Mikaela Shiffrin wins again !
Posted by sibylle in skiing, women, Europe, Colorado (Tuesday January 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm)

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Shiffrin demonstrates her winning technique

Photo from Denver Post

Mikaela Shiffrin, 18-year old ski racing phenom from Vail, Colorado, won the Flachau slalom decisively, beating her opponents by almost a second in a race in which hundredths of a second often separate rival skiers.

After her first run, she was ahead by 0.9 seconds, an almost unbeatable advantage. Her second run was not as fast as the first, but she still beat the runner ups, Frida Hansdotter, by 0.83sec, and Maria Pietilae-Holmner by 1.14 seconds.

This leaves Shiffrin, current slalom world champion and winner of last year’s World Cup crystal globe in slalom, in a dominant position for the upcoming Olympics.

Watch the video  of her first run, which the Austrian commentator describes as her skiing with “perfect technique” and ends by saying after her first run, that “the race is really over”.

The Austrian commentator notes her stable upper body,a nd describes her skiing as resembling a “graceful waltz”, but a very fast waltz!

For my ski students, note how her upper body faces downhill and is very calm and stable, while her legs turn under her .. very fast!

Shiffrin has won six of the last 10 slalom races, which gives her the  lead  in the World Cup rankings with 402 points ahead of Hansdotter with 258 points - a nice position to be in just before the Sochi  Olympics.

Ethics of Ambition, 2013
Posted by sibylle in books, films, photography, skiing, ice, women, Switzerland, Europe (Tuesday October 29, 2013 at 11:25 am)

Why would a climber speak to a class on the Ethics of Ambition?  Does climbing pose ethical dilemmas? It may - if you’re a sponsored climber and under pressure by sponsors to perform. Or if you have a very ambitious goal.
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Mt. Everest

I’ll describe recent scenarios  of climbers around the world that involve decisions made by climbers, guides, and Sherpas.

First, ambition requires a great deal of egotism and selfishness, as I’ve discussed before in previous year’s classes.

Once our ambition drives us to set goals such as climbing the world’s highest mountain, or being the fastest person to climb El Capitan, then these goals require much time spent training, and in the case of Mt. Everest, a very large sum of money - about $65,000 to $100,000 (per person) for a guided climb.

Today, many of the rich and would-be famous sign on with a guide to climb Mt. Everest, some inspired by the book, Seven Summits, by Dick Bass and Frank Wells.  In the book review, it states that, “For their third and final attempt on Mt. Everest, Wells had to choose between the summit try and his family.”

Driven and ambitious climbers, after paying $65,000 or more for their chance at the summit of the world’s tallest mountain, have walked right by dying men and left them on the side of the trail alone, to die.

In 2006,   German climber, Thomas Weber,  collapsed and died, less than 20 yards from the trail. A British climber, David Sharp,  became seriously ill and died. IN 2006, 40 climbers, intent on the summit, refused to help. Climbers often pass dying climbers on the mountain without stopping to help - either, because they lack the strength and skills … or, because they are intent on reaching the summit.

In 2012, the Guardian posted a blog about “the ethical dilemmas facing climbers” as they describe how one climber found many bodies attached to the fixed lines and had to walk around them. In conclusion, they ask, “has human life come to count for less than the fulfillment of a personal ambition?”

In 2013, Sherpas attacked Swiss climber Ueli Steck and two of his friends  and threatened to kill them.  Steck says that after passing the Sherpas on the climb, when they returned to camp they were met by “a mob of 100 people hitting us with rocks and they threatened to kill us.”

Swiss info asked Steck what his sponsors said, and Steck replied, “they understand but on the other hand … we don’t get anything for free. The sponsors want to benefit from me. And now, all three of us have to deal with financial disaster. We spent a lot of money…  the world keeps on spinning and I have to keep going.”  Steck said he would not return to Everest after this threat on their lives.
In Oct. of 2013, Steck returned to the Himalayas to solo climb the south face of Annapurna, and said that, though he’ll not forget what happened on Everest, that “I think I’m beginning to find the fun in life once again!”

Büchel and Deutsche Welle looks at the dark side of extreme sports and sponsorship in “the Dark Side of Red Bull - the Perils of Extreme Sports.”

In 2009,  three athletes died while doing (paid) stunts for Red Bull: skier Shane McConkey, parachuter Eli Thompson and basejumper Ueli Gegenschatz - who was  filmed when he was killed.

The press asked “who is responsible for deadly maneuvers?”

Büchel said that McConkey was under tremendous pressure: “In order to stay in business, McConkey perceived himself as challenged to perform ever-more reckless acts - like combining extreme skiing and base-jumping.”

Robb Gaffney, a medical doctor,  described Red Bull marketing as unethical.

And last, but not least,  what about kids climbing? In July 2013, 12-year old Tito Traversa was killed in a fall to the ground when his incorrectly-assembled equipment failed. The Italian prosecutors filed manslaughter charges against five people - the gear manufacturer, the store selling the gear, and the manager and instructor of the club the organized the trip on which Tito was killed.

But who’s really responsible? In my opinion, not the store or manufacturer, if the quick draws are sold unassembled, but whoever put the draws together incorrectly. And whoever checked (or failed to) check them.

Lisa Hechtel, R.I.P.
Posted by sibylle in women, Germany, Eulogies, Europe (Thursday June 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm)

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With my mother in the European Alps

This will be the hardest eulogy I’ve ever had to write: that of my mother, Lisa Berta Hechtel.

My mother lived a great life, a full one, and enjoyed  a long life, but she still left us too soon. I cry, as I write this, and wish I had spent more time with my parents while I still had the opportunity.

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Lisa Hechtel as a young woman

I knew Lisa Hechtel only as my mother, and we take our parents for granted — until we no longer have them. Since her passing, countless people have written to me to share how much they loved my mother, and how much they will miss her presence in their lives.

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An early climb with my parents

My mother always put her family first - she followed my father on his climbs, belayed him, and then seconded the route. She never took credit for her many accomplishments - climbing big mountains in a time before most women climbed.

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My parents on a climbing trip long ago

After I was born, she usually accompanied my father on his trips, cooked for every one while camping, and often hiked to the base of the climbs to bring food for my father, while taking care of me.

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Lisa feeding her family in the Schwaebische Alp

I still use the little tin tea kettle
She once told me: “When you were little, Richard needed a climbing partner,  so we tied a rope around you , and tied you to a tree while we were climbing.”

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Early climbing trip in Germany

None of the photos in their albums show me tied to a tree — most show my mother carrying me, holding me, and feeding myself and my father.

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Lisa getting me a  drink

She taught me to ski, and helped my father take me climbing, while still helping to take care of her own mother, and her niece, and her many friends.

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Another early climbing trip - as I got bigger, the mountains got bigger, and harder.

As I look through the early photos, I have so many questions  that I never had a chance to ask  - so many things I never knew about.

After I grew up, and left home, my parents trekked in Nepal - but I’m not sure when, or where. They climbed Kilimanjaro , climbed in New Zealand, and numerous other places around the world. I wish they’d told me more about their trips - but I was far away, in Colorado, living my life and raising my own son.

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My parents trekking in Nepal
And I  hope that my mother’s many friends will read this, and  share their memories of their times together.

Ted Ligety’s training tips
Posted by sibylle in utah, skiing, Europe (Saturday February 16, 2013 at 8:38 am)

Now that Ted’s won Three gold medals in the 2013 Ski world championships, I’m certainly interested in his summer training program.

Here’s his training, at Park City Utah:

Squat jumps -Ted jumps, with weighted squat bar - I struggle in static squats!

Box jumps - jump onto a box

Glute side band walks   - put an exercise band around your legs, and walk sideways. This is  also a stabilizer exercise.

2 sets of 20 yards

Split squats  - get both strength and a stretch with this exercise

4 sets of 10 reps, with or without weights

Glute- hamstring raises - helps prevent ACL injuries by strengthening the hamstrings. Or do Swiss Ball hamstring curls.

3 sets of five

Back extension holds- for endurance of the back muscles

Overhead medicine ball throws

So, if you’re  serious about skiing better this winter or next, try some of these exercises!

Ligety wins third gold medal
Posted by sibylle in skiing, Europe (Friday February 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm)

Ted Ligety won the GS by a huge margin - a 1.31 second lead in the first run - in a race more usually won by tenths, or even hundredths, of a second.

Ligety, who skied a near-perfect run,  is the first man in 45 years to win three golds in a world championships  since Killy in 1968.

His competitors were impressed with his form and technique - so far, he’s been close to unbeatable in his best event, the giant slalom (GS).
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Ligety’s amazing form, that allowed him to win 3 golds

file photo from mail.com

Ligety wins World Championship golds
Posted by sibylle in skiing, Europe (Monday February 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm)

Ted Ligety has already won two gold medals in the skiing world championships - and that’s before competing in his best event, the Giant Slalom.

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Ted Ligety - file photo

First he won the SuperG in Schladming, Austria, - his first win in any super-G.  France’s De Tessieres  placed second, and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who won three of the four World Cup super-Gs this season, was in third place.

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Ligety in super-G

Next, he won the super combined - an event in which the racer’s times in the downhill and a slalom race (two widely disparate events) are added. Croatia’s  Kostelic  finished second, 1.15 seconds behind, and Austrian Baumann placed third.

Ligety, who won four of the five World Cup races in Giant Slalom s this season, is the  favorite for a third gold medal in Friday’s GS.

Posted by sibylle in books, films, photography, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Eulogies, Europe (Sunday June 19, 2011 at 9:53 am)

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Richard Hechtel (l) and  Günther Kittelmann (r)

This Father’s Day, I want to remember my father for the things   most enjoyed - reminiscing about his climbs.

In 1953, my father and Günther Kittelmann completed the first ascent of the Peuterey Integral - the complete Peuterey ridge on Mt. Blanc.

The Alpine Club Guidebook describes this climb as “the longest and probably the most difficult traverse of its kind in the Alps. There is more than 4500m of ascent over all types of terrain and in magnificent situations” (Alpine Club Guidebook by Lindsay Griffin.)

Even today, the climb is described as one of the hardest and most committing climbs in the Alps.

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At the Col de Peuterey

My father  describes this climb in his book, The Merry-Go-Round of my life: an Adventurer’s Diary.

The climb starts in Italy and covers more than 4,500 meters of technical climbing.

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Kittelmann on the south ridge of the Aguille Noire

Jonathan Griffith  filmed a great video of this climb, which shows the length, magnitude, and exposure of this epic climb. Watching this film impressed me what a great climb my father had done.

Sadly, he has passed and cannot watch this film himself. Nor can I tell him  how I miss him; miss climbing with him; and wish he could do one more climb with my son and me.

Riesch wins World Cup title over Vonn after FIS cancels final two races
Posted by sibylle in skiing, women, Germany, Switzerland, Europe, Colorado (Saturday March 19, 2011 at 11:54 am)

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Riesch wins WC title, narrowly beating Vonn

Getty images
Germany’s Maria Riesch won the skiing overall World Cup title, beating Lindsey Vonn,  after the FIS canceled the final two  races that were to be held in Lenzerheide, Switzerland at the “World Cup Final”.

Vonn won the WC overall title the past three years and was within three points of Riesch. Vonn said she felt devastated at not being able to defend her WC title when the  two races were canceled.

Officials canceled both the men’s and women’s giant slalom and super-G races due to weather: rain and warm weather had eroded most of the base on the race course.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) had packed four men’s and women’s races plus a one day team event into only five days, making it likely that one day of poor weather would result in cancellation of more than one race.

US head coach Alex Hoedelmoser said that the FIS should not have called off the race in the morning, but made more effort to put on a race.

Vonn said that the FIS should allow races to be rescheduled in bad weather.

I agree with Vonn, that the FIS could allow one extra days at each venue to make up any race postponed due to weather.

Ted Ligety won gold in the Beaver Creek WC  GS in December 2010, but the downhill race was canceled on Friday before the GS.
The super-G in Lenzerheide  starts at 6,852 feet and ends at 4,957 feet, lower than Denver, Colorado and much, much lower than ski areas in the Rockies. The base elevation of Keystone, where I teach skiing, lies at 9,300 feet, with the top at 12,200 feet.

Beaver Creek, site of World Cup races in December,  goes from 7, 400 feet to 11,440 feet.

Vail and Beaver Creek will host the alpine skiing World Championships  in  2015; let’s hope all the races will be run!

Riesch and Vonn battling for World Cup Title
Posted by sibylle in skiing, women, Germany, Switzerland, Europe (Friday March 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm)

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Tina Maze at Lenzerheide slalom

Universal sports photo

In the closest women’s battle for the overall World Cup title since 2005, Maria Riesch now leads Lindsey Vonn by three points.

Tina Maze won her first World Cup slalom on slushy snow.  Riesch placed  4th, gaining her 50 points for a total of 1,728 points,  and Vonn came in 13th, which gave her 20 points to place her at 1,725 points for the overall title.

The overall title will be decided in Saturday’s Giant Slalom, after rainy weather forced cancellation of both the women’s Super-G and men’s GS, due to be run on Thursday.

 Vonn earlier won the super-G title, and was disappointed when Thursday’s super-G was canceled, as she had high hopes to gaining points in the race.
Vonn won

Julia Mancuso wins WC Downhill race
Posted by sibylle in skiing, women, Germany, Europe (Wednesday March 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm)

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Mancuso skis Downhill in Lenzerheide, Switzerland

AP photo
Mancuso skied an aggressive run and earned her first World Cup gold since 2007, finishing in 1 minute, 27.50 seconds, 0.81 seconds ahead of Lara Gut of Switzerland with World champion Elisabeth Goergl of Austria in third place.

Mancuso’s victory moved her into  third in the final downhill standings, behind Vonn and Riesch.

Mancuso won two silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but hasn’t won a gold in four years.

She pledged half of her winner’s purse,  $18,200, to help tsunami victims in Japan.

The video of her winning run is here.

She skied an amazing run in the tough light and poor conditions.

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