Swiss ladies master their survival camp

11 July 2011 22:35

The Swiss ladies World Cup training groups 1 & 2 spent an unusual and multifaceted training week last week in the Bernese Oberland (SUI). In conclusion to the multi-week conditioning block that also saw two weeks of training in Kerenzerberg, the Swiss speed ladies, led by Stefan Abplanalp and Luca de Marchi and supported by the local team from, completed what one might call a true 'survival camp.'

The goal of the full week camp was to bring together the many components the team had trained in the previous weeks, and obviously push individual limits way beyond the comfort zone. The start was on Monday in Gunten with an introduction to the theme of the week, stand-up paddling, which according to Abplanalp is the closest one gets to surfing on a lake and is ideal training for ski racers from the muscle groups and balance elements involved.

The first lake crossing saw the ladies paddle on Lake Thun from Gunten to Interlaken in somewhat strong waves. The next day began with kayaking on Lake Brienz, followed by another lake crossing on stand-up paddles and an uphill ride on mountain bikes on top of Niederhorn. Sleeping in their 5000-star hotel the team appreciated their heavy-duty sleeping bags. The survival camp then continued with a 10-summit, eight hour hike around Justistal. A downhill bike ride followed, as did more stand-up paddling and abseiling 70m on a never-before used route at Beatenbucht to yet another stand-up paddle lake crossing and so on.

"After months of sweating in the gym, this week was a great reward for our hard work," commented Fränzi Aufdenblatten.

"The hardest part for me was the 8 hour tour, during which we reached 10 peaks. My knees though were feeling pretty good. I can’t remember the last time I was able to walk that far without any pain. Now I really feel ready for the first snow contact," said Dominique Gisin.

The Swiss ladies will begin their first on-snow training block this week in Zermatt.

All photos Dominique Pittet