is a professional skier from The Netherlands who spends most of his winter-time in Innsbruck. To get an insight into his professional skiing career, and the lifestyle that comes with it, I met up with Maarten at Treibhaus to ask him some questions so we could share his story.
Where did your ski-adventure start and how did it shape your life?
I started skiing when I was five years old, on plastic! It was a dry ski slope 15 minutes from my hometown in The Netherlands. At ski club ‘De Wolfskamer’ in Huizen it was possible to learn skiing before going on a skiing holiday with my parents in Adelboden, Switzerland.
At the same ski club, I got a higher level each year until the club asked me to join the ‘race team’ when I was ten years old. I thought it was a lot of fun and I wanted to go skiing more often. I joined training camps in Austria five weeks a year. Fortunately, my training time in Austria grew over the years so I was able to practice more often. Since 2008 I’m a member of the Dutch national team and from that moment my career became more professional. It’s amazing to have so much time enjoying my passion in the beautiful mountains around the world. Sometimes it’s hard to miss friends and family back home, but you get a lot in return.
You have already been 25th in Giant Slalom at the World Championships in St. Moritz. How did it feel to perform on the highest level and what have you learned from it?
It was an amazing feeling to see a top 30 result when I came through the finish line! It has been a major goal for me for a long time. The crowd was really surprised and enthusiastic to see a Dutch skier amongst all the big ski nations. Now I just want to do this more often, which is not easy so I really have to work hard and give it my best!
What is your favourite discipline? Do you have an ambition to race the Streif downhill one day?
My favourite discipline at the moment is giant slalom. For me, that’s the basis of all skiing. You really need a great set of technical skills but you still have some speed. Of course, the Super-G is also really exciting for me! It consists of one single run, with different training as in downhill, at a high speed with jumps along the way. But if I feel good enough for the Streif in the future, I’ll definitely accept that challenge.
Do you have a favourite race course or a favourite place to be?
Innsbruck, of course! I really like to come back to my second home between training and racing around the Alps! It’s such a unique central location, which minimalizes travel time. But mostly it’s such a cosy city in the middle of the mountain.
My favourite course would be the Gran Risa piste in Alta Badia. For me, that’s the most beautiful giant slalom hill in the incredible Dolomites.
What is the most unique ski location you have been to?
Racing in Japan, Russia and Kazakhstan have certainly been a great experience because of the huge cultural differences. I especially liked the island of Hokkaido in Japan. I would recommend it for a skiing holiday because of the food and the enormous amount of powder snow they get each winter.
Last summer I’ve been training and racing in New Zealand. Such a beautiful country, with great training possibilities for us. Really funny to be traveling for two days to the other side of the world with all our skiing equipment, and then still knowing all the racers on the mountain who also came from around the world to that same place.
Is your greatest goal to compete at the Olympics or to win a world cup race?
I would rather win a world cup race than just compete at the Olympics because that would mean I was the fastest that day! Of course, the Olympic games are something really special with a lot of history, which I really hope to be a part of some day. But I still think the overall world cup title would mean more because you are the best skier of the whole season instead of just one race.
How is your competition this year? And what do you think is your advantage?
Some ups and downs, I had a couple podium results on international FIS races which is nice and helps my world ranking and therefore my starting position. But I want to do better in World Cup races; so far it has been difficult for me with high starting positions and therefore worse snow conditions.
My advantage is my intrinsic motivation and the joy I get from being in the mountains. For me, as a flatlander, not growing up in the mountains, I still feel lucky I can live this life and I’m willing to work hard for it.
Where and how often do you train in winter? Who are your training partners that you can push you to the limit and be competitive?
Almost all year round we train about 20-25 hours a week. In the wintertime, we train five or six days a week. Mostly skiing in the morning and physical training in the afternoon. We have a very small team so that means we can be very flexible, always looking for the best snow conditions. We can often join other teams on the different training locations because we are mostly just one or two skiers.
How about during the Summertime?
In summer we are skiing on the glaciers or in the southern hemisphere. Additionally, we do a lot of physical training too. I only have a few weeks off in April and May before we start preparing for the next winter season. Legs and core stability are the most important. Some of my favourite weight exercises are ‘clean’, ‘squat’ and ‘deadlift’. For core, quickness and coordination we use many different dynamic exercises.
Do you follow a specific diet? Things you don’t eat or try to avoid? Maybe some things you do eat, but maybe shouldn’t?
My diet mainly consists of ‘various healthy foods’. I enjoy cooking and choosing the ingredients myself. To ensure I eat the right amount of carbs, proteins and fats, depending on the kind of training. We are on the road a lot, and the hotels don’t always offer the foods I would prefer to eat. Therefore, I sometimes bring my own food.
What keeps you motivated to such a dedicated lifestyle?
I just like skiing that much! The feeling you get going so fast down the hill and trying to be faster every time is just amazing! Traveling around the world and making friends around the world is also something very unique that comes with it.
I imagine you like freeriding too. Have you already tried some spots in the unlimited area around Innsbruck?
Yes, who doesn’t? If there is more than 30-40 cm of fresh snow it’s not possible for us to train so then we have to go freeriding! The Nordkette is definitely my favourite because of the amazing view over Innsbruck and the steep hills off the Hafelekar. But also Axamer Lizum or Stubai are very cool for some freeriding!
It was nice meeting Maarten in person. He seems a very genuine guy dedicated to keep on pushing his career to the next level. I think he made the right decision to choose Innsbruck as his winter home-base. Maarten has his own website, instagram, facebook and twitter page. Make sure to check him out and follow his endeavours, while he unfolds himself a better skier every day.