Saturday, December 20, 2008

Arosa world cup


Today was the finals of the world cup in Arosa. I qualified yesterday in somewhat changeable conditions in 10th place.

It was snowing very heavily today, so much so that I think if it wasn’t for Eurosport covering the race live they would have postponed it till tomorrow. Thankfully the visibility stayed good enough so that it wasn’t overly dangerous and the race went ahead without too much disturbance.

My first heat today didn’t have any big names in it so I felt pretty confident going into it. The 4 of us all went into the first turn together and were very close together which resulted in one of the girls falling right away. Then there were 3 of us, soon to be 2 when another girl went down farther down the course meaning that me and the remaining one could cruise through to the next round quite easily.

My next heat was another story with some really good girls in there. My start out of the gate wasn’t very good so I had to battle through from behind. I passed Maelle Ricker (ranked 3rd in the world) on the exit of the first turn. I was then fighting with Helene Olafsen for 2nd place. We went around one turn very close together then I got forced over to the side of the next jump so I landed off my line and in the fresh snow slowing me down considerably and allowing Maelle to get in front of me again. I managed to gain speed over the next roller section and pass Maelle AGAIN before trying to get into 2nd place again, I gained on Helene over the final rollers and over the last jump but was unable to get close enough to pass before the finish line. I finished that heat in 3rd so I was then in the small final to decide places 5 to 8.

Maelle was also in the small final with me so I knew it was going to be an interesting race.
All 4 of us were very close together in the first turn again so much so that there just wasn’t any room left and Maelle went through one of the gates and disqualified herself. I was then fighting for 2nd place but it wasn’t till the final set of rollers before the last jump where I got a chance to overtake. I knew that most of the girls were slowing down quite a lot before going into these rollers because they were quite bumpy and it was very difficult to stay in control over them. I wanted to pass though so I went into them as fast as I thought I could handle and gained on the girl in front just enough to pass her in the air over the final jump!

I finished that heat in 2nd place putting me in 6th over all.

I must say that last minute pass was my favourite part of the day!

Even though I beat everyone who was ranked above me in the world today in the end my world ranking actually went down, to 6th. The 2 above me are only 20 points away though so it won’t take much to get in front of them again.

I am heading home for Christmas tomorrow and am greatly looking forward to decorating my parents house with Christmas decorations (they need me to get there so I can climb up into the loft to get them) and of course exchange gifts, like the gift of video analysis software Pokerstars are giving me which will be very useful in analyzing all my training and competitions.

After Christmas I am heading back out to Europe to prepare for my next world cup which is in Bad Gastein, Austria on the 10th of January.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Its Winter - The Snow has Arrived!!



Everything up on the mountain and down in the valley is covered with snow! Its the first big snow fall of this season and its got me all excited.

Its going to be a very busy season so I am greatfull to my newest major sponsor, PokerStars, who are based in my home country, the Isle of Man; without their tremendous support and investment, i would not have been able to attend my current training camp in Austria. This is a massive bonus and something I simply couldnt have afforded without their continous help.

I have been in Sass Fee the last week training on the course there with the Swiss national team and also the British snowboard cross development team. As I am the only athlete in the British world cup snowboard cross team I don't get the same team atmosphere as most riders so it was really cool the last week riding with the dev team guys and girls. There are some new people on the team this year so it was good to meet them all too.

Because we are doing different competitions through the season I probably won't hang out with them much which is a shame but I wish them all good luck for their comps.

I am on my way to Hintertux in Austria now. I am actually typing this while in the car. I am not driving don't worry, my coach Markus is and he's just started playing Cecilia from his i pod over the radio!!

We are planning on being in Hintertux till the middle of December when I am going to the next world cup of the season which is in Arosa, Switzerland.

I will put up another update soon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Arbory school and lifeboat rescue



I went home to the Isle of Man over the weekend and had two special things to do while I was there.

On Friday I continued my grass roots campaign where I am going into lots of schools to talk to the kids about what it’s like to be a professional athlete and the joy of sport. Friday was great because I went into my local primary school, Arbory primary. It was really good to talk to the kids - there was around 60 of them - and they really seemed to enjoy it. Especially the videos I showed them. There was an extra element to this day too because BBC were there filming the whole thing.


On Saturday I was “rescued” by the port St Mary life boat crew.


I have been involved with the port St Mary branch of the RNLI before when I opened their fundraising day in August and I enjoyed seeing all the guys again. The day was a training exercise where the life boat and crew came and rescued me off a rock (which I had been place on). It was great fun on the lifeboat bouncing all over the place over the waves. Thankfully I wasn’t sick but I did feel rather queasy!


I am trying to get some publicity for the very important charity which relies totally on donations so I was very please that ITV came to cover the day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Media Madness


Media Madness! Its great!

I am at the start of the busiest 2 weeks I think I have ever had! It is full of meetings with snowsportGB, UK sport etc, media appearances and interviews.

I met yesterday with a reporter from the Independent on Sunday. Tomorrow I am meeting the photographer to get a photo to go along with that piece.

Monday im having off (well, im actually in the gym all day) I am doing an interview the Sky sports up at Milton Keynes SNO!zone on Tuesday.

I am going to the ski show in London next Wednesday where I have interviews with the BBC and the Sunday Times. As well as speaking at the press conference about the big air in London next weekend.

Next Friday there is a reporter joining in on one of my gym sessions in order to write an article about how hard athletes have to train (that should be funny) and that evening I am speaking on radio 5 live!

This is all while still training in the gym virtually every day and keeping the rest of my life going in a straight line. Oh, and by the way, BBC North West and ITV Border/West are also in the queue!
It’s nuts but im really enjoying it...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I finished 4th in the Argentinian World cup!

I have just finished my first world cup of the season and I was battling through the whole time!

The course was really tough, it was long with a tricky first section and loads of massive jumps, some of which you had to jump off the lip of as hard as you could just to make it to the landing. The helicopter was pretty busy ferrying injured riders to hospital during training.

I had a hard time in qualifying yesterday, after I took a big fall in practice and hurt my back, neck and head I had to sit down for 20 minutes before I felt good enough to ride again. I kept going with practice anyway and had time to get one full run in before qualifications began.

I had a very good top section on my first run but I misjudged my timing on a roller in the mid section which cost me a lot of time as this prevented me from making it to the landings of the next 4 jumps. Despite that my time put me into 10th place before the second qualification run.

My second run went a lot better with me riding everything well until the final jump where I fell on the landing, after falling I started rolling towards the finish line so instead of trying to right myself onto my feet again which would have taken a lot of my momentum away I just kept on rolling and crossed the line horizontally. Surprisingly the time from this run beat my first one and I moved up into 7th place. That’s one of my best qualifying places in a while.

Today was finals day and when I woke up I didn’t feel too good at all! 7 different places on my body hurt. Namely my foot, knee, thigh, back, shoulder, neck and head. Due to funding cuts I no longer have a physio at competitions this season which sure didn’t help. When I got to the hill a couple of people mentioned to me that they had seen my crash in practice yesterday and was surprised I was still riding but wished me the best of luck for the day.

In my first heat I had a good start but was in 3rd going into the first turn. I managed to pass one girl 2 turns later and the other shortly after that to take to lead and won the race.

My next heat was even better. My main competition was Mellie Francon who was ranked 3rd in the world last season. I had another good start but Mellie got in front of me into the first turn, I followed her for a few features gathering speed before passing her on the straight section. I was then in the lead again and won that race too.

I was now in the final against numbers one, two and three in the world. My start out of the gate was ok but I fell on one of the tricky features near the start unfortunately, I tried to catch up but there was no chance.

Anyway I am pretty happy because I finished in 4th which means I am now ranked 4th in the world!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

South American Cup, Argentina - 6th Sept


Hey,
I am in Argentina now. We got here about 4 days ago, it took us 61 hours to get here from Switzerland due to flooding and heavy snow fall. That’s more than 2 and a half days!
I am competing in 3 comps out here, the first one was today, the next is tomorrow and the final one which is the biggest is next Saturday.
The one today was a South American cup so it is one level below world cup but virtually all of the world cup teams are here for training before next Saturday so it might as well have been a world cup if you looked at the start list.
I had a good qualifying run and qualified second. There was me and the girl in first then a gap of about 2 seconds before anyone else’s time, which I thought was quite cool. One thing to my advantage I think is that there were two big rollers just before the final kicker which some of the guys were doubling (jump off one and land on the far side of the next) but I was the only girl doing it so that got me a lot of extra speed.
Because I got the 2nd best qualifying time I actually got to pick which gate I came out of which was unusual! I got a good start in my first heat and led the whole way down, I actually won it by about 50 metres.
My Second heat started much the same with me getting a good start out of the gate and I got into the lead, then I somehow managed to face plant into the 2nd turn filling my goggles with snow and whacking my face. I got up and wasn’t hurt but the problem was I couldn’t see anything through my snow filled goggles, I tried to get the snow out but it wasn’t working so I abandoned them over the back of my helmet. Now I couldn’t see because of the snow spray in my eyes of course. Just to make it worse it felt like I had a runny nose but when I looked down at my glove there was blood everywhere! I wasn’t going to stop though I wanted to pass at least one of the girls in front of me to get into the next round. I thought and did all this while chasing them down the course. I got pretty close to the second girl near the end of the course but by this time I couldn’t see very well and was starting to feel dizzy so I didn’t manage to get the speed up to double the rollers and pass.
That meant I then had to detach myself from the ski patrol (who were convinced I was bleeding too much and should just sit down) so that I could get back up to the top for the small final (to determine places 5-8) I still felt a bit dizzy but wanted to finish the race. I got a good start out of the gate again - 3 in a row is unheard of for me - but one girl got in front of me around the 4th turn. I kept going full speed and passed her about 20 seconds later then lead the race to the finish to take 5th over all.
Not a bad start to the season, apart from I got blood all over my white top and now have to try and wash it out!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

life boat day










On the 3rd of August I was asked to open the Port St Mary life boat day. It was great fun! I did a short speech to open the day then spent about an hour playing all the games like “get the hoop around the rubber duck” and the like. I felt like I was a kid again playing at the summer fair.
I was also one of the judges for the princess for the day, there was a surprising amount of pressure in that! (See picture of me and our very cute winner)




Later I got to go out on the life boat, there were about 4 boats out on the water and I was on the biggest one. There were speeding around coming very close to each other, we went around one corner so sharply I was leaning at about a 45 degree angle! It was great fun and we didn’t crash into anyone thankfully!

The day was very successful and the life boat society got tons of donations from it, I hope I helped in some small way because all the people there do a really good job all year round and always with a smile on their face.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Start gate


I have just gained a great new addition to my summer training!

Manx sport aid recently provided funding allowing me to get a start gate I can practice on in the summer, so hopefully I can improve my starts enough that when I am at competitions I can pull out of the gate fast enough to get out in front of the other girls on the course from the start instead of having to pass them all on the way down.

As you can see from the photos it consists of a platform which you stand on and a gate which drops in front of you so you can then pull out and ride down the ramp on the other side.

Big thank you to the Manx sports aid foundation for the funding, to Dad for building it and to Briton engineering for providing me with the snow flex which covers the whole structure enabling me to ride it on my board making it as realistic as possible.

I have a couple of weeks here in Bath before heading out to Saas Fee, Switzerland where I am doing on snow training before the first world cup in Argentina in September.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Newtown primary school

The weather did get better in Les Deux Alpes, at least until the last day of our camp when we got shoed off the mountain because there was a massive thunder storm coming in.

I got back to Bath last week and the day after I got back I went into Newtown primary school to talk to the children. I had great fun with them and they were really interested in what I do.

I showed them some videos of my riding and during the ones where I was racing other girls they even started cheering for me! If I could I would take all of them to all my competitions because they were such good cheerers!

I also showed them all the gadgets we use in training such as the head cam I put on my helmet, I got them to walk around the class filming everyone which produced some very funny videos.

Thank you to all the kids and staff for such a warm welcome!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Glacier Closed







I am still out in Les Deux Alpes where everything was going well until 3 days ago when the weather closed in. It was so bad yesterday the glacier was closed for skiing/snowboarding so we went mountain biking instead (check out the photos) it was great fun.






ITV west did an interview with me before I left Bath which is up on their site http://www.itvlocal.com/west/sport/?player=WST_Sport_15&void=211819 It’s got some rad unicycling in it, to watch you have to click on the link above.
I also got an e-mail today with a link to a radio interview I did at the Chill factore a couple of weeks ago. It’s a bit random with the interviewer and me going off on a tangent a few times. Click below to listen.
http://www.canstream.co.uk/allfm/index.php?id=102.

Click on "podcast feed" then the zoe gillings article.

We went up the hill today again but the weather was awful! I hope it gets better soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Out in France




My fitness tests all went well. The scores were pretty much all as expected with a few big jumps.

I am out in Les Deux Alpes now. We arrived late Sunday night but the hill was closed on Monday so today was our first day on snow. It was also my first day being coached by Markus, I am pleased to report it went really well! He has been teaching me loads of new stuff and I love learning new thing so I had a really good time. The weather was perfect too, warm and sunny but not so hot that the snow melts too much. The pipe and park here are both in good condition with loads of different stuff in the park ranging from massive kickers to tiny jumps, rollers, rails, hips etc.

I am off to the gym in a minute, we went searching for one yesterday, most of them are closed for the summer, after about 2 hours we finally found one called Tanker (or something), it must be the most cramped gym I have ever seen but at least it has a wide range of equipment.

We are out here until the 21st July when I head back to Bath again and with a good start today it’s looking like it going to be a very productive camp.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer training




My summer training is going well, I am getting fitter and stronger all the time.

I am now looking forward to the team camp in Les Duex Alpes, France in July, although it looks like right now, for various reasons, I may be the only athlete there. Obviously this is not ideal but I am going to make the most of it anyway. One of the things I will have a chance to do while I am there is test the new wax products in preparation for the world cup in Argentina in September. We are (I am) out there for about 3 weeks and it will be my first chance to work with the new British world cup snowboardcross coach Markus Trickl. So along with Dan the wax tech we should all get to know each other quite well by the end of the camp!


I have fitness testing next week before I go away for the camp and although I never really look forward to it because it is super tough it should show the big improvements I have made since starting my dry land training at the end of April so it will be worthwhile.

Half way through next week I should get a small break from fitness testing because ITV are coming to do an interview with me at the gym.

Once again thanks to Bath Audi for providing me with a car, it has got me to the gym every day this week despite the petrol strikes. To be honest I am quite relieved I haven’t got any speeding fines yet because it is really fast!

Zoe

Friday, May 2, 2008

End of my season




My season is over now and I am back in Bath starting my summer training.

Last season was a very eventful one and I wanted to thank a few people who helped it turn out so well.

Thanks to Craig my coach for 5 years up until January this year, you have helped my riding immensely over the years.

Thanks to snowsport GB for helping me any way you could.

Thanks to Laura for making me all better when I fall from great heights and bruise and batter my body.

Thanks to my parents and brother Liam for always being there to support me no matter what.

Thanks to Richard for all of your suggestions, even if I don’t take them all up.

Thanks to my brother Jon for getting to the X games in time for the first day of training to act as my coach at very short notice.

Thanks to James for your coaching as well as Jon at the X games and most of the remaining world cups, especially Japan where I got silver.

Thanks to Dan for helping in so many ways I can’t even count them all.

Thanks to everyone at the EIS in Bath, Deirdre, Chris, Mike, Liz and Di, you are a fair distance away but that’s when e-mail comes in useful.

And last but certainly now least thanks to all my sponsors Nike ACG, Manx sports aid foundation, McDonalds, Donek snowboards, ServicTech, PDMS, Sure Mobile, HZ goggles and K2 boots, without your continuing support I wouldn’t be able to continue my quest for gold.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nike/Document snowboard magazine press camp.


The camp was a great success even though the weather was a bit dodgy most of the time.

On the first day the snow wasn’t that good and it was overcast the whole day. We made the most of it anyway and learnt about avalanche rescue in case one of us got caught in one. We learnt how to use transceivers, probes and snow shoes. We also learnt about crevasse rescue which I had never done before. That was brilliant because I got lowered into a crevasse! Normally it would be a very dangerous thing to do to go into one because they are very unsafe but I had a harness that was attached to rope with our mountain guide holding the other end so I was safe.

The next morning we woke up, looked out the window and overnight it had snowed over 2 foot! Plus it was a beautiful sunny day! We got ready and headed up as fast as we could and got most of the good shots on that day. I jumped off a cliff, that was cool and scary at the same time and I got a really sweet powder shot. We stayed that night in a mountain hut half way up the mountain which took an hour and a half to walk to which was tough after a long day riding. Once we got up there it was a relief to change out of our wet clothes and have some food. Then the realization set in about where we were. That we were in the middle of nowhere in a hut with no running water and not very effective heating. I was walking around wrapped in a blanket because it was so cold and when I went to bed I had three. I was very glad I didn’t need the toilet in the middle of the night because it was outside with no light and consisted of a wooden seat with a hole in it.

We got up at 6:30 am and hiked back out across the glacier to where we could ride the rest of the way down to the bottom. The rest of that day was pretty easy as we were all quite tired but we got a few good photos all the same. It was sure good to be back in our hotel that night, especially for me because I had contracted a cold at some point so wasn’t feeling my best.

Then suddenly it was the last day of the trip. The weather was great when we were at breakfast and then within the 45 minutes it took us to get to the top of the mountain it had turned bad, really bad, I mean it was foggy, cold, windy, even on and off raining. Fortunately we had got all the riding shots we needed anyway so we all had our portrait shots taken and then all went our own ways at the end of the day.

All in all it was a brilliant trip, I am glad I went up to stay in the hut as it was a one off experience that I won’t forget for a while. To be honest I am not sure if I would do it again though.

I am now on my way to Champery for a photoshoot there as that is our official resort next year where we will be based during the season. They are providing us with a boardercross track and everything we need to train throughout the season!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

British National Championships 2008 - Laax


Yesterday was my last comp of the season, the British National Championships (Brits).


There was quite a lot of pressure going into it because everyone expected me to win as I am the British No 1.


The qualifying went brilliantly with me getting the fastest time in the girls and 2nd fastest in the guys! Just behind my team mate and stand in coach this season, world cup rider James Foster.


In my first heat I got in front at the start and stayed there all the way down.


Eight girls qualified here so winning this heat meant I made in into the finals.


The final was closer at the start, we were all bunched together over the first set of rollers but I got out of the first turn well ahead and I stayed in front till the end. In fact I got further in front the further we got down the course.


This has been a brilliant finish to a great season for me and it’s great to finally be able to call myself the British Champion as the Brits this year has not clashed with world cups as it has done the previous three years.


My Mum also competed yesterday in the "Masters" category and got 2nd! Everyone here keeps saying it must run in our blood.


I am off again tomorrow on a Nike ACG + Document snowboard magazine photoshoot week which should be good.


I will put up a blog soon to say how the trip went.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Knee and Sports Awards.

I heard back from the doctor from the Olympic medical institute and he told me he had got the results back from the scan I had on Monday. Good news, there's no major damage to my knee so it should be ok in about a week.
Thursday night was the Isle Of Man Sports Awards. I probably wouldn't have come back home from Switzerland for it except my newest sponsor Sure mobile bought me a ticket. Its a good job too because I won a whole load of trophies!I was presented with:-

British Olympic Association Snowsport Athlete of the Year 2007.

It was also announced that my picture is going to be displayed in the Isle Of Man Sports Hall Of Fame. To top it off I won:-

Sportswoman Of The Year.

I had so many trophys I had to get help to carrying them! I am only home for another five days so I am having a party tonight to make the most of it. Happy Easter!

Friday, March 14, 2008

World cup finals


I finally got to Italy for the world cup finals at 3 in the morning on the first day of training.

Unfortunately, my knee wasn’t any better when I got up the next morning so I was unable to ride in the competition.

I went up to watch the comp yesterday and really really wanted to be in it, not sitting watching the others! What made it worse was that there was only 23 girls (instead of the usual 40 odd) and none of the Americans were there. Which made it a really easy competition compaired to the other world cups this season.

Just to top it off, all that had to happen for me to stay in 6th in the world cup rankings was for Sandra Frie to come anywhere other than first, and she came first!

So I am now ranked 7th in the world at the end of the world cup series. Still pretty good compared to my 12th last year.

Just after the finals yesterday I went over to Bormio where the alpine ski world cup finals are. I went because channel 4 where there and wanted to do and interview with me. It went well and they said it would be shown on the 30th of March on Channel 4.

I am going to the Olympic medical institute on Monday morning to have a scan on my knee to find out what exactly is wrong with it.

Wish me luck!

Zoe

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Trapped in Montreal!


This is the result of the French girls snowboard hitting my knee with great force! We were meant to be flying out of Montreal (Canada) last night but there was a massive snow storm and the airport had to close. So we found a hotel for the night and contacted the airline but they can’t get us on another flight until tomorrow which means I will miss the first day of training at the world cup in Italy.

To make things worse my knee is still very swollen and I can’t bend it more than 90 degrees so unless it gets better quick I am not even going to be able to ride when we finally get there.

I am lying in bed with my leg in the air and ice on my knee trying to get the swelling down and hoping it will be ok for Italy.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Canada


The most recent world cup I competed in was in Stoneham, Canada.

I was rushed before my first qualification run because they were sending the riders down the course a lot faster than usual! Luckily, I still had an ok run and got into 10th place. That was fortunate because in my next run I fell on the first feature! I slipped down to 11th after everyone did their second run but I was still in the top 16.

They were running the whole competition in one day so we went and got some lunch first then back up to the top for the heats.

In my heat we pulled out of the start gate and I was slightly behind but I caught up over the first and second feature and was in 2nd. I stayed in that position all the way until the final turn when I was half way through the girl behind me came into the turn at a really odd angle trying to get in front of me. She didn’t manage it, instead she just ploughed into me and took us both out of the race!

At least it wasn’t the same Austrian who crashed into me in Leysin, this one was French.

The worst part is when she went into me she hit my knee full speed with her board. It’s pretty swollen now and we are hoping it’s just bruised and nothing more serious. Whatever is wrong with it it’s going to have to recover fast because I have the world cup finals in Italy in 3 days.

I finished 12th here so my world ranking is now 6th.

I will write more updates soon.

Zoe

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lake Placid, USA


I have just done my first world cup competition since finishing 2nd in Japan.

I qualified well in 9th place.

In my first heat I got a good start and was in 2nd into the first turn. All the way down I kept catching up the girl in front but there was no point in trying to pass because I only needed to be in the top 2 to get through to the next round, so I took it easy and made it down fine.

My next heat didn’t have as good a start, I was fighting to get into the top two when I fell on the entry to one of the turns. This put me into the small final.

I touched boards with one of the girls next to me over the first jump and we both lost speed so the other 2 got well in front and it was a battle between 3rd and 4th in that heat for me. We fought all the way down, I got in front then she passed again then I caught her up again then she got in front, it must have happened 5 times. Then over the last kicker I finally got well in front of her and passed over the finish line in 3rd giving me an overall finish place of 7th.

Then I had to go and get drug tested. They pick random people when they do drug testing at competitions and here they had decided to test whoever came 7th and 8th. It’s always a little worrying and weird to get tested but I am very careful about what I let into my body so I am sure the will be fine.

Next comp is in Stoneham in Canada then it’s the world cup finals in Italy.

P.S. the Ben and Jerry shop is now open again!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Change of web address

I am changing my web address. The new one is http://www.zoegillings.com/
It's the same site just a different address.
Hope to see you there soon!
Zoe

Ice cream tragedy in Lake Placid


The Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop is closed! I have been looking forward to going there all winter. It looks like it was just closed for the day so I hope it’s open again tomorrow :)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Great News:- Champery, Portes Du Soleil is going to be our Base next year...

Well here is some great news I have just found out! I went to Champery, Portes Du Soleil about 6 weeks ago and it was absolutely fantastic... great snow, easy access to a great park with some sick kickers and all the training facilities our national team needs... I heard a rumour or two that it was going to be our base next year (British Snowboard Team) and I have just found this on the web...

British National snowboarding team to finalise

key partnership with Champéry – Les portes du soleil

In order to secure better training facilities in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the British National Snowboarding Team has been in close discussions with the Swiss ski resort of Champéry – Les Portes du Soleil. Terms to the partnership which would establish the resort as the official training site for the Team are to be announced in the coming weeks.

Champéry, Switzerland – With the 2010 winter Olympic games clearly within sight, the British National Snowboarding Team have been holding close discussions with the Swiss ski resort of Champéry – Les Portes du Soleil. Accessibility, diversity of terrain, willingness to accommodate a national team and snow conditions were among the key decision-making factors for the partnership. After three months of preparations, the partnership terms are to be finalised and announced in the coming weeks.

Well appreciated and equally frequented by British skiers for generations, Champéry has remained small and unspoilt while still providing access to the world’s largest internationally connected ski domain - Les Portes du Soleil. Says Mark Simmers, CEO SnowsportGB, “Champéry is a true skier’s village and offers an ideal environment for aspiring athletes with the immense ski domain of the Portes du Soleil which offers a world-class infrastructure. SnowsportGB and the entire team are thrilled to be associated with Champéry and we look forward to finalising our partnership.”

Within 90 minutes of Geneva Airport, Champéry – Les Portes du Soleil straddles the Franco-Swiss border with 194 ski-lifts and 650 km of pistes as well as 9 snowparks, 3 half-pipes and 4 boardercoss courses. Eric Belanger, Director of the Champéry Tourism, is equally pleased. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to be associated with the British National Snowboarding Team. In addition to sharing their realistic goal for a podium finish at the 2010 winter Olympic games, we also share their interest in developing snowsports in the important UK market. While it makes marketing sense, it’s equally exciting to be involved, even indirectly, with the Olympics and youth development in snow sports.”

While terms of agreement are yet to be disclosed, it is intended that members of the Snowboarding Team reside in Champéry during the winter season when they are not travelling to competitions. Currently ranked 4th in the women’s world boardercross standings, Zoe Gillings could become the UK’s first ever female Olympic champion in a snowsport competition. While there is still much to do prior to the 2010 games, both partners are committed towards a podium finish.

I cant wait to move their next season...


Friday, February 22, 2008

I made it onto the Podium!


That was my goal for this competition because I was so close at my last comp in Korea. And I came 2nd!

I had some difficulty with the snow changing in qualifying so just scraped through in 13th position. This meant I had to fight in every heat to get in from the worst start gate.


In my first heat, I was in 4th going into the first turn, I passed into 3rd going around the 2nd turn and then into 2nd further down the course, I kept that position the rest of the way down. One girl got close to passing me just before the finish but she didn’t manage it.


The second heat was another interesting one, I was in 4th into the first turn again, the girl in front of me messed up on one of the jumps so I passed her in the following turn which put me in 3rd. I did the same move just before the finish that the girl had tried to do to me in my last heat but I succeeded where she hadn’t and I got into 2nd which qualified me for the final!


I got into 3rd going into the first turn. I had to keep the girl I had passed behind me while trying to catch the 2 in front of me. I passed Lyndsey Jacobellis (Olympic silver medallist) half way down and I held second place the remainder of the course, I got close to the leader (Maelle Ricker) at the end but not quite close enough to pass.


So I got silver! It’s the first time I have been on the podium for a good while and it feels great!


I am off to Lake Placid tomorrow for the next world cup. I have just finished packing.


Only one place further up to go!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

4th in Korea


I have just finished a world cup in Korea and I got my best result of the season! In fact it’s my best result for 3 ½ years.

I qualified in 9th, so easily through to the heats.

I was worried about my first heat because I was against Lyndsey Jacobellis (the girl who fell just before the finish line in the last Olympics) she is very fast so I thought that was going to make things difficult. I pulled out of the gate fast and passed from 2nd to first in the second turn, I then led all the way down without any challenge!

My second heat was a tough one too, all 4 of the riders (myself included) have all won world cups at one time or another.

I was in 3rd going around the first turn but a risky line around the second turn paid off and I had got into 2nd. I might have been able to pass into 1st further down the course but didn’t want to push it as I only had to get in the top 2 to go through to the final, I stuck to my line and went through with no problems.

The final was also full of world cup winners, I unfortunately I had last lane choice so got stuck with the start gate with the longest line around the first turn so I was in 4th and I then fell two turns later trying to pass.

So I finished the comp in 4th, annoyingly close to a podium but a great result all the same.

This season is really turning out well! I was worried when my coach resigned 3 weeks ago but I have got into the finals in 2 of my comps since then! I am off to the next world cup in Japan tomorrow so I can’t wait to get there and try and get on the podium!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Leysin world cup 2008

One day after returning form the X games I was in Leysin (Switzerland) for the next round of the world cup.

I had trouble in the heats with an Austrian girl
careering into me. So I finished in 14th, which is not very good compared to my previous results in this season’s world cups but I still have a world ranking of 7th.

I am now in France training for just over a week before flying out to Korea for the next world cup. I have never been to Korea before so I am very excited about that and also about getting a chance to beat the Austrian girl who took me out in Leysin!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

X Games, with no coach.


I have just got back from competing at the X games (Basically the Olympics of action sports)

It’s an invitation only event and had 15 hours of live TV coverage in the USA.

I had some major problems on the run up to the event because my coach had to resign due to family reasons 4 days before I went. As a last minute thing I organized for my brother Jon Gillings to come to coach me for the first day of training and James Foster, another British snowboardcross rider to come out for the rest, both acted as my coaches and it turned out that that worked really well!

I qualified in 3rd so all my fears that it was all going to go wrong because I didn’t have my usual coach there went out the window at that moment.

In the X games there are 6 riders racing instead of the usual 4 which makes it interesting to start with. In my first heat I won the start so I was in the lead for most of the way down, 2 girls got in front of me when I hit some soft snow but it was ok because I only had to finish in the top 3 to get into the final. I was still in 3rd going over the final jump but then I flew way too far off the jump and crashed on the landing! I knew if I tried to stand up it would use up too much time so I just lifted up my board and let myself slide across the finish line. I didn’t know if I had got over the line in front of the girl behind me or not until I looked up at the score board and saw:

1:Tanja Frieden

2: Sandra Frei

3: Zoe Gillings

I had got through to the final!!

We had to wait for almost half an hour for the final to start because a guy had fallen on the course and they had to rebuild the fencing around one of the corners. I got nervous standing in the start gate I have to admit but as soon as I got out of the gate all my nerves disappeared. Unfortunately my race didn’t last very long because as we went into the first corner a girl just to my left lost control over one of the rollers and crashed straight into me. I ended up 6th in the final so 6th overall in the comp.

Considering all the problems I had coming up to this event and the fact that I came 7th last year I was pretty happy!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

King Of the Mountain Competition - USA

I was in Colorado just before Christmas at a competition called King of the Mountain, or as some of the girls called it Queen of the mountain.
It was a cool comp because they had bands playing in the evening, the performers included Michael Franti & Spearhead, Swollen Members, and more.
I had some team mates at this comp with me too, I am used to being the only Brit competing so it was a good change to have some team mates to cheer on. Unfortunately one of them got knocked out in the practice when she took a jump wrong and fractured her pelvis and ankle.


The other one got 17th place just missing out on qualifying for the heats.
I qualified in 4th which I was pretty happy with since there were a fair few good girls there.

My first heat started really well. I got out of the gate so fast that by the time we got to the first jump I was completely in the air when the other’s tips of their boards where just getting over the lip. Then disaster struck. Something happened as I took off so that by the time I landed my board wasn't underneath me anymore and I crashed, right at the start of a flat section so even though I tried to catch up I had no chance.

That really annoyed me because I had such a good start and then I fell in such a bad place!

I finished the comp in 9th though so pretty good all the same.
My next competition is in about 3 weeks so I am looking forward to that now.
Zoe