Sunday, 28 October 2012


At the end of September I moved into Castle Leazes Halls to begin a 3 year course of Business Management and Geography at Newcastle University. Having applied in the summer I was delighted to find out two weeks ago that I had been selected for the Elite Athlete Squad - consisting of approximately 20 high performing sports athletes within an array of different sports.

Squad selection criteria is based on past, current and potential performance. The programme is specifically designed to help every athlete reach their full sporting potential whilst maintaining high academic standards. A lecture programme covers topics at a weekly lecture such as sport physiology, nutrition, psychology, injury prevention and management, alongside a tailored strength and conditioning programme. Squad members also receive full medical and physiotherapy screening by a sports physician and a team GB physio - for me this is the 18th November.

In addition to the Elite Athletes group I received a sports scholarship of £750 from Santander paid in small sums throughout this year - this will be extremely useful in terms of paying for competition and training costs and for the purchase of any equipment; it is something I am very grateful for.

Upon Starting University I also joined the ski club - NUSSC - Newcastle University Ski and Snowboard Club of which my two elder sisters were key members prior to gradating this summer. Training is held every Tuesday night at Silksworth Dry Ski Slope in Sunderland (only half an hours drive away!). Re-starting on dry slope after a two year break was fairly daunting, however, over the past couple of weeks I have felt myself really progress and pick up my old form.

Last weekend I competed in NeoSki (North East Open Champs.) held at Silksworth along with 3 other NUSSC members - the following write up summarises out success:

"Four of Newcastle's top skiers ventured out to Silksworth artificial slope in Sunderland for the North East Open Championships. This was a three run slalom race, open to all of the ski clubs across the region and there were around 50 skiers entered, including those from school teams right the way up to national squad skiers.

Under clear blue ski...
With all our skiers entered making the podium, it was definitely a good day at the office for Team Newcastle and NUSSC!"
(Anon. 2012)
I'll try to get some photos of the brand new strength and conditioning room at the gym for my next post.
es (something of a novelty for Sunderland!), Jonathan Powell was the first Newcastle racer on the slope and threw the gauntlet down to the rest of the field with a fast run, closely followed by Chris Penrose and Elite Athlete Olivia Parker. Will Cave, racing in what he admitted was not his favourite discipline, was unfortunate to crash out on his first run. Nonetheless, he fought his way down the course on the second and third runs to take third place in the U21 category. Chris and Olivia both got faster and faster with every run: Chris picking up 3rd in the Senior category and 7th overall, and Olivia winning the females race (and taking 8th in the overall classification). But it was Jonathan who set the fastest time of the day on the last run, to win the Championships outright by just over half a second.

I am filled with a new enthusiasm and determination to improve on dry slope, which is currently a great challenge. My confidence is building week by week and I am very eager to race at BUDs (British Uni Dry Slop Champs) in a few weekends time in Edinburgh. Especially following our great success in the first few rounds of the Kings Races held at Rossendale yesterday, in which the 1st team won and the girls team finished 4th.

On another note I signed up for the University rowing team purely on a whim in freshers week. Approximately 100 novice girls signed up and undertook a couple of weeks training including circuits, running and the correct technique on ergo machines. This was followed by a selection weekend were 68 girls tried out. The testing consisted of a leg press, to assess strength, and a gruelling session on a schwinn airdyne machine, to measure cardiovascular fitness and mental toughness. I later found out that I have made the top 20 so would be representing Newcastle University Novice Rowers. An accomplishment I am very proud of. I cannot wait to make it out onto the water soon in the next few weeks. It also excites me that rowing training will contribute to my overall fitness and will no doubt benefit my skiing due to the emphasis on leg strength, power, abdominal strength and upper body (the latter being notoriously weak - I once completed only 3 press-ups in a fitness testing a few years ago at a ski camp in NZ!!)

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Graduation (Heidi Left and Hannah Right)

I've been very complacent when in comes to updating my blog. From April to July I spent a lot of time in the gym trying to increase my overall strength focussing particularly on my leg power and core. Alongside this I worked and caught up with friends.

On July 20th I headed back out to New Zealand for summer training and races. I arrived late, as I didn't want to miss both my sisters' graduating from University.

This left me only 9 days of training to prepare for the Wanaka Tech Series (1st-4th August) which I felt was adequate time to get back into the swing of things. We has some great days training both slalom and GS with early morning sessions requiring 5.15am wake ups (welcome to the gruelling side of ski racing although its totally worth it especially when you catch the incredible sunrise!). Following skiing everyday we have recovered at the gym or back at the lodge doing a combination of light spinning, gentle jogs, yoga and agility training - this included one fun afternoon of ladder drills with one eye blindfolded, which is surprisingly difficult as it alters your depth perception.

Above and Below: two of the many incredible sunrises 

One of my roommates Maddie and I

Much to my benefit the first set of races were postponed until the 9th, giving me eight additional days of training prior to my first races of the 2012/13 season.

Tori Ramona and I
On August 6th I celebrated my 19th birthday! We trained slalom in the morning in coincidentally out first day of sun following a series of foggy days plagued with bad visibility. I personally can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday. Later the girls went out to ‘Amigos’ for a Mexican dinner, where they surprised me with presents and a cake.

By the time the races approached I was still feeling slightly unprepared and not as strong as I had felt at the end of the northern hemisphere season at Easter. Having raced slalom at Cardrona three times previously however, I was feeling fairly confident despite my usual nerves. On the first day of slalom I scored an 86 – my personal best. Unfortunately I straddled on my second run of day two. Regardless I was very happy with my skiing and felt my confidence returning. 

Cardrona Slalom - photo taken by Martin Barwood

Tori and Tessa looking positive during
second run inspection despite
the foggy conditions
Following two days of slalom at Cardrona we moved onto Giant Slalom. The first day was not particularly successful result wise and my skiing was messy – on run one I misjudged the gate behind a roller and had to throw my skis sideways in order to make it (accompanied by my usual squeal). For this mistake I can only blame myself due to a poor inspection or lack of concentration but all in all I feel my GS has come on leaps and bounds since this time last year regardless of points and position. Day 2 we woke up to severe fog; after a sketchy warm up in varying visibility run one commenced. I finished in the top 30 however was not pleased at all with my skiing. This day was a reminder that I need to work on my mental approach so that conditions do not faze my attitude. Much to my relief run two was indeed cancelled as you could barely make out the second gate from the start area. 

Besides from skiing most afternoons we managed to catch highlights of the majority of Olympic events – I personally enjoyed watching GB’s successful performance in track cycling and also Tom Daley winning a bronze medal! 

Japanese FIS slalom
This year the snow was lacking slightly in comparison to previous years and the weather was generally a lot warmer, with much rain and fog. One morning our training was delayed by an hour and a half as freezing rain that fell in the night had caused the chairlift to break down; it had also created an ice rink in the car park which created a challenge during our daily warmup and stretches!! The poor conditions also caused grass and rocks to surface at one of the Japanese FIS slalom races at Coronet Peak – fortunately I chose not to race that day however in the photo you can see what some of our boys experienced!!

Fortunately a clear night followed causing the surface to freeze and the following day I competed in the second of the Japanese FIS slaloms. I skied fairly tentatively but overall my performance was neither bad nor good, and the points were somewhat disappointing. This also described my performance in the two Japanese FIS GS races on August 17th and 18th.

A very organised girls van with 18 sets of race skis!!
 I ended my trip with an ANC (Australian New Zealand Cup) slalom race at Coronet peak on August 21st in yet again more fog. Having skied 8 consecutive days I was feeling a little tired and my first run felt like a nightmare; I dropped my pole for a section of gates and it all seemed very messy on injected snow conditions. Time-wise it wasn’t too bad and my second run was reasonable. I finished 16th and scored 105, a decent score when racing against the liked of Eva-Maria Brem from the Austrian World Cup team.    

The following day I travelled home with a growing excitement inside of me to get back to Europe and compete in more slalom races this upcoming season. Once again a huge thanks to all the support I received from TCRA and in particular the Girls Team coaches Chrissi and Schreder, and of course to the head coach Guenther Birgmann. 

Myself and Tori Bell at the start of the Cardrona Slalom 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

End Of The Season

It's sad to say the season came to an end so quickly as we were greeted with melting snow and high spring temperatures! The season was an emotional rollercoaster (with absurd volumes of shed tears) It has been frustrating at times but overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

I unfortunately drowned my laptop in coffee in mid March and so stopped blogging! But I will upload my remaining videos soon =)

Friday, 9 March 2012

Long Time No Post...

So a lot has happened since my last post. Mid-February I travelled to Bormio, Italy and competed in the English Champs; a highlight of my trip was the Senior Slalom - I scored a 107 bringing my points under 100 finally!! Since then I have trained in Meribel, raced in Le Corbier and Les Menuires and I spent this week resting in Megeve.

On Wednesday I went to Geneva for the day with Celine for shopping, Starbucks and sushi to take my mind off skiing. Also this week I've had circuit training and weight sessions at the gym and also taken Celines dog Jazz for walks.

I arrived in Villard de Lans this afternoon for the FIS races tomorrow and Sunday - the weather is expected to be warm again with temperatures above freezing (more ideal for tanning than skiing!!).

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The last week spent in Megeve involved a lot of fog, fondues, champagne and snow!! I had a great time with one good slalom race, where I was skiing to my points, which has boosted my confidence for the upcoming races in Les Gets this weekend. Its forecast to be super cold...
... not quite sure I can handle -40*C windchill!!!! I'm currently in Les Carroz, where it hasn't stopped snowing, and i'm taking a few days off to rest before I ski some pow =)

Unfortunately my camera is broken!!! And so my blog posts have been fairly boring recently! But hopefully I'll have it fixed by next week when I travel to Bormio for the English Championships.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Following four races in Villard de Lans I came back to Meribel with Celine for 5 days training in preparation for two GS races at St. Gervais this past weekend (21st&22nd). These were however cancelled because yet again we experienced a huge dump of snow on the friday!!! MORE RACES CANCELLED!!!! Alternatively, instead of travelling to the races on friday afternoon, we stayed in Meribel to watch the ESF slalom race where ESF instructors from many resorts competed. I reversed roles with Fred and became his coach - it really tested my analytical ability and we had some great fun despite it not being a good performance on his behalf.

I then travelled to Megeve where I took the weekend off to relax and recuperate. Yesterday we trained GS in fairly soft snow and this morning we trained Super G. I've never actually trained Super G (as its difficult in terms of safety to organise) and I've only ever raced this discipline a couple of times having always felt nervous, awkward and unsure what to do! Throughout the few runs we took this morning I felt much progression as I lost my negative attitude towards speed and surprisingly had a lot of fun!! Tomorrow is another day of Super G training (weather permitting) before two SG races to be held on thursday and a GS friday in Megeve. I will then race two SL's on saturday and sunday in Combloux before heading to Les Carroz to visit my parents.

Monday, 9 January 2012

I headed out to Meribel on January 2nd with my parents and best friends family. The weather wasn't ideal for skiing with a huge storm blowing in across the Alps; we experienced non stop snow and poor visibility. Unfortunately this meant my races this weekend in Les Menuires were cancelled! Despite this I had an awesome week, with almost 1.5 metres of fresh snowfall, resulting in lots of powder skiing and hot chocolate stops.

Below: Immy and I with a blown down tree outside our apartment. 

Skiing the following day with Immy and India.. wish I had some proper powder skis!

My sister Hannah and I skiing in Les Menuires

This morning I trained GS in Meribel, followed by an afternoon skiing with my schoolfriend Livvy who's out in Val Thorens with her Uni. I'm training again tomorrow and then travelling to Villard de Lans for 4 races.