It has been far too long since my last blog update! I’ve been doing a huge amount of racing over the past months so it’s probably time to fill you all in on my ups and downs.
In February I headed to Crans Montana for the Europa Cup speed races. Despite difficult conditions with a lot of wind, cold (-28!) and fog I had a really great week. After some solid training runs I managed to grab 27th place in the Downhill race which were my first ever EuropaCup points in speed. I also had a good super g run and I just missed out on top 30 finishing in 33rd. After having skied the piste numerous times during the week, I decided that I would compete in the World Cup Super G at the end of the week. Competing in a World Cup is always a brilliant experience. I was starting bib 54 and had a good run, including a top 20 speed at the speed gun! I finished just 2.7 seconds off the winner and 1.3 off the top 30. It was the first time at a World Cup that I really felt I deserved to be competing amongst the best in the world.
I headed back to base in France for one night before a long drive across France to the Pyrenees. I was straight back into racing with 2 GS in Font Romeu. I was in speed mode and hadn’t had my GS skis on for a while so I was really surprised to perform well and score a second best result this season at 26 points. It’s no where near where I want to be but it’s a step in the right direction! After Font Romeu I drove over the border to La Molina in Spain for 2 Europa Cup GS. La Molina didn’t come together the right way for me. The first day was my chance to get into the top 30 after first run and I missed my shot. I managed to sneak into the top 30 on both days but it wasn’t the results I was looking for.
It was time for the EuropaCup finals! I was really excited to get back to doing some speed races. I performed ok in the speed events. My downhill was good except I was soooo slow on the top flat and then skied the rest of the course well. It’s so frustrating being slow on the flat sections but at least I knew I could hold my own against the other girls on the steeper and more technical parts of the course. The super G suited me much better as with a lowered start it started at the end of the flat! I skied well and just missed out on top 30 by 0.5. It was the run where I had the most fun all season though so I was really happy to be there. The giant slalom at the finals was probably the most difficult day this season. With big mistakes first run I finished in 31st by 0.01. Second run unfortunately I caught an edge and was thrown out the course on the top flat; that’s ski racing!
My last speed races in Andorra were the Andorran National Championships. I frustratingly skied really well. Much better than I had in the Europa Cup finals on exactly the same hill! I finished second in both the Downhill races and won both the super g races. The first one by 3 seconds and scored a result to take my super g points into the 30s. I was feeling really confident and was happy that my skiing was coming together just before the British Championships in Tignes.
I couldn’t believe it was already time for the British Championships. My aim was to win the speed events, do my best in what would be my first slalom race of the year, and have a good shot at winning the GS trophy and defend my Overall title for the 5th year in a row. My week started off really well with a victory in the Super G, defending my title from the previous year. I was really excited for the Downhill race, there were a few more jumps in it this year than previous years which have never been my forte but I had really worked on them this season so felt really confident. My training run started well, I was 0.75 ahead at the first split and then over a second and the next time split and then it all went a bit wrong. The last part of the course in Tignes is a sort of road that traverses the hill before turning sharply to the left over a roll onto the last steep. As I came up to the roll, my line was to go tight on the gate but with my skis heading to the right where the roll was smaller and I would be better set up for the next turn. As I got to the gate it was really windy and the gate was lying across the line which I wanted to take so I threw my skis sideways to avoid the gate… unfortunately as things tend to happen quite quickly in a Downhill this meant I was heading off the jump, backseat, and facing completely the wrong way. I felt like I flew pretty high, a lot higher than expected and with my bum on my heels there wasn’t much I could do when I hit the ground. I closed my eyes as I fell and waited for that all too familiar snapping sound in my knee. At one point in the crash my leg hyperextended and I felt a burning sensation in my left knee. When I finally stopped there had been no snap but oh my god was I in pain. I decided to ski down (not my smartest move) and head straight to the medical centre. An X-ray showed no fractures so I needed and MRI. The verdict was my meniscus had been damaged. The next day I woke in agony with my back, knee and ankle. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t hold down any food. We headed to the hospital in Bourg (which took a while as I thought I was going to be sick all the way down the road!). The hospital staff were amazing doing every test on me possible including X-rays on my back and ultrasounds on my internal organs. I was very bashed up but nothing serious. After my MRI the doctor told me my knee was fine, which was a huge relief but I have a small compression fracture on my tibial plateau. When I felt my leg hyper extend my bones basically squished each other another to crack! It was very frustrating to have not been spotted on the X-ray on the day off the accident as I then walked around on it for a week. I’ll be back on skis on time for summer though!
This season I competed in 8 different countries, a total of 73 races, my first Europa Cup points in Downhill and Giant Slalom and PB scores in Speed and GS. I’m proud of myself, I’ve had some really good performances in what was a difficult year. But I am no where near satisfied. This is just the beginning!