Season Ender (not an injury) Part 2
Ahhhh, where were we? Oh, yes, so the day after skiing end of season pow in St Anton, I hopped on a train to Zurich to catch a flight to go do some touristing in Copenhagen. Made it to the airport, to find my flight cancelled due to the Scandinavian Airlines pilot strike. An overnight stay in Zurich (paid for by the airline, yay!) and I was on my way with Swiss Airlines, early in the morning.
The next 4 days were spent milling about the city and enjoying the sights. After this, the Danes and I were ready to head to Riksgransen in the far North of Sweden!
I have never really travelled by air in a group before, but I can tell you its a hell of a lot of fun! We all caught up in Stockholm airport along the way and caught our final flight together. After renting a van, squishing ourselves and our gear into it, listening to Hooked On A Feeling and the Blade soundtrack on repeat, we finally made it to the town of Riksgransen!
The next day was spent meeting up, and skiing with all the crazy skiers there! As in the classic freeride family style, we all grouped up and went for some fun and fast laps together in the morning. Later on, we met up for our riders meetings, then headed back out to scope the face in the never-ending sunlight.
The first day of competition (after scoping the face till midnight) dawned clear and slightly warmer. Everyone was biting at the bit to get out there and do their thing! The Scandinavian Big Mountain Championships is called "The Worlds Original Big Mountain Competition", and its one of the craziest I have been to so far. Everyone from Sweden is so used to going huge onto ice, so it was hard not to be gobsmacked by what they were willing to do!
The face was a mixture of funky fresh snow and ice, so the conditions weren't too far off what I was used to at Ruapehu. Even with that advantage, I had a huge backslap at the bottom of my run and was barely able to hold on to it without crashing. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to scrape it into the finals runs for the next two days.
The next day started off with a big mass of thick fog sitting right on the venue, but luckily, it magically disappeared to allow us to go through with our intended first day of finals. Unfortunately, I didn't ski to my full potential on finals day, but I did do my first sketchy 360 in competition! Everyone crushed it in the conditions we had, which were flat light and solid ice on most of the venue. Some people decided to risk it for the biscuit, some succeeded, some came down in a blaze of glory. That night, we all tried our hand at the table tennis competition. It was rather hectic.
The last day, was the final day of competition and Mother Nature decided she wanted nothing to do with a freeride competition that day, with a storm coming in the night before. Therefore, the results from the previous day would stand! I came away with a lucky 4th in the end! Congratulations to Hedvig who held on to her run on the finals day to take the win! We spent the afternoon, taking our last laps of the season, packing our gear and preparing for the after party!
The next day, a bit bleary eyed and battered and bruised from the biggest snowball fight in the middle of the night, we drove off to Kiruna airport to catch our flights back to Denmark. The beauty of being the first ones at the airport, meant we were able to sit and watch other freeriders on the same flight, donning shades inside and dragging their sorry, hungover arses into the airport.
A few more days were spent in Copenhagen, enjoying the city, before a flight to Zurich to go to the Head Freeski Meeting in Kennelbach, Austria.
We spent the next 2 days talking about the ins and outs of ski gear, seeing new technology, learning how our skis are made and making new friends. I am so unbelievably grateful I got to go and check this out! Thanks Head for the awesome visit!
1 taxi, 3 flights, 15 hours sitting in airports, 23 hours in the air, 1 crazy lady yelling in the airport, 1 sleep on the floor of a plane and countless m&ms later, I had made it home to Auckland Airport.
Now, back in Ohakune, I'm working and preparing for another amazing season in the South Island! Wanaka, here I come!