FWQ 3*** Xover Ride 2018 – last comp?!

The 3rd event of this season for me was a home game. On the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier here in Pinzgau was possibly my last competition. I have been toying with the idea of “retiring” from the FWQ Series as the oldest competitor, although I still do have a ton of fun at it! I am not registered for any more comps at the moment so this may very well have been the final one. (The story about the 2nd comp is still outstanding as I do not have any media at all on it: still hoping to get something from the organization!)
The week leading up to the competition wasn’t giving me high hopes of having a fun run: old tracked out rock hard crusty snow covered the whole mountain in a horizontal stripey kind of way. Too many people getting sketched out by the steepness end up traversing through the gullies back and forth cutting deep tracks into the faces which freeze solid over night. The temperatures played all over the thermostat from very warm spring weather to icy windy -10°C frozen nights. It really wrecked havoc on the snowpack! A few days before the contest I went up to the glacier to have a look and start figuring out a line. I guess I would say the first thought I have is always to find the best snow… it doesn’t always work out but it weighs a lot in the line choice for me. There seemed to be fewer tracks through a couple tight gullies on the lookers right which caught my attention. I had taken my run in 2016 over on that side but the snow was in bad shape and I had some control issues as the snow sluffed down, so there was still some redemption open there. Early season brought us a lot of snow which transformed the contors and profile of the face compared to a few years ago, I thought that could make it possible to even drop into the little gully at the top if the snow was working. There were still a few more central routes that I have looked at year after year as well, but many of the others tend to choose those lines and I still didn’t know where my starting number would end up. Friday was a very foggy and gray kind of day: there wasn’t really much point in trying to get a face check in but it did bring us some sorely needed fresh snow. Taking a few runs to check out the snow, I ran into a few of the other girls and took a couple laps together with them. I hardly have the chance to ride with strong female riders so it was a real treat to bump into them! It definitely improved my motivation riding without visibility! Although we did get about 10-15cm of new snow, it was just enough to push your nose into a float but not enough to hold an edge when you started a turn; instead you sunk right to the hard bumpy crust below the feather light sugar coat. I was really relieved to hear the others saying that they found it difficult to ride as well: I know I felt like it was my first week on a board! That evening was the riders meeting where we were told that only perfection would be rewarded and heavy deductions for falls, buttchecks etc would be dished out. Pretty standard stuff as is the case at all the meetings. I was still playing with my line in my head as I turned into bed with only 5 hours to go til the alarm would sound.
The morning of the competition met us with a bluebird sky and very warm temperatures. As we arrived at the Langwiedboden station to view the face, I could see several zig-zag tracks all the way down the small gully I had set my sights on! I did get starting number 4 which made me think I would have first go at this gully at least, now it was a dilemma. Having one of the early starts meant I would have to start up towards the hike only shortly after arriving up on the mountain, not to mention not having a run to even really loosen up! I looked up at the face and scrapped my line, chose something completely different that I had never done before but was pretty confident about. I took the gondola up to start traversing across to the bottom of the hike to the start gate. I didn’t see any of the other girls which was curious but started off towards the traverse. The little bit of new snow had been warmed by the sunshine already and my old board was sticking something horrible! I couldn’t make the traverse as needed and ended up having to hike 20+ minutes to get back up to the track where others were passing along with ease as I hiked up with no tracks below them. The sun was unrelenting and I dont think there was any moisture left in my body as I reached the bottom of the official hike. The race was supposed to be starting any minute so I was extremely relieved to hear that the start was going to be a little delayed as I passed the avalanche beacon checkpoint and started the real hike up. About another 30mn hiking brought me to the start gate where I had under 10 minutes to get my crap together before it was my turn! I had some water, got the gopro mounted and tightened one boot before it was go time. Somehow as soon as I was in the start gate, I was totally ready for it. 3… 2… 1… and it was on. The snow at the top section was surprisingly good and I was able to ride pretty fast through to the top of the gully I call the boob gully (it kinda looks like boobs from below). Getting close to the top of it, the terrain flattens out and had become very sticky again. I could feel the hard tracks below and figured that the rest of the run would be in this rougher snow. There was a nose of a rock at the top that I was thinking of dropping over, but as I got close to it I could see that there wasn’t really enough snow for a take off in the direction I wanted to go, and the snow wasn’t soft enough to consider taking it bigger, so I skipped it and just took the smaller one below it. The landing was a little tracked out but to my happy surprise, there was still decent snow all along the ridge on the way down. I couldn’t believe I found this pocket! I got 2 face shots in the gully and ended up exiting it a little faster than planned since the snow was so good. That changed as soon as I was out of it however, I noticed when I had to take a long toe edge turn to get to the finish gate and the grippy powder gave way to that sticky hard packed tracked snow along the bottom. I hit a track which almost bucked me off the board, I had to reach forward with my knuckles in the snow and sugar side up in the air. It took a sec but I got back in control and finished without a serious mistake. A bunch of the men were also surprised by the changing snow at the very bottom and ended up with some seriously gnarly crashes so I was quite relieved that I stayed on my feet! It was a very fun run for me in the end: quite the pleasant surprise after being concerned with the snow conditions earlier that week! It was good enough for 3rd place in the end, making it that much harder to say goodbye to it all! In the evening after intense amounts of sunshine, we all met back up at the riders party in Kaprun which was cool. A worthy end to a pretty sweet day! You can check out the POV GoPro vid of my run as well… you will notice the exact moment I found the nasty snow at the end 😉
Thanks to my sponsors Rehall Outerwear and Julbo Eyewear for the sick gear and to the event photographers Klaus Listl (www.klauslistl.com), mia* Maria Knoll and Yvonne Hörl for use of the great pictures!

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