Kitzbuhel - Toby Deighton

My experience!

27 January 2015 AT 14:56:29

Well, i had asked the guys if anyone faniced writing a report - the fact that the guys wanted to share this experience must mean there was something in it to learn from.... Onto Toby Deighton....


75th Hahnenkamm

The notorious but exciting and fearful home of the Kitzbuhel world cup race was generous enough to invite under 16 racers from 7 strong nations, including GB to race. The spectacular and terrifying races included a GS and slalom that held nerves for even the most confident and self-assured racers who took part in this first children’s race of its kind.


The steepness of the hill and the strength required to complete both runs suggested a slim chance of being successful, even for the top athletes from the clearly dominating nations such as Austria and USA who struggled with the hill and its challenges laid out for the racers. Nonetheless, myself, Angus, Callum and Alex all ventured towards the fierce competition without truly questioning what lied ahead. 


I’m sure you’ve all heard the commentators, pundits and racers themselves mention that the only true way of really nailing and conquering any race at Kitzbuhel is by holding nothing back, leaving everything on the slope and attacking like mad and honestly I have to agree with every single one of them in every detail. Heading out the start gate of the giant slalom was without a doubt the scariest and most breathe taking experience in my skiing career. From the sheet ice around the deadly second gate of the giant slalom, to the pressure of meeting the standards of the other racers and trying match their speed and technique, I found myself realising the amount of dedication and assertiveness required to be a ski racer let alone trying to achieve a place on the  podium.


Throughout all the international races I have been lucky enough to be selected for, Kitzbuhel is unquestionably the hardest and most challenging children’s race to date; my only regret here is that I did not attack or push myself as much as I could have done.  


The first run of the day was the giant slalom, where in all honesty I had difficulties in coming to terms with not only the hill but the atmosphere as well. Confidence and aggression were definitely desirable and necessary characteristics of the day as the unforgiving and famous Streif did not choose to be sympathetic to its racers as many athletes either fell unexpectedly due to the severe ice that dominated most of the run, or were caught out by the sudden change of terrain. I was quick to realise that the racers who did not choose to give in to the roughness and unevenness of the course were the ones who came out on top, the ones who decided to play it safe, minimising the risks were the skiers who did not perform and were probably more than disappointed with themselves. The slalom however, was more of a success from my point of view,  not only did it allow me to ski more confidently - having already skied the hill with the giant slalom - but also enabling me to ski a more assertive line which had a positive effect on my slalom result.


The tough yet very much enjoyable two runs of racing on the Hahnenkamm and the whole experience of Kitzbuhel has taught me to respect race pistes, their level of difficulty and the concentration, fitness and determination required to succeed at these very demanding children’s races. Regardless of the desire to perform and to make a name for yourself, I enjoyed myself thoroughly and would seriously recommend the experience to any other athletes who have the chance to attend the race in the coming years as you savour the experience and appreciate it like no other international race you have ever been to.


Toby Deighton      

Kitzbuhel - By Angus Wills

What an experience.

25 January 2015 AT 20:02:27

Well, i didnt write this, but i dont think i could have said it any better myself! Over to Angus Wills.....


Ambition U16 Athletes Report:

‘Respect’ would be the one word I would use to describe what I’ve gained from my experiences at Kitbuhel these last few days. Quite frankly the TV doesn’t do the ‘Streif’ nearly enough justice, and the sight of it whilst driving in to town made me (Angus),Callum, Alex and Toby all question the sanity of any downhiller that would dare race down it. Next to it we could see the distant outline of our GS course that had been set for our race for the following day. In an instant I realized quickly that this wasn’t like any other international I had represented GBR at and was truly my first time feeling out right scared in the sport I do.


The U16 racers from seven strong alpine nations all raced on the ‘Ganslernhang’ piste, which we all know as the world cup slalom piste. For the giant slalom in the morning this meant pushing out of the world cup start gate, an action I never new was as brutal as it turned out to be. It was the iciest slope I have ever skied due to it being injected multiple times but did make for one hell of a course. All teams were intimidated by the conditions, some more than others, and I even saw the eventual winner for the guys give a slight shake of the head whilst looking down the course. With the course having a lot of terrain and a pretty gnarly second gate many crashed out or held back. A lot of people’s attitudes at the bottom reflected that of an U14 girl finishing her first Super-G and realizing that it wasn’t as bad as it looked.


Ultimately the ones that sucked it up and got on with the job did the best. The winners from both genders had far from perfect clean runs but attacked like crazy. I think once again this is where the likes of Austria and Germany pull away from other nations at children’s level. Whereas in British skiing you may come across some nice skiing which looks good and smooth and perfectly in control, the times it produces will never challenge those of someone who is an able skier and puts it on the line every run. On the one hand you have an Austrian guy/girl screaming whilst launching out the start gate, taking the most direct line he/she dares, paneling every gate and comes through the finish with his/her eyes blazing, and then you have an equally able skier to that Austrian guy/girl from Britain who skis a clean respectable run and comes through the finish 3 seconds off that same Austrian guy/girls time.


Now too often at international level Britain uses the excuse: “Well he/she is from Austria and skis five times a week!’” which as a statement is perfectly true but as an excuse I believe to be by no means acceptable. The fact that he/she skis 5 times a week isn’t going to change and the fact that you’re going to have to race hundreds of more Austrians throughout your skiing career isn’t going to change either.


Unfortunately this race at Kitzbuhel has only made me come to terms with this now in my last year of children’s international racing. All the other international events I have been lucky enough to represent my country at I have always used that exact same excuse to explain why I was 2 or 3 seconds off the pace. British racers need to accept that they are at a disadvantage and look for every way to start biting at the heels of the Austrians and the Swiss, the easiest way being starting to attack from the start to finish. I feel the whole environment that Kitbuhel gives a racer in the week of the world cup is really an eye opener to see the bigger picture of the sport of ski racing and what needs to be done to reach the top of it. I have no doubt that the event as a whole is far more rewarding than the likes of Topolino or Abetone, and the standard of skiing to be equal if not better than at Topolino and has given me a whole new perspective on the sport I do.


After the races we were lucky enough to get to inspect the downhill course with the director of race of the Hahnenkamm. This brings me back to ‘respect’. “Holy crap, this thing should be illegal!” were my first thoughts after slipping out the start gate. Having to ski it, let alone try and race it is beyond my understanding and will hopefully be the last time I stand in a start gate petrified of what is in front of me, and I wasn’t even racing it!  We also were all lucky enough to see the first screening of  ‘Streif- One hell of a ride’ in English, which unfortunately doesn’t come out until later this year.  It is a documentary of the race, which is truly awesome. I would also highly recommend seeing Kitbuhel for yourself as it is only 50 minutes down the valley from Haus Tirol, I promise it won’t disappoint!


Angus Wills  (U16 Ambition Race Team) 


GBR on the up!

03 January 2015 AT 09:39:24

Well lets hope GBR Alpine Skiing carries on the form from the end of 2014. Dave Ryding, Alex Tilley, Cara Brown, Nick Moynihan, Jack Gower, Charlie Raposo & Charlie Guest (although injured) have all done GBR incredibly proud. I am sure there are many others making steps forwards too, not least at Ambition but these guys are really pushing forwards on a world level.


As always, i believe there is a lot to be positive about in British Skiing & BSS, They are trying to change things and adapt. And as one of the 'they' i can see things are starting to move forward.


Whilst im talking about the 'They' - it does include all of us. Every skier & every volunteer, every parent and every interested person. I find myself saying it 'why dont THEY do it like this or like that' and i certainly hear it from others. Well its certainly better to get involved and try and change decisions from the inside rather than from the outside & the BSS 'THEY' is actually pretty small with only a handful of people that cannot do everything on their own. So if you can, try and get involved, put yourself forward and help develop the sport. Dont be that obese guy standing on the sidelines of a football match shouting & swearing at the players to run more. 


Whether everything is agreed with by everyone, the BSS Alpine Business Group is trying to communicate more, put out surveys and get opinions back. Hopefully everyone will be more involved throughout the coming years and be heard. Many will have also noticed that there is some opportunity out there for those athletes who are pushing forwards, there is some reward and something to aspire to. There will be EYOF, WJC & World Championships for many of the GBR athletes to look forwards to this season and as a selector, i hope there are more athletes making the criterias to give us more of a headache and challenge for spots. 


So, hopefully, the form will continue & a big thanks to Dave Ryding & Tristan Glasse-Davies. We need these guys in the sport as proof of what is possible. I would lose a great many more arguments without having these guys as examples.


Enjoy 2015.