He’s made his passion his profession: Chris Ebenbichler from Mayrhofen trains top sportsmen and women, loves skiing and was once himself an athlete in the national team. After a bad fall during the World Cup in St Johann, he decided to become a personal trainer. Now well-known Tyrolean sports personalities get the benefit of his many years of experience. In an interview, Chris Ebenbichler tells us more about his life and gives us some tips for a simple workout directly on the piste.
When did you discover your passion for skiing?
I was still pretty young. At the age of two, I went to ski school Uli Spieß in Mayrhofen. I preferred ski school to Kindergarten (grins). That passion has stayed with me my whole life. After primary school, I went to a high school in Neustift and a ski academy in Saalfelden. I then qualified as a state ski instructor (Landesskilehrer) and got my diploma as a C-Trainer in alpine skiing.
How would you describe your time as an athlete in the national team?
It was an amazing experience for me and I still have fond memories of that time. Of course, the training was hard, but my passion for the sport meant that I always had fun on the piste. After spending several years in the A-squad and the Austrian national ski cross team, a bad fall in the World Cup in St Johann in 2010 ended all of my dreams of an Olympic medal.
How did your life change after your fall?
Not belonging to the national team anymore was a big adjustment. The most important thing to me was that I never lost my passion for skiing. Quite the opposite, skiing continues to be an important part of my life. At the moment I’m training 15 different athletes who are or were on their way to the Olympics – including Rosina Schneeberger and Gregor Schlierenzauer. Working at the Olympiazentrum (Olympic training centre) is always varied and fun.
What fascinates you about skiing?
I feel sure of myself when I am skiing. I love to conquer the mountains, especially off-piste terrain. Powder snow, my skis and the perfect piste: that’s what makes my heart sing!
What do you like about the Mayrhofen ski area?
The variety. In Mayrhofen there is something for every level: from beginners to advanced skiers. The combination of steep pistes and wide runs ensures maximum fun. Not forgetting the sensational panoramic views of the Ziller Valley!
Do you have a favourite mountain in the Ziller Valley?
Yes, the Wanglspitze, a 2,420m high mountain in the Tuxer Alps. The west-facing mountainside has amazing terrain for freeriding.
You were born in Mayrhofen but you’ve visited many countries during your career. Is there anywhere else you could imagine living?
I live in Innsbruck at the moment. But, I always feel drawn back to my home in Mayrhofen. If I had to choose a place it would be Chamonix in France. The ski area there is incredible. But I have never really thought about emigrating. Its much too nice here. Also, this is where my job and my family are.
Is your family as sporty as you are?
Of course I love being in the mountains with my wife and my two children. My son is 3 years old now and is already a pretty good skier. My daughter is just one year old so it remains to be seen if she will also be a fan of sports!
What advice would you give to other skiers?
Your equipment has to match your skiing ability perfectly. Don’t skimp on ski boots, skis and helmet. Overestimating one’s own ability can be an issue on the mountain. Lots of people want to cover every piste on the first day and suffer from burnout. The consequences are tired legs, pain and loss of motivation for the following days. That’s why I recommend taking it slowly and allowing time to enjoy your day of skiing. Relaxing in the evening – for example with a massage or in the spa – will give your body back some necessary energy.
4 tips for a ski workout directly on the piste
From a stable position, take a step forwards. Pause for two seconds and push back up to your original position. Do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions per leg.
“Stabilise your back. Your knee should not touch the floor.”
Stand straight with your feet a shoulder’s width apart and, holding your poles in front of you. Bend your knees and stand up again. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
“Only go as low as you can whilst holding your back in a straight and stable position.”
From a stable position, slowly raise one heel towards your behind. The exercise will be more difficult because of the weight of your ski boot. Do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions per leg.
“Always keep your knee parallel and stabilise your back.”
From a standing position with legs shoulder-width apart, sit down slowly as far as you can and stand up again. Use your ski poles to help you balance. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
“Don’t allow your knees to collapse inwards during this exercise.”