Friday, July 18, 2014

The Quest For Buff Knees

Its been four months since I first injured my knee, and I have to say I'm still feeling really positive about everything.

Six weeks ago I had my ACL surgery which marked the end of the between surgeries "in limbo" stage and the start of the "get buff knees" stage.

Its much nicer being out the other side of surgeries. Even though I had lots of little week by week goals which kept me motivated, its still a total bummer being put right back to stage one hanging out on couches with crutches. Especially when you have just made it to the point of being able to walk around the house with a cup of tea and a bowl of cereal without slopping it over the edges.

Things are coming along really well with my rehab, I am starting to do more in the gym and I am swimming every second day. It is a great feeling now having the freedom to go out and do some proper physical training which makes me tired and sore.

I am expected to be riding my bike on the road sometime in the next 1 to 2 weeks, so until then I will be working hard on a stationary bike. Currently I do about 40 mins a day on the bike as well as a gym session and an exercise session at home. All up its about 2 to 3 hours a day.
I am really looking forward to to getting back out on the road, that will be a very big milestone in my recovery.
It will be a significant step towards having the freedom to be able to adventure on demand.
Until then I have my little goals.

And the satisfaction of roaming the house with tea and cereal in hand.

Check out this mash up of all my best skiing in Europe this year.

Euro Mashup from sam lee on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nendaz 4* FWQ and Knee Injury

A couple of weeks ago I competed in the qualification day for the Nendaz 4* in Switzerland.

I managed to qualify into the finals in 6th position with the score from my first run.Unfortunately I injured myself when I crashed badly in my second run. 28 people qualified for the final, so even with a DNS I still ended up 28th overall in the 4* comp out of a field of over 50.The second run was cancelled after my injury and another more serious heli to hospital straight after me. Conditions had become pretty bad.

I have since had an MRI and have talked to an Orthopaedic surgeon, unfortunately the results aren't so flash.

I have a ruptured ACL, and a bucket tear on my medial meniscus.I will need two surgeries, the first for the meniscus and the second for the ACL. The recovery time after the first operation will be 6 weeks, to make sure my knee is fully mobile and strong before going back to fix the ACL.
The recovery time after ACL is 6 months so all up it is looking like 7 and a half months until I'm back to normal activity and back on snow, which will be too late for NZ but pretty good timing for the northern winter.
It will then be another 2 or 3 months after that before I am able to compete again.

The plan is to take it day by day and focus on the smaller goals of regaining mobility and strength.

I am pretty gutted, but it had to happen sooner or later!
Up until now I have never broken or cracked a bone, nor have I had any major ligament damage, so to be honest I think I've done pretty well to stay intact for so long!

Although it is unfortunate to have an injury put me out of doing knee dependent activities for a while, my mind is fully set on rehab and recovery. I have had a bunch of good friends around me since the injury so I am in pretty good spirits. I figure the best thing to do is to stay positive.

I will be back at it before you can say "oh hey its December already!"

That's the important stuff summarised but for anyone who wants to hear the more in depth story of the comp continue reading below.

The format was 2 runs both count.
The face was split down the middle into two sides. We had to do our first run on the left side and our second on the right.

So effectively it was two runs count, same day, two different venues.
I skied my first run solid, opting for the two small drops one big drop approach, which I figured would place me quite high.

I stomped all of my airs and placed 6th after run one, although i didn't find that out until after the day was done.
I went into my second run with a similar approach, my run consisted of one small drop, skiing quickly and keeping my line simple until my one big feature at the end.
The line I skied was a double stage drop.

I dropped in at about 3.30, and as it turns out the ski tracks had frozen where people had skied the soft snow under the first stage of my double. When I landed the first stage something went wrong with my knee, it was a sort of grinding sensation. I knew something was wrong but from there I was too far into the double and going too fast to pull out of the second drop. I went off it less balanced and landed in a refrozen bomb hole from another skier.

I knew there would be bomb holes and was expecting a pretty heavy landing but I thought it would be softer than it was.
I hadn't taken into account that the ski tracks could have frozen.
So basically I landed badly on an already compromised knee and rag-dolled twisting it knee further.

I am really happy with my first run and am stoked on the way I am skiing at the moment. I have at least proved to myself that I am capable of qualifying top of the field in the four star events.
After my results in the FWQ 4* events this season I will have entry into the 2015 Northern Hemisphere FWQ 4* comps.

So I have something to aim for, something to be fit and strong for.

Back to NZ, Land of of the long misty mornings

Sunrise flying back to NZ

Sunrise somewhere in the air near Aus

Friday, February 28, 2014

Andorra - El Dorado Freeride FWQ 4* Top 10 Finish

Last week I went on a really rad excursion down to the tiny Nation of Andorra to compete in the El Dorado Freeride 4* event.

The comp ran as a two day event with a qualifier day and a finals day.
I skied a solid smooth run on day one with a medium air at the top leading straight into a tight technical double and then finishing with a bigger cliff at the bottom.
I really enjoyed my run and was just stoked to have one finally finished clean with no major mistakes.
Only 9 of the male skiers went through to the finals day, and I was number 8!
We got to ride up to the top of the venue in a heli for our runs, any time I get to fly in a heli is a huge highlight!

Heli Time!!
Standing at the top of the face I was feeling really good, I was totally confident and looking forward to skiing my line, it looked like a lot of fun.
My line started out with a small air into a tight chute which joined onto a bigger chute leading into my first proper air.
The tight chute went perfectly but I ran into a problem on exit.
I didn't plan for the compression I would get due to the angle change at the bottom of the chute and when I tried to shut down and control my speed to set up for my cliff I collapsed onto my back and lost control.
I was lucky I had the presence of mind to try and redirect myself away from the fall line both just before and during my roll otherwise I would have tomahawked off a substantial cliff.

My final result from the competition was 9th.

Overall a really positive experience. My confidence is high, my day one run was a good solid finish and getting to ride in a heli will make any day awesome!

Here is the link to the finals day highlights video - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=717005948332103&set=vb.218152354884134&type=2&theater
My crash is at 1:50

Andorra is a tiny country in the Pyrenees alps on the boarder of France and Spain and the mountains there are sick!

I travelled there with fellow NZ big mountain competitor Michael Norrie.
We drove down from Verbier through the France.

The drive down was pretty focused on getting from point A to B, but on the way back we had a little more time to spare so we went and got our tourist game on and took the long way home.

We ended up driving one of the more interesting routes home through a bunch of little old towns in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Along the way we had the opportunity to check out a couple of cool sights, an fortified town and castle ruins on a cliff top in southern France and the highest bridge in the world in Millau!

I am now back in Verbier preparing for my next competition which is a 4* at Nendaz, a resort that is part of the 4 valleys and is accessible by ski from Verbier its self.

Here is the link to another edit I made recently - https://vimeo.com/86785428

Photo - Nils Johansson

A church on a hill in Spain
A Viaduct somewhere in Southern France
Southern French Village
Not Castle Ruins

It was refreshing to be amongst some evergreens and warm weather in the south of France

French Pyrenees

Castle Courtyard

Cool Bridge in Andorra

Castle Ruins Somewhere in the South of France

Myself - Getting Upside Down

Joakim Sending a Backy

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hochfugen 4*

Last weekend I competed in the Hochfugen 4* FWQ event in Austria.

The trip to Austria was amazing and being in Europe is turning out to be exactly as cool as I hoped it would.
The competition side hasn't worked quite how I imagined it would.
Hochfugen didn't go too well for me. I had everything planned out thoroughly and knew exactly what I was doing but when I got to the top of the venue, unusually, quite a bit of uncertainty crept in to my mind. I had a very late start order and there were delays with half the field crashing and by the time I was in the gate the organisers had closed the zones I had planned to ride as they were fully ripped out. 

I managed to pick my self up a bit before setting off, but I still wasn't 100%, I aired off a natural snow booter, landed flatter than planned, side checked, crossed my skis and bailed.

At that point I was to low for my next air so I skied out and made up the rest as I went along. Funnily enough with so many others having a bad day I still ended up 18th.
Although the comp didn't go so well, It really reinforced in me the importance of mental prep before a comp. 
The lesson learnt is plan thoroughly and then from the moment the hike up begins it can only be positive thoughts from there on out.

The comp aside, being in Austria was awesome. The day after the comp Ruari Macfarlane and myself had an awesome pow day slaying pillows in the trees at Hochfugen, and that totally fixed all of my problems.

I am now back in Verbier skiing as much as I can before heading down to Andorra on Wednesday for the El Dorado Freeride FWQ 4*.


Catching Trains to Austria

Catching trains

Sunset Across The Valley From Verbier






Remedy Pow Day @ Hochfugen With Ruari Macfarlane
Subalpine Submarining @ Bruson

Jack loving the Subalpine-Submarining at Bruson

Up The Valley From Bruson

Axamer Lizum, Austria

Somewhere between Innsbruck and Zurich

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Heading To Hochfugen

I have never really travelled by train before, let alone in Europe, so tomorrow is going to be a new experience.
I'm heading up to Austria to compete at the Hochfugen 4* Big Mt Comp.
It will be my second stop so far this season. I've had a few sendy days over the last couple weeks so I'm feeling much more confident than I was before the first comp. Here's hoping I do a better job of it!
The competition will run on the 8th and is a one day one run format, which is a little less stressful than the multi day stops. It can also encourage the all or nothing, just send it attitude in some people, which can end up with both spectacular runs and equally spectacular crashes.
It will be my first ever European 4* comp, so I am really interested to see how I compare.

Playing with the A-Star, work in progress

Field Testing the Icebreaker Long-Johns

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Verbier So Far

This post is just a collection of photos from around Verbier

Skier - Jess Ounjian