Welcome back! I’ve just returned from a two-week camp on snow in Zermatt, Switzerland, one of my very favorite places I train at on an annual basis. It was absolutely incredible to be back on snow and to ski a full mogul course — for the first time in over 6 months! Plus, the one-year break (the US Team didn’t go to this camp last year due to COVID restrictions) from Zermatt certainly made me appreciate the incomparable beauty of the place even more than normal. Needless to say, the past two weeks abroad served as a fantastic reintroduction to mogul skiing on a full course and camp life.

Maddie and Kasey (two of my teammates) and I in front of the Matterhorn at the end of camp!

Our first five planned ski days in Zermatt were unfortunately cancelled due to severe winds and a snowstorm that had rolled through the glacier just prior to our arrival. Along with the amazing training that Switzerland offers, unfortunately comes a few downfalls — the most notorious of which being weather days. Inevitably, my teammates, coaches, and I were frustrated that we couldn’t make it up to the glacier (and eventually became a little delirious while playing the waiting game!). While we weren’t allowed to ski, we were in one of the most fantastically stunning places in the entire world, so we made the absolute most of it!

During a hike to Zmutt, a nearby village, on a weather day! Photo: Morgan Schild.
One of the lil sheep that we encountered on one of our hikes!

My team and I did some of my favorite hikes, and were able to complete the last two items on my personal bucket list for Zermatt: the Gornergrat train, which serves up spectacular views, and the Via Ferrata, a Euro-style ropes course where we essentially climbed up the cliffs at the side of the valley. The latter provided more than enough adrenaline to make up for what many of us were craving without a daily dose of mogul skiing in our lives!

The absolutely absurd view from the top of the Gornergrat train at sunrise. This was such a cool experience and one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen!
Landon, one of my teammates (from Steamboat!), getting the heebie-jeebies looking down from the Via Ferrata.

When we did finally make it up to the glacier, I set to work making the absolute most of my time on the hill. This camp, I prioritized working on my speed, completing a few touch-ups on the technical aspects of my skiing, and bringing my tricks to consistent competition-ready runs! With the limited number of days on the glacier, I felt like I was super concentrated on bringing my best focus and qualitative training to the table (by implementing a couple new mental practices), which was great practice for the competition mindset I’ll use in the coming months. Plus, the venue was phenomenal with plenty of new snow as the base for the course.

I’m super stoked with my progress and can’t wait for the next time we’ll be on snow again, this time in Ruka, Finland!! Much of my coming training days next camp will be focused on continuing to improve my speed and making some final adjustments on my competition runs before World Cup season starts on December 4th in Ruka! Some of my favorite runs from this past camp in Zermatt are below:

Zermatt 2021 – Top to Bottom from Olivia Giaccio on Vimeo.

Zermatt 2021 – Skiing from Olivia Giaccio on Vimeo.

Sadly, this trip to Zermatt likely signified the last for the sport of mogul skiing, at least for the foreseeable future. Rumor has it that a mogul course won’t be built there in the coming years in order to make more room for a new alpine World Cup event in early November. Since Zermatt, Switzerland, is one of my very favorite stops on the annual training/competition rotation, this camp was pretty nostalgic for myself and all of my teammates. Zermatt is home to a lot of firsts for me, both good and bad: my first-ever training camp in Europe, the first place I put my cork 10 into a full run, the first place I’d experienced weather days and consciously witnessed the extreme consequences of climate change firsthand (the glacier melted quite a bit year after year), and so much more. With that being said, I’m very thankful for the fact that my last trip to Zermatt was definitely the fullest experience possible: I had frustrating weather days, incredible bluebird days with fantastic snow conditions, ultimate touristing/exploring days, and everything in between!

One of the neatest views of the Matterhorn from the top of the Gornergrat train.
Kasey and Kai in the clouds on a hike on one of our weather days.
The gals exploring on a weather day hike!

In terms of what’s next: I’ll be spending a bit of time at home with my family before traveling to Finland on November 6th for the final preparation camp before competition season kicks off!! I will be competing in 5 World Cup events prior to Christmas (3 of which are Olympic qualifiers!! Weooo!) in Finland, Sweden, and France. For a link to this season’s full World Cup schedule, click here. I’m feeling very excited and prepped for the season, to say the least. My body and mind are feeling fantastic and absolutely ready to attack what’s ahead!!

All the best,