After the first stops in Canada, Italy, Norway and France, Fieberbrunn, Austria welcomes back the Freeride World Tour for a second year at this weekend. And it’s a special race – the home race for our Teamrider Stefan Häusl, who grew up just a stone’s throw away. After winning last year’s event, he seeks for another triumph at the Pillerseetal.
We had a chat with Stefan and looked back & ahead with him…
The Freeride World Tour contest in Fieberbrunn is just around the corner - last year, you won your "home race". What was special about it? How did you feel after the triumph?
To win the first Freeride World Tour Stop in Austria was a unique experience that I'll never forget in my whole life. Lots of friends and my family were there, cheered and motivated me. It's different if you ride in the seclusion of Sochi or half an hour away from where you grew up.
Do you have special memories of last year's competition?
When I was training in the summer and fall, I always had the impressions of the victory ceremony in my mind. All people were jumping around and congratulated me. Also the moment of reaching the finish line always accompanied during the training. To me, that means a lot of motivation.
Where do you see the biggest challenge in this year's contest in Fieberbrunn?
There is a lot more snow this year in the face than last year. This means, that we must look for completely different riding lines than in the previous years. It will certainly be a new kind of riding we haven’t faced before. We are a kind of testing people… ;-) Smart skiing is the key!
What is special about a home race? Just knowing that your family and your friends are around and will support you?
Yes, it will certainly be busy. Friends, family, my wife will be there – I’m really pleased. Our daughter Jana, however, spends the weekend at her Grandma's. She doesn’t like to sit around so much – that’s too boring for my little one!
Is Fieberbrunn one of your favorite races? Which other contests are your favorites?
Fieberbrunn is definitely my favorite race, closely followed by the "Verbier Extreme", which is the Kitzbühel for freeriders!
How do you estimate your chances this year in Fieberbrunn? Do you think it’s possible to repeat your last year’s victory?
I can certainly win again! But only one wrong choice of a line and I could be left behind. A riding mistake or even hidden stones can have an impact on my performance – so anything is possible… Fingers crossed!
Who do you see – apart from you – among the favorites for the contest in Fieberbrunn? Who are your strongest competitors?
Aurelien Ducroz (FRA), Sam Smoothy (NZL) & Reine Bakered (SWE)!
After some difficulties at the beginning of this season, you are getting better and better in this year's Freeride World Tour. How do you assess your achievements so far?
Somewhat mixed. In two of the previous four races I had bad conditions. In Chamonix, I was the first starter – you are some kind of test subject then. Most recently in Norway, I had the problem of poor visibility throughout my run. I couldn’t see any jump and landing. In such circumstances you cannot ski in the usual performance. In Italy, it went well – I finished 4th. So, my skiing feels good and it's only a matter of time until reaching the podium. ;-)
What are your goals for the rest of the season? Are you aiming for a specific ranking in this year’s Freeride World Tour?
My goal at the beginning of the season was to ski well in Verbier – but this is still to come. In Fieberbrunn it’s my goal to reach the podium!
After the start of the season in Canada, the Freeride World Tour is now touring Europe. What is the difference between a contest in Europe and in the United States or Canada?
In the United States or Canada, we usually ride close to common ski resorts – due to North American regulations. The faces are very short and we must perform a great show in a short time, which usually only works on very high cliffs.
In Europe we are riding real mountains! Even big mountains, which suits me fine! Well, next year I will be better in the U.S. – ‘cause I’m still learning…
Only two races to go – what are your further plans after the Freeride World Tour? Do you already have plans for summer?
The Nordica X-Treme Days, which are also sponsored by KJUS, will take place between the last FWT stops in Fieberbrunn and Verbier. After Verbier the KJUS Heli-Skiing event in Canada is on my list. I’m really looking forward to it. Then, we’ll spend some time at home for our current film project and May will be the end of my season. In the summertime the training for the next season will start, but I don’t really have plans yet. We’ll see what happens!
Thanks Stefan for your time - we keep our fingers crossed for the rest of the season!
Don't forget to visit Stefan at his website freeride.cc.