Saturday, December 29, 2012

Second top 10 for the season

Four World Cups in four different countries and over two continents in just over 2 weeks… Now that’s a busy schedule!

After the race in Telluride, Val Thorens was the next stop on the World Cup circuit. We had just three days to fly to Milan, drive to France and get over jetlag before the third race of the season. Val Thorens didn’t go quite as well as I would have hoped, just missing out on finals by 3 spots. Conditions were difficult for all the athletes, with more than 50cm of fresh snow over the past 3 days and limited training on the course. I finished 19th, meaning that I didn’t get a chance to race head-to-head against the top 16 qualifying women. A bit disappointing after such a great result in the US just a few days earlier.

After a post-race nutella crepe, the team once again jumped back in the vans and headed to the Dolomites, Italy, for the last race before Christmas. San Candido was the venue for the next event; a beautiful town in the north of Italy nestled beneath some of Europe’s biggest mountains. San Candido has been a stop on the ski cross circuit for four years now. Although I love the place, it has never been my favourite race venue purely because of the ‘average’ results I have had there.  I was convinced that this year would be different!

A fast qualification run put me into 13th place out of a field of 43 girls; a big step in the right direction after Val Thorens.  In the quarterfinals, I had a solid start and pulled out in second place behind Kelsey Serwa of Canada. Half way down the track I made a mistake through one of the turns and was passed by Marion Josserand. I fought the entire way down to make a pass again, but the regrettable mistake kept me back in third, knocking me out of the semi finals. An exciting heat none-the-less. I finished in 10th overall, making it my second top-10 result this season, and putting me in 13th place in the overall rankings.

The women’s big final was undoubtedly one of the most exciting ski cross races I’ve seen. A pass made by Serwa from fourth into first in the middle of the course was textbook and inspiring; an intentional ‘elbow’ from Ophelie David right before the finish caused the Swiss girls to crash hard into the fences; and a last minute disqualification of one of the sports leading athletes (Ophelie David) made for a very exciting race! On a well-built course like this, the sport is incredibly dynamic, vibrant and exciting.

I now have a break over Christmas where I will be spending time with friends and family in Europe. The Aussie ski cross team then re-groups early in the New Year, and we head to France for some training before the next World Cup in Les Contamines.

Public bib draw with local kids before finals, Val Thorens, France.

Plenty of snow in France.

My biggest fans; Mum and Dad. At the World Cup in Val Thorens.

Froggy-style moves in San Candido, Italy. 

Getting air in the Dolomites during qualifications. 

Last minute tactics before finals; San Candido. Scotty, myself, Anton and Matt.

View from my bedroom at the Australian Institute of Sport in Varese, Italy.

La Sella Ronda, Domolites.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

First movie edit for the season!

Check out all the action from the first month on the World Cup tour in North America.

Katya Crema- Ski Cross World Cup- 2012 North America from Katya Crema on Vimeo.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A New PB - 6th in Telluride World Cup

Today I achieved a new personal best result, finishing 6th place in the Ski Cross World Cup in Telluride, Colorado.

Yesterday I had a solid run in qualifications, posting the sixth fastest time amongst the ladies. A good confidence boost coming into finals! Today I was excited to race head-to-head on what has been one of the best tracks on the World Cup circuit. Telluride did a great job in building a world class course, with some of the biggest and most technical features we've seen since the Winter Olympic Games and X Games.

I had a great quarter final heat, finishing in second right behind Fanny Smith of Switzerland. In the semi finals, a couple of small mistakes and some aggressive skiing from the ladies meant that I didn't make it though to the big final. I finished second in the small final, putting me in 6th place overall. A great result for the second World Cup of the season! 

The Aussies had four athletes in the finals today, so a great day for the team. Well done to teammates Scott Kneller, Anton Grimus and Jen Owens who finished 11th, 18th and 11th respectively. 

Tomorrow we fly to Europe where the Aussie SX team will prepare for the next World Cup in Van Thorens, France, on Wednesday and Thursday of next week (18/19 December). No time for jet lag on this schedule!

Here are a couple of shots from today. As you can see I'm elated with the result. Hopefully there are some more good things to come this season!

Relieved with a 6th place finish from bib 24 in the qualifications yesterday.

The race with the finish right in Telluride Mountain Village (courtesy of Jeff Books).

Second in the quarter finals.

Marielle Berger (France), Fanny Smith (Switzerland), myself and Karolina Reimen (Poland) in the quarters.

 Making Tommy proud.

 Small finals finish; Marte H Gjefsen and Julie Jensen of Norway.

Marcos, our ski man, hard at work at the top (courtesy of Jeff Books).

Enjoying ourselves at the top of the course; Jen, Marielle, myself and Sami.

 Nothing like a little head-to-head go karting before the race in Grand Junction to get us ready (courtesy of Jeff Books).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

World Cup opener in Nakiska, Canada

The Ski Cross World Cup season kicked off this weekend with the first race in Nakiska, Canada. I was feeling confident after my podium finish in the Canadian National Champs last weekend, and was excited to race in the season opener.

True to form, the Canadians built a great course; challenging, technical and exciting to ski. I laid down some fast times in training, however come qualification I didn't quite pull it off. A couple of small mistakes down the track pushed me back to 23rd position, just half a second from the finals cut off (top 16). A bit of a disappointment for the first race of the season, given than I'm feeling fitter and stronger than ever, and confident with my skiing.

Fortunately the Aussie boys both qualified and represented the team in fine form in todays finals. Anton Grimus had an amazing day and finished on the podium in third place. Scott Kneller was not far behind, finishing a solid 12th place. Well done boys!

We are now on the road to Telluride, Colorado, where the next Ski Cross World Cup will be held on the 12th and 13th of December. I've heard great things about this course; big jumps, berms and some technical features. Looking forward to learning from my mistakes from this race, putting it behind me, and starting fresh in Telluride.

Athletes inspecting the wu-tang out of the start.

Sucking in some air after the 1min 14 second course (Courtesy of Joe Fitzgerald). 

Scotty and Anton in the finish (Courtesy of Jen Owens)

Anton taking out the bronze behind the two Swiss boys 

The boys' competitiveness continues on the podium... (Courtesy of Jen Owens)

Cheering from the sidelines. Myself, Karolina, Langley and Em. 

Canadian traffic... 

Rocky Mountains, Canada 

 What else to do on a day off but build a gingerbread house?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Some footage from Canadian National Champs...

Semi finals, Canadian National Ski Cross Champs.
I'm on the left in the blue jersey, black helmet!

Crema- Semi finals Canadian Ski Cross National Champs- Nakiska from Katya Crema on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

3rd in Canadian Ski Cross National Championships

3rd place in the first race of the season

Scotty and I taking out the bronze in Mens and Womens

Yesterday was a great day in the office (or rather in the Rocky Mountains…)

We competed in our first race of the season, the Canadian Ski Cross National Championships. Being the only race before the first World Cup next week in Nakiska, it was the perfect opportunity to put our off-season training to practise.

Like always, the first race of the season brings mixed emotions. I was very excited to race, yet completely nervous and anxious all at the same time. The first race is always nerve-racking. You never really know where you stand amongst the other competitors after 8 months since the last World Cup, and whether or not you’ve been doing the “right thing” in the off-season. The Aussies obviously have been doing something right…

I finished 3rd in a field of 21 girls, 16 of which were World Cup athletes. I had some great starts in my first two rounds, progressing me through to the big final against Marte H. Gjefson from Norway, Fanny Smith from Switzerland and Ophelie David from France. Starting with yellow bib in the final (the slowest qualifier of the four and therefore last gate choice), I didn’t have the best start however managed to make a pass on Ophelie half way down the course and jump on the podium. I was proud of my performance today, and I hope to bring this confidence into next week’s World Cup. The hard work I’ve put in on-snow and in the gym is paying off and I’m really happy with how things are shaping up this season so far.

Aussie teammates also had a great day, with Scott Kneller finishing in 3rd place in the Men’s, and Anton Grimus making the small finals and finishing in 8th. Unfortunately Sami and Jen didn’t have their best day, but there’s definitely more to come from those two. Thanks for the cheers in the start gate!

A big thanks to Marcos, our genius ski technician, for making my skis absolute rockets on race day.

The Nakiska World Cup is this coming Friday and Saturday (7th/8th Dec). I’ll be sure to keep you posted with results and broadcast times on Eurosport back home in Australia.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From sunny Melbourne back to the freezer!

Three days ago I left sunny Melbourne, and arrived in the freezer of Colorado, USA. Quite a shock to the body going from 30˚C to -20˚C in less than 24 hours. None-the-less, it’s amazing to be back on snow again. The training conditions are pretty much perfect here at Copper Mountain, with hard packed man-made snow and sunny blue skies. Let’s just say thank god for snow making, because we wouldn’t be on snow for probably another few weeks without it!

Just a small recap on the past six weeks in Australia, since the end of the southern winter training season, I have been flat out with physical training and prep for the upcoming 2012/13 World Cup season.

Training has consisted of two sessions per day, six days a week, and has included mostly strength and power training in the gym, running, cycling, swimming, and sprint training on the track. I have worked incredibly hard over the past six months to put on some muscle bulk, and I’m proud to say that I have put on an addition 5kgs of muscle since May this year. A massive effort! It should make a big difference on the race course with the extra strength, power, and weight pulling me down the hill.

One week ago the National Ski Cross Team came together in Sydney for our final fitness testing camp before we left for overseas. I’m fitter and stronger than ever, and feeling ready to kick some butt on the World Cup tour.

Here in Copper Mountain, we are training GS and Super G at the official US Ski Team training venue. Three more days here, then we head to Panorama, Canada, for some more speed training; then onto Canmore, Canada for a final training block before the first World Cup in Nakiska. This is the first time Nakiska has hosted a World Cup, so I’m excited to ski a brand new track at a familiar resort.

I’ll keep you posted with showing times of the event on Euro Sport back at home in Australia, so hopefully you can catch me in action on the racecourse!

Making the most of my last Melbourne brekky and good coffee at Mart Cafe, Middle Park.

An early start to the day. 6am on snow and ready to start training.

 A decent sunrise in the Colorado mountains.

Thank god for snow making! 

 Myself, Scotty and Anton on our first ride up.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Video Blog- NZ / Australian Winter

With only three days left on snow, the winter has almost come to an end. I returned home from New Zealand a few days ago and came straight up to Jindabyne for one last week of speed training and starts. There's still snow about which is great for this time of year. 
This winter has been a successful one, with a win and second place in the National Ski Cross Champs, as well as some great training in Australia and NZ. The highlight has to be the two weeks of quality training on a world cup level ski cross track in Cardrona, NZ.

I've put together a short video blog from the season...

At the end of the week I'll head home for 6 weeks of training, and hopefully some sun and surf. Given that I haven't spent more than 3 straight weeks at home since November last year (yes... the life of a ski racer), you can imagine I'm looking forward to being at home for a while!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The real deal in New Zealand

After a week of speed training in Hutt, it was finally time to check out this highly anticipated ski cross track in Cardrona. After two weather days over the weekend, I had some serious cabin fever and couldn’t wait to get up onto the mountain. 30cm of fresh heavy snow meant we had a fair bit of work to do on the course. Shovelling, raking, shaping and more shovelling! It took over 15 coaches, athletes and mountain staff and about five hours to dig out the track. All worth it for the following day though! We had blue skies and a full-length track to train on.

Anders Forsell (border cross World Cup and World Championship course builder) has been flown down from Sweden to build our very own course in Cardrona. The course is technical, the berms are big, and the jumps are even bigger. It definitely compares to any World Cup course I’ve skied on the tour in terms of difficulty and skill level required. For me the scariest part of the course was hitting the 50ft kicker in the middle with little speed, meaning that you had to give it a good pop to make the landing.

Today is yet another weather day unfortunately, with gale force winds closing the chairlift up on the mountain. So instead we went mountainbike riding in the hills this morning with all the Aussie athletes (ski cross and border cross). Definitely much more fun than sitting inside waiting for the weather to improve! Fingers crossed we’re on snow tomorrow. Now that I’ve skied the course and shaken off the nerves, all I want is to get back up there again! 

(The team hard at work on the ski cross track)

(New Zealand's weather being indecisive...) 

(Berm 4)

(Just a bit excited to ski the track)

(The start section) 

(The crew on the summit) 

(Mountainbiking with a view of Lake Wanaka) 

(Traffic in New Zealand)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Five perfect days at Hutt

The past five days at Mt. Hutt, New Zealand, have been pretty unbeatable. Blue skies, hard snow and a great training course. We have been training speed alongside the Canadian and Austrian women's World Cup Alpine Teams. Not really our forte any more being Ski Cross athletes, but it's always fun to go back to our roots and pull the speed suit back on! We've been training full length super G at 7:15am until midday, followed by another session of GS training until 2pm. Long days, but conditions like this are pretty hard to come by!

After four full days on snow (almost 7 hours a day come to think of it!), yesterday we headed to the Rakaia Gorge for some much needed recovery. With water flowing off the mountains, the river must be no warmer than 8 degrees; perfect for removing some of the lactic acid in your legs and making you feel energetic again.

Tomorrow is our last day training at Mt Hutt. We then drive south to Wanaka for a two-week training camp on a ski cross track in Cardona. We will be sharing it with the Australian border cross team, as well as a few international World Cup teams. It will be fun to use what I've learnt in the past week, and apply it to a ski cross track.

 Recovery at Rakaia Gorge

 Crisp corduroy at Mt Hutt, 7:30am

Morning Mt. Hutt! 

Afternoon tea! Just what you need after a massive day of training...

Wes, the dog at our accommodation in Methven

Monday, August 20, 2012

From 65cm of fresh to blue skies and sunshine...

What a weekend it has been! I've really had the best of both worlds at Mt Hotham this weekend. 65cm of fresh light powder on Friday and Saturday, then blue skis, firm snow and a great day of ski cross racing on Sunday. I honestly couldn't ask for anything more from a weekend of skiing.

Saturday's race was pushed back to Sunday due to excessive snow (damn... another day of powder skiing!) On Saturday night, the clouds finally cleared and the stars came out, freezing the snow for a great race. Considering the difficult conditions, Hotham managed to build a fast and fun ski cross course overnight. The aim was to hold both races on the Sunday, however we only managed to get one complete race off, and another qualification run (counting for race number two.)

Being the first ski cross race of the season, I was quite nervous to see where I was sitting against the competition (my teammates on the National Team). Back came the good nerves and race butterflies, and I switched my competitive edge back on. I won both qualification runs by over a second, so I was extremely happy with the result. In finals I couldn't quite grab the lead out of the start gate, and finished in second place behind Jenny Owens.

So all in all, I finished the National Championships with a 1st and a 2nd place. Not a bad start to the World Cup racing season to come!

(Not a bad view from the race course!)

(Loving the support from fans!)

(First place, race 2, Australian Ski Cross Championships)

 (Mum and I enjoying the sun at Hotham)