It’s been a while since my last update… It felt like my season came to an end before it even has a chance to begin and there just wasn’t time to write a blog. Then suddenly the world was in lockdown and my mind felt like it was a million miles away from the mountains.
I’ll begin where I last left off, after a great camp down in New Zealand last summer. In September I took some time away from skiing to do my sailing exams, and I passed my Day Skipper and moved on to study for my Yachtmaster Offshore. My next time back on snow was in November in Colorado. The temperatures were much kinder this year and the conditions were awesome. There’s a new tech training venue with a cool GS hill and I had a few really good days of SG training. The camp wrapped up after Thanksgiving with 2 SG races at Copper Mountain. Unfortunately, I let my head get to me and didn’t ski as well as I had been in training. However, I still came away with a best ever SG result, a podium and motivation to do well at my first Europa Cup races of the season.
I had a short break at home in Italy before I headed to St Moritz for two Europa Cup Super G races. The race hill was really cool, there wasn’t much flat terrain which suited me and the hill was constantly turning and twisting making it pretty technical. The one thing that didn’t suit me so well though was the jump. I thought it looked pretty big despite everyone reassuring me that it was only a small 10m jump. I was starting in the 40s so I stayed at the bottom to watch the first girls going off the jump. Number 1 landed at the next gate, about 50m away. It took until bib 10, who jumped over the next gate before they decided to make the jump a little smaller! I was very relieved. I skied well in the first race, albeit a bit cautious. I didn’t finish very well but I had promising split times, with the 8th fastest time at the last interval. I was determined to make the next day better. The following day was perfect for me. The weather was cloudy and overcast and the light was really flat, just how I like it. I skied really well and moved up over 20 places finishing in 23rd. I was very proud of my result and ready for more!
The rest of December I did a lot of GS. I had a few podiums and good results in some races in Austria but nothing close to the results I was aiming for. I spent the Christmas break at home with my family in Italy. I went to La Thuile for New Year coaching for ATC (Alpine Training Centre). I had a really fun week and had great group of U16 and FIS athletes who made some big improvements.
With my coach, we decided that January would be focused on GS and the February was going to be all about SG, which I was really looking forward to. I started doing a little bit of ski touring in January around Val di Fassa, which I really enjoyed and I look forward to doing more of when next possible. It was good endurance training and nice to get away from everything for a few hours each week. I also had some really great GS training days where I make some real leaps forward in my skiing.
At the end of January, we went to Seefeld in Austria for two GS races. The hill was interesting, due to a lack of snow it weaved between two slopes and even featured a triple delay, something I had never seen in 10 years of racing! My first run didn’t go as planned, I struggled to generate any kind of speed on the flat hill and I was not fast! The race was delayed due to timing issues and then suddenly it was cancelled after run 1. We went back up to the start to get our gear before the organisers announced the race was back on. It was tough going to switch my brain out of race mode and then back into it. Nevertheless, I decided that even if today wasn’t going to be the result of my career, I was still going to make the most of my second run and enjoy it. I remember looking up when I was in the start gate and thinking how lucky I was to be racing in such an amazing place; then I pushed out the start. I took a direct line which made me pick up more speed than I expected and at the first roll I flew further than I expected. When I was in the air, I worked out that I was going to land on the flat at the bottom of the roll and be compressed. I tensed up my left leg (the knee with my ACL replacement) to protect it which unfortunately, left my right leg free to catch and twist in a rut. I felt a snap and knew something was wrong. However, I didn’t fall over so I just skied down to my coach. You can imagine she was pretty surprised when I told her I thought I’d snapped my ACL! I took my ski off, did a couple of squats, decided I was fine and skied down. I’m so glad I skied down because it was to be my last ski for a long time. The verdict was a fully ruptured ACL and just a week later I was having surgery (wide awake under epidural!?) in Lugano, Switzerland. I knew the drill, it had been 4 years since I tore my left ACL, an injury which completely changed my career.
I didn’t feel ready to tell the world that I had done it again. I didn’t want to receive all the well wishes from people and messages telling me I would come back stronger because in reality, nobody is better off with an injury. Yes, you can come back and do great things in your career, many a world champion is proof of that but it’s never something an athlete would choose. Having said that, when I did announce my injury, the support I received was overwhelming and really made me smile so thank you to everyone who commented, texted and called me.
Of course, everyone knows what happened next… the world started to shut down due to COVID19 and suddenly every athlete in the world knew what being injured felt like – one day you’re doing your sport and the next day you’re stuck at home, unable to do any of the things you want to. I’ve been working hard on my rehab from my now “home” in London and my knee is doing really well (I think, who knows without access to doctors and physios). The earliest my knee would allow me back on snow is in Autumn but of course my return to snow may be delayed due to COVID19.
I’m making the most of lockdown by passing my Yachtmaster Theory, just need to do the practical now. I have also set myself up to be able to work remotely as a French/Italian to English translator, a transcriber and a guest blog writer. I’m still selling bikinis from my company Corallina Swim, even though our wholesale chain has taken a huge hit due to COVID19. If you would like a fun way to support a British Athlete, please check out my bikini website, I ship worldwide for free and offer gift wrapping so it’s an easy way to let someone know you’re thinking of them, or treat yourself!
Who knows what’s next in store for the world? While we may all be sailing this stormy sea, we are definitely not in the same boat so I hope you can hold your loved ones close (6feet close) during these times and whether you’re dreaming of the slopes, the beach or the local pub, that you can find your way back there soon.
It's me, Cara!