Konstantin Ottner first hit the Downdays radar in 2017, when he and filmer Valentin Walther won a video contest on our Instagram for a free trip to the Scandinavian Big Mountain Championships in Riksgränsen. Apparently we weren’t the only ones impressed with Konsti’s hard-charging antics, because in 2018 he went on to win three Freeride World Qualifier events and secure his ticket for a debut on the Freeride World Tour in 2019. With the tour kicking off in Hakuba later this month, we caught up with the rookie from Germany before his big debut.
Born: 11 November 1997 (21 years old)
Hometown: Kaufbeuren, Germany
Home resort: Hahnenkamm, Obergurgl/Hochgurgl
Currently living: Innsbruck
Hobbies: Skiing, biking, climbing, anything in the mountains!
Sponsors: Blizzard, Tecnica, Obergurgl/Hochgurgl, Scott, Mons Royale, Zanier, Pieps, Sport Schindele, Mama and Papa
Photo: Mia Knoll
Hey Konsti! There’s probably no one better than you to give the kids a trick tip on backflips in freeride terrain. What do you say?
Yes, the backflip is in fact my “standard” trick. I think I was 10 or 11 when I landed my first one, and since then I’ve just kept on doing them and kept getting more comfortable with them. The most important thing is to always get a good pop on the takeoff, so that you can stay in control in the air.
How many backflips do you do on a normal ski day?
Sometimes I’ll do quite a few. I always try to do at least one per day, although that’s not a serious goal. There’s no upper limit to how many you can do, haha. Whenever it fits. If it’s not the right time, then there’s no backflips. You have to feel it, if it’s right or not in that moment.
You’ve already tossed some massive flips in your day. Which one do you remember as being the biggest? Do you think they’ll come bigger than that?
Yes, that’s true. I think there are a few that I wouldn’t do again. On those days I was just feeling really confident, and that’s when you can risk it. The one I like to remember is the backflip from Big Mountain Hochfügen two years ago. The takeoff was steeper than a park kicker, to a 10-meter drop. The landing also wasn’t very wide. A few guys hit it straight as a double cliff, since the landing wasn’t all that steep either. I had to talk myself into flipping it, but the rotation worked out perfectly. The only stupid thing was that the impact knocked out the lens of my goggles. I could barely see anything afterwards, and then I crashed.
Do you have some tricks in your bag besides the classic B-flip that we might see in a contest run sometime?
Yeah, I’ve got a few others in stock. I like to do flatspins, and 360s and 7s are also working well for me. I’m definitely motivated to build them into my contest runs! I ride a lot with Sven “Svender” Rauber. We have a deal: since I spin rightside and he spins left, we say that wherever I do a 3, he also has to do a rightside 3. Naturally I try to push him — that’s the perfect way to train, haha.
It ain't all backflips — Konsti's also got some other tricks up his sleeve.
To say that “you send it” is a massive understatement. Have you gotten hurt going so big?
Up until recently I would have answered “no,” but unfortunately I dislocated my shoulder two weeks ago… over-rotated a backflip and boom, my shoulder got stuck in the snow… and right before I go to Japan. But the shoulder is healing quickly. I can already go shredding carefully, I just really have to take care that I don’t pop it out again. If I do, that would probably be the end of the season for me… so at the moment I’m keeping it on the ground and just skiing around all of the airs. But I hope I’ll be ready for Japan!
How do you decide when to send, and when not to send?
If you ask me, I’m a proponent of always sending, but you have to make sure it fits with the conditions! That means paying attention to rocks, steepness, amount of snow, no-fall zones, height and speed. When all of that more or less clicks, that means: “risk it for the biscuit.” It’s simply an amazing feeling every time that you stomp a fat trick.
I read on Bergstolz that you used to ride the park in Nesselwang. Tell us about about your self-described “brief phase” as a freestyler.
Haha, that’s right. We had race training under the lights at Nesselwang, and both before and after training we were always in the park. Much to the trainer’s delight… at first we skied with race skis, then the first twin tips. It was a cool time!
Last year you made the jump to the Freeride World Tour with the help of a few huge lines in the qualifiers. Have you been concentrating on this goal for a while?
I was never super focused on it, although it’s always been a dream of mine. I probably thought about it almost daily, in school, at home, while skiing. But I never put pressure on myself, but just, like I said, dreaming about it. Last season the dream came within grasping distance, and I still can’t quite believe that it actually came true. There are so many good riders in the FWQ who all have the right stuff to make it. Of course there’s a bit of luck involved, but what really helped me was never being do-or-die after it, but rather going with the flow.
The big flips may be more eye-catching, but Konsti also isn't afraid to thread together tech lines in sketchy terrain. Photo: Mia Knoll
Your FWT debut is coming up fast. How have you prepared for it?
In the summer I was in Sölden working as a bike guide. I was on my bike every day, whether it was a touring bike, a race bike or in the bike park. That does a lot for the legs. On the side I did some weight training and gymnastics. A lot of sports, and as many different ones as possible. Preferably outside, I’m not a big fan of the fitness studio with all the “disco pumpers,” haha.
What’s your ski setup for contest riding?
Since the middle of last season I’ve been on the Blizzard Rustler11 at 188cm. I’m really glad to be on their team. I actually haven’t tested any other ski from Blizzard yet, because it matches perfectly with my riding and I was “in love” straight away. For boots I ride the Tecnica Mach1 and the Cochise. They’re great boots that I never had a problem with. My bindings are Marker Jester 16s.
Photo: Yann Rausis
In two weeks you’ll be dropping in Hakuba. Is that something you’ve been thinking a lot about?
I try to think and talk about it as little as possible. It’s worked quite well up until now, but the closer it gets to Japan, the more excited and nervous I’ve gotten. Also because my shoulder isn’t quite fit yet. But Jon from Loft41 Physiotherapy has been taking good care of that.
Is it hard as a FWT newcomer to find enough support to be able to travel around and compete at all the tour stops? Or does the Tour help with travel costs?
To be honest, I thought that it would be a bit easier than it has been, particularly in the search for new sponsors. That can be quite exhausting, especially when you don’t have much experience. I’ve been very thankful for all of the tips from my friends who have been in the business longer. The Freeride World Tour also gives us a bit of support for each stop. That helps out as well!
Photo: Moritz Ablinger
Have you also managed to plan in some extra time during the trips to Japan and British Columbia? Will you get to shred there a bit aside from the tour stops?
Yes, definitely! That’s what I’ve been most excited for: just being able to concentrate on skiing for once. That’s a real luxury! When you’re on the tour, I’m sure that you get a lot of time for just shredding. At least I hope so. But I know that there are some motivated shredders out there! I’m just hoping that it will be an unforgettable time!
What do you think will challenge you the most on the FWT?
I think it will be being able to deliver right in the moment, in my contest run. When you watch the FWT livestream it’s easy to say “oh, I could do that too” or “that doesn’t look so steep,” but when you’re actually there, it’s completely different. The pressure is immense and I’ll have to learn how to deal with it. But I’m just so stoked on skiing there! I’ll try to master the “flow” like I’ve done up to now, and see what comes of it. I’m excited. Ride on and keep it real!