My training has been fairly up and down for the last month. My knee was doing so well at the beginning of January that alongside my coaches, we decided I could try out some speed. I foreran the men’s Downhill in Tignes. It was brilliant fun until I landed badly off the jump and hurt my knee quite badly. I knew nothing was torn but I had bad bone bruising and I later found out that I had manged to rotate my fibula… I had to take a week off and when I got back on skis I was so worried about hurting myself again that I ended up taking another week off to get my head in the right place.
I struggled to find GS training at the beginning of the month due to the lack of European snow and then when the snow finally arrived the conditions were too soft to train! In total I’ve had about 10 days of GS training since I did my knee last April. Nevertheless, World Champs St Moritz 2017 has been my goal for so long that I wasn’t ready to give it up.
As I was ranked 53rd on the World Championships start list and only the top 50 girls automatically qualify for the race, I had to compete in the qualification race on Monday in which I had to finish top 25 to qualify. I was happy to have to do this race as it gave me an extra day in gates and a race! My first run in the qualification race was very timid; I feel like I need the first run to convince myself that my knee is going to be ok. I was sat in 21st place after first run, not what I was looking for! My second run was better and I finished 18th overall. My skiing on the steep was still too timid but my flat was fast. I had the 22nd time on the steep and the 6th best time on the flat! The aim was to qualify for the GS on Thursday though and anything on top of that would have been a bonus so I got the result I was looking for.
I went to watch the parallel event on Tuesday which was really good fun and made me wish my knee had been ready to go off the jump so the British team could have shown the world how awesome we are! On Wednesday I freeskied on the race hill. It had a lot of terrain in it but the snow looked great. I trained GS afterwards and was so happy because my coach said I finally managed to attack the course from the first run. I felt so ready for the race on Thursday, I had prepared as well as I could and I knew if I skied my best I could make the second run. (top 60)
I was feeling really positive on Thursday morning, the course looked great in inspection, I had a great warm up and my knee felt good. As I watched the top girls from the finish I told myself that I could ski like them and put down an awesome run. As I stood in the start gate for my run I said to myself “this is it, you’ve made it, all you need to do now is attack the course and go fast!”.
I thought my run started off well, I made a small mistake up top but didn’t feel like I’d lost much speed. When I came onto the steep I felt like I skied well even though I knew I could tighten up my line a bit. When I hit the flat I grabbed the tuck and tried my best to go faster and faster. When I crossed the finish line I was sure I had had a good run and given it my all. The disappointment on my face was obvious as soon as I saw my time. I was in 43rd position but 7 seconds off the leader. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t angry at myself because I thought I’d done my best but I was so upset. My coach later told me that he thought I had hurt my knee when I made the mistake at the top because of the way I skied the rest of the course… too timid again despite feeling like I had given it 100%.
My coaches said my skiing was good considering the limited training I’ve had and the other girls told me not to worry because they know how fast I am and coming back from knee surgery just 8 months ago I’m doing really well. It’s still upsetting to see how many steps back I’ve taken since I hurt myself. Physically my knee is great and I’m fitter than I’ve ever been. I’m missing time on skis and in gates. Mentally I was doing well but I’ve been slightly crushed by my time today. I believe that hard work will always pay off in the end and I’m doing everything I can to be fast but I just need more time. I’m heading back to France now to get back into training now that the conditions are great and I’m looking forward to finding my fast feet again for my next races.