British skier Charlie Guest feels she has had her best ever preparation for a new season, and believes she is in a good place to challenge for a place at the World Cup final in March.
The 27-year-old has had an injury hit career and a fractured spine in 2014 almost ended it completely. But for the first time in a long time, Guest has had a full off-season and ahead of competing in Levi this weekend, she has told Eurosport she is setting high goals for the campaign ahead - which includes the Winter Olympics.
“Top 30 is still the minimum requirement. Two years ago, top 30 would have been like the best thing in the world,” she said.
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“But now I've definitely raised the bar to top 20 first of all and over the season, I think my next goal has to be - I haven't said this to anyone yet - getting to World Cup finals. Not many British girls have qualified for it so far, I think maybe just Chemmy (Alcott), so it would be really cool to get there.
“It would just make everything worth it. That 16th place in Are at the end of last season, I finally came over the finish line in a World Cup with a green light.
When you're a kid and you see on TV everyone celebrating I remember not understanding why somebody was celebrating coming down and they knew that they would be people that were going to go in front of them. But in that moment, I was like, that is literally the best I could have done today.
“I guess the injuries, the fighting over the last however many years, was worth it for that moment. I think World Cup finals will just be another one of those good moments to add to the 'it's worth it' pile,
“For goodness knows how many seasons, I've always had some kind of injury. Something has always messed my summer around quite significantly and this year, that has been very minimal so I've got a lot of skiing done. I'm coming into the season with the most consistent skiing over the summer that I've had in a long time.”
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Guest says Covid has made life on the circuit “the next level of stressful”, with Brexit also creating complications because of restrictions on how long she could stay in Europe to train and compete. But the signs this season look extremely positive.
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The Olympics in Beijing are less than three months away, and Guest will be hoping to go to her second Games. Due to injury, the first experience did not live up to the dream and the slalom specialist says there is a demon to exercise in February.
“The last one I went into, I was so injured, the Boxing Day before the Olympics, I couldn't stand up because my back was so painful,” she said.
“My coach had to carry me from the car into our apartment and my teammate had to get my socks and jeans off so I could actually get into bed - I'd stand up and just pass out.
“January 2018 was literally just about prove you're fit enough, get a result so that you can get to the Games. I crawled over the line and then got to the Olympics and thought, I am not on form.
It was great to be there, fantastic experience, I'll never forget it and that's been very helpful in the build-up for Beijing, but I was just not on top of my game. That was soul destroying, it's the Olympics, the pinnacle of your career and what you dream about as a kid and I just couldn't go out there and perform - it was incredibly difficult.
“Afterwards, it was incredibly challenging to live with the fact that I'd been to the Olympics, and I was not at all proud of my results. This time I'm just so excited to go with a real fire and real focus. I won't be holding myself together with tape.”
Guest competes in a World Cup double header over Saturday and Sunday in Levi.
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