After of the third stop of this year’s Freeride World Tour in Fieberbrunn last month, we grabbed a short interview with one of the undisputed dominators of the FWT so far this year. After winning the Hakuba and Fieberbrunn stops and taking second in Kicking Horse, Markus has enjoyed what has so far been a very successful season. Despite an crash at last week’s tour stop in Andorra, he’s still on top of the leaderboard with good prospects for an overall victory. But that will all come down to the final challenge: the last FWT stop in Verbier from 23-31 March on the daunting Bes des Rosses.
Interview & photos: Klaus Polzer
Hey Markus, it seems like you have found the secret formula to winning a freeride competition. Can you share some of your insights?
This year it really seems like I know what to do. But we have to wait. Last year I also had a good start, but then I think I started to adapt my runs according to what I thought would score well and this didn’t work out. Now this season I was simply going for what I really liked to do. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but at every contest I found a line that I was really into—and when you are really into something, you have that extra focus. I thought more about what I wanted to do and could visualise every detail without any effort. The first three comps of the season, I always found that special line that I got really hyped on and that worked out really well. Of course, I’ve also had luck on my side so far, since only the slightest mistake can ruin your run, or simply a shark sticking out which throws you off balance a bit.
[Editor’s note: Hopefully this interview didn’t jinx his run in Andorra.]
So, what is your perspective on the rest of the season?
Well, I would really love to win the tour, of course. And then I would really love to get a bit more creative with my tricks. But I haven’t actually checked the standings in all detail to know what I need to win the tour, finally. I mean, to do anything more than a 360 or a backflip is risky and when you crash, you lose a lot of points. So, I have to see how the situation develops, but I hope I can do something more than a three.
Turn radius approved: Markus has been keeping it fast and fluid.
Was your plan to get the result you need to finish off the tour in Andorra, in order to be free to do what you want in Verbier?
It would be great to have the title secured before going into Verbier. The Xtreme is so intense! Last year I was second before Verbier but I could have dropped quite a bit in the ranking so the pressure was high to secure my position. Then I started to think about going all-in and what I needed to do in order to score well. This is not a situation you want to be in, especially in Verbier. The competition on the Bec des Rosses is really much more intense than any other contest on the tour. It already starts a few days before and it only gets worse. For example, there was a competitor last year who puked at the bottom of the gondola before going up because of that pressure—although he is really experienced on that face and knows what to expect. Therefore, to have a little less pressure before Verbier would be really nice.
Backie for the boys, and for the win in Fieberbrunn.
What other plans do you have for this winter besides the Freeride World Tour?
Not too many, actually. Last year was a really good year for me, probably the best I have ever had, but it was very intense and it lasted really long, way into spring. After that I had a hard time to recover and actually enjoy summer. For quite some time after ski season was over I didn’t want to do anything. So, this year I want to keep things a bit more relaxed and actually stop filming when the winter is over. Maybe ski a bit for fun in the springtime, but not chasing film projects until May.
Markus and his ride, the new Völkl 121.
What are you filming for this season?
We have that project going on, the Road Show, which is basically a social media project and where we are pretty much free to do what we want. I don’t actually know yet where this will lead us. I think we just will see where the conditions are good, go there and then see what’s good to do. Maybe build some jumps or maybe ski some lines. It’s great when you have that freedom to do what works best at a specific place and time. It makes it much easier to create something special.
Thank you very much!