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ContestHappening 6 2016/17 | Interviews with Bene Mayr and Felix Wiemers

The German FWT skiers Bene and Felix at the start of the tour in Chamonix

by Benjamin Eggert 01/31/2017
A short conversation at the start of the tour with German skiers Bene and Felix.

Last Saturday, when instead of an FWT contest there was unfortunately only waiting for more snow, our reporter Benjamin sat down with the two German FWT participants Bene Mayr (rider profile) and Felix Wiemers (rider profile) and asked them about the start of the FWT season and their approach. You can read the short interviews here:

Bene Mayr

PG: The contest was postponed again today at noon, now to Tuesday. It is unclear whether the contest will take place at all. For what reason? (Editor's note: The FWT stop planned for Chamonix has since been canceled. Instead, there will be two runs at the next stop in Andorra.)

BM: The FWT wants to ensure maximum safety for the riders and with the current snow conditions, this is difficult to realize. Of course, everyone is working to ensure that the contest can take place somehow. Of course, we would all prefer to ski in great conditions, but that's just the way it is with weather-dependent outdoor sports.

PG: How are you dealing with the waiting time? What did you do today?

BM: In the morning we had a safety workshop and in the afternoon Fabio Studer and I went up to the Aiguille du Midi and enjoyed the magnificent view, the glass platform is breathtaking. It was my first time up there and I was delighted. We then took the gondola back down, as all tourists do. Skiing down from up there is not yet possible at the moment.

PG: The Aiguille du Midi attracts steep face skiers almost magically.

BM: The most exciting thing I've ever done in mountaineering was to climb the Grossglockner with Aksel Lund Svindal for a film project by Field Productions. The idea was to ski a steep gully from the summit. Due to poor conditions, this was not possible that day and we only started further down on skis. The whole thing was exciting for me with crampons and ice axe. Otherwise, I'm usually more of a ski tourer and less of an alpinist.

PG: What are your goals for the FWT for the 2017 season?

BM: This is the second time I've taken part in the tour. In the first year, I set myself the goal of being able to stay on the tour. As I come from the park area, I also wanted to find out for myself whether a freeride contest suits me. But already at my first freeride contest last year in Andorra, I realized that this is exactly what I want. My goal this year is the podium. That will be very difficult but is possible.

PG: Are you choosing different lines or are you taking a higher risk this year to achieve your goal of the podium? I try to find the best possible line for myself. There is a certain amount of risk involved, but I don't think about crashing. But of course I know that it can happen.

PG: Do you feel pressure from the sponsors?

BM: Actually, there is no pressure from the sponsors, but I am aware that I can only keep the sponsors if I perform well. I have a very good relationship with my sponsors as we have been working together for a long time. I put most of the pressure on myself.

PG: Have you ever had a serious injury?

BM: I've had several injuries during my time in the park, including a broken back, broken teeth and torn cruciate ligaments. When you ski at this level and often push yourself to the limit, injuries can't be ruled out.

PG: Are you nervous before the start and do you enjoy the contest downhill?

BM: Yes, I'm very nervous in the start gate, but I'm also looking forward to the upcoming downhill like crazy. If I didn't enjoy the whole thing, I wouldn't be racing of course.

PG: Which tour stop are you looking forward to the most?

BM: I'm actually looking forward to all the stops. I was particularly looking forward to Chamonix though, I really like the face from last year.

PG: What do you do besides skiing? We've seen that you're switching industries and improving your skills on the dance floor. We were able to admire you on Dance, Dance, Dance. What's the story behind that?

BM: (Bene laughs.) That was a great experience. The organizers of Dance Dance Dance were looking for an athlete to take part. So I was approached through my sponsors.

PG: How did the preparations for the dance event go?

BM: We trained 8 to 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 3 months. The other training in the gym is much less strenuous in comparison.

PG: Thank you for your interview and good luck at the FWT 2017!

Felix Wiemers

PG: Hi Felix, yesterday we were also at the welcome party and got a first impression of how some of the riders on the tour pass the time. How does the whole thing work during the day?

FW: We all want to ride and were really happy that the tour is finally starting. If a contest is postponed for a day or two, I try to keep the tension high. However, you shouldn't drive yourself crazy either. As usual, I try to be on my skis as often as possible. Today we started early on the mountain. We riders all had a safety camp where, for example, we learned about the Recco system, which is compulsory at the FWT from this year onwards. Another interesting feature was a probe that can be used to digitally record snow profiles and thus reveal weak layers in the snowpack. This can be particularly helpful in unknown regions where you are not on site all year round. This gives you a better impression of the snowpack structure. Avalanche forecasts are not as good everywhere as in the Alps. We were also shown how mountain rescue works in France. Here, this is done by the police.

PG: How did you get into skiing?

FW: I grew up near Marburg in Hesse. The region isn't famous for skiing, but as my parents have a vacation apartment in the Zillertal, I skied a lot when I was young. I now live in the Zillertal, near Mayrhofen, all year round and try to ski as much as I can.

PG: How many days of skiing do you get in a season? Do you still count the days?

FW: I've given up counting. But I estimate it's already about 50 days this winter. I'm already trying to prepare myself on the glacier in the fall. In good winters, I'm sure I'll get to 150 days of skiing.

PG: How do you deal with a change in the tour schedule?

FW: I've always blocked the time for the tour. So a change of date doesn't really bother me. Otherwise, I'm out filming a lot. We have a project there with 6 riders: MIDIAFILM. Last year, we made a 23-minute film with the title Characters on Skis. At least three riders are on the road with the filmmakers for filming, all six of them usually have no time at the same time. In total, there must have been 50 to 60 days of filming for last year's movie.

PG: Which tour stop are you looking forward to the most?

FW: Actually, every tour stop is great, but I'm really looking forward to Andorra, as well as Fieberbrunn, where I did really well last year.

PG: Thank you for your interview and good luck at the FWT 2017!

This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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