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From The Shadows Making It Happen
Dreams and Fear with ANNA PIXNER
“There is a reason why we have dreams—it is sad that it gets forgotten because of money thoughts, fear of safety, routines.” - Anna Pixner
One day, you see yourself amidst role models, realising it has paid off.
Something Anna Pixner never imagined when gazing her favourite Red Bull TV show—a weekly absorption of extreme sports that was feeding excitement, but seemed out of reach.
Growing up in the center of the Alpes, Innsbruck, she identified as ‘the calm one’. A haven for adventurers that marked a lifestyle. “I envied others who tried things without fear, whilst I thought of getting hurt,” Anna said.
“Sometimes a particular joy can be so strong it overcomes everything else.”
Sometimes a particular joy can be so strong it overcomes everything else. When 15-year-old Anna steps onto a board with wheels, she discovers her anxiety to be of a different sort—not of danger but of humility. One that would end up playing an advantage, lure her from the shadows once embraced. “It’s learning to deal with the fear, and for that you need to feel it,” Anna Stated, “for someone that doesn’t, it’s hard to know the line.” An interesting thought for both reckless, fearful ones blind to their ability, don't you think?
Whilst hesitant showing up in a skatepark, she orders her first longboard and starts riding to school. With steep roads from her doorstep, it quickly turns into a habit. “One guy in my hometown was doing races, keen on mentoring others,” Anna said, “it’s when he showed me the ropes, I got really hooked.” This encounter opens up a new world, pushing Anna to see races up close and join him for a descent in Italy, 3-4 hours away. The first of many, taken in a second-hand leather biker suit ‘somewhat too big’.
“The fearful ones tend to miss the fun features of the street,” Anna added, “rather focusing on what could be better, I think about what could be worse, so I feel stoked every time.”
Fueled by an abundance of energy, her drive doesn’t go unnoticed and soon attracts local sponsorship. It provides Anna with a boost of confidence, urge to prove herself. “I wanted to show my sponsor I could outgrow myself,” Anna said. A social following came next on the menu—raising questions like: ‘how fast can I progress?’.
“It’s a good attribute to be scared, you want to have respect for danger. If you are too reckless, it ends pretty quickly.” - Anna Pixner
Thus the journey continues, lifting the bar for more speed, control. These big events, being surrounded by all these people doesn’t come easy. Some prefer competing on a personal level as opposed to others. “During these races there’s so many factors out of your control,” Anna admits, “so winning that moment doesn’t decide everything—the racing is fun but the rest is hectic.” For Anna, real victory lies in conquering fears.
“For Anna, real victory lies in conquering fears.”
But as we enter 2018, life has yet another test in store…
When Anna moves to Israel for a skate trip in the Negev, a vast desert by the Dead Sea, the unexpected occurs. She crashes into a guardrail and ends up hospitalised for six months in the country—fighting to survive life-threatening injuries.
Later on her release, she decides to confront her fear and revisit the place that nearly cost her life. “In the end of my time there, I skated down the same road again, feeling more grateful than ever,” Anna told.
From this day forward, time and how she spends it is as valuable as can be. Her constant pursuit of a dream, way of dealing with fear spurs a groundbreaking career.
Today, Anna Pixner races down mountains from all corners of the world. Known as a fearless downhill skateboarder, becoming Austria’s fastest, 3rd in Europe during 2019, 7th in the world last year.
Her willpower is shaping up to be a widespread inspiration as she tours around Switzerland, Austria, Germany to encourage kids, shares her story with many. Thus Anna soon features in a documentary called “Woolf Women”, in addition to “With Own Power”, a published book starring her part as an extreme sportswoman.
Let’s give her our warm support, while she prepares for next World Cup in Kozákov, and make this more than just a race.
HunchMaker interviews 🎙 Anna Pixner.
Have you come to see fear as an ally?
I like thinking about fear and life, it's such a satisfying feeling. When you used to feel scared about something and notice you no longer are, it makes you feel good. As a kid in school, I used to have stomach aches 3 days before a '5-min presentation'. Nowadays, that's not the case anymore and it’s amazing. You only have these victories when you feel the fear too.
If competitions make you lose focus on the sport, why do you compete?
Because it provides a space to skate in a different way. These competitions are the only way to race on a closed track with protection, everyone in leather suits. It feels totally different versus free riding on an open road. I love going fast on a closed track, being surrounded by other riders in full control. You get so close, you can skate in a more risky way.
What is speed to you?
The speed is the factor that forces you to be present in the moment. When you go this fast, you have no time to think other than 'how am I going to take this next corner’, it’s almost like meditation.
I caught you considering yourself a shy perfectionist. Did you decide to step out of this shadow?
I am still a shy perfectionist, but learned to deal with it differently. A process that developed over the years. While I was travelling more, meeting people, I started to realise how I was missing out: not interacting, showing what I was capable of "because it wasn't good enough”. This was a growing belief in myself. The accident also gave me a strong push and made me realise it can be over so quickly. It doesn’t make sense to waste time, waiting for dreams to happen. Spending so much time unable to move, gave me time to think.
Are there any regrets on things you said yes or no to?
I have never regretted anything. I believe you mostly regret things when you're wasting time.
Have you come to value your time more?
Yes for sure, I always valued my time, this however intensified after my recovery. Suddenly everything felt more meaningful: being outside, walking on my bare feet... Once you can appreciate all of this, there’s so much to be happy for, every moment is amazing.
How do you make decisions to push your dream forward?
I never felt making big decisions. I was extremely hyped about the sport, so it kept me going—the rest just happened naturally.
What’s your someday goal?
To do something that can help others feel better in life. I think a lot about the environment, how everything we do, contributes. Lasting change, I believe, starts in people's minds. Media is a powerful medium, if you want to make an impact, it has to go through these channels.
Did you make sacrifices to be where you are right now?
Last year during 2022, I was doing a Master's Degree in 'Gender, culture, social change'. I liked the study, but had to choose: either finish my thesis or follow the racing path. Now and then I'd doubt my decision: 'what the hell am I going to do with downhill skating?', 'how am I going to sustain a family, survive financially?'. Then again, recognising you can always change what you do, fall back on multiple options. This sport brings me more learnings, experiences I never anticipated. For most of my studies in sociology, half I mastered from reading, my travels, connecting with all kinds of cultures. It's not that I skate 12-hours a day, feel exhausted for other activities, quite the contrary. Then there's friends, family I sometimes think of when on the other side of the world.
What’s your advice to those who haven’t yet found a passion, childhood dream?
Discovering your passion is essential. School systems should be built around it. As a kid, I met so many people that talked about dreams, but didn't do it. It makes me sad to see that. In the end they disappear slowly, it shouldn’t be like that. So my advice is, experiment widely, never stop exploring until you've found it. I personally love doing new things all the time.
Do you ever slow down by moments of doubt, disbelief?
Not really, I feel pretty confident about everything I do. Whilst I am aware of the challenges, these thoughts fade as quickly as they come. Instead I focus on the positive ones.
Does fame ever work counterproductive?
Ego was never a big thing for me. My first thought is usually a critical one: 'not like I'm great'. I'm also sceptical being shown in media that doesn't align with my values—it only gets out there when I'm certain of it. Being a known person never made sense to me. But I do want to have an impact, and for that you need to make sacrifices.
Do you maintain consistent work?
No, things are rather cluttered, but once I commit, I never stop until 'it feels finished'. I always meet the goals I set.
Should everyone go back to their place of fear as to heal, strengthen?
At least mentally, not physically per se. It's important to reflect on it as much as possible. If you push away things that scare you, it will affect everything.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Being able to have so much fun after the accident, believing that was my last time.
Anna Pixner is someone who faces her fears, has decided to step out of her shadow. It’s about 1.5 year ago when I first crossed her in the midst of Ericeira, felt this growing seed for an inspiring story. For me, she reiterates the importance of exploring so that you meet new people, perspectives, opportunities.
Her last words insist on living dangerously. As Friedrich Nietzsche describes it “the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously!”.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much Anna and I enjoyed bringing it to life. May it harness against current, future challenges.
👉 **Feel free to like, share, leave your comments below**
🔔 Up next, another podcast on “Seeds Of Ambition” - Interview with someone who travels the most remote corners of the world, far away from mass tourism where nobody goes…
🔔 Now enjoy this sneak preview of 🔥 Anna in action 🔥
Until next story,