Brown gets back on track with Downhill victories in Tignes

Cara Brown has had an impressive season as she looks to fill the void left by the retirement of Chemmy Alcott at the end of last season of top line British speed skiers. Brown is the defending Overall Champion at the Delancey British Alpine Championships from last season yet was frustrated to have been pipped to the Super G titles on day two of the Championships. The Downhill saw her raise her game and while she did not quite make the top step in the International race, Brown set the bar that the rest of the British girls are now chasing. …

Brown took third place overall in both the international field of the National Championship and in the National Junior Championship races. Almost a second out in the National race, Brown pulled back almost half a second on race winner Emily Harrop in the second of the two races. Aline Savel won the first race and placed fourth in the second race.

With bad weather forecasted for Wednesday meaning that a hasty decision to bring forward the races scheduled for Wednesday meant the racers had to make a quick turn around and prepare mentally for a third downhill run in the day, the decision was right.

Asked whether this was job done in terms of winning the British races, Brown explained after the race: “job done in terms of the British placings as it is very definitely where I wanted to be – out in front but I kept missing out on the top spots in the Overall placings but just a few tenths of a second so there is more to work on there. In general though I am pretty happy with the day.”

Brown had been frustrated in the Super G and was on a mission for the downhill: “I wanted to redeem myself for yesterday,” she explained, “I wanted to do a lot better. I knew that Darcie would be a tough competitor as at the World Junior Champions I had only beaten her by six hundredths in the downhill, so I knew that it would be pretty tight so I knew I had to give it my all.”

After so many years of it being just Chemmy Alcott flying the flag in the speed events, this year has seen a number of young British racers raise their game and step up to the mark, this is something that has not been lost on Brown: “It is great, especially Megan Jenkins, I thought she had really good times. She came down the first run and she was so scared yet she still had a awesome time. Some of the other younger girls like Isabel Kirk had a great day. It is really cool to see some of the people coming up as there has been a bit of lack of female speed skiers from Great Britain.”

Megan Jenkins has certainly made her mark at these Championships. having moved to train with the Evolution group late in the summer, Jenkins admits that she was playing catch up with the programme for much of pre-season. With Darcie Mead and Honor Clissold to train with at Evoltion, Jenkins is benefitting from the challenge. Second place in the Senior Downhill in her first season as a Senior is a huge accomplishment. Her first Senior podium in her first season racing in the Seniors this was something she admitted she did not expect: “I was petrified on my first run, my first ever downhill! I have only ever done two runs on my skis! But yes, it was really good!”

Sadly for Jenkins she crashed and broke a pair of skis that she had borrowed from Darcie Mead in the National Junior Championship race but this has definitely not put her off Downhill. Coming into the Championships, Jenkins admits that she had not set herself any targets or high expectations. A late qualification for the World Juniors earlier this season has meant that Jenkins is very laid back about things. “I did not set myself high expectations (coming into the Championships), the whole season I have had the same mindset to just see what happens and see what I need to improve on for next year.” Jenkins finished fifth overall in the first race, just 1.44 seconds off the race winner!

Brown (third overall) took top step in the senior race with Jenkins (fifth overall) second and Mead (sixth overall) third just ahead of Natalia Harte (seventh overall) and Isabel Kirk in eighth overall.

Isabel kirk is another to have looked outside of the traditional British training groups and like Brown, now trains with the French based Orsatus group, something she feels has definitely raised her standard.

With the sun softening the snow for the second race, Mead crashed spectacularly coming off the road leading into the finish pitch, literally walking out of her right ski. In scenes reminiscent of Bode Miller in Bormio in 2005, Mead managed to ski to the bottom of the hill on one ski! Natalia Harte was second British racer home (but a Senior) so Isabel Kirk took second and Honor Clissold third in the British Junior Championship race.

Clissold explained after the races that it had not gone as well as last year but “was still very happy with my second run.” After three runs down the track, Clissold admitted that she had felt tired after the third run: “In the downhill, if you make one mistake, it can cost you so much time so you have to get everything perfect! The third run was definitely tiring.”

When the decision to hold the National Junior race was announced, Clissold was happy: “I was pleased as I had not done so well on the second run and so I felt I could make it up!”

They may not all be at the top of the game in terms of the world standards but the new generation of racers taking to the slopes in Tignes certainly are showing great promise. The future is bright, they need the support to go even further!

Training times

National Downhill Championship Results

National Junior Championship results

Picture: Cara Brown on her way to winning the National Junior Title after winning the Senior Title earlier in the day – Credit: Racer Ready – all rights reserved.

Training run pictures; National Downhill Championship, National Junior Championship

More action pictures are available on www.racer-ready.ifp3.com.