Hello Bibi! You are bringing such positive energy to the industry, it’s an honor to be working with you! How did you get involved with Karakoram?
Thank you very much! First time I got in contact with Karakoram bindings were when I was shredding with Jeremy. They just looked awesome. Not long after I ran into Tyler and Bryce, who happened to be here in Austria and they left me their own bindings here. By the way they are really great guys (not only because of the bindings ;-))
Splitboard technology has come a long way within the past few years. How do you feel that your own perception of the mountains and terrain has evolved along with the technology?
It took years until the whole splitboarding equipment got as good as it is now. We, as snowboarders, are now in the position where we would never change to snowshoes or any other replacement again. Anyone who ever tried good splitboard equipment would argue about that.
It feels save to ride whatever you want with it. It’s not the limiting factor for riding big lines for sure.
In regards to the Biomechanics of Splitboarding, what do you like about the current Touring Interface? Riding Interface?
Most important is that the Karakoram binding system connects and holds the split-up board really well together in riding mode.
It also feels really essential for me to change easily and quickly from hiking to riding mode and vice versa, even if the snow starts freezing in the binding parts, when you start hiking in spring like conditions and once on top it’s all icy.
Do you think we can achieve the same level of biomechanical efficiency as AT skiers?
I am pretty sure about that. A lot of my riding buddies are skiers and I do already feel we are on an almost equal level. They might be two minutes faster when changing from touring to riding mode. By the way, Liz is an exception – she is faster than 99,9% of the skiers I guess when it comes to that.
There is some evidence of cultural differences between European and North American ideas on what’s “super rad and catchy”. That woman Liz Daley is pretty pumped on Glow-in-the-Dark, Fluorescent pink or green heelcups with some possible sparkles mixed in. Any feelings on this topic?
I once found in a fortune cookie the following message: “the colour blue will be lucky for you.” I think I stick to that.
Where do you see the next big product evolution occurring?
Lighter, more durable and eco friendly
Your riding is truly inspiring! How do you think riding in Europe has shaped the way you attack terrain?
In most parts of the alps you are not allowed to take the heli or to ride a snowmobile (in Austria you are not allowed at all). Like that you are forced to explore terrain by hiking.
Europe is small compared to the States so it is very easy to check out totally different places, ski resorts or mountains within just a weekend. Experiencing different snowboard terrain makes you learn quite a lot.
Riding massive lines in wilderness environments can leave a truly lasting imprint on one’s character. In fact, some would say that it can be a spiritual experience. Have you had this experience? How has it changed you?
Hiking and riding mountain has for sure some meditational side effect. It calms you down, it gives you energy, it puts you out of your comfort zone, it teaches you to focus. Maybe I would not call that spiritual but I rather move a little in nature than doing some static indoor meditation.
It’s been a pleasure to keep track of your and Mitch’s projects. Has riding with your Freeride World Champion husband had a big impact on your life as a snowboard athlete?
As he has been my main riding buddy during the last 12 years I learned a lot from him. He always encouraged me by saying “you can do that!” rather than guys telling their girlfriends that they should be careful or better turn around. I’ve seen that quite a lot. And I really appreciate that attitude of Mitch that he always believes in my skills and me even if I am unsure myself.
When riding in steep, exposed places where the snow quality can be questionable, how do you plan for toeside vs. heelside turns? Does one side feel more exposed to you than the other?
Actually I never really thought about that, so I guess both sides feel pretty natural to me. An exception are traversing really steep icy/rocky/narrow part where I prefer sliding heelside rather than toeside for sure.
Most people might say that skis are a superior mountain tool when it comes to steep, technical terrain. Do you personally see any advantages to being on a snowboard when it comes to this style of riding?
It all depends a lot on snow conditions. We are always joking with our skier friends about snowboarder’s vs. skiers’s snow. Some conditions are more favorable to snowboarders others more to skiers. If it is really icy it is an advantage to depend on two edges as skiers do. On the other side as a snowboarder you can never lose one ski. Nowadays I really don’t think it does make any difference anymore. The most important thing is that you feel good with the tool you are using.
Speaking of risk management, there was a section in Further where you and Mitch were swept off a line in Austria. What impact did this have on you, and what do you feel is the most important factor in making sure you come home from the Backcountry?
Later on that season I’ve had another avalanche experience and I have to be honest that after I felt a bit paranoid in certain situations and it felt easier to make turn-around decisions.
Being aware of the current general snowpack situation is the most important thing to adapt your daily plan, second one to always study the on site situation (signs of wind, little self-releases etc.), and third never being too pride to turn around when you don’t feel it.
Helmet or no helmet?
Helmet! You will never find me out riding without it. You never know when bad things happen, and I’ve heard about awful injuries in what you would call easy terrain.
What part of the process of human powered big mountain riding excites you the most?
Standing on top of your line, after all the hiking effort, ready to drop in feels the most exciting to me.
In addition to being a professional snowboard athlete, you are also a Physiotherapist. Does your perspective as a health care scientist influence your view of human performance in the mountains?
The fitter you are, the further you get. The better balanced your body is the more decades you will have fun riding taking advantage of a pain free body. Achieving a well-balanced body mostly doesn’t come naturally. You have to work on your weak points during off-season and challenge your body with some other movements. Exposing your body to high impacts when shredding needs strength and muscular coordination, which you should build up during pre-season.
In regards to sports nutrition, how important is constant fueling during big endurance activities to hormones, muscle protein, and human performance in general?
It’s important to eat well already the days before you start a longer splitting mission to fill up your carbohydrate store.
I like to carry nuts on the mountains because of their high caloric value and some fast carbohydrates, like dried fruits etc. During activity it’s important to get fast energy.
Never forget to drink enough. Best would be to add a little bit of salt to your water, fruit-water mixed juice or slightly sugared tea or you go for some isotonic drink.
Balancing a life between careers, a passionate drive to get into the alpine, relationships etc. can be a huge challenge. How do you find your balance?
It’s not too easy every time. If you are a ambitious person you have the demand to do everything as good as you possibly can, no matter if it’s snowboarding or my work as physio. It can get tiring specially if we are on some physically and mentally demanding missions, you come home and you feel like you wanna relax but next thing I do is going to my practice trying to give the best I can for my patients. However, these are “luxury” problems and there’s nothing really to complain about. Snowboarding and splitboarding is my absolute passion and I get so much energy from it that I wouldn’t want it any other way.
During summer I feel I want to recharge my batteries, which works best for me by leaving for a longer surf trip, away from internet, telephone, appointments and this daily life routine.
How do you see yourself evolving and growing into the future? Where do you want to explore? Are there any specific mountain ranges you want to go to?
On one hand it’s good to see new places, on the other hand there is still so much to do and explore close by.
For me it’s not about conquering a certain peak right now but to evolve as a snowboarder and as a person for a better connection and understanding of the forces of nature. I don’t mean that in a esoteric sense, but I see it as a process of observing, learning, and experiencing.
How bad is the bushwhacking in Europe? Ever heard of “Devil’s Club”?
Never heard of that. What is it?
So there’s this guy named Ralph Backstrom. Rumor has it that he’s currently training hard for the upcoming Olympics by racing Jeremy Jones up Denali, except that he’s pulling a sled full of power lifting equipment to the summit. Do you and Mitch ever partake in Olympic Power Lifting?
It’s good and challenging exercise and we just do it for the fun of it.
Speaking of “The Yeti”, you guys have done a lot of exploring in your local mountains. Any evidence of large, furry, carnivorous bipedal hominids? Do you think splitboards are a biomechanically efficient method of escape from The Yeti, or would skis be better?
Neither of these. I will carry some traditional dried Austrian sausages to feed him, I guess I taste kind of chewy anyway.
Any adventuristic stuff you want to add?
Everybody should try “adventure”, it’s about leaving your comfort zone and learning a bit more about your true self and of the people who are with you. Go on a real adventure with your partner BEFORE you get married 🙂