I returned home on Sunday from a great ten day training camp back in Hintertux in Austria. As usual we were staying at the very comfortable Kossler Hotel with the lovely Karina and her family. After arriving on Thursday, I unpacked and prepared my skis ready to go the following day. Thanks to the great guys at Rossignol, from whom I have now got a healthy racers discount, I had a new pair of slalom as well as GS skis so I was looking forward to getting going on them.
Each day I woke up at 6am to get ready for activation at 6.30am. Usually I get as ready as I can the night before so I don't have to use my brain too much that early. In activation I mostly stretch out my arms and neck as these usually get a bit of a hammering and this camp was no exception. I've found that I've got quite reduced mobility in my arms so I'm working hard on that both while abroad as well as at home with the brilliant Natalie at Neurolink. Any fellow SCI's needing a bit of work on mobility/posture - get in touch with them. One of the best decisions I've made: neurophysio.london.
After breakfast there's a walk to the first cable car at the base of the glacier, once there there's a bit of a wait for them to open the lift. It's important that we get there with plenty of time so we can get moving as soon as we're able. A few days in we were joined by the USA Paralympic team, quite a few of whom I know from my time spent in Winter Park, so it was fun to chat to them in the morning while we waited as well as taking the cable cars together. We also shared a training lane with them so got to ski together too which was nice. They have an A,B and C team long-listed for the Paralympics next year and the majority of all the teams were there. It was cool to be able to see and ski with some of the very best in the business, particularly the male sitting and standing class. As things ramp up for the Games next year, national teams are out in force. We were with teams from all over the world including China, South Korea, Australia and many European teams. I can't wait to watch the Games on TV next year as there will be some familiar faces to cheer on.
We spent the first few days free skiing and working on individual things. I was working on rotating the ski which will give me more control over direction, as I tend to go straight in for the carve. I was quite surprised to find that rotating my body gave me the ability to rotate the ski more so that was a really helpful learning experience. My own personal challenge on this camp was to get on with my new equipment. Both skis as well as the leg fairing that I had made by Aspen Seating earlier in the year. I hadn't used it very much as I seem to have a slight issue with mixing things up and changing equipment from what I'm used to. It's an example of how much of this is mental and to do with mindset and confidence.
The brand new slalom skis were stiffer than I'm used to and I took a while to get used to them, but it was definitely a step in the right direction to get on my new equipment, especially while I had the time and no pressure of a race while I was there. That was a mistake I made in Pitztal last year when I got on a new ski a few days before a giant slalom race which wasn't very successful and left we with a nice gash on my forehead. Not the confidence builder I needed before the race!
The following day I got back on my old GS skis which felt great. After a few runs I switched to my new GS skis which I felt really comfortable on. I'm starting to feel the difference between different skis which is a good sign as it shows I'm using them properly. The new ones felt great and have some more life in them than my trusty Atomic skis which were bought second hand a few years ago so are on their last legs. GS is definitely my favourite discipline at the moment but I'm determined to enjoy slalom in the same way.
The conditions were miles better than last time and we were blessed with good visibility and even some bluebird days. So I wasn't left pining after Colorado (which seems to have no end of bluebird days - although maybe that's just me remembering the best of days.) All in all I made some good progress, quite a bit of time was spent free skiing, which I can understand the benefits of, although it does always feel great to get back into gates, especially as races are on the horizon. As this is one of the only opportunities to train GS so the remainder of the camp was spent on our long boards. I'm looking forward to the first GS race of the season in Pitztal at the start of December.
Each day we spent about 3 hours skiing in the morning before coming down in the cable car to get some lunch and then coming back down to the base where we'd head back to the hotel. It's a beautiful walk / or roll for some, back to the hotel, I always quite enjoy a solitary moment rolling back down the hill after the morning with the team. After this it's a quick change and a recovery session where we'll do stretching and generally recovery of our muscles. Then we have a few hours to ourselves to shower, rest, catch up on emails or tune and wax skis in preparation for the next day. Then at 4 or 5 we'll have a video analysis session most days and sometimes an education session following this.
During this camp we had some really helpful education sessions led by coach, Lynn who was an able bodied racer, so who has a huge amount of knowledge and experience to impart. I felt like we were given a good grounding about the fundamentals of ski racing like racing line, ski racing rules as well as some of the technical aspects of skiing - with a focus on sit-skiing as there were so many of us in attendance.
All in all it was a good camp and it was really nice that we didn't have to take any extra days off due to poor conditions. The more practice the better! Since I've been back I've been pretty active; skiing at Snozone in Milton Keynes, putting some time in at Chel-ski, the ski-plex which is like a treadmill for skiing. I'm finding it great for dialling in the body position and creating the right sort of angles. And also getting as much time on the water as the weather or light allows.
Next up is first race of the season - slalom at Landgraaf in Holland. I'm driving over on 4th November for a few days of training before the races start. Now I've recently taken delivery of my British Parasnowsport team kit too I'll be wearing it with pride!