Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pre-Christmas World Cups in San Candido

After a small setback with a tweaked knee in Canada, I had my first race starts for the season last weekend in San Candido. It was great to be back in such a familiar place. This is the fifth consecutive year San Candido has hosted the Ski Cross World Cup event. So let's just say; besides knowing the course very well, I also know where to go for the best coffee and pizza. All important things.

Europe is struggling for snow this season; the Dolomites included. The course had the bare minimum of snow, meaning that features were small. For me, this doesn't necessarily make it easier. I generally prefer bigger, more difficult courses. It separates the girls who are willing to take risks, and go hard and fast on what can be a very intimidating 90-second course. One mistake on an easier course like this and you suffer severe consequences (it generally means not qualifying!).

I finished 21st and 34th respectively. I am disappointed with my performance, however I am looking forward to proving that I can in fact definitely mix with the best in the world at the next World Cup in Megeve, France, in the new year.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Also wishing my teammate Scott Kneller a very hasty recovery from his crash last weekend. Get well soon and looking forward to having you back on the team!

Jenny Owens, Marielle Thompson, Sami Kennedy Sim and myself enjoying the warmer weather.


Finals Day. From left; Katya Crema, Fanny Smith (SUI), Marielle Berger (FRA) and Julie Jensen (NOR).

Third place finish in my heat in finals... A little disappointed!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tweaked knee forces me out of the first World Cup

After two solid weeks of training in Nakiska, Canada, it was time to race. The week of the race saw an unusually extreme cold front pass through the area. Temperatures plummeted to -40 C on race day, despite it being sunny and blue skies. Quite a change from summer in Australia a couple of weeks ago!

Unfortunately for me, the first World Cup of the season didn’t quite go to plan! On the first training day, I had an awkward landing off the final jump. I didn’t crash, it was just an hard, painful landing. I felt pain rush through my heels and into my right knee. I immediately assumed the worst; I’ve re-blown my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). I had a knee reconstruction on my right knee after tearing my ACL just over four years ago now. Re-tearing the ligament at this stage in the season right before the Olympics would have been a disaster and my dreams would have been shattered. An ACL reconstruction takes you off skis for 6-12 months. You can get an idea of the anxiety and anticipation I felt in finding out the damage I’d done…

After an MRI scan in Calgary and the opinions of the Australian Olympic Winter Team sports physician and an orthopedic surgeon in Canada, the verdict was bone bruising and an irritation of an old injury. As painful as it is, bone bruising will usually heal itself with time. The timeframe depends on the severity, and fortunately mine was definitely not season-ending.

The bad news; I wouldn’t be racing the first World Cup of the season. The good news; I would be back on snow within 2-3 weeks. A huge relief!

Anton, myself and Scotty facing the cold.

Proof of cold temperatures.

Cheering my teammates on from the side lines on finals day...

After the race, the team and myself headed to Europe. Bad weather in Chicago meant our flight was cancelled after taxi-ing on the runway for over five hours. I spent the night clung to my suitcase, attempting to get at least one hours sleep on the floor at Chicago airport (definitely a first…). I then spent the next two days making my way to Milan. I think I had about 3 hours sleep in 48 hours. Let’s just say this travel experience was ‘character building.’

The team getting cosy on the floor at Chicago airport at 3am

I am now at the AIS European Training Centre in Varese, Italy, doing rehabilitation for my knee. Whilst the team is currently in Val Thorens, France, for the next World Cup, I’m getting my knee 100% before I race again (which looks like it will be the double World Cup event in San Candido just before Christmas). The knee is progressing very quickly, and I am feeling very confident on it now. I am back to full strength, and the pain has almost completely gone. The facilities here are incredible for training and rehabilitation. I have access to a physiotherapist, a brand new gym, recovery pools, and a supportive team of people who work here at the ETC… not to mention a stunning lake to ride around as apart of my training.

Lake Varese

Rowers on the lake at sunset

My cycling tour around Lake Varese. It was incredibly easy to get lost, but I made it in the end!

I wish the team the best of luck this weekend in Val Thorens, and I am looking forward to joining them next week for the races in San Candido.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Back in The Canadian Rockies

I am now back in the Canadian Rockies training for the first World Cups of the season in Nakiska.

I have been here for two weeks now, training out of Lake Louise, Norquay and Nakiska. Temperatures have been very mild in the mountains until today. The Chinook weather system is now long gone (a system of warm winds), and we are expecting temperatures as low as -30C this week for the race. Brilliant timing!

Nakiska is situated in the Kananaskis area of southwest Alberta, a couple of hours from the British Columbia border. The resort was home to the the 1988 Calgary Olympics, so has a great recent history associated with it. It is also the training base for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. 

Its great to back to this area. Not only did we race a World Cup here last season, I have also spent plenty of time here back in my Alpine racing days. 

Interestingly, yesterday I took my Garmin GPS device up to the training hill. In a very short 2.5hr training session, I covered 32.6km on snow, hit a max speed of 94.82km/hour, and skied 4780m vertical. And that was a short day. Can't wait to clock up the results after a full day's skiing!

Training for the World Cup commences Wednesday. Unlike last year, this season we have back-to-back World Cups; one on Friday 6th December, and another on Saturday 7th December. So plenty of World Cup points up for grabs! It is also one of seven Olympic qualifying events, so the pressure is on!

Loving the new "Crema Mitt" by XTM... Perfect for freezing temps in Lake Louise.

Celebrating American Thanksgiving in style..

The Rocky Mountain Bagel Company's famous bagels. Definitely a favourite lunch spot in Canmore.

Some inspiration for the bathroom at home perhaps?

Marcos taking some time out of the ski room

Thanks Garmin for the multi-use GPS device! Not only useful for training sessions on the bike...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Less than 100 days to go

With less than 100 days to go until my Olympic event, and 81 days until the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, things are really starting to ramp up!

Fitness testing at the NSW Institute of Sport in Sydney last weekend was a success, with some positive results across the whole team. Everyone is feeling fit, strong and ready to take on the big season ahead.

Once again I've packed my bags the four-month winter ahead. Tomorrow I will leave Melbourne and fly to Calgary, Canada. Our first back-to-back World Cup's are in Nakiska on December 6th and 7th. From then on, we head to Europe for another six World Cup events leading right up to the Olympic Games. My Olympic event will be held towards the end of the Games, on February 21st. I'll be sure to keep you informed closer to the day on live coverage times in Australia and around the world.

The official Australian Olympic Team will be announced on January 20th which is also very exciting. It looks like Australia will have our biggest ever Winter Olympic Games team by far, with approximately 55-60 athletes expected to qualify (compared with 44 athletes in 2010).

And finally, in case you missed it, here is the link to Friday night's short interview on SBS World News Australia....


VO2 max aerobic threshold testing the NSWIS, Sydney

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Passo dello Stelvio

After a short two-weeks at home in Melbourne, I packed my ski bags once again  (which were basically still untouched from my return from New Zealand…) and flew to Europe for the next on-snow training camp.

This week we are training in Stelvio Glacier, northern Italy. Stelvio sits right on the border of Italy, Switzerland and Austria. Interestingly it is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the Alps. For the cycling fans, the Giro d'Italia often passes through this road, and was also picked by Top Gear as "the greatest driving road in the world." Big call.... 

For me it is a brand new mountain to explore which is always fun!

48 hairpin turns make up the Stelvio Pass. Must attempt this one on a bike!

We are sleeping in a hotel up on the glacier at 3000m. At this altitude, the air is thin, and everyday activities feel just that little bit harder. Walking two flights of stairs to my room is a workout. Usually when we train on a mountain of this height, we return to a more reasonable altitude where your body has a chance to recover after a long day’s training. Here, however, your body is constantly working…. even when you’re sleeping! And you really do feel it. Fatigue sets in quicker, your breathing rate is higher, your heart rate is elevated and your muscles feel heavier. A lot of the dryland training I do in Melbourne is designed to cope with these physical loads. The hours spent cycling, running and in the gym are aimed at being able to sustain the five hours plus of on-snow training each day.

We have joined forces with the French, Italian and Swedish Ski Cross National Teams, and are all sharing resources to make this training camp as successful as possible. The course is situated in a remote part of the glacier where there is no access to the piste by chairlift or t-bar. So instead, after each run we are taken back up to the top of the course by a snow cat. Also a very new experience! 14 athletes hanging onto a t-bar line from the back of the cat, and another 10 or so in a cage in the front. Truly a make shift chairlift.

What this means however is that for this week, the mountain is our playground. We have a snow cat and two skidoos to work with, and basically we have free reign. We can build what we want, train when we want and do as many runs as we can until we can’t possibly do another. It’s perfect.

Our make-shift t-bar.

The beloved Wu-Tang... Olympic style!

Alizee and I go head-to-head in training.


Northern Italian lasagna. Almost as good as Nonna's! Almost...

A real local. He rarely moved from his favourite spot!

Good morning Stelvio!

Warming up as the sun rises over the mountains.

Our ski technician Marcos definitely has a sense of humour...

An upgrade from last year's van.....

Today we head to Stubai Glacier in Austria for another four days of training on a new ski cross course. Joining us will be the Austrian, German and Norwegian World Cup Ski Cross teams. Then back to Melbourne for some much needed home and family time, and hopefully some beautiful late Spring weather! It’s time for some sunshine, surf and warm temperatures…

Below is a short 1-minute video of Alizee Baron of France and I going head-to-head on the ski cross training course. The spectacular mountains in the background are hard to miss!

Katya Crema(AUS) & Alizee Baron(FRA) training in Stelvio, Italy
from Katya Crema on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Blissful Wanaka

I have just returned home from what was a fantastic five-week training camp in New Zealand. A long stint, but very effective. Definitely made up for the lack of snow in Australia this season!

We spent the last two weeks of the camp training on a professionally built ski cross course in Cardrona. Like last year, World Cup border cross builder Anders Forsell from Norway came out to NZ to work his magic. The course was definitely a challenge; a technical start section, large berms, fast sections, intimidating jumps.... the perfect training for Sochi one could say! 

Border Cross and Ski Cross National Teams from Switzerland, Germany, Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia all came together for the training camp.

Staying in the beautiful lakeside town of Wanaka, there is always plenty to do...

Here's a snapshot...

Best thing to do on a sunny day - A leisurely game of Frolf (frisby-golf)

Best thing to do on a rainy day - A visit to Puzzling World

Feeling game? - Wakeboarding on the lake (water temp is currently around 8 degrees C)

Want an adrenaline rush? - Paintball

Best Cafe - Kai Whakapai & Benny Bright's cafe at the base of Cardrona

Best Steak - Trout

Best Pizza - Francesca's

As usual, pictures speak louder than words...

Start section.


Roller pack.

Racing head to head with Anton Grimus.

A snapshot on the course.

Lake Wanaka at sunset.


Getting ready for some paintball action: Team USA V the World.

Team recovery session in the lake.

Wakeboarding on Lake Wanaka.

Puzzling World.

Thanks for dinner Anton! Anton's catch of the day... a 3kg freshwater trout from Lake Hawea.

Lastly, here is the latest video edit... Spring Camp Adventures - Part 2. Enjoy!

Spring Camp Adventures - Part 2 - Katya Crema
from Katya Crema on Vimeo.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Skier V Snowboarder

Day 2 on the track in Cardrona and things start to get interesting!
Belle Brockhoff from the Australian National Snowboard Team and I race head-to-head to finally decide once and for all who is faster down the slopes... skiers or snowboarders...???

Check it out here....

Skier V Snowboarder
from Katya Crema on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Round Hill & Lake Tekapo

I have spent the last week training at Round Hill, a tiny ski resort above Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. 

This was a brand new ski destination for me. Put simply, Round Hill is an Alpine Mecca for ski teams all around the world, ranging from world cup down to ski clubs. It has to be one of the most popular training hills in the southern hemisphere. 

We decided to get our alpine technical skills up to scratch and train five day of GS & Super G. The weather was perfect right up until the last day which was great timing. Then in true New Zealand style came gale force winds and torrential rainfall, closing the resort temporarily. 

Lake Tekapo is a beautiful part of the world. Not much of a town (just one small cafe with great food and coffee thank god! Run 77 for anyone who is traveling through there soon...), but the lake was incredible. Water bluer than I have ever seen before. Apparently the turquoise blue colour is created by suspended "rock flour" floating in the water. The glaciers in the headwaters grind the rock into fine dust which makes it way into the water. A pretty stunning view from the top of the small mountain nearby...

We are now in Wanaka for a two-week training camp in Cardrona. An Olympic standard ski cross track is currently being built by a Norwegian course builder. Apparently it's going to be even bigger and better than last year, so I am pretty excited to get up there to ski it!

Hiking for a view! Photos by Shawn Fleming. 

Lake Tekapo

Anton's idea of "recovery" is a swim in Lake Tekapo... (the water is about 8 degrees C). He's crazy!

On the tourist trail: New Zealand's famous "Cookie Time" monster...

Training above Lake Tekapo.

Balance and coordination training.