Leisurely ascents, slowing down and enjoying the breathtaking view at the summit. Professional ski mountaineering, also known as "Skimo" is not quite as romantic as classic ski touring. This competitive sport demands extreme endurance, stamina and perfect technique from its athletes. But what exactly is behind this sport? In this article, Kästle athlete Stephanie Kröll offers us an insight into her great passion, ski mountaineering.
Ski mountaineering refers to two terms in equal measure, ski touring and ski mountaineering. In popular sports, "ski touring" has become accepted. Ski mountaineering, however, is more associated with competition. This has its origins in the military patrol runs. Especially in Italy, France and Switzerland, ski mountaineering is strongly rooted in the sports culture and has long been considered a national sport there. These countries have been the scene of some of the most important races since the 1980s, such as the Patrouille des Glacier of the Swiss military (CH), the Pierra Menta (FR) or Transcavallo (IT). But the first World Cup took place only in 2004. Today, the ISMF (International Ski Mountaineering Federation) with its 31 member countries is the official sponsor of the sport. In Austria, too, skimo is now incorporated as a division of the ÖSV.
Skimo competitions can be divided into four disciplines, which differ in terms of altitude, technique, terrain and duration of the competition. The World Cup disciplines Sprint (80-120 vertical meters), Vertical (600-700 vertical meters) and Individual (1.300-1.800 vertical meters) are purely solo-competitions with no or little downhill. In a hobby team race like the "Pierra Menta" the athletes compete in teams of 2. This race takes place over several days and consists of several demanding stages in high alpine terrain.
As in any other competitive sport, ski mountaineering has its own set of rules. Important contents are, among other things, certain rules of conduct but also regulations on ski length. These vary between men and women and in the individual disciplines. Further rules are to be considered in the different zones. For example, certain procedures in the transition zones, when it is allowed to eat and drink or where a material exchange can take place.
The Zillertal native discovered ski touring for the first time in 2015. She was used to plodding down the mountains in the other direction and accordingly found touring incredibly exhausting and was sure it was her last time.
With a material upgrade with lighter boots and skis, the fun of piste ski touring began. However, it didn't last long there and she only wanted to go off-piste. In 2019 and 2020 she competed in her first races... with an average pulse of 180.
Today, the TX65 World Cup is Steffi's faithful and light companion during training and competition.
"For me, ski mountaineering is adventure, adrenaline, drudgery and defeating my inner pig to the last. On the other hand, it is a pleasure. Especially the view at the summit"
Interval training and the mental strength to switch off the brain when fully overtired and not to let any negative thoughts get to you now make World Cup races possible for Steffi. Even under the greatest stress, it is important to cheer oneself on and to assert the will not to be overtaken. Thus ski mountaineering pursues in each race completely the motto: Go to the limit ... and beyond.
With a race-inspired carbon wound paulownia woodcore with EARLY RISE technology the ultra-light TX77 is supremely stable with good edge grip on the downhill. A clever new feature is the luminous HOLLOWTECH 3.0 which provides better safety for night touring.
Skiers like the state-certified Austrian mountain guides choose the TX77 for its efficient ascent performance and excellent on-piste downhill performance.
The TX77 is also the facorite companion for other skimo athletes, such as Stefan Knopf, wheter for training or a leisurely ski tour.