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It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Almost a month later and the weather is still at odds with all winter sports... Thankfully, it has been cold enough for the resorts to have all snow guns going in an attempt to make up for the lack of natural snow. The scenery across Europe is still incredibly colourful, delicately lined with strips of snow where ski runs pepper the countryside. Races have been few and far between. Not long after my last post, we raced again in Solda. Unfortunately, my team mate, Floor van Ameyde, crashed on the first day of GS and did her ACL again. It was incredibly sad but she has already had surgery and is on the mend. I hope she has a speedy recovery but in saying that I know she will for Floor is a fighter and is very determined to get through recovery and be back on skis in 6 months time. Since then we have been to a few more races in Pfelders for both SL and GS and Passo Monte Croce for a couple Slaloms.

The Dolomites!!!
The Dolomites!!!
2015-12-07 19.36.53
2015-12-07 19.36.53

The GS races in Pfelders were a good challenge for me. The slope is tough, with the start rolling onto a very steep pitch that lasted 6 gates before rocketing you onto the flats that subsequently began rolling into the finish.  The first day I was far too cautious first run, stepped up my game for second run and ended up losing a ski down the pitch. However, the second day I was determined to make the most of my bib 1. I let the skis run and carried a lot of heat off the pitch, kept a clean ski on the flats, making for a good performance. Second run I also carried heat off the pitch but took a gate too straight on the flats and lost a lot of time trying to get back on track. Following this we headed to Passo Monte Croce for a couple Slaloms. While we were there, the Krampus tradition was in full swing. I must say, the Italians are far more tame in their parade than the Austrian's but it was still good to see.

Clouded valley provides isolation for GS training at Leogang
Clouded valley provides isolation for GS training at Leogang
Afternoon out in Zell am See seeing the Christmas markets with the girls :)
Afternoon out in Zell am See seeing the Christmas markets with the girls :)
Some rocks are just better than others... just like some gloves are better than others #dolomites #xtmperformance
Some rocks are just better than others... just like some gloves are better than others #dolomites #xtmperformance
Christmas jumpers in force at our Ambition Christmas dinner
Christmas jumpers in force at our Ambition Christmas dinner

Since those races, we have been training at our home base in Leogang, Austria. We've had great training on some solid snow.  Unfortunately it rained a lot and as of today, we've now lost a great portion of that. Hopefully while we are racing in St. Moritz this weekend, they can make enough snow to keep the CIT races going for the 21st and 22nd of December. It's been a solid start to my Northern season campaign. We've even managed to squeeze in a trip to the Zell am See Christmas markets and throw a Christmas dinner for all of Ambition in Haus Tirol! Lets just say the Christmas jumpers were out in force! The rest of the girls have headed back to Passo Monte Croce for a couple FIS slaloms while the boys and I head off to St. Moritz tomorrow for a GS and a Slalom. After four more days of what will be epic racing, I'll be heading home for Christmas! It's the first time I will have been home for it in the last 6 years! I get a full two weeks on the ground in New Zealand. Plenty of time to enjoy a rare glimpse of summer as well as cracking on with fitness in the gym. I am beyond excited about it, not that I am any less focused on the challenges that lay before me in the coming days. I feel even more determined to perform my best so I can leave off this first half of the northern season on a good note.

A wee while ago Marc made a trailer-like video called Racing time. It's pretty awesome and I highly recommend having a peak! Feel free to follow Ambition Racing on Facebook for regular updates on the teams progress this season as well!

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas and of course a happy New Year!

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Another day, another dawn

So sunny here, doesn't feel like November! Floor, myself and Sabina
So sunny here, doesn't feel like November! Floor, myself and Sabina
Full time FIS girls. Myself, Bethany Widdup, Ella Still and Floor Van Ameyde
Full time FIS girls. Myself, Bethany Widdup, Ella Still and Floor Van Ameyde
Timing down the steeps in Solda. Getting ready for the races next week.
Timing down the steeps in Solda. Getting ready for the races next week.

Usually when you head to Europe in the last few days of October, you think the temperature would start to drop and you'd witness a rapid transition from Autumn into Winter. All the stories I've heard of undeniably cold Novembers, up on glaciers in the midst of a windy snow shower have been so incredibly far away from what I've actually experienced for my first early season extravaganza. It has been ridiculously warm since I arrived three weeks ago. Today (it's drizzling) is the first spot of bad weather I've seen so far, although thankfully, it is supposed to get colder this weekend. With all this warmth circulating Europe, decent snow is few and far between, yet we've still managed to squeeze a set of races in already.  We were planning on heading to Sweden but with the lack of snow up there my first week or so was spent up Kitzstienhorn, a glacier near our base in Leogang, training GS. We headed over to Solda in Italy for a couple NJR GS races to kick off the season. Despite it being quite flat for a lot of the course, I skied well the first day, placing 10th and scoring my best European result of 40.94 points! The next day I made some mistakes which cost me time I was unable to make up on the flats. Having seen that glacier of Solda was in pretty decent condition we managed to snag some training after the races. We stayed on for another three days, smashing in some decent Slalom training. We headed back to base for the weekend, only to return to Solda on Sunday night to continue training as the variety of pitches and flats combined with the solid snow provided for some epic GS and SL training. Next week we're likely to head back to Italy again for a couple days training and another set of NJR GS races scheduled in Solda (this time on the steeper slope!). So far we are managing well, finding the training we need despite the lack of snow.

It's good to be back with the Ambition crew with a few new faces joining the team! Us internationals are beginning to rival the brits in numbers of our full time team. Joining Marc on the coaching side is Tom White, and the new athletes are Floor van Ameyde from Holland, Rudy Dickson-Sommers from Mexico and Fraser Middleton from Scotland. Also good to catch up with Sabina Majerczyk and her coach who've also been training in Solda. Sabina was skiing with us in the New Zealand season so it was awesome to train with her again. The never ending sun has been great but we really need a snowstorm to set us up for the rest of the winter. Fingers crossed that the temperature sticks to the forecast and it snows in Austria this weekend!!

Full time Ambition crew for 2015/16. L-R from top: Fraser Middleton (GBR), Rodolfo Dickson-Sommers (MEX), Kieran Norris (IRE), Ollie Eaton (GBR), Paul Henderson (GBR), Ella Still (GBR), Eliza Grigg (NZL), Beth Widdup (GBR), Floor Van Ameyde (NED)
Full time Ambition crew for 2015/16. L-R from top: Fraser Middleton (GBR), Rodolfo Dickson-Sommers (MEX), Kieran Norris (IRE), Ollie Eaton (GBR), Paul Henderson (GBR), Ella Still (GBR), Eliza Grigg (NZL), Beth Widdup (GBR), Floor Van Ameyde (NED)
View from the top of Solda, Italy
View from the top of Solda, Italy

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Press play

Spring camp is over and I'm all packed and ready to head to Europe tomorrow to join the Ambition crew. The New Zealand season is well and truly finished but it has been a good one! I've dropped 346 places in my GS World Ranking with my new points at 35.64 placed 436th in the world. It's been nice to have a few warm days here enjoying some Frisbee golf. However, I am glad I'll be skiing again soon. A huge thanks to everyone who helped make this season as good as it was! Especially Nils, Hamish, Robbie and the team.

Here is a compilation of some training and races from this southern season. Enjoy!

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Across the ditch

Ciao Queenstown! Australia here we come!
Ciao Queenstown! Australia here we come!

Aussie, aussie, aussie! Oi, oi, oi! I was beyond excited about heading to Australia for the ANC races. Not only was I finally getting to ski across the ditch, I was also going to my best friend's home town with the promise that I would definitely see kangaroos just about everywhere. Despite living through it, I still can't quite believe that our 2hr 30min flight was so short in comparison to the 5hr drive we embarked on to get from Sydney to Jindabyne. A distance that looks so minuscule on the map. As usual by the time our entertaining car ride brought us to Jindy, it was already dark so the anticipation of finally seeing the place I'd heard so much about was unfulfilled till the following morning.  We had a day before the races began so we headed up to Perisher to bomb around and see what the race pistes looked like. The famous Australian Flat White certainly held its title for a reason. I've been at big resorts before but Perisher felt a little ridiculous. It was so wide but with its tangle of lifts and lack of ridges it felt as though you spent most of your time traversing from one route to another! Nevertheless I was still super excited that I was there! So much so, that despite being on the hunt to see a live kangaroo, I wandered past 4 kangaroos on my way to the tuning room and didn't even notice them till Adam pointed them out... I knew they were pretty big but I didn't realise that most of them were as tall, if not taller than me (Not that that is actually all that hard but still!!)! On another occasion, not far from where we were staying, I was running and saw an entire field full of kangaroos just hanging out. They weren't too impressed with seeing me and scattered which was quite incredible to witness.

Aussie outback...
Aussie outback...

Anyway, enough about kangaroos, we were met with a terrible weather report for our weeks races. Armed with our new storm jackets from ONE studio we ventured out into the wind and rain to race some slalom. Lucky for us the wind was so strong that the imposing clouds just rolled overhead all day. I was in 6th after the first run with some tactical changes needed. After the second run I moved up to 3rd also placing as the 2nd U21 scoring a result that exactly tied with my previous best SL result of 53.42. The following day the weather also held out pretty well and again I was round about 6th after the first run with similar mistakes. Second run I improved hugely, coming in second on that run which pulled me up to 4th overall and the 3rd U21 scoring a PB of 48.47! Having cheated the weather the past two days we ran out of luck heading into the GS races. The fog was so bad they lowered the start by about 8 gates and kept pushing the start time back. After a couple hours of set backs the fog lifted from all bar the first couple gates and the race was underway. After the first run I was only 0.20 seconds behind fellow kiwi Piera Hudson and despite a mistake second run, managed to keep relatively hot on her heels, locking in 2nd place in both the open and U21 as well as scoring my best ever GS result with a 34.88! Unfortunately it rained pretty heavily in Jindy overnight and snowed quite a bit up the hill which made for some trying conditions for the next day, considering we didn't have a solid snow pack to start with. The weather repeated itself form the day before and again we lowered the start and were delayed. It was still lightly snowing when we began racing but you could see what you were getting into which was a huge help. Regardless of the rough conditions I was keen to race.

I skied into first with a 0.24 second lead on American, Madison Lord. Because the snow conditions weren't ideal and would have catastrophically crumbled under the weight of the boys, the decision was made to postpone the men's race until the following day and run the girls back to back. This caused some controversy among coaches but it was easy to see that yes, we were already making some holes with our lighter mass but we could still compete in the conditions where as the men would have quickly destroyed the course and potentially themselves as they are heavier and stronger than us girls. I was able to keep the lead in my grasp and earnt my first FIS win in a continental cup race which in itself was pretty awesome. Not only did I win the open and U21 I also scored a 36.39! My new points will be 35.64! Which also halves my world ranking to 415,  just outside national C team criteria! Needless to say I was ecstatic! Sadly, with the weather the boys race was cancelled the following day. Instead we packed up and started the long trek back to Sydney. This did mean we were able to spend the afternoon in town being tourists, visiting the Opera house and the Harbor Bridge etc.

Afternoon in Sydney and all I could think of was P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.
Afternoon in Sydney and all I could think of was P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.
My medal haul from the Austalian ANC races. Two 3rds, three 2nds and two 1sts over four days.
My medal haul from the Austalian ANC races. Two 3rds, three 2nds and two 1sts over four days.

We certainly hit the ground running upon arrival back in Queenstown. A days training then straight into the NZ ANC races held at Coronet Peak, the first of these two also being Winter Games events. The first day of this series was slalom. In the second run I somehow managed to catch my pole on the snow and punch myself in the neck. There was a split second where I said to myself "you've got this, you can still make the next gate." I tried to make that happen but I was unable to garner a breath. I had successfully winded myself and shoved my handle 2.5cm lower on my pole... Needless to say I was unable to finish the run. We had some awesome and tough competition in these races and I was incredibly glad I went into them with some ANC points under my belt which guaranteed me a top 15 start despite the amazing points of the first 30 girls. I skied pretty well both days of the GS races but made some silly mistakes which cost me time. I still scored in the 40's for both of them which I'm happy with considering the caliber of the competition. There were sections of my slalom which were good, yet riddled with aspects that need work. The Treble Cone races rounded up the end of the season. I was hit with a stroke of bad luck, especially in the GS where the visibility was great until two people before me (I was bib 18) when the fog crept up, encompassing the course in blinding, never ending sea of mist. The fog was so dense the moisture clung to your goggles making it entirely impossible to see even if you tried to clear it off it would only return within 3 meters. I made up a huge amount of time on my second run but no where near enough to get a result. I'm not too fussed though. I know what I need to do to further improve in both disciplines it's just a matter of consistency at the moment.

I must say a huge thanks to Nils Coberger, my amazing coach, without you hammering my technique and your insistence that I was capable, I wouldn't have achieved what I did this season. Also thanks to Hamish and Robbie, you guys are hilariously brilliant in the start and a motivational presence in training, same goes for my awesome team mates. It's been a wicked season so far and I'm excited to continue to stretch my abilities in training on and off the snow here in NZ for a couple more months before heading over to Europe.

First FIS and ANC win on the 2nd day of the Perisher ANC GS race. 1st U21 and overall.
First FIS and ANC win on the 2nd day of the Perisher ANC GS race. 1st U21 and overall.

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Visible variety

Well it has been a busy couple weeks but first of all there are a few people I'd like to thank. Firstly, XTM Performance who supply the team with really good gloves and ski socks. They arrived just in time as the day before I cracked up the knuckles of my old pair! One Square Meal for the box of OSM bars. And I want to say a huge thanks to Dave Stewart for kitting me out with a new ONE Studio race suit! I absolutely love it and am proud to wear a kiwi-made suit! Lucky for me the suit arrived in time for my first race at Cardrona. This GS was quite different to what we train as it was flat and soft but I skied pretty well and managed to secure 2nd place which was a good way to kick off racing this season!

Nick Prebble and I talking to Year 2\'s at Queenstown Primary school about Winter Games
Nick Prebble and I talking to Year 2\'s at Queenstown Primary school about Winter Games

Between the Cardy race and the series at Coronet Peak, my team mate, Nick Prebble, and I visited Queenstown Primary school as part of the Winter Games schools engagement program. We got to talk to them a bit about the Winter Games, what its like to be a ski racer etc. The Year 2's were a fantastic bunch of kids. They had some good questions and were all up for a game Nick and I threw together that involved a bit of slalom. It was awesome to see such enthusiasm. Check out more pics of it in Gallery under 'the wonderful world of people'.

We were met with an encompassing fog for the National GS champs at Coronet Peak on Sunday. It looked as though it would clear and it did... only after the first half of the girls had battled down the course. The fog is manageable, it is the ice in it that causes problems. It attaches onto your goggles making it neigh on impossible to see. Despite the visibility I skied into 3rd after the first run. Lo and behold the cloud drifted off as the boys raced their first run, then reinstalled as a snowy cloud for our second run. On the bright side the snowflakes were far easier to see through. I was determined to make the most of this opportunity and skied really well until the second to last gate which I took too straight, giving myself an interesting line which ended up in me crashing through the last gate... An unfortunate and gut-wrenching end but nevertheless there was another GS the following day. The weather picked itself up and was stunning for this, the Coronet Cup GS. First run I had some solid skiing, again placing 3rd after the first run. Second run was technically sound but lacked charge and I dropped back to 4th. This brought us into the Slalom section of the race series. Despite making several mistakes I managed to sneak in as the 3rd New Zealander for the SL National champs race. The last day of racing showed some improvements from the previous day which is good and amongst a tough field I placed a solid 9th. I've got some really positive things to take out of this series. Especially that what I'm doing in training is, for the most part, also being brought into races.

The team with their spoils from the National Champs and Coronet Cup races. Nick Prebble, Robbie Moore, Adam Barwood, Willis Feasey, Hamish Edwards and myself
The team with their spoils from the National Champs and Coronet Cup races. Nick Prebble, Robbie Moore, Adam Barwood, Willis Feasey, Hamish Edwards and myself

Although my National Champs experience was a bit of a roller coaster my team mates absolutely nailed it. Nick and Willis battling it out for the title in the GS with Adam not far behind. Willis smashed in an amazing second run to beat Nick to the National GS title and scoring PB points. He also won the second day of GS scoring another PB which takes his World ranking from 190 to 105 which is the best NZ male world ranking in 20 years! He also managed to pip Adam in the Slalom after another tight battle to take the National Slalom title as well! All three placing on the podium for both SL and GS national champ races. For more info on all that and to keep up with the team check out Ski Racing NZ's Facebook page.

A huge thanks to Coronet Peak for setting up a sweet race series. We now have a weeks training before heading over to Australia for the Perisher ANC's. I'm super excited for these as the last time I was in Aussie I was 2 so I haven't skied there before! Here's to a sweet rest of the season.

National Champs GS 2015 photo cred: Anne Barwood
National Champs GS 2015 photo cred: Anne Barwood

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And so it began.

Winter swept across the country, while I felt like a kid on Christmas with the amount of snow it brought to Canterbury. We had a wonderfully productive week at Mt Hutt on the snow that reeked havoc among the farmers, my family included. As much as we were excited to see the unusual visitor in our neck of the woods its glamour was short lived when it came to sorting out the stock... Nevertheless it was a great start to the season with a pleasantly bitter -13°C !

That week shot by and with the last of my days at home spent either in the gym, playing with the border collie puppies or shifting logs, I quickly lost track of time. Before I knew it, I was in a mad rush to get everything packed to head down to Queenstown for the next few months. Somehow I managed to remember everything although with my track record I'm not sure how I managed it!

Mt Hutt camp - Nick, Jamie, Adam, Me and Willis
Mt Hutt camp - Nick, Jamie, Adam, Me and Willis
Sunrise from the top of Outwide
Sunrise from the top of Outwide

And so it began. With the enveloping darkness we trundled up the hill for our first day of training at Coronet Peak. While navigating the snow to the hut in the dark can be a little interesting, the stunning sunrise that greets us not long afterwards makes the early start worth every minute. A huge thanks to Coronet Peak and their crew of amazing lifties that get the T-bar running early for us to train. The snow coverage has been pretty decent and the weather has kept up its end of the bargain for the most part, creating a great training environment. Even though there was no training on Sunday (due to the new powder-day policy, meaning if there is more than 5cm of new snow we cannot train), this past week has been a series of bluebird brilliance, despite the snow cracking under the pressure, leaving us with some interesting ruts to negotiate in our first 3 days of Slalom. Towards the end of the week the snow picked up its game and we were met with some solid conditions as we moved into our Super G and GS sessions. The weather might be packing it in a bit this week but with any luck we shall still be training. We now get into the last stint of prep before the first races of the season at Cardrona in the beginning of August.

Slalom training at Coronet Photo cred: Anne Barwood
Slalom training at Coronet Photo cred: Anne Barwood

I would like to say a huge thanks to the team sponsors such as; Alpine Health and Fitness for your support in the gym, One Square Meal for the fuel that keeps us going, Coronet Peak for the training, Robbie Moore for your help on and off the hill and One studio for setting us up with some pretty wicked personalised bibs for training. The season is off to a cracking start and I can't wait to get into some races!

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Harder, better, faster, stonger.

Uphill march for a consistent HR in the beautiful NZ forest
Uphill march for a consistent HR in the beautiful NZ forest

It is so good to be back home and 3 weeks has passed quickly by. I've spent the majority of my time in the gym, eating or sleeping, the essentials of off-season life... as well as spending every spare moment with the adorable Border Collie pups that our farm dogs bred just before I arrived home. The first 2 weeks I spent preparing for fitness testing on the 10th of June in Methven. It was good to be able to push myself, seeing success and finding out what my limitations are, as well as the best ways to improve on them in the coming months. This last week, I was back with the Coberger Academy crew in Methven for a strength and conditioning camp run by Ben Griffin. It's been a hard week of double sessions with a variety of gruelling tasks. From weightlifting sessions to gorge runs,  core circuits to plyometrics. I certainly had my work cut out for me, keeping up with Adam, Nick and Willis, pushing myself hard and noticing how the gym work pays off. Ben finished off the week by setting us an absolute death session of hill sprints. It was brutal. I spent half the time trying to overcome the will to vomit but in the end it wasn't me that lost the contents of their stomach...

A huge thanks to Ben for taking us through some greatly valuable training. Nils is joining us as we're back on snow tomorrow at Mt Hutt for a week long camp before heading down to Queenstown in a few weeks for the season. Can't wait to get back on snow, this time of year can never come around quick enough.

Post-run at Rakaia Gorge - Me, Adam Barwood, Nick Prebble and Willis Feasey (left to right)
Post-run at Rakaia Gorge - Me, Adam Barwood, Nick Prebble and Willis Feasey (left to right)

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Looking backwards to look forward

That one powder day on the 3rd of April
That one powder day on the 3rd of April

That's it. Almost 5 months of skiing done and dusted. It's been an interesting journey, what with joining a new and wonderful team of Brits. There have been several highlights such as Krampus, getting my first FIS podium, traveling to Norway, Monopoly deal (an epic card game for those that don't know), powder skiing in April (who would have thought!),  among various other things. This season has given me a lot to think about, in how its been going and how I am approaching my training. There are always things to improve on and my self-assessment of this season has shown that too. I am now in a stage where I am regrouping and building towards the NZ season. I've got a new physical trainer and the new program is tailored to improving my physical weaknesses which is a huge bonus for my forth coming seasons plan. Although I am not skiing at the moment, I am still not back home. Seeing as I was in this part of the world, I decided to venture to England to visit family and partake in some work experience. I would like to further my education but am undecided as to what field to pursue, hence the trial at an event management company. At this stage, I know that the rest of my trip will absolutely fly by. Here are a few photos of this trip;

core in the sunshine - I swear its not staged!!
core in the sunshine - I swear its not staged!!
Hovden, Norway
Hovden, Norway
The British champs 2015
The British champs 2015
A wee lie down during dryland
A wee lie down during dryland

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Running on empty

19 days on snow, 7 training days, 14 races, no break.

Since I last posted, this is what I've been up to. To say life has been busy and tiring is an understatement. To be honest, I actually lasted pretty well through this stint and could have had a day off, but it was more beneficial for me to plow on through.Ambition full time girlies

We started out on the 3rd of February, with five days of training after our wee break, the last day also being a travel day to San Vito di Cadore for two slaloms. This little hill in Italy was the flattest Slalom I have ever done and having raced at Cardrona, I didn't think that was possible. But nevertheless we rock up to this place and 4/5ths of the course is so flat you could almost be going uphill... there was a steep, but it only lasted the final 5 gates of the course. For it being so flat I skied reasonably well but found it hard to continuously generate speed down the run. After the second race we travelled back to Leogang for some Slalom training on the morning of day 7, leading into an afternoon of extreme tetris and traveling. And I really do mean extreme tetris. We needed to pack one of our smaller vans with Super G's and GS skis for 6 people as well as all our gear needed for the next couple of weeks. Luckily we had the part-time Juniors still at the base, so they were able to bring our slalom skis to Bormio for the English Champs. Somehow we managed to fit everything in and still have seats to sit in for the journey to Krvavec, Slovenia. Here we tackled two GS races and two Super G's. I skied well the first of these days, albeit with a few mistakes, placing fourth, but the second day I was far too tentative first run to be able to do well. As for the Super G's on day 10, I was far too nervous and ended up holding back quite a lot, resulting in some pretty poor skiing.

Anyway, after these races we were in for a 7 hour van trip across to Bormio, Italy. We were fortunate enough to be able to train Super G on the Bormio race piste on the 13th which was incredibly beneficial to boost my self-confidence for the upcoming races in that discipline. Most of the team took this day or the 14th off but I felt I needed to train Super G and also wanted to train Slalom before the first day of the English, as I hadn't done it in over a week. Subsequently, I ended up having to plow on through as the next 8 days were all races. So... Day 13 and the beginning of the English Champs. It was the first time I've ever been, in the past I was flying home around this time to head back to school. This series was kicked off with a night Slalom, in which I skied relatively well but made mistakes which cost me time. This was followed by the first GS race and I had a mixed bag of a day. With the tiredness beginning to take its toll on the turn-filled course, I had an interesting one-good-turn-one-bad-turn effect down the entirety of the pitch (which, unfortunately, was the majority of the course...). Ambition - English Academy Champs of 2015 This brought me to day 15, the Super G's. By this time I was in need of an espresso before my race runs and although it is good to do before every race I had been savoring the indulgence until I desperately needed it for a better effect. To my surprise the Super G's went relatively well for me and I scored in both of them, so my points will lower from 123 to 118 which is still something. The 18th of February gave us round 2 of the GS. To be quite honest I don't remember much of this day and have just consulted my training diary to find I didn't write a huge amount about it. Just that I needed to keep balanced over my outside ski and commit more to a cleaner ski. Although it was the last day we skied at Bormio, it was not the last day of the English. The children needed the piste for their Super G so we moved over to the neighboring ski field of Oga for our final race of the series. Here the decent pitch gave way to a horrific flat that, I kid you not, went uphill for a solid 6 gates... I skied the pitch well first run and seemed to carry a little bit of speed over the uphill section. Second run, as my British team mates like to say, I "shanked it" on the pitch and ended up carrying next to no speed uphill and across the flats. Despite the disappointing afternoon, it was made a lot better after the overall prize giving where Ambition became the English Academy Champions for 2015! Needless to say our celebrations consisted of an early bed for the 1hr 40min drive to Valmalenco for the last two Slalom races of this long trip.

Day 18. Knackered. The word that covers it all. Even the two espressos before the first run could do nothing to help. In fact they did the opposite. Because of them I was caught between feeling like I would throw-up in the near future to feeling I would throw up now. In the end I did neither but hit the second gate of the second run with the tip of my ski forcing it to pop off. It was a horrible day all round. Made worse that I had found out the night before that James Patterson-Gardener, whom I boarded with at school for 5 years had just died in a Helicopter accident. He was a spectacular person who had so much to live for. From the many messages I've seen dedicated to him, it seems I'm not alone in thinking that, at least he died doing something he loved. Fly high James, you'll be sorely missed.

Yet still, I had to continue. By our final day at Valmalenco I was completely emotionally drained as well as physically exhausted. I was so beyond tired that I was literally running on empty. And because of the unpleasant experience of the previous day I decided against the aid of espressos. I ended up putting down two relatively solid runs and scoring my best ever slalom result, 54.07. Thankfully this brought an end to the chaos and we were able to have three, relaxing days off. Unfortunately for me, with everything that had just happened, my hypothyroidism took a turn for the worse, leaving me with lower energy levels. But I managed to better my last Slalom result at the Piesindorf CIT race yesterday, scoring a 53.42! Which will lower my Slalom points to 53.74 when the next list comes out. I have a lot of positives to take from the last few weeks and several things that I can work on too.

R.I.P James Patterson-Gardener 04.02.1997-19.02.2015 Fly high and rest easy mate.

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