Firstly, I am going to apologise for taking such a long time to write this post, but better late than never, and now instead of just a few weeks’ worth of news, you lucky people now have a whole 2 months’ worth of stories and updates to make your way through.
I am now writing this from the comfort of my kitchen at home, and after spending a number of days cleaning and moving out of the apartment in Schuttdorf/Zell am See where I have spent the season, I am taking full advantage of Mum’s cooking which also makes a nice change from my experimental menus.
It feels to me like the world champs in Vail/Beaver Creek in February were just weeks ago, so I was slightly shocked to look at a calendar and realise that in fact it has been 8 and a half weeks. Straight after we made our way home from Denver, I had a great 3 day break to get over the jet lag ( probably the worst that I have ever had) and recover from the time training and competing up at 3000m which was not an easy task coming straight out of the injury. However, my back felt great and I was fully healthy and ready to get my teeth stuck into the season by getting back to consistent racing and training. It was a couple of days later when I travelled over to the home town of Kathrin Zettel for a couple of FIS slaloms in Goestling/Hochkar that the season seriously got moving. On the first day there I made my career best slalom result of 15 points, taking away a second place, the second race was going in a similar fashion, and I was sitting in third place after the first run, but annoyingly came out in the second – in hindsight one of the most irritating days of my season. Nevertheless, it meant that my consistent form was there and I could be confident going into the next slalom races ready to attack like craaazzzzyyyyy!
Next up was my first Europa Cup of the season in Monte Pora (which was actually the EC Finals). The night slalom there was probably my best skiing of the season, I moved up from bib 45 into 28th,so had a smashing start number for second run. I ended the night in 20th which stands as my best ever Europa Cup finish and gave me my first ever Europa Cup slalom points, achieving one of my seasons goals which was to make top 20 EC results consistently throughout the season. ( I know I only did one but it was the last one in the calendar and the only one that I could compete at so I’m going to argue that 1 from 1 counts as consistent. It is questionable so please feel free to think differently, I won’t be offended I swear !!)
The next few weeks were spent on GS and we even threw in a bit of Super-G for some fun. I will just come out with it and say that my SG was dire, and that will be a serious area earmarked for improvement over the summer! GS however, wasn’t so bad. I have been struggling with it since returning to snow, especially with the line and timing, but I made a second result of the season in Nauders mid-March and with some good skiing showed myself that there was still a lot to come out of the remainder of the winter.
Unfortunately a couple of days later warming up for a slalom race in St.Anton my whole back went into spasm and everything from my knees upwards seized, this put me into a lot of pain from then onwards. I still haven’t fully managed to feel 100% since that day, but everything is improving a little at a time, and I think that time off of my skis for more than a couple of days is exactly what is needed.
Needless to say the rest of my season was a huge disappointment and I think I only skied 2 runs throughout the last 5 weeks where I wasn’t feeling any sort of pain. Painkillers and various heat therapy helped, but nothing was curing the problem. I went into a number of races and still felt as though I was capable of skiing my best and making a result – but in all honesty I was perhaps kidding myself slightly and should have maybe called it a day way back in March.
The Delancey British Champs in Tignes this year was a great event. It was amazing to have the Championships in another resort, the support for the races was massive and the hard work put in by everyone certainly did not go unnoticed. Personally though, I felt it was the most depressing part of my season, I so badly wanted to race and have a go at defending my titles from last year, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t even do a GS turn properly and was seriously struggling to keep free and loose in any slalom turn. I had to pull out of the GS and crashed hard in the slalom, a very disappointing couple of days to say the least.
After this we decided to concentrate on slalom for the rest of the season, and at least try and make a second result. I started another 4 slalom races after the British Champs, and it became pretty clear that it wasn’t going to be possible to ski my best with my back in the shape that it was. I still skied well, but not free and certainly not able to charge or feel completely confident.
Overall, I would say that the season has still been a huge success when we take into consideration the setback of the injury in November. It has certainly defined this season, but the gains that I made in my skiing through the technical work in January into the races in February remind me that my skiing has still got better ; I can’t really ask for more than that. Physically, I am ready to give my body a break for the next week or so, mentally, my mind needs to switch off and I need to stop contemplating the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’. There were a number of days over the last 5 weeks where mentally I was probably about to break so I need to thank all those around me especially my Parents, brother Christopher, sisters Kirsty and Katie and coach Stef for keeping me sane. I am sad that this means the end of one season, but as usual it is the start of another. I will also be working closely with The Scottish Institute of Sport once again this summer who are going to help turn me into a living, breathing machine!!! Bring it.
I need to thank Sports Aid in conjunction with The Robertson Trust for continuing their support this year, I feel honoured looking at some of the past recipients of the award. I would like to thank the The Tauern Spa (Kaprun) for coming on board and giving me limitless use of their facilities which has helped immensely with my back treatment as of late, as well as giving me an exceptionally awesome hang out spot for all days off! The Ladies Ski Club, Delancey, everyone at British Ski and Snowboard, Pandaw cruises, Uvex, Perth Hyperbaric Centre, Scott, Kelly and Niall are all people that I could not have done without this season and I don’t know how I can thank you enough. Special thanks as always need to go to Stef with whom I will be working again next season and of course to HEAD for always making sure I have enough super fast and awesome skis.
Last but not least. Thank you to every single one of you out there that believes in me, reads these posts, supports me and sends me all the little messages of encouragement, especially when things aren’t going as planned. It means the world!!!
All I can say is that we will be ready and fighting for 15/16 !!
Lots of Love, Charlie
P.S For anyone interested, or has been following the progress of my Avocado tree – It is BOOSTING on … I’ll have my own Avo’s in no time !!!