One of the reasons I choose to compete is to travel. Exploring new places and meeting new people is easily one of the most important things in my life outside of family, friends and skiing.
Big mountain skiing events can be brutal, frustrating and most of the time competitions don’t go your way. You have one run to send your line, stomp your cliffs and avoid falling over. It sounds simple but being a judged sport, even of you do everything ‘right’ in your mind, if the judges don’t see it- then you’re no better off than before you dropped in.
When I look back on past competitions it’s easy to be bummed out when I didn’t compete well. I guess that is where the travel aspect comes in. No matter how badly you do in a competition, if you’re somewhere new and fantastic- it’s hard to be upset.
I guess that was the story for me in Andorra.
Last month, after being on the road for nearly 2 months, I flew into Barcelona to meet Tone Ansnes- big mountain badass from Norway. We rented a car from the airport, hooked Tone’s TOMTOM in and away went through fields, mountains and some of the most gorgeous little towns I have ever seen to Andorra.
Driving through the Catalonian countryside.
Andorra is the sixth smallest nation in Europe and is made up mainly of mountainous terrain (as it is situated smack bang in the middle of the Pyrenees).
The El Dorado Freeride comp is true to it’s name- ‘El Dorado’ being spanish for the ‘golden one’ and a reference to a mythical lost city full of gold. For me this event was so far the highlight of my competitive season and ironically not due to the results I walked away with.
After arriving in at our little hotel in Sispony, Tone and I set straight to finding dinner and preparing for a day full of venue inspection. Unfortunately the weather didn’t feel like cooperating with us. After a few hours of staring into the white void and a few interesting runs of crusty snow, Tone and I retired to our room to watch the Olympics and chow down on southern european delicacies.
The semi-finals comp face in colour.
When we finally got to see the face in true daylight and after rearranging my line, I felt almost ready to go. One of my main aims this winter was not to ski a strategic line to win but to choose a more difficult line and try to stomp it. Fluidity is key in big mountain competitions and one of the hardest parts about stepping up your line is keeping the flow in your run- if you choose to jump off a bigger cliff or ski a more technical line, it’s easy to slow down.
So as we hiked up to the face, all that was in my mind was -don’t slow down. I had chosen a little goat line through one of the upper, middle chutes and a double out the bottom. I was worried I would get caught up at the beginning, so I spent minutes visualising a speedy wiggle through. As always, once i made it to the top, everything changed.
At the top scoping lines with the ladies.
The snow was a lot more sugary than expected and my line was tighter than I realized, however, after some convincing done myself and Tone I clicked my skis on and got ready to send.
This is what it looked like.
If you can’t see the video, let’s just say everything went really well until the end. I sent the top, speed down the flats, tokyo drifting as I went and nailed the double……until I hit a compression on the out run and went down like a big bag of potatoes.
About to ski into the rocky, goaty part of my top section
And now we get to the meat of it. I was bummed out, frustrated and had a compressed knee to boot. It wasn’t the best line I had ever skied but it was probably the fastest and most in control I had ever skied in a comp, to be taken down by over shooting my landing in the wrong direction was gutting- especially because I landed it.
But isn’t that how we always feel?
It would have been very easy to ski home, get back to the room and sulk but like usual the freeride community is a pretty rad one and usually feelings of failure are met by a big wall of hugs, positivity and in this case a very big pot of fondue.
Mmmmm communal fondue
Like I said in a post awhile ago, I can’t be angry that I crashed at the bottom of my run. I am so happy to be here, I’m so stoked to be skiing and be surrounded by such a sick, crazy community.
Travelling to new places with that community has been one of funnest parts of the last four years on the FWQ and FWT circuits. Especially when the resorts and organisers are as welcoming, helpful and rad as the crew were from El Dorado and Vallnord.
After a belly full of cheese, a trip to the doctor (my knee is fine) and a very short period of time sulking in the bathroom (it happens no matter what), I pulled myself together and got ready to watch my roomy Tone take on finals.
Twins! Tone just couldn’t help copying me, same colours, same skis, same boots.
Heli accessed finals venue
Tone took one for the team- one of us had to be on the podium….. 3rd place bitches!
We treated ourselves to a little Barcelona time on the way back to Geneva.
No big lessons were learnt while I was in Andorra but theories we solidified. Including that:
- skiing is super rad
- skiing fast is just a mindset
- my new katana v-werks have a mind or their own….seriously
- my knee can take big impacts but it prefers not to
- the best way to cure competition lows is eating a MASSIVE plate of paella served with white wine by the beach