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ContestHappening 9 2023 | Max Hitzig

A refreshingly relaxed interview with Max Hitzig about his development up to the FWT and his sporting and personal goals.

by Timo Macvan 04/04/2023
The Freeride World Tour has had difficulties this season due to the weather. It started with a changed start date in Kicking-Horse, rain and warm weather delayed the start at Wildseeloder and now the Xtreme Verbier had to be canceled for the second time in its 25-year history. In this winter of all winters with little precipitation, heavy snowfall coupled with strong winds meant that the safety of the athletes on the Bec des Rosses could not be guaranteed.

However, this year's tour was a complete success for the only two athletes from the German-speaking Alpine region. As we all know, Valentin Rainer took the highly contested freeride crown for male skiers. Congratulations once again to the "Golden Boy"!

In addition, another young freerider from the Montafon with German citizenship was once again able to draw attention to himself. Max Hitzig impressed in all stations with great creativity and technical safety in the terrain and landed perhaps the most spectacular and craziest backflip of the season, which crowned him the winner in Canada with a score of over 97 points. His fall in Fieberbrunn after a comparatively small 3 at the end of his run surprised more than just me. "I honestly didn't believe that Max Hitzig could fall" commented Derek Foose (FWT commentator) on his fall.

If you want to find out more about the pair, be sure to follow their vlog "Decide to Ride". This will also be featured again in the Videos of the Week.

I had the pleasure and the honor of meeting Max in a very relaxed atmosphere, namely on a sofa in the hotel corridor, in the shadow of the big stage of the Freeride Worldtour, and was able to ask him about his still young freerider life story.

Timo Macvan:Servus Max, first the classic question: Why the German flag on your jersey? The German and Austrian media always like to claim your successes for themselves.

Max Hitzig: I was born and raised in Austria. I was born in Bludenz and grew up in Montafon, in Vorarlberg. The German flag and therefore my citizenship comes from my mom, who is German and met my dad on vacation in Austria. But I feel more like an Austrian.

The Montafon is known for skiing and freeriding. How did you get into the sport?

I first got on skis when I was two years old. My dad is a ski instructor and mountain guide - so I had no other choice. Besides, you don't fight back as a child. I also have a brother who is three years older. Of course, you always wanted to ski with him and be there, compete and try to be better than him.

How did you get into off-road riding and how did you get the idea that you wanted to do it professionally?

As I said, it was mainly through my brother, who always pulled me along and motivated me. When I was 13-14 years old, I realized that I was pretty good at what I do because you could see what was out there on YouTube. I was able to compare myself quite well. I started making my first videos with my cell phone camera. It was clear to me then that I wanted to do it professionally at some point. But then I started an apprenticeship when I was 15 and went to work for five days and went skiing for two days. After I finished the apprenticeship, I immediately quit and just went skiing.

Very cool! So your dream has come true - how do you train for your sport? Do you travel all over the world as a competitive athlete? Do you have a coach or do you get support from other sources? For example, from national or international federations, which are becoming increasingly important in the FWT?

We athletes and I don't think the whole sport has experienced any major changes or support from the FIS in terms of sport. I just really enjoy doing sport and have no problem preparing for the winter in summer and staying fit. Basically, there is no better training for me than skiing. I ski all day at the beginning of the season to get my legs used to it again. But I don't have a real plan that I follow.

Competitive freeriding has several elements. One of them is freestyle tricks - how do you train that?

I think there are different approaches. When it comes to training the backflip, for example, some people just try it out. But I'm always concerned about my health and have done it on the trampoline or in the water beforehand. Then I picked a good day with plenty of deep snow and gave it a go.

How do you feel during the competitions?

I thought my head might be getting in the way, that I always want too much. I sometimes have to turn myself down a bit. On the one hand, I'm a very ambitious person who always wants to be at the top and that's exactly how I want my run to be. I don't want the run to be good, I want it to be very good! On the other hand, I always think: just ride like you do at home! In other words, have fun. Of course, you can really push yourself, but it should always be fun!

Do you manage that? Your entry into the FWT last year and the story behind it was very spectacular.

(Max was so convincing in the FWT Qualifier Series that he started directly at the FWT in Fieberbrunn after the event in Jasna and won at Wildseeloder 2022.)

I'm not trying to downgrade myself in terms of sport, but rather to keep my ambition under control. I realized this year how focused I was and that this extreme focus on life can lead to forgetting to have fun. You live for being top fit on five days in order to perform perfectly. That can also take the fun out of the season because you can't get injured.

You're only 20 years old and you've just mentioned that you're very ambitious. What goals do you have in freeriding and as a person?

I've already thought about that. Fortunately, the sport is very broad and there are always opportunities to develop further. At the moment, I feel very good at what I do - pushing myself and riding competitions. However, I am aware that I always need new challenges. I would love to make films one day, mountain guide training is always on the agenda, or maybe work in ski development. But I'm not 100% sure about that yet. What I do know is that I won't be skiing for 20 years. I still have a long way to go at the age of 20.

So there's no comeback as an electrical engineer?

I'll try to work around that if at all possible.

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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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