Melanie Meilinger is the only Austrian moguls skier who will take part in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang (South Korea). She answered our questions about moguls and the importance of moguls in Austria.
Mogasi: How crazy does someone have to be to want to launch off kickers in the middle of a mogul run?
Melanie Meilinger: Yes, it is a bit crazy. I never thought I would be able to do a back flip on skis, let alone one in a moguls track. I still laugh today with the examiners from my ski instructing exams about how I would happily avoid the moguls during the courses.
Mogasi: How fun is it to be able to launch off a kicker on a moguls track and pull off an awesome backflip?
Melanie Meilinger: It is so much fun when you have a solid jump and a clean run through the rest of the moguls. In saying that, constant concentration and hard work are extremely important. It is a still a big challenge for me to combine both perfectly. A clean, quick run without mistakes is my daily training goal.
Mogasi: Injuries happen in skiing, have you ever had any?
Melanie Meilinger: Thankfully, I can “tap on wood” for this question. I haven’t had anything that severe as of yet. Every athlete is aware of the risks associated with our sport; it’s important to not let your thoughts go too much in the direction of what could happen…
Upon the end of my career I would like to complete the staatlichen Skilehrerin certification (Austrian Level 4)
Mogasi: Margarita Escande (formerly Marbler) won the 2003 Moguls World Cup and still holds the record for the best score as well as the “perfect air score”. Can you explain why this sport is so poorly represented in a ski nation such as Austria?
Melanie Meilinger: The ski freestyle division has had hard existence. In most ski clubs and schools, the primary focus is still on alpine skiing. In the past few years schools have done a lot to alleviate this; there are now special branches for freestyle. It is now catered for in various ski federations as well as in the ÖSV (Austrian Ski Federation). However, this only covers the newer disciplines. Moguls and Aerials lacks a pathway for younger athletes in both schools and federations. Currently there are no working concepts within Austria to revive these division. It would call for a complete restructuring, which would require a major investment of both time and money. I believe these disciplines could have a chance in the future but this will require concrete planning, structuring and above all specialised coaches. I could imagine myself developing something like this but right now I am an athlete and am concentrating on my current goals.
Mogasi: Which ski instructing or coaching certifications do you have or would you like to get?
Melanie Meilinger: I began my certification path during my ski racing career. I am currently a certified Landesskilehrerin (Austrian Level 3) and also have the Austrian C-Trainer license as well as the Chief Of Race certification. Upon the end of my career I would like to complete the staatlichen Skilehrerin certification (Austrian Level 4). I think then I would have done everything I want to do.
Our local ski resorts gear their facilities towards tourism and naturally formed moguls are seldom found.
Mogasi: How do small resorts produce competition moguls but top-resorts in Austria don’t?
Melanie Meilinger: For years moguls skiing has been of much greater importance in Australia. Last season an Australian, Britt Cox, won the overall World Cup and the men are also always able to make good results. There are certain resorts in Austria that will allow a track to be built upon application but the development is normally associated with costs. Our local ski resorts gear their facilities towards tourism and naturally formed moguls are seldom found.
Mogasi: What is the roll of the ÖSV in moguls?
Melanie Meilinger: The ÖSV is a specialised federation for all disciplines, it is responsible for the nominations of national and international competitions and gives approval for events and competitions in Austria. Without the ÖSV it would not be possible to take part in or organise competitions.
Mogasi: For a long time you didn’t receive any support from the ÖSV and financed your skis through a Crowdfunding page. Who are your sponsors? How hard is it to finance your season (travel, training, accommodation)?
Melanie Meilinger: The ÖSV has supported me during the last couple of years and for that I am grateful to everyone involved. Due to internal disagreements within the moguls division, the ÖSV decided to no longer support moguls skiing. Of course I find this very unfortunate but as I am aware of the background behind this decision, I can understand and accept it. It does not stop me from continuing to fight for my goals and dreams.
I will be outfitted for the Olympic Games but the rest I have to organise myself. Thanks to individual companies, I get my equipement through material sponsorships. That to the Crowdfunding page „I believe in you“ I am able to afford special moguls skis. Since the beginning of my career I have been supported by my home town Mühlbach am Hochkönig, to successfully realise my goals. Most things such as flights and training, etc I organise for myself. The ÖSV covers the competition registration and accommodation during competition time. If anyone wants to offer financial support to my „Road to Korea“ can do so until 30.12.2017 at www.ibelieveinyou.at. This platform is a good opportunity for me to receive outside support, which gives donors the opportunity to also get something from me in return.
Melanie Meilinger, 26, from Mühlbach am Hochkönig, already met the olympic selection criteria for moguls last winter in Thaiwoo (China).