Our new series Go Hard or Go Home looks at the girls pushing the levels in snowboard and freeski.
I think I’m naturally quite mentally strong. When I want something I’m not afraid to put the effort in and go after it and get it.
– Nadine Wallner
To kick off Go Hard or Go Home, we caught up with Nadine Wallner at the first 2014 women’s Freeride World Tour event in Chamonix.
The reigning FWT 2013 Champion, Wallner started skiing at just three-years-old on the slopes of Arlberg, Austria near her home village Klosterle. A sure-fire talent from the off, she seemed destined for a lycra-clad career in downhill ski racing, though her father was a mountain guide, so she always felt equally at home in the backcountry.
“I think my dad decided when I was very young exactly what kind of career I was going to have. I was only 11 or 12 when I did my first 4,000m hike – he’s definitely been the biggest influence in my life,” she confides.
In 2011 she decided to hang her up ski racing boots for good and take that love of freeride skiing onto the contest circuit, tackling steep lines and cliff drops with a skill and ease that suggested big things were ahead. They were – two years later she won her first FWT title. It wasn’t an easy victory, though – she was neck-and-neck with her close friend Eva Walkner before Eva crashed at Revelstoke, forcing her to pull out. Nadine then clinched the title at Fieberbrunn in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
Competing on the Tour takes not just a huge amount of skill, but also a huge level of mental strength. Aged just 24, Nadine is one of the younger girls and was the rookie last year – not that she sees her age is a barrier:
“I think I’m naturally quite mentally strong. When I want something I’m not afraid to put the effort in and go after it and get it. I was not expecting to win last year – I had so much respect for the other riders, the faces – and it was my first year on tour. I just wanted to give it my best and get some experience, and it was a total surprise to win.”
When the Tour is over Nadine plans to spend a month in Alaska with two of her girlfriends (both former FWT champions), filming for a backcountry project where they will explore the local wildlife, wild camp and hike to earn their lines, making for a nice change from the pressures of competition. At the end of the day, says Nadine, you can’t take the Tour too seriously:
“The most important thing is to go out and have fun, ski how you like, and hopefully the judges will like it. If not, you’ll have had a lot of fun.”
Follow Nadine’s progress on the Tour by watching the events live on redbull.com/snow.