St Johann, Austria - World Cup Ski Cross

We got to Austria yesterday, back to beautiful St Johann, aka St Injection, and it is living up to it’s name, greater than last year. They decided to move the course about 200 yards further up the hill which made it steeper than last year. The hill is too steep to run big, wide open turns that you would need for a good ski cross race, so, instead, we are running approximately 15 meter radius GS turns down a hill that has man-made fall-aways with micro-terrain in them, and it has been injected twice. They have decided to take the sport of ski cross and make it a “non-passable”, very boring race and make the hill as icy as possible so you are going off of six foot step downs, and landing on snow that feels like a parking lot.

The race venue is cool. They have grand stands, and tons of people came out. They already sold 5,000 tickets in advance for the race, and the race will be live on television. They have a staff of 240 people. It’s really exciting. The effort and excitement that you feel for ski cross around here is great. Everyone is excited for the sport and very into it.

They just have the wrong idea and wrong direction of where to take the course. You can hear it from every athlete. I don’t think there is one person who skied off the course today that liked it or enjoyed themselves, and usually, after a day of training, you can ski off the ski cross course and everybody is high-fiving eachother and they want to take more runs, because it is one of the more fun things you can do on a pair of skis. You and a buddy go out, not necessarily free skiing, but you’re racing down a course with banked turns and jumps and you get to pass each other. It’s usually a really exciting time, whereas, today we trained one at a time because it would have been unsafe to go 2 or 3 or even 4 at a time down.

The race is going to be exciting. Tomorrow is qualifying. We’ll see what happens.

There are 10,000 people in this town so excited just to come watch ski cross. There’s a giant 60 ft x 100 ft TV in the finish line. There are speakers everywhere, DJ’s, tents, warming tents, beer gardens… People are just excited to come out and watch this racing. There are grand stands. The great energy and enthusiasm and just the sheer love that the people in this country show for skiing and our sport is incredible. Now we just need to get a good venue and a good hill, and this could be the best world cup stop on our World Cup Circuit, but it turns it into the worst one for us athletes because it is the worst course that we’ll see all year.

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