After Christmas the British team, along with the French, spent time training in La Thuile, Italy. The conditions were amazing and it allowed for some great progress. I was joined by BBC Ski Sunday, who came to film over a few days. This was a really fun and interesting experience where TV presenter, Graham Bell, attempted to telemark in a giant slalom, on a jump and to skate for the first time.
The first World Cup race was also held in La Thuile, it is a super steep slope and has hosted many alpine World Cup events over the years. Graham Bell and the Ski Sunday team turned up again, and Graham actually fore-ran the Classic event which proved to be quite the challenge. I managed a 2nd place finish, and 4th the day before in the Sprint discipline.
The first race was the Sprint, followed by the gruelling Classic where Sion Bingham (30th, 26th), Ben (27th, 23rd) and Jack Emsley (DNF, 29th) were also competing. Louis Hatchwell achieved a career best finish of 12th place in the Sprint discipline but unfortunately did not finish (DNF) in the Classic. Jack Harvard Taylor and Tanner Visnick were in the commentary booth. US athlete, Tanner, suffered a serious ankle injury in training just before the first race. This is a real shame because Tanner is an amazing skier, and was showing real form on the slopes.
Meanwhile, the British Championships were hosted by the army in Pralognan-la-Vanoise, France, and from what I have heard they were a real success and well attended. The new overall British Champions are Sissi Compton (British C Team) and Robert Houstoun (British A Team), while Colin Dixon (British B Team) was victorious in the Classic discipline. There were also some great performances from Ben Silva (British C Team), Magnus McIntosh (Magnus had joined us for training in La Thuile), Naila Cardwell (British B Team) and Louis Blyth (Club des Houches).
Then the World Cup tour travelled to Pralognan-la-Vanoise where we joined the rest of our team-mates. The first race was the Sprint, I skied clean on the first run taking the lead by over 2 seconds, the second run was very intense but I am proud to have taken my first victory of the season and against Amelie Wenger-Reymond (SUI) who has proven to be one of the best athletes in snow-sport history. This occurred right before the BBC Ski Sunday program was broadcast to 1 million viewers on mainstream TV, and 80,000 viewers on BBC iPlayer back home in Britain. The support and feedback following the article has been overwhelming.
The French hosted race was a World Cup debut for Ben Silva and Magnus McIntosh where they finished 31st and 29th in the Sprint and 34th and 33rd in the Classic. Sion Bingham finished in 22nd and 21st, Jack Emsley 30th and 32nd, Louis Hatchwell DNF and 22nd, Colin Dixon 27th and 29th, and I finished 4th in the Classic. A great weekend of racing! You can see an article from BBC Sport here.
We then moved onto the third round of racing in the southern French Alps in Pra-Loup. The event kicked off with a tough Classic, I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle from the very beginning so I was very pleased to walk away with 2nd place and team-mate, Ben Emsley achieved a career best of 23rd position. The following day, the Sprint, I took my fourth podium with a 3rd place, and again Ben achieved another personal best of 20th position. The third and final day of racing was the Parallel Sprint, the first of the season. I finished in 5th after crashing out in the loom against Beatrice Zimmermann (SUI) who went on to take 2nd place, Ben finished in 17th place after racing Theo Sillon (FRA). BBC Sport caught wind of the action again, which you can see here.
Last season there were 21 World Cup races, this season had just 12 although it is a World Championship year, these races are counted separately.
Following these races in Italy and France, we had a short one week break which I spent back in Les Houches. It was so nice to see my boyfriend, Will, who came to visit and we enjoyed some powder skiing together.
Some bad news struck in the form of team-mate, Sissi Compton, getting injured. Sissi broke her ACL whilst training, but everyone is behind her wishing her well. She will be back stronger than ever.
The next round of racing in Oberjoch, Germany kicked off with a Sprint where I finished 3rd, Louis Hatchwell DNF, Alec Dixon 31st and Ben Emsley in 30th place. Then the Parallel Sprint where I qualified in 4th place. I raced Johanna Holzmann (GER) in the semi-finals where I suffered one of the biggest crashes in my career, I had to race the small final with borrowed poles and my training skis because of the damage which had occurred to my equipment. Full of adrenaline, I won the dual against Argeline Tan Bouquet (FRA) taking 3rd place. Luckily the German team doctor was on location to treat my arm after the race which had swollen to twice the size. The boys all finished in joint 17th place.
Both races were broadcast on mainstream German TV with over 2.5 million viewers on each feature. There was another BBC Sport article published (see here) and a report on the local BBC news channel back home.
Feeling slightly worse for wear, battered and bruised we travelled on to Krvavec, Slovenia for World Cup Finals and the World Junior Championships. There were more junior women, than junior men which is a really positive sign for the sport. Again, we started with the Classic event where I took my final podium of the season, a 3rd place, taking my total to 29 World Cup podiums equalling the British record set by Free-skier, Gilly Curry in 1994. There was an article published by Planet Ski here and one by BBC Sport here. This podium places me 2nd in the World Cup Classic standings, earning me a silver medal. Louis Hatchwell finished in a respectable 20th place.
Alec and Colin Dixon did not compete in the World Cup Classic, reserving their energy for the World Junior Championships where unfortunately, Alec DNF but Colin placed in 16th position.
Qualifications for the Parallel Sprint were held the next day, picking up too many penalties, I found myself in 8th place. Louis crashed and therefore didn’t qualify; Alec qualified in 32nd and Colin DNF. The following day, Alec finished in joint 17th place and I finished in joint 5th place. In the World Junior Championship Parallel Sprint, Colin finished 17th and Alec in joint 9th place. This 5th place result puts me in 4th in the World Cup Parallel Sprint standings.
The very last day, a Sprint, tensions were running high with overall rankings vulnerable and not yet in the bag. I finished in 4th behind Amelie Wenger-Reymond (SUI), Johanna Holzmann (GER) and Argeline Tan Bouquet (FRA). This 4th place just behind Argeline meant I maintained 2nd in the World Cup Sprint standings, another silver medal. Not only that, I have a new world ranking within the top 3, my goal for the season earning me a bronze medal in the Overall World Cup standings. Great Britain finished 5th in the Nations Cup standings, our joint best result.
The final day in Krvavec was spent in the commentary booth with Monica Huszcz Delevaux where I watched Alec finish in 16th and Colin in 12th in the World Junior Championship Sprint event. The races were broadcast on Slovenian mainstream TV which is again, hugely beneficial for the sport.
Now I return to the UK for a few days rest before travelling back to France for more training in preparation for the World Championships later this season in Rjukan, Norway. As always, thank you to everyone making it possible: boyfriend, family, friends, coaches, team-mates, university, organisers, committees, federations and fellow athletes.