“I did my first swings on skis when I was just two years old,” says Andrea Limbacher. “It’s just what people do in Austria!” Growing up, she had a go at various skiing disciplines. “Skiing is an amazing sport,” she says. “You are able to be outside in nature. It’s a fantastic feeling – whether you are skiing on a prepared slope or in deep snow.”
For me, ski cross is the coolest of all sports.
Passionate about ski cross
It wasn’t until she tried ski cross that she found her passion. “For me, ski cross is the coolest of all sports,” the athlete says. “After I’d first tried it, I knew it was my discipline and that I wanted to be successful at it one day.”
She has worked hard for her success, “I always put in 100 percent and always fought to be among the best.”
This determination has paid off – Andrea’s track record includes a World Championship title and she has competed in several World Cups and Olympic Games.
“Winning at the World Championships in Kreischberg in 2015 was incredible. I will always have that.”
Andrea is generally rather modest, though. “I don’t enjoy being in the limelight, I prefer to stay in the background. Especially during the World Cup when there was great interest in me personally and a lot of pressure.” But it is something she is willing to put up with for ski cross. “Skiing is my top priority at the moment. I live for the sport,” she says.
Winning at the World Championships in Kreischberg in 2015 was incredible. I will always have that.
A complex discipline
What Andrea likes best about ski cross is that it is such a complex sport. Ski cross requires alpine skills to be able to keep up with the best, but she says there is a lot more to it than that.
“You have to master the elements, you have to be able to push through and tactics are a particularly important aspect,” the athlete explains. “That’s what is so cool about the sport: each race is unique.”
In ski cross races, athletes always need to find a way to prevail against the competition in order to be the first across the finish line. “If you want to compete at the front, everything has to fit together,” says Andrea.
You need to be in top shape to be able to give 100 percent.
Being able to perform at this level requires intense all-year training: “You need to be in top shape physically, to be able to give 100 percent in a competition,” the athlete points out. Nevertheless, it is important to have fun, too. This is why Andrea likes to incorporate her hobbies in her training. “I am sure that this is true: if you enjoy doing something, it is going to be very effective,” she says. “I really love to go skating, for example. And I often take along my dog, an Australian Shepherd.”
Support for the body
Andrea is well aware of the fact that some support can be very good for your body, and not only because of her physical weaknesses due to various skiing accidents. “I like to do things that are good for my body. For example, I have always liked to wear medical compression stockings on long journeys,” she explains. “Ever since my knee starting giving me trouble once in a while, I have also been using other products. Especially to provide support for my joints and tendons in training as well as during competitions.”
My knee is in a better shape now than it has been in a very long time.
Following surgery on her knee, Andrea needed to wear a knee orthosis, but this did not limit the athlete in any significant way. “Despite the knee brace I had plenty of freedom of movement, which is very important for the cruciate ligament.”
Nowadays, she wears a knee support both in training and during competitions. She says she can tell that the issues with her knee have really improved. “The knee support absorbs small vibrations to help my knee. My knee is in a better shape now than it has been in a very long time.”
Family and skiing association by her side
Motivation and encouragement is just as important as physical support in Andrea’s life as a professional athlete, and she relies heavily on her second family at the Austrian Skiing Association ÖSV.
“The trainers and athletes of the ÖSV saw me in my first ski cross race and invited me to attend a training session,” she says. “They’ve provided guidance and support to me ever since. [The association] takes a lot off my shoulders, and this enables me to focus entirely on the sport.”
“Our team is like a big family,” Andrea added. “This helps motivate me to come back after an injury and to do my best.”
Andrea’s actual family is always by her side, as well. “Without my family’s and my dog’s support I wouldn’t have made it this far. They were by my side right from the start and I can always rely on them. I am extremely grateful for that.”