Is speed skiing mad?
I don’t think so, but it’s definitely addictive. When you accelerate faster than a sports car hitting speeds of over 200 km/ph, you have a different perspective on life…
The 15 second run is so intense that the adrenaline doesn’t kick in until you start braking. That fine line between fear and exhilaration is what gives me that buzz and the second I’m down, I want to go back up and do it all over again. That feeling never changes, no matter how many times I hurtle down the steepest slopes in the world with 2.40 metre skis with 98m sidecut.
I got into speed skiing after trying alpine racing and then skier cross. As soon as I tried speed skiing I realised it was my thing: it fits my personal lifestyle and philosophy. I’m also an entrepreneur and run a mobile phone insurance company with 45 employees in my home city of Madrid and have a passion for high-performance cars. Speed and precision are two words I think of for whatever I do; skiing at the very top level of my sport helps me to improve in all areas of life.
I recently became a father for the first time and that changes your perspective on life. For me I believe it’s improved my performance on the snow as I manage my time more productively, allowing me to spend any spare time I have with my daughter.
It took me a little while to get over a serious crash I had during the winter season of 2016 in the resort of Vars, France, on the fastest track out there – I was skiing at 216 km/ph and took a tumble, escaping with just second degree burns, but it damaged my confidence. These things happen in a sport that pushes the limit of physical and mental human abilities. Getting up again and improving on past performances is the only solution.
Last March (2018) was my most successful month ever and it brought me my first podium place, in Sun Peaks, Canada. Although I won the overall speed skiing title back in 2014, it was in the lower tier category – now I’m competing at the very top level in the sport and finished the season in fifth position. My goal is to win a race now, and who knows, it’s nice to think that I could be world number one. But it takes hard work and determination and a lot of time.
This summer has been intense, with a full on programme of dry land training that has included riding on top of a vehicle at over 100 MPH.
One of the most fun (and scary) things I’ve done is to be pulled behind a sports car (a Ferrari 458 Italia Competizione no less) on an asphalt surface. We got to a speed of 63.78 km/ph, which doesn’t sound that fast compared to what I do on snow, but believe me, when sparks are flying from your skis and you’re sliding around on a tarmac surface, it’s fast enough.
So what’s next?
Well, I’m now in Sweden for the second Speed Ski venue of the World Cup season, then it’s onto France for the World Championships and World Record attempt in Vars towards the end of March. By the time we get to Grandvalira, Andorra in April I hope to be faster than ever before on skis.
Is that mad?
No, it would be mad if I didn’t prepare for it year round: it’s a calculated risk!
Written by Jan Farrell for MadDogSki.com
British Team Speed skier, March 2019