We are constantly amazed by some of the endeavours of children from Bridgewater outside of the school environment, and we were delighted to receive the following account of Prep VI’s Allegra and her skiing racing over the Christmas holiday period (you can see a report of her previous skiing exploits here)
(photographs courtesy of Racer Ready Magazine )
“Allegra’s very first Alpine ski race was slightly emotional. Hintereitt in Maria Alm, Saalfelden, is a favourite of World Cup ski racers from around the world. The same week both the Austrian and the German national teams were training there. It’s a secluded slope off the beaten track. The course itself is injected with water every day to ensure the slope is sheet ice (racers need ice for edges but that doesn’t make it easier).
The Tee bar lift to the top of the course is so steep its almost vertical! First up was the U12 stubbie slalom, a race Allegra has done many times with the lower shin level posts to race around and knock over as you get closer and closer with your lines. She set off out of the gates with gusto, her lines were perfect, technique was text book, and was going at some speed, but she lost it on the fifth stubby and crashed out. She was skiing so well the head coach – who by the way is one of the youth Olympic coaches – came over and asked how she was as she had started so well. Second run, the nerves were kicking in and she crashed again on the same gate, hitting the course so hard with her face she got ice burns down one side of her face!
She skied down very upset. My reply was ‘if you’re not crashing, you’re not going fast enough, but maybe she should concentrate on finishing the course first and then work on the speed’. She was now worked up – if she crashed again, she would be disqualified.
She cleared her first run in 58 seconds. Sounds fast to us and it would probably take me more than 58 seconds to get my goggles on, but Allegra was devastated as her team mates were all around 50 seconds. However, the team support and encouragement from these kids who have been doing this for years was incredible and within 10 minutes she had forgotten about her woes and was happy and smiling again.
Next up was the panelled slalom which Allegra prefers, she completed both runs successfully and each time beating her last time, which in my book should be what you aim for. She still wasn’t happy with her timing, but Allegra is comparing herself to kids who have raced for three seasons, and this was still the first time she had ever raced on a ‘big hill’. Her teammates did well, with most getting a podium spot in each age category.
The last races of the week were the GS (Giant Slalom) races where you use much longer skis and take longer turns, getting more rhythm going with each turn, but much faster. Allegra prefers this race and with her technique she was confident. All runs completed safely and her first run she beat kids who have already completed one race season abroad.
Despite no podium spots, this season really is all about Allegra getting used to the big races on big hills. No one is expecting any medals at this stage. Competing with international racers, understanding competitive psychology and not getting psyched out. That utter nervousness of being in the start gate, racing on sheet ice at 70-degree angles. We spoke with her head coach and he was more than happy with her progress. He also said, “And I can tell what you’re thinking (that you weren’t fast enough) but I know what I’m looking at and you WILL be fast. I’ve been watching your runs and your technique on your left side is perfect but needs tweaking on your right. But that isn’t something you can change overnight, it takes months and months of practise and commitment. But you will get there. I don’t just allow people to join our team, you have a great potential.”
All in all she left Austria feeling positive about the future and ready for the weeks ahead. I have now dropped her back in Austria for her first full week living in with the team. Bizarrely we sat and watched the Young Olympics with Charlie Raposo (British European Cup member) whilst eating lunch!”