Parallel Sprint podium in Rjukan, Norway

After the race, we went up to the top of Gaustatoppen and skied powder, it was a real joy and wonderful way to switch off post competition.

Gausatoppen with Canadian telemark team member, Antoine Belanger-Morin and team-mate, Robbie Houstoun

Gausatoppen with Canadian telemark team member, Antoine Belanger-Morin and team-mate, Robbie Houstoun

The summit of Gausatoppen

The summit of Gausatoppen

Amazing snow!

Amazing snow!

The final race day in Rjukan was another Sprint and my 100th World Cup start where I finished on the podium in 3rd place behind Argeline Tan Bouquet (FRA) and Johanna Holzmann (GER).

The Sprint podium in Rjukan, Norway

The Sprint podium in Rjukan, Norway

The tour then travelled to Murren, Switzerland for World Cup Finals and the World Junior Championships. The first day of racing was the Team Parallel Sprint where myself, Ben Emsley and Robbie Houstoun raced the formidable Norwegians. I managed to win my race though on the whole, the Norwegians took the victory progressing on to take 3rd place. The junior team; Naila Cardwell, Alec Dixon and Sion Bingham also lost out to Norway.

The scenery in Murren

The scenery in Murren

Team Parallel Sprint in Murren with Ben Emsley and Robbie Houstoun

Team Parallel Sprint in Murren with Ben Emsley and Robbie Houstoun

The final Parallel Sprint was a success for me – I took the win after qualifying in 2nd place. This victory gave me enough World Cup points to finish in 2nd place in the Parallel Sprint overall standings. It was a real rush to compete that day and amazing to feel such a strong team affect with my team-mates cheering from the sides.

The start gate in the Parallel Sprint

The start gate in the Parallel Sprint

On course in Murren

On course in Murren

The Parallel Sprint podium in Murren with Johanna Holzmann (GER) and Beatrice Zimmermann (SUI)

The Parallel Sprint podium in Murren with Johanna Holzmann (GER) and Beatrice Zimmermann (SUI)

Coach Seb was pretty happy with my victory...

Coach Seb was pretty happy with my victory…

The World Junior Championship Parallel Sprint was held the following day where all the British juniors finished in 17th place. Jack Harvard Taylor made his return to the commentary box where I paid him a visit for an interview.

Interview with Jack Harvard Taylor

Interview with Jack Harvard Taylor

The World Junior Championship Classic saw Naila Cardwell finishing in 10th place which is a personal best. The top British male was Sion Bingham who finished in 13th place. The final World Cup Sprint race followed on that afternoon, I finished in 4th place which resulted in 4th place in the Sprint overall World Cup standings. Ben Emsley achieved a career best, finishing in 23rd position. We were joined by Dave Edwards, the current CEO of British Ski & Snowboard, which was a real privilege. Melanie Byrom, the chairman of the Kandahar Ski Club, was also on place to support with many club members.

The GB Telemark Ski Team with British Ski & Snowboard CEO, Dave Edwards

The GB Telemark Ski Team with British Ski & Snowboard CEO, Dave Edwards

The very last day was the Classic, I finished in 6th position which was good enough to finish 3rd in the overall Classic World Cup standings and 4th in the general World Cup standings. Robbie Houstoun finished in the top 20 for the first time with a 19th place. In the World Junior Championship Sprint, Sion Bingham was the top Brit once more finishing in 16th place, followed by Alec Dixon in 21st, Colin Dixon in 23rd and Jack Emsley in 24th place.

My Classic bronze medal in Murren

My tired eyes say it all, happy with my Classic bronze medal in Murren

It has been an incredible season! So proud to have finished with 4 victories across all 3 disciplines, 14 podiums and 2 medals in the overall standings. Thank you to my team, coaches, team-mates, sponsors, supporters, family, friends, federations and committees for making it totally awesome.

The GB Telemark Ski Team

The GB Telemark Ski Team

The Final World Cups

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Following the races in Germany and Slovenia, the tour moved to Rjukan, Norway. The racing began with 2 days of Sprint races, followed by a team Dual Sprint and an individual Dual Sprint. The weather was superb throughout and the views were spectacular as always.

Rjukan, Norway

Rjukan, Norway

On the first day of racing I finished in 6th place. The second day of racing was very interesting for me – after a tricky first run (9th position) and a good second run (2nd position) I jumped up of 5 positions to get a 4th place. That evening we raced the Team Dual Sprint event under the floodlights looking out across at the Norwegian sunset. In the first round, the British Team (myself, Louis Hatchwell and Alistair Cruz) raced a strong Team Germany. Unfortunately, we didn’t go through to the next round but we certainly put up a good fight with a particularly close match from Louis Hatchwell and one very explosive crash from Alistair Cruz!

Jonas Schmid (GER) vs Louis Hatchwell (GBR) (Photo credits and thanks to Motten V Eriksen)

Jonas Schmid (GER) vs Louis Hatchwell (GBR) (Photo credits and thanks to Morten V Eriksen)

Alistair Cruz (GBR) vs ‎Thomas Orlovius (GER)‬(Photo credits and thanks to Motten V Eriksen)

Alistair Cruz (GBR) vs ‎Thomas Orlovius (GER)‬ (Photo credits and thanks to Morten V Eriksen)

The final day in Rjukan ended with (the ‘normal’ individual) Dual Sprint. After a poor qualification run littered with jump penalties (a short course that cannot afford any penalties), I qualified 13th meeting training buddy and fellow competitor Argeline Tan-Bouquet (FRA). I skied fast but Argeline pipped me to the loom and with one less penalty than me, she was too difficult to catch. This resulted in a 9th place finish for me.

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The Sprint in Rjukan, Norw ay (Photo credits and thanks to Morten V Eriksen)

After Norway, I returned to Les Houches to empty my suitcase for a final re-packing. At this point I realised that the process of emptying my bag and refilling it hadn’t stopped since before heading to Murren, Switzerland for the first time in early January for the British Championships. I was now returning to Murren for the second time this winter for the World Cup Finals feeling tired but ready to give my best for 3 more days.

The racing kicked off with the Classic, a discipline I don’t consider my strongest yet my World Cup ranking was the best it had ever been. I was lying in 5th place following a 5th place finish in France and a 4th in Spain earlier in the season. The course was set by my coach Sebastien Mansart, it was dynamic with a very intimidating skate at the end. I finished in 7th, stung by penalties but a position good enough to hang onto my new personal best world ranking.

And then comes the Sprint, the best day of my season and probably the best race of my career to date. The run was not perfect (there’s no such thing in fact) and it wasn’t anything way beyond the norm. Everything came together; the speed, just 1 penalty, a clean jump, a strong skate and clear mind – it was good enough for 3rd place after the first run. Knowing my second run is usually always better, I kept it simple and did my best once more and this time it was good enough to finish in 2nd place. That feeling was immense, I felt proud, satisfied, happy and relieved.

(L to R) Jasmin Taylor #2 (GBR), Amelie Reymond #1 (SUI), Beatrice Zimmerman #3 (SUI)

(L to R) Jasmin Taylor #2 (GBR), Amelie Reymond #1 (SUI), Beatrice Zimmerman #3 (SUI)

The very final day of racing; the Dual Sprint. I qualified against Theresa Fichtl (GER) and won, then met the eventual winner, Beatrice Zimmerman (SUI) and lost out finishing in 5th place.

My goal for the season was to be more consistent and I finished between 4th and 6th position 11 times, with 1 World Cup podium. My overall World Cup ranking is 5th place and that has been a goal since the beginning of my telemark career and finally achieving it feels awesome.

(L to R) MC (Kandahar member and team fan),

(L to R) M.C. (Kandahar member and team fan), James French, Sion Bingham, Louis Hatchwell, Jasmin Taylor, Alistair Cruz

Murren, Switzerland

Murren, Switzerland

It’s been a fantastic season and I would like to thank everyone that makes it possible: my sponsors, coaches, supporters, parents, family, friends, boyfriend, university, telemark World Cup organisers and committee, GB team-mates and fellow athletes.

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