joulu 16, 2011

Elias Ambühl - The big air king

Elias Ambühl was the dominating skier of this autumn’s city contest season. He won all three events that are listed as Gold Level competitions in the AFP calendar – the in Zurich, the Budapest Fridge, and the King of Style in Stockholm – and currently seems unbeatable in big air. We spoke with the Swiss style machine about the up-coming winter season and his secret to success just before the first major slopestyle competition of the season at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge.

Hi Elias, congratulations for all your victories this autumn! You took away the gold at the in Zurich this year in your home country. Was it something special to win in front of a home crowd?
The victory at the was really something special for me. It’s the one big contest I have been competing the longest at and of course I always want to do as good as possible there. I already made it onto the podium the two years before, which was also great, but to finally stand on top of the podium in front of my home crowd was really an incredible experience. This was really important for me.

You won the first big event of the season in Zurich and then kept on winning in Budapest and Stockholm. How much does it help when you win the first event?
It’s really an advantage to start with a victory, because you get more confident and at the same time the pressure disappears. It’s never good to ski with too much pressure on you. So for me that means I have to be careful now. After such a successful autumn expectations are high for winter… But I won’t let the pressure get to me!

This year doubles were really the standard at all in-city big airs. Now as you move on to the bigger jumps in winter, do you expect triples to become a standard? And will we maybe see triples at in-city events in the future?
That will of course depend on the kind of jumps we will see this season, but I definitely would expect some triples. When the kicker is big enough and conditions are alright, people are ready to show some triples in competitions as we saw at the JOI last spring. But I don‘t think we will see them at city big airs very soon, because so far the jumps have simply been too small.

This summer slopestyle was officially accepted as Olympic discipline. Up to now you have had your best results rather at big airs, so are you gonna change anything for the future? And what to expect from Olympia in general?
Well, in the end slopestyle is not much more than a couple of big airs in a row, so I don‘t think I have to change too much. The Olympic Games will definitely be a big thing, but they are still pretty far away. So for the moment I just keep going as I have done in the past and wait to see what is happening.

How do you see the qualification for the Olympic Games? Do you expect any problems?
I simply hope that everything will be well organized. But the Olympic Games are run by big organizations, so I guess everything will be alright.

What’s your strategy when you are at the start of a slopestyle or big air competition? How do you decide which tricks you are doing?
I have my own special tactics, I would say, but they are my secret. Maybe I will give it away sometimes in the future, but you will have to be patient for a while…

It’s quite easy to practice new big air tricks on the trampoline or on water ramps, but rail tricks are a different story. So how do you train your jibbing skills?
Well, on rails it’s simply a matter of do or don’t. You just have to ski them to get better. But as there is always lots of time when kickers are not in the right shape because there is maybe not enough snow in the beginning of the season or the landings are too icy, there is no shortage of opportunities to practice on rails.

And how do you prepare for the season in general?
In summer I try to think not too much about skiing and I always try to stay pretty relaxed about what I am doing. Of course there are many hours of working out but it all pays off once I get back on the snow.

Then have fun in the snow! Thanks for your time and we wish you a successful winter!