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Powder’s prince Pepi and king Franz

Andrew Harley
Special to the DailyFranz Fuchsberger, left and Pepi Neubauer celebrate their vicotry at the 2004 Powder 8 World Championships in the Masters division at Blue River, B.C., Canada.
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The royalty of powder skiing, Franz Fuchsberger and Pepi Neubauer, proved worthy of their crowns at the 2004 Powder 8 World Championships in Blue River, B.C., Canada.

After a helicopter ride to an untouched powder field in the mountains of Blue River, teams at the Powder 8 World Championships are judged for their dynamic skiing, synchronization, roundness of turns, symmetry and descent line.

Fuchsberger and Neubauer took their third-straight Masters division crown – Fuchsberger won the Open division crown in 2000 and 2001 – with 234 points.

“Anytime I win, I cannot complain,” said Fuchsberger. “When you’re defending a title, you want to stay there because it’s very ugly to step back from the top. It’s always easier to move from the bottom than from the top.”

A Powder 8 team consists of two members who must be very familiar with each other, and who must both be strong athletes.

“We stepped it up from run to run, and when it came to the title, we got the highest mark,” said Fuchsberger. “We’ve been competing together for years, and it’s going to be more and more difficult every year for any other teams to take us out because the longer we’re together, it’s like a good relationship or marriage. In a good relationship or marriage, when everything works well, there’s a harmony there, and the same thing goes for competition whenever you do something as a team.”

Neubauer and Fuchsberger have been skiing together for the past three years of Powder-8 competition.

“Basically, we have a phenomenal partnership on the hill and off the hill, and that’s what it really takes,” said Fuchsberger. “Skiing alone would not make a good partnership, it’s really the whole thing from traveling together, training, staying in the same lodging. So it’s a relationship, and whether you’re married or not, you know that it’s not that easy to keep a good relationship all of the time.”

Neubauer has a traditional racing background, having grown up in Austria, but he currently resides in Naples, N.Y. So, Neubauer and Fuchsberger don’t live close enough to each other to train together year-round. Neubauer comes out to Colorado for a couple of months a year to condition and train. A couple of days prior to the competition, the duo heads up to Canada to condition on-site, and to prepare for the competition.

“Preparation is everything,” said Fuchsberger. “Therefore, we go up a couple of days prior (to the competition), and then feel out the snow, the atmosphere, everything, so that we can be totally relaxed and ready when showtime arrives.”

Fuchsberger, born into skiing in Tamsweg, Austria, skis in back, while Neubauer leads in the front.

“He is a solid skier in the front, and, if he doesn’t give me what I need – the speed, the dynamics and all of the above – then I cannot do anything from behind,” said Fuchsberger. “If he makes a bad turn, then I need to make a bad turn, but then the 8s will suffer.”

Fuchsberger and Neubauer have made a graceful transition from the Open division to the elder Masters division of Powder-8 competition.

“I started to concentrate more on the business aspect, and the Open division takes more time to prepare for. But the Masters division can compete with the Open,” said Fuchsberger. “The Masters division is like the Senior PGA Tour is to the regular PGA Tour. Many good seniors can win a regular PGA tournament.”

Fuchsberger is excited about the future of the sport because of the promotions it has recently received from Herman Meier and the World Cup skiing realm.

“I would like this sport go to the Olympics. It has it all, it’s great for TV,” said Fuchsberger.

For more information on Fuchsberger, Neubauer and the 2004 Powder 8 World Championships, visit http://www.powder8.com.

Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext.610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.


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