It was not the result that Alex Tilley wanted to experience in Flachau as she crashed out on the first run. After the run she packed up and needed her space. Noel Baxter, her coach, gave an honest and forthright appraisal in how things have gone in the early part of 2018. Baxter knows all about the highs and lows of ski racing and if there is anyone who will be able to raise the spirits of Tilley leading up to the Olympics, then Baxter will know how to approach the situation.
Since racing in Courchevel and scoring a career best in Giant Slalom, Tilley has started to struggle on the slalom skis. She has “lost the feeling in slalom at the moment, it is hard to put your finger on it and changed the model of ski that she is using.” Earlier in the season she told Baxter that she had “really good feeling and confidence in GS and she does not have this in slalom and it puts her off a little bit.” Getting the timing of her turn is something that Baxter feels “we are going to have to figure out with a bit more training.”
December saw a mainly Giant Slalom programme and the results clearly paid off, Baxter feels. Baxter believes that the GS programme is what they should be pursuing but “Alex wants to keep going with the slalom.” Baxter continued: “She can ski the same level in Slalom but she is not nearly as comfortable and as consistent. It is really frustrating for her.”
December and January are brutal in terms of the constant barrage of races for the athletes and coaches. The technical races have been to forefront of the diary and now Tilley will get a moment to rest, take stock and get some training in. Since Christmas Tilley’s programme as been Lienz for two races, then Zagreb, then Kranjska Gora, there to Flachau and that is in just over two weeks. With a chance to take a day off, do some training and then prepare for the race at Kronplatz, things are still full on.
While the results may not have been as successful as Tilley would have liked, Baxter is keen to emphasise that the result from Kranjska Gora was better than people may have realised: “Kranjska Gora saw some good stuff as well. Alex was the second highest number to qualify into the second run. She was unlucky to go first on the second run as the course was so straight, we have never seen a course like that, this was hard to take and I think she skied better than the result showed. She is still definitely firing in GS but struggling to keep this in Slalom.”
“We want to have a go down the hill at Kronplatz as it is a difficult hill. She is doing well in GS and we want to maximise this in the back end of the season. We just need to get on the slalom hill and sort this out,” Baxter explained.
Tilley is a huge talent and like all racers is experiencing a tough period. With the support and knowledge of Baxter in her camp, Tilley and the team will work out how to change the tack in both disciplines.