“That is a massive relief,” explained Alex Tilley after finishing the first run of the World Championship Slalom in 27th place from a start number of 39. Having hoped for a top fifteen in the Giant Slalom, Tilley had focussed all her energy into posting a strong slalom result. “The Giant Slalom was really disappointing and I did not know how to take it,” she added. With Shiffrin leading the race, Tilley sits 2.86 seconds off the leader after the first run. From having to go 31st in the Giant Slalom, Tilley will have a near clean course to attack on the second run.
“I have had a lot of Did Not Finishes in Slalom this season, I think I have finished two but they have both been career high results,” including a 22nd place in the slalom in Sestriere. “It is hard to get confidence from it but I know that I am skiing fast but putting it into a full run. I feel that I made some mistakes but I am quite close in there. I am happy to be in the thirty and build from there,” she continued.
At the bottom of the course there was an added extra dimension that Tilley explained attracted a lot of attention from the racers. A verticale was set that could be approached from both ways. Tilley explained “I was going to go from behind but saw Shiffrin do it that way and as she normally crushes the final split but did not today, I decided to go straight into it.”
With many racers hesitating as to which side to attack the verticale, Tilley used the experience of her coach, Noel Baxter, to decide the line she took. Asked when she could remember the last time a course was set like this, Tilley explained “there have been a few. Last year in Aspen there was a bit of a funky set over a roll but it is not so complicated as it is down in the flat but with a few of the lesser experienced nations here it can come as a bit of shock to them.”
Tilley came down into 26th after her run. From a start number of 39 and with the quality of racers still to come down, this was squeaky bum time. When the next racer pushed her one place close to the trap door and out of the 30, how did Tilley feel she would fare? “For me it was all about going out and actually feel that I have raced it from top to bottom. It was not 100% clean but I feel that I have given it everything and I have not had that fear of the DNF’s in the back of my head. I have made mistakes and still made it to the finish is a little bit of a hurdle for me in itself. To make the thirty is a big boost as well.”
Tilley knows that to improve her World ranking and get into the top thirty in Slalom she needs to make the top fifteen finishers. With World Cup Start List points on offer for those finishing in the top fifteen, nothing else will help her move up the rankings.
Tilley goes into the second run with the philosophy of “I have to go out and give it everything on the second run, there is nothing to protect in 27th place. There is no point in holding back. I want to prove that I can ski with the best when I get in the finish.”
Second run starts at 12.00 GMT