Wouldn’t it be nice to be guaranteed perfect snow conditions every time we decided to go up the mountain or travel for a training camp?
Early season in Europe is definitely not a crowd favourite when it comes to ideal riding conditions. Nonetheless, the experience is still quite an attractive way to get in some time on our boards before the first World Cups roll around.
I always preferred going south to Mammoth in California for the pre-season riding. The mountain usually has a good pipe by now, some jumps and nice freeriding. It’s a great way to get warmed up before hitting the goods back home in Whistler.
Because nowhere in North America had anything to write home about in early November last year, we got off our laurels this year and headed overseas to Europe for some glacier snowboarding. The snowboardcross team started the migration to Austria last week and will be followed shortly by the pipe team, which is on its way to Switzerland. The alpine team was already in Austria and Holland in October but will soon be back to Italy and Austria for more World Cup races.
The trip started out with the usual sad good byes to loved ones. Leaving family and friends behind at the beginning of every year is difficult. I found this year to be even a bit tougher because of the short period of time I had at home between my October training camp in Quebec and this six week long trip to Europe.
On the bright side, these transcontinental plane rides go by faster every year. I have finally learned to sleep on those long overnight flights. No longer do I have to deal with the crazy people who fall asleep on my shoulder or the overly chatty people beside me. I actually manage to sleep through all the crying babies on board and the kids who yell as they run up and down the aisles.
Not only does the sleep help make the rider shorter, it also comes in handy for the long day of driving once we actually arrive in a new country and still have to get to the mountains. This is my first trip to Europe where I didn’t have to fight to stay awake late enough in the evening to make sure I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night.
It makes managing jet lag that much easier. What a concept! I’ve been traveling with the team for over 10 years now and I’m still mastering some very basic tricks of the trade.
Most of the SBX team arrived at the same time in Munich, which made for a quick turn around from airport to van. Unfortunately, two of our male Ontario teammates were waiting for us all morning. Fortunately, they were well looked after by a group of lovely BMW models…. Oh, how life on the road is tough on the boys.
Nomadic life is tough on the girls too. I’m currently in an upstairs apartment in the quaint Austria ski town of Hintertux, rooming with eight guys. I will join my halfpipe teammates next week where there will be four more girls, but for now I’m flying solo.
It’s actually a great opportunity to travel with the boys. When you grow up in Whistler riding with your older brother and his friends, you have the opportunity to only be exposed to the next level and get pushed even when you don’t know it. This trip brings that back a bit, which is why I love training with the boys, whether it be on a snowboardcross course or just freeriding on the mountain.
We have only had one day on snow thus far. The weather is great and the mountain has built a nice little course for us to train on. We are also riding the terrain park and doing some basic freeriding all over the mountain. The snow could be better — well maybe a lot better — but at least there is snow here and facilities to train.
Colorado has been getting some snow as well. The alpine team is down there right now training at Copper Mountain. The snowboardcross team will finish up in Hintertux in a week and will move westwards to Saas Fee, Switzerland. The pipe team will be joining us in Saas Fee on Nov. 12 and will be gearing up for the two season opening World Cup contests there at the end of this month.