Monday, March 19, 2012

Trip Leader Spotlight: Willi Glanznig

We mentioned that Ryder-Walker hiking guide Willi Glanznig won the 2012 U.S.A. Powder 8 Championship held in Aspen, Colorado. A few of our guests wanted to know how Willi trains for an event like the Powder 8.  We caught up with Willi during his busy winter season schedule, and this is what he had to say:

Willi, congrats on your recent win in Aspen! You’ve won this competition before, haven’t you?

Yes. I won the US National Powder 8 Championships in 2006, with a different partner at the time. I also took 2nd at the World Powder 8's during the same year.

Two Thousand Six was a good year for you. How long have you trained for this event?

I have competed in this sport for over a decade, skiing with various partners, including Staffan Bjorklund, (Ryder-Walker guide), in the last couple of comps. We placed 4th on one occasion, and 5th on another. 

What about this year’s partner? How did you meet?

This year I teamed up with Steve Cieciuch, who has lived and skied in Telluride, CO for many years. He used to compete in powder 8's during the 1990's.

He had a lot of experience himself, and after skiing together a few times, we realized that we could be a competitive team. We skied together off and on over a period of about 6 weeks. We shot video. We trained early in the mornings, and we tried to get together on powder days, which we fortunately had quite a few of during February. We felt quite confident going into the competition.

What kind of equipment do you use?

This year we had some awesome powder skis, the Atomic Atlas, from Bootdoctors in Telluride. They were the perfect tool.

What was the competition like?

We practiced on the venue the day before the event and had about a foot of powder in Aspen Highlands bowl. It was fantastic! We knew what the conditions would be like for the next day, and we were well-prepared!

We did well on day one. We placed 3rd. Then we went cat skiing the next day on Aspen Mountain where we skied on some beautiful powder fields and had fresh tracks every run. It was perfect!! After skiing against several teams head-to-head, we always advanced and ended up in the finals against the top Aspen team. It was a close race, and we were not even sure if we'd won . We had to wait until the evening presentation, and when they announced the final results, we were SOOOOO excited that we pulled it off!

It must be a nice feeling to stand on the winner's podium again. What else would you like to say about the event?

It was a great couple of days .. great snow, great people, great skiing. It could not have beeen any better!

We can’t wait to see you on the hiking trail this summer!

Thanks! This winter has been great, but I can't wait to get on the trail again. 

Top image: Steve Cieciuch (left), Willi Glanznig (right)
Bottom Image: Willi Glanznig (left), Steve Cieciuch (right)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cinque Terre Update: Rebuilding Monterosso and Vernazza

The Floods Of October 25th.

The Cinque Terre, one of Italy’s popular tourist destinations, suffered extensive damage when an unusually severe rainstorm brought flash flooding and landslides to the region on October 25th, 2011. The freak storm hit the towns of Monterosso and Vernazza especially hard, all but decimating the villages with rocks, mud and debris up to 12 feet deep. Four people drowned during the storm, which was a tragic, but thankfully small number considering the extent of the damage. The loss of life could have been a lot worse.

We’ve been following the reconstruction of Monterosso and Vernazza with crossed fingers and lots of prayers, and the good news is that they’ve made incredible progress in a very short period of time!

Our hearts go out the residents of the Cinque Terre. They suffered a terrible loss, but they are a very resiliant people, and they’ve showed remarkable determination to rebuild their villages by the opening of tourist season this spring.

What You Need To Know

If you made plans to visit Cinque Terre, then by all means, keep those plans! The small villages in the Cinque Terre rely on tourists for their livelihood, and they can’t afford to take a season off. They’re doing everything they can to rebuild their homes, clear the hiking trails and uncork the wine bottles for your visit in 2012.

If you’re on the fence about a trip to Cinque Terre then please consider this; the rolling hills and the Mediterranean Sea are just as beautiful as they’ve always been. Sure, the trails got a little muddy last fall, (okay, REALLY muddy), but it’s nothing that a little Italian sunshine and a tall glass of sciacchetra won’t fix. Furthermore, the locals will be overjoyed to see you. They’ll welcome you with open arms, and you’ll feel like a rock star.

What’s Open

Some of our preferred hiking trails are still closed. However, there is a rumor that many of the trails will be open by the time our guests arrive in May. There is still a lot of time, but we have back up plans in place in case the trails are still closed. We have a series of loop hikes and a high level trail that we can use in a pinch.

The following websites offer regular updates on the Cinque Terre recovery effort. They also have lists of the establishments that are open and the ones that are not.

Rebuild Monterosso
This site is great for trail updates. It also includes a list of the open commercial establishments in Monterosso.

Save Vernazza
This site has an excellent list of the open commercial establishments in and around Vernazza.

There’s been some talk about contributing money to the relief effort. You can certainly do that, and we’ll point you in the right direction if you’re interested. Seriously though, traveling to Italy’s Cinque Terre is the best way that you can help the relief effort. Take a hiking tour in the Cinque Terrre. Have a great time, and let the locals show you how proud they are of their home.

-Buon viaggio

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Willi Glanznig Reclaims Crown at U.S.A. Powder 8 Championship

Telluride, CO-The next time you hike with Ryder-Walker guide Willi Glanznig, don’t be alarmed if he starts jumping from side to side on the trail as if he’s trying to make perfectly synchronized turns. He’s just sneaking in some off-season training. When he’s not leading hiking tours with Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures, Willi makes figure eight turns on the snow, and it’s something that he does well.

Proving that his off-season jumping helps on the snow, Willi took first place at the U.S. Powder 8 Championships held this past weekend in Aspen, Colorado. What’s more, this marks the second time that Willi grabbed the coveted crown at the U.S.A. Powder 8. Willi and his partner Dieter Frank won the championship, also held in Aspen, back in 2006.

The U.S. Powder 8 Championship is an annual two-day competition that scores two-person ski teams on their ability to make perfect figure eight turns on the snow. Day one is an elimination round held on groomed runs, while day two carries the remaining teams into the ungroomed back bowls of the Rocky Mountains. Once in the backcountry, the teams descend with each skier crossing their teammate's tracks in effort to make perfectly shaped figure eight turns. Judges score each team on the synchronization of their turns, dynamic skiing, and roundness/symmetry/line of descent.

Making ski turns may sound easy, but skiing in perfect harmony with a partner takes a lot of experience, training and concentration, something that Willi has been perfecting since he first started skiing at the age of three. Fortunately, for Willi and his teammate Steve Cieciuch, all that experience paid off. (With a little trail jumping on the side).

Congrats to Willi and Steve! Visit the USA Powder 8 Championship website for full results and more info.

Image: Willi Glanznig | Coutesy of Telluride Ghostriders