As the New Year approaches its time to look back on the year left behind. 2018 was a year for growth in which I accomplished a number of things outside of the skiing world, you could even say that it was the first year where I discovered a world outside of skiing!
Last season ended on a low with a crash in the DH at the British where I broke my leg. The most painful part was knowing it would be impossible for me to defend my title again, which I was well on my way to do before my crash. It’s one of those things that I can’t change though and it’s a part of skiing. The only thing to do is to look forward and insure that I coming back fighting fit and healthy. Ending the season on an injury is so frustrating because you’re so ready for a break after the winter but your body needs you to push through rehab. I spent as much time as possible in the gym and out on the bike trying to get fit and strong again.
At the beginning of May I flew to the British Virgin Islands for a much-needed holiday. It was also the launch of my swimwear line which I had worked so hard for throughout the previous year. I’m very proud of my one-woman company and what it has become in 18 months. Pouring my energy into something that wasn’t about racing down a mountain was really eye opening. When my time in the Caribbean came to an end, my mind struggled to comprehend that I had to leave behind bikinis and beaches and head back to the mountains. It was the first time in many years that I was completely detached from ski racing and I could see what else the world had to offer.
However, after a few days back on the snow I knew I was back doing something I loved and could excel in. Training was difficult as I was still experiencing pain from my bone break and my frustration grew knowing that what I really needed was more rest when all I wanted to do was ski faster. Changing from Orsatus to ISRA was a good step for me. Different coaches, different teammates and a change of environment gave me a new mind space to evolve in.
After a few weeks back on snow in Europe I was off to the UK to give back to the British skiing world by coaching with ATC. Always a rewarding experience! I had also signed myself up for two weeks of water sports on the Isle of Wight with UKSA. Once again, my eyes were opened through meeting people my age that hadn’t dedicated their life to sport. I also fell in love with dinghy sailing, the best part was that so many skills from skiing like balance, strength and coordination really helped me! I learnt that you can make a career for yourself on the seas, sailing around the world. Becoming a charter skipper on yachts in the BVI has now become a long term goal of mine. Although it’s going to be very difficult to do while skiing is still a part of my life, its nice to have a future plan I’m really excited about.
Back to the snow in Chile and once again I was surrounded by the world I knew so well and loved. I was skiing fast, my knee wasn’t painful and I was happy. One of the biggest changes to skiing with ISRA was the amount of time I spent on snow compared to previous years. It meant I was never exhausted on skis like I had been in the past and I could always train to my full potential. It felt brilliant.
After Chile, I headed back to the sea. I learnt a huge amount about the yachting industry in Annapolis, Maryland for a week helping Horizon Yacht Charters at the boat show. My journey onwards from Annapolis was on a new catamaran which needed delivering to the Caribbean: 1500 miles, 2 weeks at sea. If you ever need time to think, the middle of the Atlantic Ocean surrounded only by blue skies and water is a pretty quiet place to go. My mind skittered between the sea and the snow as I tried to work out which life I loved more. A difficult decision to make when you’re watching dolphins play in your wake at 2am, lit up only by the moon and stars.
Soon the sand once again became snow as I headed to Colorado for the next month. Training was getting better and better and I ended the month with some great results in GS and SG. I was ready for winter.
The last month in Europe has been a real struggle, I felt tired, slow and a bit “all over the place”. The Christmas break couldn’t come soon enough. I’m now enjoying the last few days of the break before I go back to the mountains for the rest of the winter. As I sit here reading back over this blog, I realise it might reflect someone who is 100% committed to their sport. It might sound like someone a little unsure of their future and the next path they want to commit too. I rather look at it as an amazing year of opportunity and growth. The point is that I’m still skiing, I still want to win races and be the best in the world. Maybe I am reaching one of those crossroads in life where you have to make a choice. But until the day I’m stood at the top of a mountain and I can say I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and I’m happy to leave behind the world of ski racing, you can bet I’ll still be fighting for the top spot.
I’m finally back in Europe! I’ve been away for two months and I was so ready to come back home. Even though I’m not quite headed home just yet… I’m off to Val Gardena for two super gs and then I’m going to come home for a few days to relax before another block of racing and training before Christmas.
I rounded off the camp in Copper Mountain with two GS and two Super G races. I was nervous for the races, it felt like a lifetime ago that I had last pushed out a start gate with a bib on! This was fairly obvious from my results in the first GS. My first run wasn’t terrible but I wasn’t in race mode and I had skied too cautiously. Second run the course had chopped quite a bit but I was determined to up the intensity, unfortunately I also pinched the line and ended up going straight through a panel, both feet between the gate!
I knew I could do so much better and luckily I had a second GS. After first run I was sat in 5th position, just under a second off the winner. Before second run I was a bit worried about blowing out the course again but I was more worried about crossing the finish line and being slow because I hadn’t given it my best shot. I really went for it and moved up 3 places to finish 2nd overall. I was second on the run. The girl who ended up winning the race also won the run and smashed it so I was further off than I would have liked but I scored 22 points which is a PB result for me!
After the GS it was time for the SG. Originally the SG was going to run across two days with one run per day but due to the weather they put both runs on the same day. I wasn’t too nervous for the super g because the piste was easy and the set of the course was very easy too. I just knew I had to be as clean and smooth as possible because every tiny mistake would be costly. When I crossed the finish line I was happy with my run, I thought I had skied the course well and hadn’t made any mistakes. I was surprised when I saw I was winning though because I knew there were a few other really good speed skiers there. I was really happy to take my first win of the season and score a PB of 33points! The score was extra special to me because it’s the first time I’ve scored something lower than before I tore my ACL.
I just needed to do the same in the second race, which was the same course. Annoyingly I pushed out the gate a bit too focussed on keeping my skis smooth and caught an edge on the last roll at the top of the course before the long flat. I knew it would have lost me the win but I was very happy with my skiing on the rest of the run. I ended up in 4th but I knew my skiing was fast without the mistake and I couldn’t be disappointed with my day!
The races were the end of skiing in America and we had a day to pack up our stuff before it was time to fly back to Europe. I really enjoyed the camp in Copper and I thought it was a great pre-European winter base. The conditions were brilliant and now I feel ready to start the European race season! If you haven’t read my ISRA blog about the differences between skiing in Europe and the US you can read it here. Make sure you’re following my Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date with my news!
It's me, Cara!