2010 ISU Adult Competition
May of 2010, and I found myself joining a small elite group of Australian athletes to traverse the globe and compete in Adult skating completion at both the highly sort after Oberstdorf competition, Germany and Mountain cup in Villard de Lans, France. The ice is fast and the field is wide in Oberstdorf where there is 10-20 competitors in most events across the boards. Prior to competition, it is possible to train with some of the best coaches in the world... that manages to bi-pass the jetlag and lift your game just that little bit more.
Oberstdorf consists of 3 ice surfaces. Competition opens at the draw on the barrierless curling rink. Complete with ice to ceiling choreography mirrors and a glass of champagne in hand, there is a line up of all the nations. Despite any language barriers, all skaters have the same passion and the air is very friendly and supportive.
In the main stadium, the virgin ice is clean, flat and very fast. Bending your knees becomes a true necessity, not just something coaches yell about! For several days, you find yourself thinking about nothing but what time there are lessons, official practices, warming up, stretching out. There seems to never be a moment to spare. Of course you also need to relax... and there is a heated Thermal pool complex with massages and Jacuzzi jets to sooth any unco-operative muscles.
Fuel is important to. Oberstdorf lies in the heart of German Bavaria, so the food is wholesome and delicious. Pizza, pasta and schnitzel were all high on the skaters list of fare... as was sampling the local wine and Proceco!!
In Villard, 1050m above sea level, altitude has a surprisingly big affect on us aussies who are used to the sport being very close to sea level.
The first day, I went out pretty hard to try to expand the lungs...it did help, but I did find I was almost hypoxic after only 2 run throughs! (Maybe I was just getting tired by then.)
France, is of course famous for cheese and a relaxed way of life. Two things you find an abundance of in Villard! Crepes are everyone‟s favourite fare... but I could not help but become friends of the local patisserie as well.
Both competitions are held in relative small towns of only a few thousand people. It is easy and safe to walk everywhere. Both towns are surrounded by snow capped mountains to finish the picture postcard effect.
After skating, you are thrown enough chocolate to cover a Swiss mountain from admiring onlookers (So take lots of Aussie treats with you!)
Watching the competition is brilliant. Just sit-ing and watching the calibre of the top skaters is truly inspirational. Being adults, every level shows courage and dedication and true passion for the sport.
At the end of the day, having a clean programme or even scoring a PB is great, but this competition is also about friendship with like minded fellow skataholics! I just loved it!
Next year, Oberstdorf will be later than ever. Competition will be from the 8th -11th of June. So mark it in the diary and see you there!!
- Helen Beale