Editor’s Letter | The Remote Issue

This month’s issue is all about getting out there

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Reading some adventure stories, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the aim of the game is to get to the remotest location possible – as far away from other people as you can. For the most part however, that’s not been my experience.

Although there is undoubtedly something powerful about being ‘out there’ by yourself (just ask Sarah Outen, featured in this month’s Big Interview) all of my most enjoyable adventures have been ones that I’ve shared. I don’t just mean by posting pictures of it and waiting for your friends to hit the heart button either. Sorry Zuckerberg, that’s just not the same.

“It’s always the people who make the story worth telling.”

Of course, you don’t want every man and his dog along for the ride. No-one likes big crowds of tourists (there’s a reason James Renhard’s story this month is about leaving Las Vegas). But even surfers, those most secretive of creatures, would have to admit that taking a select crew of the right people can make a remote location infinitely more enjoyable.

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Franck Buisson, guardian of the remote refuge we stayed in in France last spring – and maker of particularly strong moonshine. Photo: Tristan

It’s an effect I experienced first hand this time last year, when I headed off to explore the quiet slopes of the Maurienne Valley, one of the few remaining places in France where you can enjoy powder without having to queue at the crack of dawn.

The lack of crowds made the riding great, but it was the people I was with that made the trip truly memorable (despite the lobotomising effects of the local genepi).

The same is true in even more remote places. This month issue tells the story of two Englishmen (or are they mad dogs?) who spent weeks living in the Amazon Rainforest’s “Intangible Zone” – the secluded area set aside for communities who chose to minimise their contact with the outside world.

It was a gruelling experience at times – Benjamin Sadd describes “weeks of runny poo and a multitude of biting insects and giant spiders” – but both the story he wrote and the film they made about it are hilarious, chiefly because they’re so obviously entertained by each other’s company.

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It takes two to tango. Canoeing in the Amazon’s “Intangible Zone” wouldn’t have been the same alone. Photo: Benjamin Sadd

Of course this issue isn’t just about going to wild places. There’s contributing editor Sam Haddad’s incredible (if slightly disturbing) investigation of the subculture of biohacking, which involves people implanting remote sensors or microchips under their skin, adding sixth and even seventh senses to the range of human experience.

There’s also Stuart Kenny’s fascinating piece about one ski resort’s battle to remain independent, and ensure that they’re not overwhelmed by too many tourists.

But what struck me about the majority of this month’s stories was that even if you’re travelling to the world’s remotest places, and travelling alone (like this month’s featured photographer Joshua Cunningham) it’s always the people who make the story worth telling.

On to pastures new. Hiking in Swedish Lapland last summer - read the full story in this month's issue.

On to pastures new. Hiking in Swedish Lapland last summer – read the full story in this month’s issue.

This is, I’m sorry to say, my last month at Mpora. And (if you’ll forgive me the horrible cliché) it’s the people that I’ll miss more than anything.

It’s been my absolute pleasure to share adventures, and stories of adventure, with some incredible folk over the past four years – my brilliant colleagues (who I have no doubt, will do an excellent job of taking over the helm), our amazing contributors, and of course all of you lot reading this.

All that’s left to say is thank you to you for reading, for getting involved, for contributing, for sending us your photos, videos, stories and comments; for liking, for sharing; for occasionally insulting, and always inspiring me. It’s been a trip.

Keep enjoying the adventure.
– Tristan, Editor-in-Chief

Read more of this month’s Remote Issue here. 

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Highest Mountain In England | Top 10

From the Lake District’s Scafell Pike to Cross Fell in the Pennines, these are England’s highest points

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If we were betting people, which generally speaking we’re not, we’d wager good money that you’d be more likely to know the name of the highest mountain in the world than the name of the highest mountain in England – Scafell Pike. This is probably partly because Everest, with its summit 8,848 metres above sea level, has in recent years had a movie made about it starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s also, we’d imagine, got something to do with the fact that Everest has claimed the lives of hundreds of climbers over the years and is generally synonymous with legendary mountaineering feats. Scafell Pike (978m), on the other hand, is a challenging hike in the Lake District that’s never once featured in a Gyllenhaal film.

1) Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

As we’ve already mentioned, Scafell Pike is England’s highest mountain. Located in Cumbria, in the Lake District National Park, its summit is 978 metres above sea level. For comparison purposes, the highest peak in Wales is Snowdon at 1,085 metres while the highest one in Scotland, and the entire UK for that matter, is Ben Nevis at 1,345 metres.

2) Sca Fell

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Scafell Pike and Sca Fell, the highest and second highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Sca Fell, also known as Scafell and Scawfell, has a summit 964 metres above sea level. It is separated from its neighbour Scafell Pike by Mickledore col. Mickledore, which means “great door”, is a mountain saddle 840 metres high. Not only does the col join Scafell Pike to Sca Fell, it is also gateway between the valleys of Wasdale and Eskdale.

3) Helvellyn

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View from the summit of Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Helvellyn is the third highest mountain in England, and the Lake District. Situated right between the lakes of Thirlmere and Ullswater, it has an elevation of 950 metres. In January of 2018, none other than Julia Bradbury presented an ITV show in which Helvellyn was named ‘Britain’s Best Walk’.

4) Ill Crag

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Route to Broad Crag from Ill Crag. Photo via Getty Images.

Ill Crag is often trekked across by those attempting to reach the summit of Scafell Pike. Due to the rocky nature of its upper echelons, however, its summit is often bypassed in favour of an easier and more direct approach to England’s highest mountain. It forms part of the Scafell chain and has an elevation of 935 metres. Those who climb it are treated to stunning views of Eskdale, Bowfell, and Crinkle Crags.

5) Broad Crag

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Route from Broad Crag to Scafell Pike. Photo via Getty Images.

Like the Ant and Dec of the Lake District, Broad Crag and Ill Crag come as a pair and have a height difference of one metre. Its summit is 934 metres above sea level. Ill Crag’s one is 935 metres, and situated to the south east of Broad. The fell forms part of the Scafell chain.

6) Skiddaw

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The sixth highest mountain in England, Skiddaw. Photo via Getty Images.

Situated just north of lovely Lake District town of Keswick, Skiddaw is the sixth highest mountain in England. It’s probably the easiest of the high English summits to ascend as there’s a very convenient tourist track up it, one that starts in a car park north-east of Keswick. For casual walkers looking to climb a mountain for the very first time, we reckon Skiddaw’s well worth a look.

7) Great End

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Rain clouds over Great End and Styhead Tarn. Photo via Getty Images.

Great End has an elevation of 910 metres. As its name suggests, it is the last mountain in a chain (the Scafell chain, if you must know). From the south, it appears as just another big hill in a long collection of big hills. From the north though, its face rises up dramatically like something from Lord of the Rings. This area is popular with wild campers and rock climbers.

8) Bowfell

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View from the summit of Bowfell, the eighth highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Shaped sort of like a pyramid, with an elevation of 902 metres, Bowfell has the eighth highest summit in England. It is located in the heart of the Lake District, and sees a large numbers of walkers hit its slopes every years.

9) Great Gable

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View looking out to Great Gable, the ninth highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Its name might remind you of a second-rate magician you once saw at a children’s birthday party, but Great Gable is actually an 899 metre high mountain in the centre of the Lake District. The high pass of Windy Gap (no prizes for guessing why it’s called that) connects it to Green Gable, while the lower pass of Beck Head joins it to nearby Kirk Fell. Because of its location, and all-round prominence, the panoramic view from the top of Great Gable is one of the finest in the region.

10) Cross Fell

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Cross Fell, tenth highest peak in England. Screenshot via Google Maps.

The only peak on this list not to be found in the Lake District, Cross Fell is an 893m high peak situated in the North Pennines. The summit is a stony plateau which forms part of an almost eight mile long ridge that runs diagonally from north-west to south-east. This ridge also consists of Great Dun Fell, with an elevation of 849m, and Little Dun Fell, with an elevation of 842m. The three fells rise steeply above the Eden Valley on its south-western side, and drop off more gently on its South Tyne and Tees Valleys side. If you’re bored of the Lake District and looking to climb one of England’s highest, look no further.

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Going For Gold | The Katie Ormerod Interview

We caught up with one of Team GB’s brightest medal hopes ahead of the 2018 Olympics

Words by James Renhard | Main image by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

“The 2018 Olympic Games have always been a target, so I’m not really feeling too much pressure. I’m just eager to get there.” Snowboarder Katie Ormerod repeats the mantra of many-a British sports person ahead of a the biggest event of their respective career. The difference between them and Katie is, I believe her.

On the 11th February, the eyes of the world will be watching Bokwang Snowpark in Pyeonchang as the Snowboard Slopestyle event at the 2018 Olympic Games gets under way. A slightly sleep deprived Great Britain will be looking on, their hopes resting firmly on the shoulders of 19 year old Katie Ormerod.

When Katie spoke to us down a crackly phone line a few months before the Olympics, she sounded focused, she sounded confident but, above all else, she sounded knackered.

“I’m definitely one of the contenders for a medal”

A combination of jet-lag and an intense Olympic qualifying circuit left the already normally reserved Ormerod sounding like she needed to sleep. Unfortunately for her, when you’re not only the best in the country, but among the very best in the world (plus the fact your new energy drink sponsor wants to show you off), the working day lasts a little longer.

“Yeah” confirms Ormerod with a just a hint of nerves hidden in a laugh, “ I’m tired, but it’s alright,” when I suggest that the jet lag is audible down the phone line.

When Ormerod says the 2018 Olympics have always been a target, she really does mean always. While some athletes at the games will have found their way into their sport via the back door – former sprinters becoming bobsleigh racers, heptathletes who now compete in the skeleton bob – Katie Ormerod has been snowboarding virtually all of her life.

“I started snowboarding when I was five-years-old. My whole family were keen snowboarders, riding on the dry slope up at Halifax. I kept snowboarding there every week, and then started going to the local snowdome. The whole time, I was balancing snowboarding with gymnastics as well, which really helped.”

Katie Ormerod British Olympic Snowboarder 2018 Olympic Games

Katie Ormerod shows off her trick bag ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics – Photo: Ed Blomfield

Katie’s cousin and fellow British Olympic slopestyle snowboarder Jamie Nicholls was also a regular at Halifax, so snowboarding ability is obviously in the blood. If the old theory that mastering anything takes 10,000 hours of practice is true, being from as close as these shores have seen to a snowboarding dynasty and having a gymnastic background almost certainly helped to shape Katie into a model competition snowboarder.

It wasn’t long before this talent was noticed, and the GB Park and Pipe team – the people who look after the British freestyle ski and snowboard teams – took an interest. “At 14, I got put in the British team and then I started traveling the world with them, and doing international competitions. I guess I turned pro when I was 16 years old and now I’m going to the Olympics,” laughs Ormerod, realising that, when said aloud, it’s been somewhat if a meteoric rise. “Yeah, it’s all fell into place quite nicely. I was trying so hard when I was younger, and it’s all just come together in the end.”

“I made sure I learnt my lesson from 2014. It was a big eye-opener”

Maybe it’s modesty, or possibly the jet-lag, but Katie omits a fairly significant event from her timeline. Aged just 16, she made history as the first woman to land a Backside Double Cork 1080 – three full rotations with two off-axis flips, all while flying through the air. It was an incredible milestone, and one that no-one expected a British rider to get to first.

Now aged 19, and armed with an arsenal of tricks, Katie is fulfilling what seems like her destiny – or at least part of it – and heading to her first Olympic games. She was born just one year before snowboarding was introduced as an Olympic sport in Nagano 1998. So unlike those of us old enough to remember cheering on Graham Bell in Lillehammer, for Ormerod, snowboarding has always been an Olympic sport.

“Well, I can’t really remember beginning snowboarding because I started so young – it’s been my whole life – but I do remember that I’d always wanted to go to the Olympics.” admits Ormerod, seemingly free from the very British burden of not wanting to appear too ambitious. “I’m quite a driven person and I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics. I’ve always wanted to make it happen.”

Katie Ormerod British Olympic Snowboarder 2018 Olympic Games

Will riding rails be the key to Katie Ormerod winning a medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics? – Photo: Ed Blomfield

This drive almost saw Katie qualify for the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Unfortunately, injury struck, meaning she had to watch Jenny Jones collect Bronze in snowboard slopestyle – Britain’s first ever Olympic medal on snow, let alone in snowboarding – from home. To many, it would have been a devastating blow, but Ormerod’s take on missing out on Sochi is surprisingly philosophical.

“I tried to go to the last Olympics in Sochi, and went to all the qualifications but I was really unlucky and got a knee injury just before the games. Nothing went my way but now I’m really glad because now, going in to Pyeongchang, I know what to expect. It is a very full-on experience. You’re literally doing a contest in order to qualify. So I made sure I learnt my lesson from 2014. It was a big eye-opener.”

It’s a stark display of the mental strength that sets us mere mortals apart from elite athletes. However, following a setback like that, mental fortitude itself is not enough. “I knew I had to get back as soon as possible, so I did the best rehab I could. I was in the gym five times a week, every day, all day for five days.”

Katie’s dedication clearly paid off. “I came back so much stronger than before, but also so much more driven.” the obvious fire in her belly evident, however softly spoken she is. “Then, when I got back on snow, I was so keen to learn new tricks and everything came together so fast. I learnt so many new tricks really quickly. I just kept doing so many repetitions of the tricks, and that changed everything. I’ve become one of the most consistent slopestyle riders. And now, I go into a contest with good tricks that I know I can land which is the difference between getting on the podium and just finishing middle of the field.”

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Katie Ormerod shows she’s not just a trick-machine, getting down with a stylish Eurocarve Photo: Ed Blomfield

It’s this mature approach, prioritising consistency over showboating, that has seen Katie leave the double cork ten in the locker more often than not over the past season.

“It would be a dream come true to get a medal, if not two”

“Even without it, I still feel like I can be a medal contender, and I’ve been quite tactical because my double ten is not one of my most consistent tricks right now, but I know that my cab 900 (two and a half full rotations while going backwards) is one of my most consistent. It’s still a good trick and can get me on the podium so I’ve just been putting that in my run knowing that it’ll get me in the top three.”

Somehow I resist the urge to get to my feet and shout “Get in, Katie!” like some pissed football fan in Wetherspoons having seen Deli Ali score a goal against Honduras.

The 2018 Winter Games sees the introduction of snowboard big air to the Olympic roster. It’s an event that sees competitors launch of a single, giant kicker, with the opportunity to do one monster trick.

It also means that Katie has double the opportunity to bring home a medal, as she’s competing in both that and slopestyle. Maybe the excitement had got the better of me, but I couldn’t resist asking Katie about the prospect of bring home a pair of Olympic medals.

“It would be a dream come true, if I get a medal, if not two. That’s definitely my aim. I feel like my chances are really good to get a medal.” confesses Katie in a tone that oozes a self assured confidence, without ever wandering into arrogance.

“I’m definitely one of the contenders because I got bronze at the Olympic test event big air in 2017, which boosted my confidence knowing that I could get a medal there. And then in slopestyle, I did a test event there and came fourth, but I’m so much more experienced now, and a much better snowboarder. Especially with the X Games medal in slopestyle, it definitely helped boost my confidence. So I think I’m in with a good shot.”

Katie Ormerod British Olympic Snowboarder 2018 Olympic Games

“It would be a dream come true” Katie Ormerod contemplates winning two gold medals at the 2018 Olympics – Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

I wonder if Katie’s meteoric rise – and the realistic expectations now on her shoulders – has brought with it any unwanted pressure to perform? “I haven’t really felt any pressure. And I hope it stays like that!” laughs Ormerod, after a beat. “When I go in to a competition, the only thing I think about is ‘what run can I do’ and on the actual competition day, all I concentrate on is my run. I don’t really think about anything else. So no, I don’t really feel too much pressure.”

On that note, the PR looking after Katie for the day politely interjects to let me know my time with her is up. As I say my goodbyes, and wish Katie luck in the Olympics, I can’t help but feel excited at the prospect of seeing another Briton bringing home a medal. Just talking to her has spiked my adrenaline. Katie, on the other hand, sounded like she was ready for a nap, although I fear the press scrum was just beginning for her.

But it’s clear having spoken to her that Katie Ormerod is going to take all of this in her stride. The training, the competition, the five ringed circus that is the Olympics, and the inevitable media obligations that go along with representing your country. It’s as if she’s been training for it all her life. Which, of course, she has.

Britain’s head snowboard coach, Hamish McKnight, who’s been working with Katie for years once said of Ormerod: “Her love of snowboarding and her work ethic, combined with her gymnastic ability, make her certain to lead a charge in the progression of women’s freestyle.” Arguably heading into the 2018 Olympic Games, she’s already there. For the 19 year-old from Bradford, the time is now.

Click here to read more stories from our Olympic Issue

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Pistes, Powder and Cheap Pints | 5 Reasons You Need To Go Skiing In Jasna, Slovakia

Looking to mix it up with your ski trip destination? You should consider the Low Tatras.

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Mountains. Covered in snow. Skis, on your feet, ready to go. Average price of beer: about €1.20, you say? And B & Bs costing as little €25 per night? Sounds decent. Sounds very decent indeed. But where would one have to go for such affordable wintery delights? Step forward into the bright glare of the spotlight – Jasna, Slovakia. 

“Compare that price to more traditional skiing destinations, and you can see that it’s a bit of a steal”

Jasná Nízke Tatry, to give it its full name, is the country’s biggest ski resort. The sandwich filling, if you’ll pardon the expression, to the bread triumvirate of Austria, Ukraine, and Poland , mountainous Slovakia has more thick forests than you could shake a big, chopped down tree at. The resort itself can be found in the Tatra Mountains. One two and a half hour flight from the UK and a 30 minute drive from Poprad Airport, and you’re there.

Here’s some reasons you need to visit.

1) Nearly 50km Of Slopes To Enjoy

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Screenshot via Jasna’s ‘Fresh Tracks’ Video.

So, technically. Technically. The resort offers 49km of ski slopes. But, I mean, come on. Between mates. Between you and me (we’re mates now, me and you), 49 is basically the same as 50. These slopes are serviced by a combined force of 30 cable cars and lifts, meaning you and your mates should be able to get around the place with ease.

The slopes up Jasna way cater for everyone – from true beginners, families with children, intermediates, advanced skiers and even world class athletes. What’s more, if you like getting off-piste, Jasna is home to some wonderfully powdery tree runs. For more on that, read the full story on what happened when we went snowboarding in Jasna.

2) It’s Very Affordable

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Screenshot via Jasna’s ‘Fresh Tracks’ Video.

Sometimes, you’ll go skiing for a week, have an absolutely amazing time, come home, look at your bank balance and be overcome with a sudden feeling of queasiness. “What have I done?!” you’ll shout at the sky with arms aloft, “I’ve bankrupted myself in the pursuit of snow fun, and now I have to live off tinned soup and old cotton walking socks for the next six months. Woe is me.”

Fortunately, with Jasna this nightmare scenario is extremely unlikely as the Slovakian ski resort is the definition of affordable. We’ve already mentioned the super low cost of accomodation and beer (€1.20 a pint, pal) but what about the lift passes? Stuff like that. Well, you’ll no doubt be delighted to hear that you can get a six-day ski pass, if you book three days in advance with GoPass, for just €178. Compare that price to more traditional skiing destinations, and you can see that it’s a bit of a steal.

Also, those worried that Jasna’s affordability means it’s synonymous with a lack of luxury need not be concerned. There are a number of four to five star hotels here, as well as some high end chalets, fine dining restaurants and top end retail outlets. More than enough going on to keep people from all walks of life happy (whether your name is Billy Big Bucks or Freda Frugal).

3) The Pow Shot In This Video

Watch this video. Then watch it again. And then, on the third viewing, pause it at the pow bit and just think to yourself “If I went to Jasna in Slovakia, that skier enjoying the off-piste pow could be me.”

We’ve done a screenshot for you to look at indefinitely (see below).

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Screenshot via ‘Jasna in 30 Seconds’ Video (YouTube).

4) Do Some Night Skiing At Biela Put

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Screenshot via ‘Jasna In 30 Seconds’ Video (YouTube).

Skiing is obviously a very fun daytime pursuit but sometimes, when the day is done, you’ll still have that burning urge to carry on; to literally never stop skiing. Fortunately, visitors to Jasna can carry on skiing well into the evening thanks to the illuminated slopes at Biela Put.

5) Enjoy Some Genuinely Spectacular Scenery

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Screenshot via ‘Jasna in 30 Seconds’ Video (YouTube).

The highest peak in this neck of the woods is Ďumbier (2043m). The second highest peak is Chopok (2024m). Situated between the super scenic valleys of Váh and Hron, visitors here are not only in for some quality skiing but also some quality “check out that lovely view” time as well.

For more information, head on over to the Visit Liptov website.

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What Are Ski Cross & Boardercross? | Winter Olympic Guide For Pyeongchang 2018

Everything you need to know about ski cross and boardercross before the 2018 Winter Olympics

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What is ski cross? What is bordercross? There are a lot of disciplines in the Winter Olympics that you probably don’t come across a lot during the four years between the Games, but ski cross racing and boardercross racing can actually be two of the most exciting disciplines to watch when they’re on.

Inspired by Motocross racing, Ski cross is a sport which pits four skiers against one another in a race. Its older cousin boardercross does the same for snowboarders only with six running the course at once instead of four – a change that was made ahead of the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi. Each of the racers start the course at the same time, firing out their allocated gates when the starting gun bangs and battling it out on a course that includes banked turns, jumps and other obstacles. The first one across the finish line wins.

As Canadian Olympic ski cross star Brady Leman (who came in an agonising fourth-place at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi) told us recently: “It’s super fun and exciting to watch. I love watching alpine racing but without the clock you can’t really tell what’s going on. It’s hard to tell sometimes. The 30 racers all look pretty similar.

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Brady Leman in action on World Cup duties… Photo: Wikipedia Commons

“In our race it’s really easy to tell what’s going on. The first guy to the bottom wins. It’s super spectator friendly. The races are short so the events are sort of short and sweet, and they’re just really exciting to watch. They pull you in and grab your attention.

“You find someone you like and start cheering for them throughout the race and the next thing you know they’re in the finals. It’s really engaging!”

Ski Cross Rules, Boardercross Rules and Format

Let’s look at the rules of ski cross and boardercross competitions in a bit more detail.

It’s a bit like a mix of slopestyle skiing/snowboarding and BMX racing at the same time.

Watching some footage of ski cross and boardercross is a great way to get to understand either sport quickly. Here’s a clip from the men’s 2014 Winter Olympic ski cross and women’s Olympic boardercross in Sochi to get you started.

And here’s a video from FIS which should help you understand it even better. It gets right into the action!

So, that’s what it looks like, and that should give you a pretty good handle of the race, but what’s the format of ski cross and boardercross?

Well, they both start with one big seeding round. That’s where every athlete in the field competes alone on the course against only the clock, and their times are ranked against one another. The fastest person in the seeding run will be seeded number one, the second number two, and so on.

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Torah Bright of Australia in action at the Sochi games. Although the freestyler was highly fancied she failed to make it far through the boardercross competition. Photo: Nick Atkins

At Sochi in 2014, there were 32 men in the ski cross and 28 women. There were 39 men in the boardercross and 24 women.

Using the men’s ski cross as an example, when each of the 32 athletes had completed their seeding run, they were then sorted into eight races of four in which to compete.

In each of these races, the competitors compete on the same course at the same time as their rivals, and the top two finishers from each race progress to the next round. After the seeding round in the Olympics, you’ve first got the ‘last 16 race’, then the quarter finals, the semi-finals and of course the finals, where the medals are won.

“The first guy to the bottom wins. It’s super spectator friendly. The races are short and sweet, and they’re just really exciting to watch”

In the Winter Olympics, this means that the final race is extra exciting, as it’s completed between four athletes, but of course there are only three medals up for grabs. It really is an all or nothing scenario, and thanks to this, the nature of the sport and the knockout format of the Olympic competition, it’s easy to follow as well.

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Zoe Gillings-Brier of the UK racing in Sochi. Photo: Nick Atkins

Of course, when you put four skiers or snowboarders side by side on a course, racing at the same time, there’s going to be collisions and crashes. Anyone who has skied on a busy piste will know that – and that’s part of the excitement of ski cross and boardercross, but there are rules when it comes to contact.

Intentional contact by pushing, pulling or holding another competitors’ arm, leg or pole, and as such deliberately causing them to crash or slow down, is an automatic disqualification.

Ski cross and Boardercross Terms and Words to Know

FIS World Cup, Ski Cross. Image shows Brady Leman (CAN). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Oliver Lerch

FIS World Cup, Ski Cross. Image shows Brady Leman (CAN). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Oliver Lerch

When Brady Leman tells you: “just having four guys on the course at once makes for a lot more action on the way down with all the jumps and rollers and banked turns” you’ll probably either get immediately excited or confused.

Here are some ski cross and boardercross keywords, including rollers and banked turns, explained:

  • Air time: The time spent in the air after jumping, between take off and landing.
  • Banked turn: A turn which is inclined at an angle.
  • Bib: The big worn by each racer, featuring number for easy identification.
  • Big final: The final race of a ski cross competition, to determine the positions 1-4.
  • Small final: The consolation race in a ski cross competition, to determine positions 5-8.
  • Blocking: Deliberately getting in the way of a competitor.
  • Corner jump: A jump where the landing requires an immediate turn.
  • DQ1: Disqualification 1. For missing a gate – meaning you will be ranked last for the heat.
  • DQ2: Disqualification 2. For unsportsmanlike behaviour. Competitor will not be ranked.
  • Fall line: The imaginary line which follows the steepest gradient down the slope.
  • Heat: Each individual race in ski cross or boardercross can be called a heat.
  • Holeshot: The race to the first turn in a ski cross or boardercross race. Whoever gets to the first turn first will hold the leading position. It’s the best place to be for the rest of the race!
  • Kicker: A jump.
  • Rollers: A series of rolling, small jumps in the course. Competitors try to take these while maintaining speed, and so often fly over some of them and use others to jet them on to the next part of the course.
  • Seeding run: The time trial at the beginning of the event to decide each skier’s seeding for the heats/elimination rounds.
  • Step-up and Step-down: A jump where the landing is higher than the starting point is a step-up, and a step-down is a jump or drop onto a lower part of the course.
  • Table: A jump where the landing is on to a box-shaped feature at the same level or higher up.
  • Vertical drop: The total difference in elevation between the starting gate and the finish line.

What is the Course for the Ski Cross and Boardercross on at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics?

Here are the essentials behind any ski cross course or boardercross course:

  • It must be 800 to 1200 metres long
  • With an 150-250 vertical drop
  • The ladies and men use the same course
  • The course is a series of features – rollers, jumps etc
  • 50% turns of differing sizes and speeded between features
  • 25% traverses bumps and rollers
  • 25% jumps which must be 1-4 metres high and have appropriate landings
  • A drop down start gate must be used
  • The timing system is used for qualification/seeding run, and a photo finish for the final

And here are the courses for the ski cross and boardercross at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics! The left run is the ski cross course and the right run is the boardercross course:

Favourites for the Ski Cross and Boardercross 2018 Winter Olympic Gold

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Zoe Gillings-Brier of the UK in action in Sochi. She will be representing the UK in Pyeongchang as well. Photo: Nick Atkins

The best place to look for a sign of who is going to excel at the Winter Olympics in ski cross and boardercross are the FIS World Cup rankings for either sport. The professional athletes from both ski cross and boardercross compete year round in their own respective world cup series, regularly meeting around the world to race it out.

Currently in the rankings, Swedish Sandra Naeslund is head and shoulders above the rest of the field in women’s ski cross. Second behind her is German Heidi Zacher, and then it’s tight between the rest of the field with Fanny Smith of Switzerland, Canadians Georgia Simmerling, Kelsey Serwa and Brittany Phelan and French skier Marielle Berger Sabbatel.

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Swiss skier Marc Bischofberger. Photo: Wiki Commons.

The men’s ski cross rankings put Swiss skier Marc Bischofberger first, Jean Frederic Chapuis of France second, another Swiss rider, Alex Fiva, third, and a multitude of riders in the near numbers below. Of course, Brady Leman will be one to watch as well having just missed out on the medal spots last time around.

In women’s boardercross, Italian Michela Moioli is top of the rankings followed by French riders Nelly Moenne Loccoz, Chloe Trespeuch and Charlotte Bankes. American riders Lindsey Jacobellis (who has a famous Winter Olympic past featured in the video below) and Faye Gulini are also at the right end of the table.

The men’s boardercross, if the leaderboards are to be believed, will be fought out by France’s Pierre Vaultier, Aussie Alex Pullin, Austrian Alessandro Haemmerle and Italian Omar Visintin.

As far as Team GB goes, we’ve got Emily Sarsfield competing in the women’s ski cross and Zoe Gillings-Brier to cheer on in the women’s snowboard cross.

Of course, what makes boardercross so exciting to watch though is the pure unpredictability of the sport. Anything can happen at any time – whether that be an unexpected overtake, a slip on the slopes or a mass pile-up crash which lets an underdog stroll to the win. Just watch this…

When is the Ski Cross and Boardercross on at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics and Where to Watch?

The men’s boardcross takes place on the 15 February, starting at 11am local time, which is – ahem – 2am UK time with the seeding runs. The big final is then scheduled for 14:45pm, or 5:45am UK time.

The women’s boardercross takes place the next day on 16 February, kicking off at 10am local time, which is 1am in the UK. Lovely. Set your alarms. The big final is then scheduled for a much more reasonable, and very specific, 12:56pm, which is 3:56am in the UK.

The men’s ski cross will take place on the 21 February, kicking off at 11:30 local time for the seeding run, which is – ahem – 2.30am UK time. The big final is scheduled to be raced at 14:35 local time or 5:35 UK time.

The women’s ski cross takes place at the same times but on the 23 February two days later.

You can watch all of the Winter Olympics on the BBC, on your television, red button or online.

Ski Cross Training and Boardercross Training

When it comes to ski cross training, we thought we’d better later Brady Leman do the talking. While the more you ski or snowboard the better you’re going to be at ski cross or boardercross, there’s also some pretty specific things you can work on to help you prepare for the kind of things you’ll experience in a race.

Ski Cross, men, award ceremony for the overall World Cup. Image shows Brady Leman (CAN). Keywords: medal. Photo: GEPA pictures/ Matthias Hauer

Ski Cross, men, award ceremony for the overall World Cup. Image shows Brady Leman (CAN). Keywords: medal. Photo: GEPA pictures/ Matthias Hauer

The Canadian ski cross star told us: “We train a lot in the gym. Like for alpine skiing as well, but we probably do a little more gymnastics and acrobatic training. Just because we have to be in the air and know how your body is going to move and try and be balanced and that kind of thing.

“We build starts that we can use all year round. We use ski matting like you have in the UK, and we’ll put a start gate on it so we can practise our starts during the summer back home, and then obviously we’re all on the hill and practise skiing in groups so that we’re comfortable being right next to someone or having someone right on your tail.”

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