“There is no such thing as going back to square one. Even if you feel like you have to start over, you are trying again with far more knowledge, strength and power.”
This was the motto that really surrounded my summer training this year. With the successes from the end of the 2016 season in the past and the goals for the 2017 season very much in the forefront of my mind, it was time to really get a sweat worked up. Together with the Sport Scotland Institute of sport, we set about making sure that I would be ready to take on newer, bigger and more exciting challenges than ever before (The likes of World domination).
With the last two years surrounded by injuries, more injuries and continuous back niggles, we were (for the first time in my entire life) keen to really strip things back to the basics and build up from there. There were of course days that I massively regretted every moment of that decision, feeling my gym ego completely deflated and wishing that I could just get under a bar and see what my legs had in them. So lifting was moved to somewhere in the middle of the pile and yoga, pilates and conditioning were right at the fore of what built up the first 12 weeks of the new 16/17 season. I have to really thank my strength coaches Emma and Scott for their patience and massive encouragements to help me gain back my confidence in my body and to get back into a place where I felt comfortable pushing my back and believing in myself again. Also to Physio Maggie who was with me every week, painstakingly measuring each millimetre of improved flexibility and pushing through with finding new stability exercises for every day of the week!
We had 2 camps out to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier throughout the summer, which was entirely made up of drills and free skiing. I find that free skiing is so important to help my racing and is one of the biggest things that has helped over the past few years.
The main bulk of my summer was spent in New Zealand. Myself and coach Stef travelled across the world and immersed ourselves back into winter at the end of July. The excitement on finally finishing the 30 hours of travelling and driving down to Wanaka is a feeling that comes round only once every year –so basically Christmas! New Zealand is one of my favourite places in the world and the training there always has the most awesome feel and atmosphere surrounding it. It is slightly more relaxed in the fact that it is predominantly a training camp and with that, I can still continue with normal day to day life and dry land training in Wanaka and travel up to the snow to ski every day! It definitely has nothing to do with the guaranteed sun-rise show that greeted us every morning ;), or that I get to see and meet up with some of my favourite people/dogs on this planet.
The two main goals for the camp were to firstly bring slalom back up to the level of where we left off in April and secondly, if my body was happy with that, get back into GS. Thanks to all the great guys at HEAD, my set up coming into the season has been absolutely perfect and after a few days, it felt as if the time off skis had never really happened. The conditions at Cardrona were as always, exactly as they needed to be. Softer conditions to start with and then after a couple of weeks and a few thousand litres of water being poured onto the training piste, a perfect month of being able to train on seriously solid ice.
As always in the summer season, there are so many teams headed to the same places to train. Obviously New Zealand is a popular choice and to see so many great skiers down there was amazing. At Cardrona we were joined by the Austrians, Swiss and Norwegians, so there was plenty of time to pick up some tips and generally just marvel in the amazing-ness of some of the best skiers in the world.
I competed in 3 races whilst down under, all slalom. To be honest, I was disappointed with my performances there but I did round off the camp with my first podium finish of the season which was a 3rd place in the final Australia New Zealand Cup slalom. It is great to do a couple of ‘training races’ throughout the summer and I now know what still needs work, both mentally and technically over the next training block.
Overall the camp was a massive success. The 6 and a half week spun by so quickly, that when I look back on it all, everything really just blurs together into one big ball of awesome-ness including a rainforest adventure to hunt for Penguins. I had so much fun and with that came great improvements in my skiing. I didn’t lose any training days to back pain, which compared to last year is phenomenal and I am confident that an imminent comeback is on the cards in GS.
I am now back at home for 3 weeks and have some really exciting projects in the making. I have of course moved myself right back into the gym and continuing to put my body through the paces to get all the finishing touches in place before hitting Europe this winter. We’ll be heading out to Austria at the beginning of October to get a really good block of training in before the first Europa Cup races which will kick off in Norway at the beginning of December.
I have to really thank all of you for your support. A very special thanks has to go out to my coach Stef, physio Ginny, my family and of course my two adoptive families; the Roulstons and the Wardles. Thank you also to all of you who follow the day to day posts, send the messages of encouragement and of course stick by me every step of the way. You keep me sane and keep me on the road! I am so unbelievably excited to get season 16/17 going and look forward to keeping you all updated with results!
Lots of Love , Charlie x