This last week, we packed up from Planica and drove to Ramsau, Austria. The beauty of living in Europe with a home base is that we can easily get to new places for camps without feeling the drag of continually being on the road. Ramsau checks all the boxes for a perfect camp. First off, it’s an easy two hours from Planica, and we can train on the K90 where we’ll compete in December for the World Cup and then drive 40 minutes to jump the large hill in Bischofshofen.
We also stopped at the Atomic factory on the way in Altenmarket, just before heading up the mountainside to Ramsau. Our whole team is on Atomic cross country skis now, so we picked up some new skis to test and discussed what we needed before the winter. It’s pretty convenient to be able to just pop in to the European headquarters like that.
In addition to jumping, one objective was to get up on the Dachstein glacier, which is open for skiing almost year-round. (This year it was closed for much of July, a trend which is likely to only be increasing). I’ve probably been to Ramsau a dozen times now, but the view of the enormous Dachstein mountain towering above town never ceases to amaze me. Surprisingly, in all my times there, I’d never been up to the glacier.
Before we got up to ski, we had three days to focus on jumping. After a session in Ramsau, we drove to Bischofshofen the next two mornings. Bisch is a special hill, probably the most unique of any jump I’ve been on. The inrun is incredibly flat and long before it eventually ends in a 5-meter-high takeoff. It was fun to get some flying time here, and helpful to jump a completely different profile hill than the ones in Planica.
Check out the sweet video that Nathaniel Mah made from our first couple days in Ramsau.
The skiing on the Dachstein is just under 9000 feet above sea level, much too high to try to get a quality, high-speed intervals session in. We endured another long rollerski in the rain for our intensity session before shifting the focus to easy distance training. It was the kind of session that we dreaded all day as the rain poured down with no sign of a break in the weather. But once we got our bodies warmed up and safely navigated a few corners on the rollerski track, it turned out to be not all that bad. Asides from some skiing between our hotel and the track, we did our best to stay off the roads, where, believe it or not, its verboten to rollerski. This rule always shocks me in such a Nordic mecca – proud home of the 1999 World Championships, annual World Cups and a ski marathon. I’ve been lucky so far, but apparently there’s one cop in town that send you walking home and even give out tickets if he’s particularly irritated. Fortunately, the rollerski track is one of the better ones around, as long as you don’t overcook any of the tight corners. (Knock on wood, I haven’t joined that club here either).
The upside of rain in town was that we were confident in snow up high. In fact, the snowline nearly reached town on Wednesday morning. The following day, when we finally stepped out of the tram at the top of the Dachstein, we met Father Winter in all his glory. It was nearly white-out conditions and so windy that I’m not sure how much snow was actually falling from the sky or just being swept around from the gusting wind. A few of us took a mistaken lap on the walking trail before finding the skiing loop. After 15 minutes of only being able to see from pole to pole, and sometimes struggling to just stay on the groomed trail, we started to wonder why no one else seemed to be out there. Then again, we couldn’t see far enough to know, so we kept on that loop before reevaluating at the start and finding the rest of the skiers.
The Dachstein is a popular training grounds for cross country skiers, biathletes and Nordic combiners from all over. Other teams included a club from Thunder Bay, Estonians, Czech biathletes, Koreans, a Japanese para-athlete, and of course Austrians and ski technicians. We chatted with the Canadians, who were starting a three-week training camp up there, but otherwise most people tend to stick to themselves and their training priorities. After 2 or 3 hours of skiing, we load back into a tram, mixing skiers with the German-speaking tourists who came for the views and apfelstrudel at the tram station restaurant.
The weather and skiing improved each day on the Dachstein. On Friday, it’s not quite sunny, but we’re able to take in the phenomenal views and get a much better idea of our surroundings. On Saturday, we’re back to jumping in Ramsau on a beautiful shorts-and-t-shirt kind of day. By Sunday, for our third and final ski on the glacier, there’s enough skiing groomed that I barely repeat loops for a two-hour ski.
More images from the Dachstein in the slideshow below.
To end the camp, the Fichtenheim cooks treat us with Kaiserschmarrn – fluffy, eggy pancakes, shredded and served with powdered sugar and apple sauce (literally Emperor’s mess). We ate well and trained hard all week, so I don’t feel too guilty as I finish off my plate and serve up seconds. The Austrians certainly know that there’s no better way to make a guest want to come back again than serving this up as their last meal.
Now we’re already unpacked back at our apartments in Planica. We’re able to settle back in quickly and it feels just like home again. This weekend we have the final two days of Summer Grand Prix competitions. Planica is a new addition to the tour, and after a month-long break in the competitions, everyone is eager to get back at it here. Stay posted on Facebook for results and news from the competitions!
Before I go, I want to share my fundraising campaign on Rally Me. I already owe a huge thank you to the incredible donors who have already supported me since I started the fundraiser just last week! I am really amazed at how quickly people have stepped in. I couldn’t do it without this community supporting me! If you’d like to help out, check out my page below. Your support will help cover some of the costs necessary to train, compete and be equipped for this season. Also, be sure to watch the super cool video that Nathaniel Mah made at the page!
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