I’m on my way back to France after 10 days in cold and snowy Norway. The first Europa Cups of the season are done and I’m ready for more! The last time I came to Norway to compete in Europa Cup I left feeling beaten and wanting to head back to some friendly CIT races where I would start amongst the best and likely finish amongst the best. However, I as much as I think winning is one of the best feelings in the world, sometimes even just skiing the way you know you can and being fast is good enough.
The first races were two giant slalom in Hafjell. The last time I was in Hafjell was for the World Junior Championships. I found the slope just as challenging, a mixture of roles and steeps. The first day I felt miles out of my depth. I was starting bib 89. 89. That’s a big number. Despite the piste conditions being great I let my bib number and the words “europacup” get to my head and I skied pretty terribly. My punishment was that I didn’t even make top 60 to get a second run. Back to the hotel with my tail between my legs; I needed to up my game. After watching my video it was pretty clear why I didn’t get a second run. I didn’t ski well or fight enough to deserve it. The next day I wanted two runs. I fought my way down the first run and just made the cut in 58th. I was annoyed. I had made it but the goal posts had moved. What was the point of being 58th? I wanted to be faster. My second run was good. It was the first time I had strung together my turns so they flowed and I took speed from one gate to a next. Yes, there were mistakes in there but it was a baby step. I moved up 10 places and told myself to remember that skiing for the next race.
After Hafjell I headed to Kvitfjell. On the program one giant slalom, two super gs and a super combined. I was lucky to have two days of super g training on the race slope. It was great, my times were fast and I was feeling confident. First up was the GS. I was starting 77. I just had to make up 17 places for a second run. The weather was horrible, snow, wind and fog. It was brilliant because I love it when the weather is bad! I crossed the finish line and turned around to see my time and saw the number 31 next to my name. My initial reaction was “sh*t”. And then suddenly I realised that this was a Europa Cup and I had moved up 46 places. Not too bad! I ended up in 32nd (nice job C. Guest!) and was ready for second run. Except the weather gods turned against us and second run was cancelled. And then they decided that second run would be the following morning… and unfortunately one of the super G’s would be cancelled. The next day the weather was unfortunately better and the snow conditions unfortunately worse. The snow broke and was very bumpy and instead of attacking the course I retreated. However, I had a little bit of luck and finished in 29th! My first ever Europa Cup points!
The next day was the Super G. I was really excited, the course looked great and I just hoped the snow would hold out for me going bib 60. I skied the top part of the course really well and then I made a dreaded mistake just before the flat. I scrubbed all my speed. At my top split I was in last place. I did my best on the flat, trying to glide and take as much speed as I could out of every turn and I finished 45th, 3 seconds off the leader. I was so annoyed at myself for making the mistake but the positive was that without the mistake I was fast and that’s what I’m taking to my next races.
So I’ve come away from Norway feeling satisfied but hungry for more. I was up there with the top girls and when I manage to string two fast runs together in the same race then I’ll really have my place in Europa Cup. Next stop is Andalo, Italy, for two Europa Cup GS. I’m excited and ready to ski fast. My mum always says to me “you’ll ski fast when you’re ready”. It drives me nuts because I always feel ready but she’s right. When everything comes together I’ll be fast and through hard work, perseverance and time I’ll get there.