Monday, February 28, 2011

Return to Bavaria-land

Once I returned from London, we drove to Grasgheren, Germany, for a block of training with zee Germans. We’ve been lucky to do some training with the German Ski Cross Team this season, as they have a talented young team with very successful skiers, including current World Cup overall leader Heidi Zacher.

We started off with going back to basics; GS gates training. So first day back, first run in the course, I straddled a GS gate and went flying over the handlebars onto my head and back. Ouch! The massive purple bruise I developed on my hip the next day proved I wasn’t faking it! Luckly I walked out reasonably uninjured... just stiff and sore.


(Looks a bit like a pirate scar!)

For the next couple of days we did some ski cross training on the World Cup track in Grasgheren. Then we finished off the week with a ski cross race in Mittenwald, the German National Championships.

(The highly professional Australian ski cross team)

(Kids Cup!)

We are now on our way to Switzerland. The next two World Cups are in Grindelwald and Meiringen. Sitting right beneath the Jungfrau and Eiger Mountains, the town we stay in has incredible 360-degree panoramic views of some of the most incredible mountains in the world. Lets hope the sun is shining!

Will keep you posted on how the World Cups go!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Words from a fan...

Check out this e-mail I received from a fan on my website… It made my day! Thanks Katya.

Hi! My name is Katya and I live in Australia, until I saw the Winter Olympics last year, I thought, and felt like I was the only Katya that lived in Australia, and no one could say my name properly. They would butcher it and say it like "Katcha or Kadiya or Kataya. However, after the Olympics, when people asked what my name was, they would say "oh, like Katya in the Olympics?" So I want to thank you for giving me hope and teaching other people how to say our name properly. Heehee!
From Katya.

And yes, many people struggle with not being able to pronounce my name properly, hence the nickname ‘Kat’. It’s another reason why I love being in Europe. They say my name better than I do!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


After a long flight back to Europe from the States, following a ‘celebratory after party’ of the Blue Mountain World Cup, I was ready for my long-awaited break. The last time we had some time off was back in December over Christmas. The past 6 weeks has been an intense block of training, racing and travelling. It was time to split from the team and get away from the mountains and snow, and do something different!

I decided to go to London to visit a good friend of mine. I stayed in the beautiful leafy suburb of Notting Hill for the week. Strolls through Portobello Road markets, Oxford Circus and the Borough Markets was just what I needed to get my mind off skiing! I had an incredible time in London. I now understand why so many young Australians move there. The city has so much to offer. Great architecture, culture, food, coffee, and shopping! What more could you want? I was VERY fortunate to get a week of great weather too, so no complaining there!

After a week of being a tourist, including a visit to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern museum with a fellow Melbourne archi student, food tasting at the famous Borough Markets, a stroll down the river past the London Eye and Big Ben, and the discovery of a few great restaurants and quaint British pubs, it was time to head back to Munich to meet the team. 

I'll let my photos do all the talking...

(Big Ben)

(The Australia Shop! I was able to stock up on essentials such as Tim Tams and Milo...)

(Tess and I at Covent Gardens)

(The incredible 360 degree of London from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral)

(Ally and I in Arsenal)

(Chris and I at the Tate Modern Museum)

(Anyone seen 'Notting Hill' the movie? I'm such a tourist!)

(Just a little bit excited about big wheels of cheese)

(Enjoying a gluhwein on a lazy Sunday afternoon at the Borough Markets)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Carnage in Blue Mountain, Canada

After a disappointing end to World Champs, I once again packed up my 120kg worth of gear, clothing and equipment, and flew to Toronto, Canada, for the next World Cup. This is the second time I have raced in Blue Mountain, last year being the first. The tiny resort is just two hours from Toronto (the fifth largest city in North America), making it an extremely popular ski area.               

As per usual, things didn’t run as smoothly as we would have liked when we arrived in Toronto. Car rental “issues” forced us into hiring three Toyota Corolla’s. With 5 bags and 120kg of luggage each, you can imagine how difficult it was to squeeze all of it into the cars. Somehow we managed, and we set off in our fleet of Corolla’s.

(Just part of our 750kg worth of gear!)

Training kicked off on Wednesday, and the course ran smoothly. We had qualifications on Thursday, where I qualified in 13th place. The top 16 women and top 32 men progressed to finals on Thursday, so I was excited to once again have a chance at racing head-to-head.

(The start)

(The Australians in course inspection)

(The track)      

On Friday, the course froze overnight and sped up considerably. In my first training run, I was not expecting to hit the speeds that I did. There were crashes all over the place right from the get go! People were overshooting jumps, landing on the flat or even on the upside of the next jump.

When finals started with the men, I had to stop watching after three heats! In each heat, men collided and crashed before the first turn. There were injuries all over the place, and my heat was still yet to come.

I have to say that although I tried to convince myself that everything would be okay, there was still an element of fear in the back of my mind. Usually I am able to switch that ‘sane’ little voice off in my head and just race, but every now and then, watching people crash and being carted away in the bucket by paramedics brings me back to bad memories of my own injury two years ago (torn ligament in my knee). I guess it is a mental issue I still need to overcome, particularly when conditions are difficult like they were on Friday.

Once I got to the gate, I think subconsciously my body had already decided to ski in safe mode. And at this level of competition, if you’re not willing to give it 100% right from the start, you’ve got no chance of progressing through to the next round… unless you do a Bradbury of course!

Besides the fact that I am safe and well, skiing safe didn’t pay off this time, and I didn’t manage to progress to the semi finals. I finished up in 13th place, which was still a great result (my equal best result for the season).

(13th fastest qualifier)  


(Skis and more skis....)  

(Marcos making my skis nice and fast for the race)


The race ended with Chris Del Bosco from Canada winning the men’s, and Ana Woerner of Germany winning the women’s. Sadly there were a large number of injuries by the end of the race, including a few blown knees, concussions, a torn elbow, torn ankle, groin injury, and I’m sure a few more I don’t know about!

(Three cripples still in high spirits after the race)      

(Sami's battle wounds after her crash in training)    

The team now has a 5-day break, which I’m very excited about after a difficult 6 weeks of racing. I am heading back to Europe and spending 5 days in London. It will be nice to get away from snow and the mountains for a little while, and spend some time in the city.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Controversy at Freestyle World Championships

Yesterday was probably one of the most disappointing days racing I’ve ever had in my sporting career. Never did I ever imagine what was to come on finals day.

I arrived here in Deer Valley, Utah, for the FIS Freestyle World Championships just five days ago, after the World Cup in Germany. I was excited to be competing in this world event, which is held every two years. This is my second Freestyle World Championships; my first being two years ago in Inawashiro, Japan, where I finished 26th.

We were faced with tough training conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday, with temperatures as low as -26°C during the day, and under -35°C wind chill. Beautiful sunny days but bitterly cold, the coldest days Utah has on record this year in fact. We managed to get two good days of training on the track, and I was confident and excited for qualifying.

I qualified in 16th, which would have been the last qualifying place if they were to take 16 women like on World Cup. Instead they took 32 to give everyone a shot at racing finals. A bit stupid if you ask me, seeing as though there weren’t enough to have four in every heat, but I guess it’s World Championships and not a World Cup.

Yesterday was finals. There was a massive turnout, with spectators filling the entire finish area. It’s great to have people come and support an event like this. It always makes the race a lot more fun when you have people ‘ooohing’ and ‘aaaring’, and cheering you on at the bottom.

I was placed in the very first heat of the day, with Heidi Zacher of Germany (the number one qualifier and current World Cup leader) and Katrin Hofner of Austria. In the start I was psyched and ready to go. Then came the start, “Racers Ready…. bang.” The gate dropped immediately. No “Attention” and no 1-5 second hold. The start man made an unforgiveable error and dropped the gate early. Before I knew it, the two girls had pulled out of the gate and were already over the first feature before I knew what had happened. After doing work on training starts over and over with the same procedure, I definitely wasn’t expecting this!

I pulled out anyway as I figured the race would go on, and was well behind coming into the second jump. I was so riled up and angry at what had just happened that I went into ‘autopilot’ mode and just skied my heart out. By the second turn I had caught up to Hofner, and made a quick pass on her inside. It was a fight to stay in front all the way down, but I managed to hold my position and finish in second. I was so ecstatic at what I had just accomplished. From over 10m behind out of the start to second place and through to the next round in the World Championships! Or so I thought….

The Austrians filed a protest firstly about ‘contact’ in the race, saying that I grabbed Hofner (which clearly did not happen). When they were denied a disqualification, they decided to do anything they could and filed a second protested, this time about the false start. An inexperienced jury made a rash decision and awarded a re-run. I was so devastated. I had just skied the run of my life, coming from far behind with a severe disadvantage and finishing in second. Instead of going through to quarter finals, I was heading back up for an unfair re-run.

By the time I was in the gate for my re-run, I was frazzled, anxious and just angry at the situation. I wasn’t relaxed and focused like I was in the first heat. I didn’t have a great start and pulled into third. Half way down the course I straddled a gate trying to pass Hofner. Finishing in third, I was knocked out and didn’t progress to the next round.

I felt I was severely hard done by, and robbed of my chance to race in the quarter finals. But what could I do? The decision was made and the re-run was awarded. And knowing my luck, Hofner ended up in the big final, and finished in 4th place.

I ended up finishing in 17th place in the final results. Still a top 20 at World Championships, but definitely not the result I was after.

I guess all I can do now is put it all behind me. After all things like this happen in life!

I’m now looking forward to a day powder skiing in Snowbird on Sunday. That should cheer me up! I then head to Blue Mountain, Ontario, for the next World Cup.

(Some Utah love)

(Mum, Cate Sullivan (one of my first ever ski instructors) and I at the bottom of the course)

(The Australian Ski Cross Team. Anton, Matt, Sami, myself, Jenny, Marcos and Scott) 

(At the top of the course before qualifying) 

(Doing some mental visualization of the course before race run) 

(Pulling out of the start gate)   

(Jenny Owens, Scott Kneller and myself after qualifying)

(Jenny and I launching off the final jump in training)

(Ski boot testing)

(Wax room)