Anyone who thinks a winter sports enthusiast spends the summer lazing on the beach waiting for the first snow to fall in autumn is definitely wrong. Alex Payer, professional snowboarder from the Carinthian Nock Mountains, speaks about how he already lays the foundation for the coming winter sports season in summer.
A good feeling for snow, a honed and polished technique, and an unconditional readiness to take risks are characteristics that are repeatedly given as being essential for success in winter sports, and are indeed absolutely correct. There are absolutely no alternatives to these - but yet every athlete who prepares to advance to the top of the world has them.
So what makes the difference? I see these as being in the preparatory phase, where snow only plays a minor role.
Variety makes success.
The path to success follows from consistency and variance.
After 15 years in competitive sports, I‘m absolutely certain that consistency is also a talent. Without this, top performance is hardly achievable and it‘s also difficult to push your own performance further. But that alone is not everything – as the gym and bicycle ergometer may also be important and useful. But the variety within the training management is at least as crucial a component as the strength training itself. That's why my motto is "New is always better".
Outside at home.
For me, training in the open air is always my top priority. One can "enjoy" squats in any weather and at any time of day, but the first descent on the Flow Country Trail is only possible if you‘re on the road early. No descent here is like the other, and cooperation between the head and body is demanded constantly. It makes no difference if you're a beginner or a pro.
After the Olympic Games in 2018, it was clear to me that something had to change in the preparation stage. I need an activity that supports both fine motor skills but also risk assessment. I decided on enduro mountain biking. I wouldn't necessarily describe myself as an extremely talented mountain biker. The Bad Kleinkirchheimer Flow Country Trail is a good first choice for getting to grips with the subject. For this reason, I‘ve spent countless hours in and around the Kaiserburg over the past few years in order to develop myself further in this field, and in so doing markedly increase my personal level.
Even though there are numerous additional single trail options in the Nock Mountains, the Flow Country Trail is, and will always be, my favorite for real biking days.
Hiking & Trailrunning.
When I think back, hiking has always been one of my absolute passions. As soon as I was born, my father carried me to the various peaks in the region or, with stoic calm, persuaded me to go there myself.
To this day, I have remained true to that and I am firmly convinced that there‘s no better form of basic training. My sport, snowboarding, is anything but gentle on the body. But the human body is simply designed for hiking and mountaineering. Here you can get in shape and push yourself to your limits without much physical exertion.
You can find my absolute favourite route for trailrunning (or hiking) below.
„The Biosphärenpark Trail“
This round is my absolute favourite among the Carinthian trail running routes, and for this reason it‘s deservedly part of the fastestknowntimeaustria.com community. From the summit of the Biosphärenparkbahn Brunnach past the Schwarz Lake, it goes to the first summit, the mighty Predigerstuhl. Under the watchful eye of the largest of all Nock mountains, the Rosennock, you continue on to the small Pfannnock and then to the big Pfannnock. Past the legendary "Rote Burg" it goes over the Mallnockgrat back to the Biosphärenparkbahn Brunnach...
But what would a snowboarder be without his board? Nothing, of course, which is why every boarder has committed to the #alwaysstandingsideways attitude to life. And if there‘s no snow in Bad Kleinkirchheim in summer, you can definitely get your legs burning in the pump track. But one thing has to be said, helmets should always be used, even by the most experienced.
"In summer you lay the foundations for a successful winter". This sentence has always been an integral part of Austrian winter sports rhetoric. Basically, we snowboarders don't take much delight from wisdom from the world of skiers, but on this particular point I have to agree completely.
Recovery is just as important as training. On average, my colleagues and I invest up to 30 hours in our weekly training. That's why it's particularly important to use that time between sessions to get yourself and your body back into shape. Because the next session will definitely come.
Relax your muscles or just your head?
For me, the sauna is a way to relax my muscles and for this reason it‘s a fixed part of my regeneration program. Because if there's one thing I don't need, it's classic muscle ache. But that‘s only half the story, because even if the positive effects of physical relaxation cannot be denied, it‘s above all the mental relaxation that I particularly appreciate. Due to the heat, special focus is placed on breathing without having to do anything and this leads to better mental relaxation and blood circulation.
For this reason, I‘d always recommend the sauna after exercise, as it contributes to better sleep and thus drastically better recovery.
While the media likes to portray athletes as often just spending their time away from the snow in their dark gyms, this is simply not true. Real life takes place outside and for this reason you have to look for sporting happiness out in nature. Squats can‘t be avoided, but as I said, variety makes the successful athlete.
Have a good start into Summer,