She may be coming in to the forthcoming Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships as the three-time reigning overall champion, but Cara Brown insists the pressure is firmly off her shoulders this year.
Brown, who is from Battersea but trains in Meribel, has quite a record at the Championships, having picked up the British ladies title on the last three occasions, as well as the giant slalom crown last year, too.
However she was dealt a blow shortly afterwards when she tore her ACL – an injury that she has spent most of this season trying to recover from.
She did manage to make it to the World Championships in St Moritz last month, finishing 56th in the giant slalom.
But former Thomas’s London Day School pupil Brown has high targets – as does her coach – and admits that she is still working back up to her top level.
“I’ve been looking at videos this season and I’m making mistakes I made two or three years ago,” she said.
“My coach told me I was skiing like a muppet but my times were faster. He’s French, and actually the translation came across directly as you’re skiing like a goat!
“It’s all about the fine margins, I just need to tighten things up.
“I tore my ACL at the end of last season, in April. I was rehabbing last summer and then got back on the snow in November and back in gates in January. I was making sure the knee and the body was ready to go.
“I had qualified to go to the World Championships. It had been such a big goal, I did not want to give up on that.
“So I went to the World Championships and competed in just the giant slalom.
“It was a great experience but I was not racing at the level I wanted to. I needed more time in gates to get back to my top level.
“It was great to go for the event to be among the world’s best skiers, but I wanted to do better.”
The Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships take place in the world-class ski resort of Tignes, France, from March 25 to April 7.
The Championships are set to be the biggest event of the year for the British ski racing world, looking to build on British Ski and Snowboard’s best season to date on the path to Pyeongchang 2018.
And while Brown may have lost ground on some of her rivals this season, her will to win has not diminished in any way.
“I’m still as determined to go and defend my title at the British Championships,” she added. “The moment I did my knee last year I knew I still wanted to go.
“I had to reset things and accept that even if things did not go as planned, eventually they will start to.
“It’s more mentally preparing for things. It takes about a season to get back. It has been frustrating but I am more appreciative of my skiing now – there will always be another day.”
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Featured image courtesy of Vanessa Fry Photography, with thanks.