8 weeks have never gone past so quickly. I am still shocked as I look at the date and we only have one week left of September. As per the last 3 ‘wintery-summers’, I have been based in Wanaka, New Zealand and this year resided with the Roulston family – never a dull moment there!
After arriving in NZ itching to get going after a solid 12 weeks of strength and conditioning with Scott at the Scottish Institute of Sport in Stirling, I was literally grinning from ear to ear when myself and coach Stef drove up to Cardrona on out first day and saw just how perfect the snow was. Cardrona really served up the best conditions that I have ever seen down there and we had some epic training alongside some of the best teams in the world including Austria and Norway.
One thing that did not play perfectly to plan, was my back. After only my second day training easy Giant Slalom, I had a spasm and all the problems that surfaced back in March reared their ugly heads again. This meant only one thing – skiing was stripped back and out came days and days of practising drills: Not necessarily a bad thing, but very frustrating when all I wanted to do was get back into the gates and start bashing some panels. Even more frustrating was when I realised that there was absolutely no way that I would be able to enter the first 6 races that were on my calender. Once that was put behind me and the metal game was brought up to par, physio sessions dialled in, a chiropractor keeping things under control and an acupuncturist jabbing strategically placed needles into my back, feet, head and hands – it was time to get moving again.
Albeit better, I was confined to slalom for the majority of the camp, again not a bad thing as it gave me a lot of time to devote to making the most out of my new set up. It took a couple of sessions, but before long, everything was back to where I wanted it to be … cue happy coach. I was putting down some great runs in training, and competitive times with the Austrian girls. We felt that I was ready to race and so entered into the last 2 slaloms on the ANC calendar at Coronet Peak. I was really happy with my skiing at both of the races, annoyingly I didn’t finish either – but the skiing showed that I was more than prepared to take risks and it was either going to be a fast time, or no time at all… both outcomes better than just being slow 😉 !
Therefore with only one more slalom race left for me down in New Zealand, I was feeling as if it were about time for something to come out of everything that I had been working towards over the previous 6 months, so we headed up to Treble Cone.
The day did not start well – or maybe it was just a good omen for things to come, whichever way you look at it, we were close to not even making it up the mountain. There was a nice 10-20cms of fresh snow overnight and with our trusty 2WD and ill fitting snow chains, we committed to the challenge and smashed on up the dirt track regardless. That was until we got to the steepest part of the road, where one of our chains completely broke off, leaving only one option; to get out and push – a fantastic warm up to add to anyone’s pre-race regime!
Treble cone is a hill that I have always struggled on in the past. Never had I ever made it into the finish and thought – ‘yeah, I can be happy with that one’ … but it finally happened. I had a pretty sketchy looking first run, I’m not sure if I was ever totally in control, but a second run that made all the hard work worth it and combined gave me my first win since all my back trouble began back in November alongside a nice bonus of a career best result. FINALLY! I have never been so happy with a race win in my entire life, this is certainly the one that means the most to me. I have been put through a lot this summer, so it is perfect to prove to the cynics that I am still right up there and making progress too. That aside, to know in myself that I am completely back to where I want to be and on track with my goals for the season was such a great feeling.
The last 2 weeks of the camp after that were like a dream, I was able to get back onto my GS and Super-G skis and go a bit faster and get the feeling for speed back. I wouldn’t have thought in the first week of the camp after the relapse that I would ever have made that much progress with my back – so a huge thank you to everyone that helped me out down there!
Now that I am home – thankfully I didn’t die on my 6 hour, fairly spontaneous excursion into Dubai on the way over – I am getting back into the gym and preparing for returning to Austria in a couple of weeks time. I’ll be based around Zell am See again, but travelling around the glaciers following the best conditions. By the end of November we will be back up in Scandinavia (where hopefully lightening doesn’t strike twice) for the first Europa Cups and FIS races of the season. I could not be more exited for what is to come!
I would love to take this opportunity to thank all of you who contributed to my Make A Champ campaign over the last 60 days. Everything that you contributed will go towards paying for the summer camp in New Zealand. As I have said so many times before, your support means so much to me. It is such a great mental boost to know that there are people like yourselves out there that believe in my dreams and know that together we can achieve them. You are part of the team and the journey and any successes this season are not only mine, but yours too! Thank you!
As always, I must thank my parents, coach Stef, Pandaw River Cruises, The Ladies Ski Club, Sports Aid and Delancey for keeping everything moving forward in the right direction too.
And of course… Thank you for reading!
Love Charlie x