This interview was just published on Mad Dog Ski, you can read it here
Maria Ramberger is Austria’s top female Snowboard Cross (SBX) rider. She was at the Olympics in Vancouver 2010 competing with the Austrian National team and came 4th in the 2010 Aspen Winter X Games.
The 24-year old recently placed 5th at the World Cup event in Lech and is a fast rising star in the world of Snowboard Cross with a string of top ten results. Maria just finished 10th at the SBX World Championships in Spain.
So where are you today?
I’m at home in Klosterneuberg, Austria today. That’s a question you put a lot of thought into? (laughs).
I’m starting slowly. How is your season going so far?
So so. I got 5th at my first race in Lech, Austria but I messed up Telluride, USA when I made a stupid mistake during my first qualification run and crashed. At the World Champs, I was still a bit beat because I got sick before and spend a week in bed. Finally I got 10th which might not be unbelievably awesome but certainly okay. Hopefully awesome at the next race which would be at the Winter X-Games
Highs and lows I guess. I know that you put in a lot of extra pre-season training at Saas Fee this summer. What difference has this made over last season?
It actually made a big difference. This is the first season that I can remember that I’m not scared. I just see something like a big jump or a scary turn and I WANT to try it out. I can do the big jumps in the parks and I love it. It feels like the first time I actually know what I’m doing – which is funny since I’ve been doing this for quite a while now but it just doesn’t really show in my results yet… which makes me a tiny bit grumpy (laughs).
Your 5th place at Lech was your best result on the SBX World Cup Tour. You must be pretty pleased?
Yes and no. I was not riding particularly well that day except for the small finals (places 8 to 5 which I won) so no, I’m not pleased. With the result yes, absolutely but honestly I didn’t feel like I quite earned it and at the same time I think I can actually do better than 5th. Do I sound silly? I think I do sound silly but that’s how I feel about it.
No comment. What’s going through your mind in the start gate?
Too much or nothing at all. It’s different every time but I try to focus on just starting. Of course I think about the course or about where I could possibly overtake or which start gate to choose but I try to mostly think about that stuff the evening before. Once you’re actually in the start gate it’s too late to think about tactics.
And the ‘cross courses, although they appear straightforward on TV, I assume they are just one big ice chute? I went on the one in Saas and it was pretty full on – no time to rest or think.
And you were rubbish at it! (laughs) Yes. If it’s a good course you’ll be able to go full speed all the way. If you speed check then you’ll lose. As for one big ice chute, during the season there is everything from fresh snow, to slush and ice. You’ve got to be able to keep up no matter what conditions.
So the glamorous life of a SBX pro. Does it get lonely travelling from place to place, hotel room to hotel room?
Mean question! I mean you’re never actually alone. There are always people around you. And as I said I really like the team and I love travelling, I never get homesick and I’m not amongst those complaining about airplanes, foreign food and the absence of my own oh so awesome bed.
Of course you get lonely, of course there are moments where you wish you’d be with the people you left behind but then again, the time of the year where you’re really on the road is only three months. The rest of the year you get to hang out with pretty much whoever you like.
So what do you do in the off season and what do you do to wind down when you aren’t training or racing?
Catch up with my friends, hang out and then err, go travel again on my own! But not to see countries more to do stuff whereever. It’s not like ‘let’s go see Paris or the North Pole’ it’s more like ‘ oh let’s learn surfing, go biking, hang out’
Compared to the alpine team, I guess boarder cross doesn’t have the same profile in Austria. Is it difficult attracting sponsors and finding the budget for your season?
Oh yes! Difficult doesn’t quite describe it. I somehow always get the money together but I also always get to the point somewhere mid-season where I’m like, ‘this is interesting, how am I going to pay the next bill’. But up till now it always worked out somehow.
Where are your favourite resorts to board in for fun, assuming you get to?
My favourite resorts (thinks). I’d say Saas Fee but I also love Colorado. Telluride is really nice. Kind of like Aspen but smaller, more comfy. Mountain Village is this really pretty little place high up and yes I get to snowboard for fun although it never really seems like work anyway.
And finally, where is your home hill and would you recommend it to boarders and skier from the UK?
I don’t really have a home resort but I spent lots of years in Schladming. It’s definitely very nice there and I’d recommend everyone to come and visit but today I’m more of a nomad, spending time here and there. Wherever I think the conditions are best
Actually, I have four other little questionettes for you;
Cats or dogs?
Cats or dogs? What do I want to have as a pet, or what do I identify more, or what do I like better?
Cats or Dogs?
Red or blue?
Dance or rock?
Die Hard or Back to the Future?
I haven’t seen Die Hard.
Maria currently competes on the Snowboard Cross World Cup Tour and would like to thank her sponsors PAY LIFE, Apex Snowboards, Deeluxe Boots and Toko. You can visit her website at http://www.mariaramberger.at/
Photos copyright of Markus Schiller – http://spike83.deviantart.com/