International athlete, entrepreneur, and British downhill speed ski record holder Jan Farrell has already completed in his first world cup event of the season on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th February in the resort of Vars, France – the home of the speed skiing track.
The overall FIS World Cup Speed Ski Downhill Champion in 2014, having achieved a fastest speed of 231.66kph (Speed Masters Vars 2015) and the current British Downhill Speed Skiing record holder, and third fastest in the world, Jan Farrell (34) is ranked in the world’s top 15, is now setting his sights on podium positions this winter following an intense build up to the season that includes a training trip with world champion, Bastien Montes.
Speed skiing is regulated by the International Ski Federation (FIS) with World Cup status – it’s a simple concept, but with a subtle complexity that makes winning and losing into fine margins. Skiers race against time down a fixed stretch of slope of one kilometre in length, often referred to as ‘The Flying Kilometre’. The men’s world record is held by Ivan Origone (Italy) with 254.958 km/h (158.424 mph) and the women’s by Valentina Greggio (Italy), 247.083 km/h (153.530 mph).
Along with competing on the Speed Skiing World Cup circuit over the next two months with competitions coming up in Salla (Finland), Sun Peaks, (Canada); Idre Fjall (Sweden) and Grandvalira (Andorra), Jan Farrell, who was the top qualified British speed ski racer 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 of all WC disciplines is currently in the midst of a three year plan to organise and beat 7 Guinness World Speed records, already setting a world record for the fastest speed on an indoor snow slope.
His other goals (and there are plenty) include reaching 250kph in Speed 1 chalass. Attempt to win a Speed Ski S1 World Championships. To take Speed Skiing a step forward in the media and bring it closer to the general public. Organise a trial competition in Spain, Iceland, Argentina and Chile and attempt world records at Vars, Les Arcs and, hopefully, at Las Leñas. Look for new challenges and records to beat!
ITS> What are your thoughts following the first two races of the season in Vars, France, where you secured a 16th (Saturday) and 14th (Sunday) place?
JF> “You don’t always need to be first to win, and I feel victorious after this weekend in Vars, the Speed Ski capital of the world. After my 216kph crash back in 2016, I hadn’t skied this track with confidence until now. I feel that I’m back and eager to attack. It’s the first time I’ve been at the start since 2016 and been able to embrace fear and enjoy myself skiing over 200kph. My 14th place on Sunday (including 9th in semi-finals) on the world’s fastest ski slope is my personal victory and a great start to the season ahead. Races continue in Lapland this weekend I’ll be expecting to improve on my results and enjoy the scenic countryside. Expect some spectacular images to come!”
ITS> How’s the build up to winter been, what have you been doing to prepare?
JF> From the day my 2017 season finished, I started preparing the new season with more effort and passion than ever before. I’ve worked hard to leave the doubts behind provoked by my crash in 2017 at 216kph to avoid the negative effect on my results. I’ve spent long hours in the gym, working with more repetitions and less weight.
ITS> Where have you done your prep, have you travelled?
JF> I’ve trained in Austria, Spain and Andorra since October. I’ve worked a lot on balance and basic alpine technique, for which I’ve been using Carv, the digital Ski Instructor, to analyse my movements.
ITS> What’s the most important aspect of your training regime?
JF> I think where I’ve advanced most is with my eccentric overload exercises thanks to Smartcoach. I’ve reduced my body weight from 95 to 90kg, gaining in agility and explosiveness.
ITS> What do you hope to achieve this winter in regards to results?
JF> Podium! I’ve got my hopes set high for Finland and Canada, two tracks where ski preparation is key and the top-10 racers are close behind one another in the ranking.
ITS> Where’s up first? And then what’s the race schedule
JF> The 2018 Speed Ski season consists of 11 races in 5 countries, from Vars this past weekend, until Andorra that finishes on April 7. In between we’ll be travelling to Salla (Finland), Sun Peaks (Canada) and Idre Fjäll (Sweden).
The main novelty is the return of Finland to our calendar, with a race in the Arctic Circle where the top-10 will be constrained within a small margin. Lapland and the Polar Regions are my favourite places on the planet; the vast wilderness of snow and ice should give us some spectacular images! Ski preparation is going to be key, with temperature forecast as low as -20ºC; I think this can give me a competitive advantage with all the hours of work we´ve put into the preparation of my skis.
ITS>. Will you be watching the Winter Olympics and who will you be cheering on?
JF> Yes! Dave Ryding better get some good results in, or I’ll have to source him some fast skis! He’s the definition of an athlete, a person who has worked hard to get where he is and deserves everything that can be achieved.
ITS> Don’t you wish you could be there as a speed skier too? Why isn’t the sport recognised by the IOC and do you think it should be an Olympic discipline?
JF> It would be a dream come true, but for now to bring the sport to the Olympics is a task too big for just me. I hope that people get more engaged with my sport watching my regular videos, raising the popularity to new levels. Speed Skiing was Olympic in 1992 as a demo sport in Albertville and had fantastic viewing figures, but it’s a challenge for the venues to host an event due to the specific mountain topography needed to build one of our slopes, it’s not easy! Nicholas Bochatay’s unfortunate death during training might not have not been the best PR for the future of our sport, but I think it was misinterpreted: he wasn’t racing or even on the Speed Ski track, but skied into a piste basher.
ITS> Any tips for wannabe speed skiers?
JF> Yes, this is an incredible sport that I’ve grown to love, you should come and try it, it’ll surprise you how intriguing, interesting and competitive it is!