The following is a transcript from a live interview we did (@Skintrack) with Reiner Thoni (@ReinerThoni) on February 20, 2012 using Twitter. It was a great 2h session with about 20 people listening in.
Couple of questions came also from our audience (Skintrack’s Twitter followers) by which they qualified for a draw to win two light avalanche shovels. The winners were announced a day later, see at the very bottom of this page.
How to read the interview:
1. Text in bold are questions either from Skintrack or posted by us that people wanted us to ask.
2. Reiner’s answers are all in normal text, sometimes preceded with @ReinerThoni (his Twitter handle).
3. Italic text are our comments or additions to Reiner’s answers. They are sometimes preceded with @Skintrack (our Twitter handle).
Q: You are 27, when did you start backcountry skiing?
I have early childhood memories of touring into huts. However it wasn’t until after adolescents that it became a regular part of my life.
Q: At what age did you start ski mountaineering racing?
At the age of 21 Mr. Ian Gale introduced me to the inaugural Sunshine 5000. Life hasn’t been the same since… 😉
Mr. Ian Gale is @goldenskimo – http://goldenskimo.wordpress.com
Q: What were your first racing experiences like? What did you think of the sport?
Moving through the mountains fast was exhilarating it was the fuel. @greghill2mil handed me race skis + inspiration that was the spark.
Greg Hill is @greghill2mil – http://www.greghill.ca
Q: Did you compete in any other sport before skimo racing?
Growing up in Jasper National park we didn’t have many organized sports, just racing each other through the bush and building forts. 🙂
Q: Which race in last 2-3 years challenged you the most or who? And why?
Depends on the day but Brendon French (former American skimo champion) has put on the most hurt. @slukenelson and Andrew McNab are also guilty of that. The Pierra Menta in 2011.
Luke Nelson (American skimo team member) is @slukenelson.
Q: You greatly listen to your body and mind. Do you follow any training plans?
I let my body and mind dictate my plan. I have written things down in the past but no more. Learning to eliminate unnecessary stress is key!
@Skintrack: I like that a lot 🙂
About Reiner’s diet
Q: You are a lifelong vegan, looks like it suits you well. Is your family completely vegan too?
My dad and I are the diehards although we all like to eat a healthy balanced diet.
Q: What is your usual pre-race breakfast? I saw you eat a bowl of quinoa for breakfast when racing at World Champs in Italy last year.
Oatmeal or Quinoa with some fruit, peanut butter and hemp or Chia seeds. mmmmm POWER FOOD 🙂
Oatmeal is my usual though.
Q: Reiner, until about a year ago you did not drink or ate anything during races. How did you do it?
In my mind I would normally go without food or water for 3 hours so why any different on race day. Ignorance is bliss.
Q: Do you bring any drink or food now?
I went full circle from nothing to salad dressing jars full of date goop to now a gel of natural honey with 300-500ml water + rock salt.
Q: Have you ever used any food or sport supplements? Whether for racing or just skiing?
Mother Nature seems to work in harmony. Isolating things causes problems. The extra money on organic food is a much better option.
Fresh varieties of local organic fruits, veggies, seeds, grains, nuts, mixed with creativity and love are the corner stones to a healthy diet.
Q: You seem to have a lower maximum and racing heart rate than most. Could this be due to your diet? Or do you have a theory?
@Skintrack: Don’t be mistaken if it seems like Reiner attended some seminar on vegan diet and mind control, he lives this way since a small boy.
I feel the rate is genetically determined, however, the quality of what you are pumping makes a big difference in how the engine preforms.
Questions from our Twitter followers
@slukenelson asks: Does Reiner’s homebrew gel concoction contain some type of doping agent? 🙂 (I think that’s his secret to success)
@ReinerThoni: Not sure if the Euros would approve but date goop and honey seems legal enough 😉
@Skintrack: I think it is the love with which he prepares the 300ml of H2O with honey before each race :))
@JeremyRietmann asks: How does race time correlate to gear weight? If you drop 20% in gear weight, what % faster you expect to go?
@ReinerThoni: I have done experiments with different gear on a controlled hill. I found over a 40 min climb losing 400 gram per foot saved about 50 sec.
Articulation of the boot plays a role as well as steepness but moving from 1kg boots to a 0.5 kg PG I would expect around 2% improvement..
@Skintrack: Jeremy, there likely is a difference between dropping 400g from 3kg vs from 1.5kg.
Reiner, I would agree on those 2%, which is 1min 12 sec over an hour of climbing.
@NiallGCanada asks: What training tips do you recommend for guys that live in a city (Calgary) and have limited access to the mountains?
@ReinerThoni: When the environment doesn’t invite you to play I think it’s important to be creative and find something to motivate you. Challenges work!
See how fast you can make it up that hill or to that post. Bringing a dog helps change the perspective they find pleasure in the darkest places.
@Skintrack: Niall, doesn’t have to be specific (gym, run). Try to find every week a great challenge, after some time you will have a library of sessions.
@AndrewJPinfold asks: To win the NorthAm champs what kind of VAM/hr were you doing on the climbs?
@Skintrack: It likely was around1100m/hr. Hard to compare to cycling though because of very varied terrain (and quality of tracks) in skimo races.
The best (@kilianj) did 3000m race on groom-ish runs (controlled environment) in 2h17m. About 1h50m was for going up, so 3000m in 1h50m :))
If you wonder what VAM/hr is, then it’s what skimo world calls “vertical speed”.
For full Wikipedia definition see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velocity_Ascended,_Metres_per_hour
Continuing after the readers’ questionsQ: You skied Mount Robson with your brother in September. Was this the 2nd descent of Robson? Was it the same route as the 1st descent?
There isn’t much record keeping but I know of 2 other occasions that it was skied from top to bottom. We did a similar descent as the 1st.
For more info see my blog – http://theoutsideout.blogspot.com/2011/09/robson-skimountaineering.html
Q: You skied Robson on skimo racing Trab skis and Pierre Gignoux carbon racing boots. Did you question this light equipment choice at any point?
Originally, I was nervous but with a year of hard skiing on it I felt comfortable after double checking all the rivets and leavers.
Q: Back to racing questions: You (and I) recommend more people to try skimo racing. What good reasons can you provide?
It’s a gate way to moving light and fast in the mountains, inspiring you to train and learn the fastest possible way. Amazing people…
Q: You are a big competitor but friendly as hell 🙂 quite a happy guy no matter what. What is your philosophy that always keeps you smiling?
I try to keep things in perspective and not get caught up in small stuff. We are the creators of our thoughts and we have control over this.
Q: Besides bigger engines, what do you think North Americans are lacking to start placing in top 10 or top 20 at world level skimo races?
The major thing we lack is the support that the European nations get from both their communities and government. It’s like hockey over there!
@Skintrack: Well, we are building the community right now 🙂
Q: What mountain/sporting/athletic performance do you really dig? Or whom?
@Skintrack: Prince Albert steering the bobsleigh down the Salt Lake City track? :))
I dig what @kilianj is doing right now in both Ultra running and Skimo racing. Following his heart, I think that’s inspiration for us all.
Kilian Jornet (currently the fastest skimo racing athlete in the world) is @kilianj.
@DavidDornian asks: Is it productive to train transitions or is a little practice now and then enough?
You can even do it inside on cardboard if there isn’t any white stuff outside.
@Skintrack: At first, quantity helps to improve quality but later on occasional brushing should be
@Skintrack: I once read that “excellence is not a skill, but practicing one skill until becomes second nature is.”
Snow shovel winners
@Skintrack tweeted a day later:
Snow shovel winners from last night’s interview with @ReinerThoni are @JeremyRietmann and @AndrewJPinfold, will contact you for your shipping addresses.
Did you like the interview?
We got a great response on the interview from our Twitter followers.
What do you think? Should we do more of these? What questions you want us to ask in the future?