An 18-year-old freestyle skier from Switzerland took the internet by storm this week when a video of him honing his strength and balance on an indoor obstacle course went viral.
Andri Ragettli, from Flims, the neighbouring village to freestyle haven Laax in Switzerland, posted the video on his Facebook page on Sunday. At the time of publication the video has had 1.5 million views.
GB Park and Pipe team in action in Laax, Switzerland02:22
It’s not the first time Ragettli has made the headlines. Late last season he became the first skier to successfully land a quad cork 1800 – that’s five full rotations and four off-axis flips in one jump.
“I didn’t plan on doing this trick, but it was the perfect day and the biggest and best jump that I have ever jumped. I was feeling it and I am super happy that it worked out right away,” said Ragettli at the time.
More recently, the young Swiss skier joined Great Britain’s Winter Olympic hopeful James Woods on the podium in second place, behind Woods in first, at the Freeski & Snowboard World Cup in Cardrona in New Zealand.
Despite having a long list of titles and podium places to his name on the professional circuit, including overall world champion in 2016, it seems the video of him practising parkour in his local gym is the thing to have propelled him to global fame – and to be fair, it is pretty impressive.
A post shared by Andri Ragettli (@andriragettli) on Aug 27, 2017 at 1:20am PDT
It’s 48 seconds of sheer balancing brilliance, but many social media users might not understand the link between the relatively unheard-of sport of parkour and freestyle skiing.
“Balance training is always good for free skiing,” Ragettli explained. “It’s one of the main trainings I do besides cardio and weight training.”
Parkour is an increasingly popular sport that developed from military obstacle course training. The aim of a parkour course is to get from one point to another by running, climbing, swinging and rolling, often over obstacles such as rocks, walls and tunnels, without any assistance or equipment – it requires almost perfect balance.
“We do parkour indoor training at my school in Engelberg,” said Ragettli. “When I uploaded a normal parkour training video for the first time last year I couldn’t imagine that people around the world would like it [my latest video] so much that it would go viral.”
Ragettli shot the video with his brother in his school’s gym in Engelberg on Saturday, with an aim of improving on a similar video he made in 2016 and to share a unique look into his training for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, next year with his followers. “It took 20 attempts to get the video in one take, but we did some more for better footage too,” he explained.
We skiers are a resilient bunch. Following the Brexit referendum last year, the pound plummeted in value against the Euro, US and Canadian dollars; snow mostly didn’t arrive until after Christmas in Europe; and then conditions were hit and miss in many resorts. Yet we remained undaunted and continued to head off to the slopes in similar numbers to the year before.
According to a large recent survey of skiers by the Ski Club of Great Britain, this wasn’t a last hurrah before an impending sense of doom. Far from it – the Consumer Research Report reveals that 97 per cent of people who skied last winter said they were likely to return to the slopes this winter. This is borne out by figures showing strong early bookings among tour operators, not just in the high-demand periods of Easter and half term but also in the low-season month of January.
Many resorts are investing heavily to keep us enticed and offer us an ever better winter experience. Last season, Brit favourite St Anton opened a lift connection to neighbouring Lech, and Val d’Isère created a new beginner area with dedicated lifts and a slopeside restaurant.
Developments continue apace for next season. Highlights include new lifts in the Swiss resort of Andermatt linking to the Sedrun ski area, a record-breaking cable car to the Zugspitze glacier from the valley floor, and a 10-year redevelopment plan in the heart of Val d’Isère. A clutch of hotels are due to open, including the first Four Seasons in the Alps (in Megève), the first Hyatt (in La Rosière), and a new Club Med in Samoëns. New flight routes will make the mountains more accessible with airline Powdair operating to Sion, Norwegian flying to Denver, and new BA flights from Manchester to Salzburg and Chambéry.
So there’s plenty to look forward to in the coming season. Now we just need to pray for snow.
How to make this the best season ever
1. Get fit and scrub up on your technique
We’ve all been there – the panic of the first morning of a ski holiday when you realise all you’ve done to prepare is a couple of stretches before bed the week before, a few frantic gym sessions, and some failed attempts to refresh your technique knowledge by flicking through YouTube on your commute. There are plenty of opportunities to avoid the pitfalls this season and make a change.
Why not book yourself on to an autumn technique course, either in the mountains or in the UK? A number of reputable ski schools organise these to avoid those first morning nerves and get you off to a flying start on your holiday. The Warren Smith Ski Academy is taking it one step further this October with its Technique Lab Tour, coming to stores across the UK. Looking at more than just your technique, these seminars also cover physiology and biomechanics – you’re bound to go home with a few new exercises to add to your nightly routine.
Talking of exercise, get a few sessions in when you can. Whether it’s on your mountain bike at the weekends, taking the stairs instead of the lift, or following a series of ski-specific fitness videos in your front room, it’ll help prevent the exhaustion felt after just one day back on the mountain.
If that all sounds a bit too much, then nothing beats booking a lift pass for your local slope, dusting off your skis or board and hitting the snow for a couple of hours. Not only will this boost your confidence ahead of your holiday, it’s also a great workout for the whole family and a fun way to spend a chilly autumn afternoon.
Ski fitness: jump squats00:43
2. Book early for the busiest weeks
With sterling’s tailspin threatening to spell disaster for the ski season recently, skiers and snowboarder are being encouraged to book early for the best prices and to make the most of incentives currently being advertised by some operators. This is sound advice, especially for those who want to head to the mountains during the busy weeks of the season – book now and pay as much as possible upfront and in sterling.
If you are planning to wait until the snow falls to book a last-minute trip, bear in mind – due to the timing of Christmas and Easter this year – that there will be fewer weeks when it’s considered to be mid or low season. For that reason, it’s likely that there will be more pressure on bookings during the off-peak weeks and potentially fewer late deals. It’s still a good option if you have the flexibility, but it’s advisable to book a week or two in advance, rather than days.
In January we’ll be heading to the powder fields of Japan – it promises to be a truly memorable trip as we visit five of the country’s best ski areas, experiencing the waist-deep powder and sampling the fascinating Japanese culture. Another trip that’ll provide plenty of bragging rights down the pub is the tour of Kicking Horse hosted by Winter Olympic legend Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards – not only will you get ski jumping training from the man himself, you’ll also get a chance to ski the varied and challenging terrain this Canadian resort has to offer.
Whichever trip you choose, you’ll be joining an eclectic bunch of couples, single travellers and small groups of friends of all abilities and ages, with one uniting factor – a passion for skiing and snowboarding.
It may seem like the kids have only just gone back to school but now’s the time to look ahead to October half term when The Telegraph Ski & Snowboard Show will be returning to London’s Battersea Park with a host of live competitions announced this week.
From October 26 to 29 2017 some of the country’s best snow-sport athletes will be competing in a number of competitions on the 50ft real-snow kicker, Mount Battersea, and on the Show’s stunt rail.
Taking over the slope for the first time on Saturday 28 is a brand-new big air competition hosted by Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, which will see skiers and snowboarders battle against each other in the hopes of taking home their share of a £3,000 cash prize.
The Show’s MC Tim Warwood will be asking visitors to pick a side – skier or snowboarder – and then to cheer on their chosen discipline as the athletes perform tricks individually, in pairs, in threesomes and then finally as a train (a number of athletes travelling down the kick in a continuous line). The purpose of a big air event is to send the biggest and best trick as they hit the jump, making this new competition a spectacular highlight of the four-day event.
Returning to the Show and to the snow of Mount Battersea for a third year is The British Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Championships, otherwise known as the BRITS, which will be held on the Friday evening. The BRITS take place in Laax, Switzerland, every season, giving British skiers and riders from under 12s to over 30s the chance to compete and show off their skills in ski and snowboard cross, slopestyle, halfpipe and big air.
For over 20 years the competition has played a pivotal role in developing and showcasing the best freestyle skiers and snowboarders and has contributed to the success of Winter Olympic hopefuls such as James ‘Woodsy’ Woods, Katie Ormerod, Jamie Nicholls and Aimee Fuller. Great Britain’s first ever Olympic medallist on snow, Jenny Jones, came through the British Championships’ ranks before making the podium at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
The Telegraph Ski & Snowboard Show gives the athletes the chance to warm up before the season. Following the success of The BRITS Style Sessions for the past two years at the Show, this year the top athletes will once again be competing in a contest that will judge the most stylish tricks and stunts in front of a packed crowd.
The London skyline provides a unique backdrop to the sporting action as the Show returns to Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park for the third year. As well as the live competitions, there will be demonstrations from the athletes at scheduled times across the four days.
The action at this year’s Show isn’t saved just for the 50ft kicker – snow-sports clothing and hardware brand Planks will be hosting the final of its grassroots rail jam competition tour at the venue in Battersea Park. The Planks tour involves a number of events at the some of the UK’s top indoor and dry slopes, and each stop includes coaching from professional athletes, a film screening and a rail jam sessions. The best riders from each round will be chosen to attend the final in London, which will held on the Saturday.
For the second year in a row Jibworx will also be hosting the final of its university tour, Downtown Throwdown, on the stunt rail at the Show. The best talent will perform in lively rail jam sessions across the four days and compete for the title in the final on Saturday 28.
The countdown has begun – it’s now less than 150 days until the Winter Olympics kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea.
To mark the occasion, Chill Factore in Manchester, home to the UK’s longest indoor slope, has teamed up with one of Team GB’s most famous Winter Olympians to launch a new competition which hopes to find the next generation of snow-sports talent.
Ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is heading the initiative, encouraging youngsters aged six to 18 to submit a 200-word entry explaining their future aspirations and why they have the passion and potential to achieve their snow-sports dream.
The competition is looking for skiers and snowboarders of all abilitites across all snow-sport disciplines, from slopestyle to alpine and even cross-country skiing. Entries will be narrowed down to a shortlist of 20, who will be invited to Chill Factore on October 23 to showcase their talent and meet Eddie.
Up to five youngsters will then be awarded a place on Chill Factore’s sponsored athlete programme, which provides access to 12 months of training and unlimited slope access at the centre. “I want to make sure we’ve got access [to snow sports] for kids who don’t have the money, just like me,” said Eddie. “I just want to help them as much as I can.
“This isn’t about how many times you’ve competed, the records you hold or the number of followers you have on social media. We are looking to celebrate the untapped passion and potential out there.”
Unlike most talent contests, which look out for the very best tricks, turns and ability on the snow, Eddie explained that this new competition will also be recognising those who show a clear passion for all things snow sports. “We’re not necessarily just looking for the best skier or snowboarder. We’re looking for a range of things – their physical ability and their technical ability but also their personality, how passionate they are about the sport.
“If they’ve got a great personality sometimes that goes further than maybe being an expert skier or boarder, because you can always get better technically,” he said.
“There are so many world-class athletes who are great at their sport, but they’re so boring. They don’t talk and they can’t be interviewed very well.”
The launch of the contest comes as British Ski and Snowboard’s athletes begin the final months of training before they head out to South Korea. Eddie was in their shoes 30 years ago, when he competed at the 1988 Games in Calgary. “It was like a sporting circus, it was wonderful. The atmosphere was great and the Calgarians were so proud to host the Winter Olympic Games.
“It had been a dream of mine to go to an Olympic Games since I was about seven years old. I didn’t know I’d do it ski jumping but that’s how it turned out. To realise my dream of getting to those Olympic Games was incredible, and I can remember it now, like it was yesterday, even though it has been nearly 30 years.”
Team GB have a number of medal hopefuls heading out to PyeongChang, including slopestyle skier James Woods and snowboarder Katie Ormerod – but for some of the team, it’ll be their first Olympics.
“They should expect a great reception and the most perfectly pisted facilities. Everything is done to the nth degree,” Eddie said.
What advice would he share with these young athletes? “Just go out there, enjoy it and concentrate on what you’re there for, which is to perform and compete. You’ve done all your training, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, do the best you can and you’ll come back with a smile on your face.”
And it’s a smile on the face of the youngsters he’ll meet at Chill Factore that will help him choose the winners of the new talent contest. “I’ve always got a smile on my face when I’m skiing and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Morwenna Angove, CEO at Chill Factore, sees the talent on the slope in Manchester on a daily basis, and believes these type of grassroot contests are important to developing the future of the sport. “Day in, day out, we see some fantastic skiers and snowboarders enjoying the slope and know that with a little bit of belief and encouragement, they could achieve big things,” said Angove.
The deadline for entries is September 22, with the finals taking place on October 23. Entries must be sent to email@example.com.
The launch of the everywoman in Travel Awards has inspired Telegraph Travel to celebrate the successes of women in the industry and raise awareness of roles where women are still under-represented, including the board room, the bridge of cruise ships and commercial jet cockpits. The deadline for nominations for an award has been extended to September 18.
We thought it would be an excellent time to think about fearless female travellers who inspire others with their feats. Here, we present five fantastic female travellers who prove that, while every explorer must employ common sense and caution, your gender needn’t affect your propensity for adventure.
Earlier this year, Connecticut native Cassie became the first woman to set foot in all of the world’s 196 nations, and by completing the whole journey in an impressive 18 months and 26 days, she also holds the title for the shortest time for any person, male or female, to complete this feat. Oh, and at 27, she’s also the youngest to have done it.
The adventurer, who spent between two and five days in each destination, documented her travels on Instagram, under the handle expedition_196, an account which now has more than 350,000 followers. She also filmed her journey, which she completed alone, for a documentary, while acting as an ambassador for the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism and collecting water samples around the world for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.
De Pecol, who knows the self-defence system, Krav Maga, and is also a triathlete, hopes her travels will encourage others to set off on their own adventures. On her website, she said: “It is my hopes that, through traveling alone as a blonde, American woman, I’ve been able to respectfully introduce you to a completely different perspective of the world and it’s people; the safety, kindness, and the similarities of 99 per cent of people around the world. In portraying this, I’ve had to let go of all of my fears and trust in people, trust in strangers, and trust in the unknown, and it’s proved to be an powerfully rewarding experience.”
Michelle Jana Chan
Michelle Jana Chan is a globe-crossing travel writer and broadcaster who, while regularly contributing to Telegraph Travel, has also found time to swim across the Bosphorus, summit the Gulap Kangri in Ladakh, compete in the Peking to Paris vintage car rally and pick up a private pilot’s licence along the way. She also, may we add, rides a motorbike to work.
Jana Chan caught the travel bug young, as her father’s job as a pilot for British Airways meant the family was often moving around, while a keen appetite for literature helped inspire her to visit far-flung destinations. Speaking to Telegraph Travel, she also said that her mixed heritage – “my father’s from Guyana, my mother from the Czech Republic” – helped make her believe “I belonged to, and had permission to explore, the whole world.”
Her advice to women travellers? “Go anywhere. There are very few places I’d avoid as a solo woman traveller. In fact, being a woman is often an advantage”
Ultra-endurance athlete Julia Buhring became the fastest woman to circumnavigate the globe by bike in 2012, a journey she recounted for the autobiographical book This Road I Ride. She was born and raised in the notorious Children of God religious sect and her childhood was isolated and often confusing, an experience which she documented in bestseller Not Without My Sister. Buhring faced further hardship in 2010 when her partner, explorer Hendri Coetzee, died on an expedition – and it was through completing her extraordinary journey on two wheels was a “way of trying to pull myself out of the rut” when she “couldn’t find a way to continue on living”.
Speaking to Telegraph Travel last year, Buhring encouraged women to set off their own adventures. She told our writer: “Everyone kept telling me not to travel alone – that it was too dangerous. But I didn’t find that to be the case at all, in fact, quite the opposite. I think people were much more willing to help. I was overwhelmed by people’s generosity and the openness of strangers wanting to come up and help me or give me food.”
Swiss explorer Sarah Marquis spent three years walking from Siberia to the Gobi Desert, into China, Laos, Thailand, and then across Australia, equipped with only the most basic kit and a satellite phone for emergencies (and the occasional call to her loved ones). The extraordinary journey is documented in her book Wild By Nature and she regularly hosts talks on what she learned, including a special recording for TED Talks.
Speaking to Telegraph Travel last year, Marquis said that though she travelled little as a child growing up in the Swiss countryside, she fostered a senses of adventure from a young age, and never felt constrained by being a girl.
“I was this wild kid running all over the place and, I’m still the same – a bit taller and older – but I’m the same. I was doing expeditions when I was a kid: one day I just ran away, trying to sleep in a cave with my dog and didn’t tell anybody. My two brothers are really normal,” she told us.
Almost fifteen years ago, Lois Pryce quit her office job and set off on an epic 20,000-mile motorcycle ride from Alaska to Argentina – and she hasn’t stopped. Since her first trip, she has travelled to more than 50 countries, usually alone and on her motorcycle, with the exception of a trip across the US in 2009 when her husband Austin joined in a sidecar.