Start to a very special freeride event in the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier ski resort is again exactly 10:00 am on 23 March 2019. It is already the 16th X OVER RIDE, an event in which ski and snowboard freeriders from nations across the globe can collect valuable points for the Freeride World Tour. The rough terrain of the Kitzsteinhorn shows what it is made of when the athletes start at the Lakarschneid Face.

What they are made of show many experienced national and international freeriders at the start of the X OVER RIDE. Facing the steep slope with bravery and skills, we were interested in who those freeriders are. To find out more, we met Birgit Ertl, an athlete from Salzburger Land and a passionate winter sports fan who trains hard all year in order to be in one of the leading positions and collecting points in events like the X OVER RIDE.


Starting at a young age

The 32-year old local is actually a teacher at PdC BORG and teaches English, PE and Ethics there. Freeriding is still not a full-time job for Birgit. But who knows to where her skiing career, which she already started at the age of 2 at a ski club, may take her. She became interested in backcountry skiing around 10 years ago and her passion for freeride sports grew over the years. Birgit has now been taking part in competitions for 5 years. In competitions, she shows how far you can go in freeride sports with sound training in skiing.


Training, technique & strength

There is plenty of motivation to spend a day of training in powder snow because it is the best training as such and it is powder snow freeriders like Birgit are always looking for. 

“I mainly train outdoors, in the snow. In addition, I go to the gym on a regular basis and work specifically on exercises that improve my strength and energy when freeriding. In summer, I am mainly out and about by mountain bike. Biking in open terrain is an especially effective recreational sport AND you are active in beautiful nature at the mountain. Just like freeriding in winter – to me, the best feeling ever!”

Safety comes first - always

“Freeriding is one of the most beautiful sports as such…” Birgit says. “Gliding through fresh powder snow in the morning, you are happy from the start. Safety is of course important. I always check the avalanche warning together with my buddies at the start of day of freeriding and I stick to it meticulously.”

The safety equipment in Birgit‘s rucksack consists of an avalanche transceiver, an avalanche probe and a shovel. Her equipment is always complete and she knows very well how to use it. “We practise the use of our safety equipment on a regular basis. Because you only know exactly what to do when in an emergency if you know how to use the equipment properly!”

X OVER RIDE – the challenge

Answering my question about what the special challenge is at the Kitzsteinhorn X OVER RIDE, Birgit‘s face lights up. “At the X OVER RIDE, there is a cliff with a rather deep drop just after the start, presenting quite a challenge right at the beginning of the run. Once you managed that, then you get to an area with hilly terrain making it even more difficult not to lose orientation during the run.”

How do you know where exactly the obstacles are in the terrain and how do you know where you have to go? “The face check, meaning the memorizing of the terrain before the start, is very important. If you are well-prepared then you have the best chances in the competition. I spend much time doing the face check, thus no bad surprises are waiting for me on my way downhill!”