10 Countries, 3 continents & 2 injuries
This Northern Winter for me started late and was thwort with injury, work and time consuming travel. Yet somehow, it was still fun, adventurous, productive and full of great skiing! Before I kicked off the Northern Hemisphere winter, Sam Murray and his lovely girlfriend Jazz hosted Soph and I on their family boat in the Hauraki Golf north of Auckland in NZ, good chilled times!
A little yoga on the beach instructed by Jazz who is professional yoga instructor from Yellow Knife in Canada.
OFF TO THE NORTHERN HEMI 1ST STOP - ANDORRA
To kick off the season I was offered a job by Gopro as a filmer and representative on the Freeride World Tour. The first stop of the FWT was in Andorra so I flew straight their from NZ on the 21st of January. I landed in Barcelona and started the very next day. The following day was the competition day - the big day! All went well.
That night as we celebrated I had a bad accident, I fell down some stairs and got a bad concussion with a brain haemorrhage (bleeding in the brain). I spent the next week in the Neurology department of Innsbruck Hospital. Not a good start to the season.
To see the summary of the Andorra FWT competition click here.
TIME OUT RECOVERING WITH SOPH AT HER HOME
Needless to say Sophie, my girlfriend was worried so she flew out to see me. Before she got there my good friend Lukas Zögernitz and his partner Betty Larl took great care of me. Once Soph arrived and I was out of hospital it was clear that I was not yet ready to ski so I returned with Soph to her home on the Isle of Wight, UK to rest and recover. Damaging your brain to the point of behaviour change and physical incapability is a very real demonstration of your own mortality, it was a difficult time and would have been very hard to cope with out Soph's support. I was able take my mind off absolutely everything to do with winter and skiing and rehab with smaller physical activities like biking.
STARTING TO SKI
After a few weeks off it was time to get into it, but I had to start small. I went back to Innsbruck, Austria and spent a lot of time shredding at Axamer Lizum ski resort to get the ski mojo back.
I almost lost the drone over a cliff, so I grabbed it. In doing so I saved the Hexo+ but serverely cut my fingers, it cut so much off one of my fingers that we were looking for my finger tip in the snow which we did not find. At the time of the accident Charlie and I were well outside the ski area boundary and about an hour from help, it dusk and storm clouds were coming in. I was very lucky to have Charlie there who controlled the situation and did a good make shift bandaged job on my hand.
After getting patched up I was back skiing with Charlie the next day. But very unfortunately Charlie also suffered an injury. This time it was his ankle and was quite severe, he had to return to Innsbruck while I remained in St Anton.
After Charlie's cruel exit I found some great Dannish guys to shred with and show me around.
In the following days the storm came and clouds parted...
FIEBERBRUNN FWT STOP #3
After injuring myself at the first Freeride Wold Tour stop in Andorra while working for Gopro I sat out the second stop in Chamonix while I needed to rest. Now I was back to work on the third stop in Fieberbrunn, and the snow was good with time to shred.
Here I am trying out one of the elaborate Gopro mounts.
As it kept snowing each day the organisers had to keep delaying the competition day for better weather, leaving me and the competitors to shred and get photos.
Its true about the weather in Alaska, there is a lot of down time... But there are no resorts there so if you want to go skiing you have to pay for a commercial heli or snowmobile or go touring, and the touring on the lower slopes is not so good around Haines. We ended up goig across the Canadian boarder in to the Yukon Territory.
Basiacally my job for Gopro at these stops is to be at the top of the venue on competition day and make sure every competitor has the correct Gopro gear, correct angle and records their run. After the competition I select a few of the best runs, edit them a little and send to Gopro for publishing. There is more to it than that but thats it in a nutshell.
For an example of the runs a I select edit and send in, see this link of Drew Tabke taking 3rd in Alaska.
After all competitors were down and done on the competition day it would heve been rude of me not to ride the face, so I did!
2 days after the competition day I managed to book myself on a local heliski operator at a discounted price with Head FWT judge and long time friend through the NZ ski scene Dion Newport, competitor Julian Lopez and one of the competition interviewers, Mike. It was a fantastic way to finish the trip.
That afternoon after my heliski I had to go straight to my flight and back to Europe after 10 days in Alaska. On the flight out of Haines I saw whales in the fjords!
To see the summary of the Alaska FWT competition click here.
VERBIER XTREME FWT STOP #5
Just days after returning from Alaska I was off to Verbier, Switzerland for the Verbier Xtreme and the 5th and final stop of the Freeride World Tour. But it was not drawn out like Fieberbrunn or Alaska, it was over in just a few days.
When it came to the final category of the ski men the weather halted the show. When it became clear that the weather would be not be crack for some time, hot drinks and food was delivered to us by heli.
Soon after organisers determined that this storm was not going to clear but remain for the remaining days in the competition window. So the competition declared as finished and there was no result for the ski men category for that stop and current rankings stood as final tour results.
But I was still able ski the Bec De Rossa face down the dog leg flank! Although it was not in fantastic conditions it was still good times!
To see the summary of the Verbier Xtreme FWT final click here.
BACK TO THE UK
After all the hectic travel and skiing I needed a rest and I wanted to see Soph. So off I went to her home on the ever relaxing Isle of Wight.
SALCOMBE, DEVON MEETING MY FIRST NEPHEW
My lovely sister Harriet gave birth to Max Bond, my awesome new nephew! Our Mum flew out from NZ especially to see him and we all went on a holiday to Salcombe, Devon across the water on the mainland of the UK. Its a cool place!
ONE WEEK IN NORWAY
One thing that Soph really wanted to do this winter was to go skiing in the north of Norway. So we went. Soph organised everything, we asked our good friends Hamish Smith and Heidi Cochran to join, I packed some Gopro cameras and my new Hexo+ auto follow drone. The result was one of the best adventures we had ever done!
We struck such great conditions with stable dry powder on north aspects and at least some sort of sunshine on 6 of the seven days. As the saying goes in Norway, "if you don't like the weather, just wait 5 mins..."
One of the best bits of the trip was coming back to our fishing hut accommodation over hanging the sea after a long days skiing in the mountains and eating fresh fish for dinner. It was super cosy.
It was such a great way to finish a season full of set backs. Skiing in an isolated, beautiful place with great friends shredding low stress fun terrain. My very last run was one of the best, a small cliff drop into a hanging open field that funnelled into a high speed chute twisting out into the plateau below, all in nice dry powder.
The adventure in Norway was one of the best we have had and we plan to be back next year.
BACK TO THE UK TO PREPARE FOR NZ!
After Norway it was time to get back to the Isle of Wight and get back into work. Hamish and Heidi joined us for a long weekend of camping and chilling.
Some of the work we needed to do was prepare for a major trade show we were exhibiting in with our new design business Little Difference. Since the tradeshow we now have a fast growing profitable business!
And of course I need to stay fit and prepare for the best season of all, Winter in NZ!
By the 3rd of July I'll be back shredding the NZ snow, and it's shaping up to be a great season! Oh, if you were wondering what the 10 countries were: New Zealand, Andorra, Spain, Austria, UK, Germany, USA, Canada, Switzerland and Norway.