It was a fairly inauspicious start to her World Cup career as Charlie Guest broke her stick coming out of the start house in Flachau. Second last out and with many of the crowd already making their way down from the finish to warm themselves up, Guest did not let the matter that she had lost a stick fluster her, she kept fighting. With her coach, Stefan Moser, watching from the first flat, Moser explained afterwards that he was pleased: “For sure I have a good feeling,” as he reflected on getting his first racer on to the World Cup. “It is nice to be here and see what is really going on on the World Cup. Great to see our young athletes working hard to achieve their goals and maybe one day become the best slalom skier in the world, this is our goal.” Brave words from the coach but this is a coach that believes wholeheartedly in the two girls he is coaching: Charlie Guest and current British Champion Alex Tilley.
When the decision was made to take the two girls on to the World Cup, was this just a stepping stone to take them to the World Juniors or part of the bigger picture? “It is definitely part of the bigger picture. I said I will use any advantage I can take. We have this spot and why not give them a chance to start, get all excited about their first start, see the stars, their idols and see where they want to be. The two girls have definitely grown with the challenge and you can see that it is an all round positive event for Charlie today even if it did not go so well for Charlie today.”
What did the coach think of her run, taking all the bad luck aside? “Under the circumstances, she was giving her best and this is all I can ask. I just ask that they commit full time. It was definitely a respectable performance with one pole down here. I am happy that she finished at least. She did not give up. Charlie is very strong in her mindset and very competitive so it is great to see how she threw herself down the slope.”
What did the athlete herself think about the race and her performance? “Seriously frustrated! I think it went better than I thought it would be with one pole,” she rued. “I feel I could have done a lot better with two poles.” Having only made her Europa Cup debut five days prior to making her World Cup debut, it has been a huge learning curve for her. In the Europa Cup she had started with a worse number and yet many of the same girls were in both races.
How did she feel the course was? “Before I got here today, I thought the course would be super icy so that i could not grip and super technical that I could not get round it. Yet the snow was just like in training and super grippy so I cannot complain about any of this. It was really great.”
Talking about her initial reaction to having lost her pole, her first reaction was to keep fighting and “do my best.”
With the debut completed, what advice does she profer to her training partner Alex Tilley who will make her World Cup debut in Maribor? “I do not know really but there is no point being nervous about it as it is just like we have been skiing in training.”
“I cannot believe I did my first world cup here in such a big race,” Guest reflected. As we stood chatting with the music blasting out and the crowds milling around, Guest was constantly being inundated by large numbers of British people in the crowd. Picture requests came by the dozen and then the request for Charlie to sign one ski instructors jacket. “You really do not want that,” she shrieked excitedly. This is the sign of someone recognising talent and a future star!
“Next year I will be back again and do better,” Guest ended with!
With her own debut a few weeks away what did Alex Tilley make of all the World Cup? “I am really excited but still nervous,” she explained. “I am more excited and want to do it for the fun of it,” she continued, “it is all about the experience and that is why I ski.”
Like Guest, Tilley will only do the Slalom as the two have not really skied that much on the new GS ski. “I was thinking about doing both but I have not had the time on the new skis so I am just going to stick to Slalom as I think that is the smartest thing to do,” Tilley explained. “After that we will see!”
With both Tilley and Guest having moved on to Head this season, how is Tilley adjusting to her new equipment? “We have only done two days on the new regulation skis but on the right conditions and piste, I really like them. I feel I can be really fast on them.”
Was it easy to make the switch? “The one thing that we were struggling with was the slalom ski but this year you can see they are coming back in and I am really, really happy with my set up this year. It is going really well and I have had really good support from them as well.”
There is no doubt that both Guest and Tilley are heading in the right places: The pieces of the jigsaw are all falling into place. The hard work continues however!