Picture: Vanessa Fry Photography
Congratulations to Charlie Guest, the MPI-sponsored Alpine skier selected for Team GB at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
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Charlie (24) is one of the record 25 athletes selected to compete for Great Britain in the disciplines of Alpine skiing, cross country, freestyle skiing and snowboarding during the games, this month. According to a Team GB press statement, the previous record entry was 22 athletes – for Italy, in 1956.
Fourteen of the athletes are first-time Olympians, while only four have completed more than one Games. Average age of the team is 24, with eight members aged 22 or younger.
The Alpine squad also includes Dave Ryding (31), Alex Tilley (24) and Laurie Taylor (22).
Team GB says: “Ryding, returning for his third Games, earned six top 10 World Cup finishes last year including a podium at Kitzbühel, and has backed that up with four more top 10s this season. He will be joined in the men’s slalom by Taylor who made his World Cup debut last season and went on to finish 33rd at the World Championships in 2017.
“Tilley will compete in the ladies’ giant slalom and slalom, while Guest will join Tilley in the slalom. Tilley has had her best season to date on the World Cup circuit, earning a career-best 13th in Courchevel. Guest’s inclusion comes three years after she fractured four vertebrae while training in Sweden.
“The quartet will also combine for the Alpine Team Event which is making its Olympic debut.”
MPI is proud to have helped Charlie through her long and rigorous training programme ahead of the team selection. We wish her well as she makes final preparations before racing in South Korea.
We caught up with Charlie during a recent break in training to hear about her experiences so far.
She told us: “When they say that the life of an athlete is ‘eat, sleep, train, repeat’, they don’t lie. Ski racers have four main types of days: A training day on the slopes, a race day, a summer training day and the rarest of all – a rest day.”
Which days do you enjoy most?
“As a full-time ski racer, the days that I live and work for are of course the on-snow training and race days. I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to spend so much time in the mountains, working towards a goal that I have wanted ever since I was 10 years old – simply to become one of the fastest skiers in the world. With this goal ever in my mind, a lot of my days follow the same kind of pattern and are carefully structured to keep my body healthy and make my skiing faster.”
How do you prepare yourself?
“First things first: fuelling. I love food and I love eating and luckily by spending a lot of my time at altitude in the cold and training, the main challenge for me is getting in enough calories. However, it is important to structure what I am eating throughout the day. I must get enough protein, carbohydrates and fats to allow me to train at a high-enough intensity, recover properly and give my body everything that it needs to benefit from all of the training. This means five meals a day (something that depletes the contents of my mother’s fridge very quickly) and a whole heap of snacks; bananas and flapjack being the staples.”
How tough is the daily schedule?
“A typical day training on the hill will be a skiing session lasting between two and five hours in total. On-hill training for us consists of technical drills, free skiing and skiing courses. Every race will be different for us so it is important that we train for as many different combinations of gates and terrain as we can. We wear heart rate monitors every day, which feed back information to our coaches and give an indication of how fatigued we are and where we need to focus in the gym. Training sessions get shorter as we head into race season. That’s when we focus more on the quality and intensity of the runs rather than the quantity of skiing. Throughout the summer, we ski almost continuously and therefore, by October, we have a huge number of days behind us as we gear up for the race season.”
Do you get any breaks during the day?
“In the afternoons, recovery is a massive part of keeping in shape and preventing injuries. Almost every day, I will have a nap after lunch or between sessions. This is proven to boost your immune system, increase productivity and enhance both physical and mental performance which allows you to keep moving at 100% for longer.”
What happens in the summer?
“Summer training away from the mountain is physical conditioning six days a week. Weightlifting, biking, running, boxing, yoga, Pilates, physio and loads of balance and coordination exercises make up the 25-plus hours a week that are dedicated to making sure I am in the best shape to compete against the best skiers in the world.”
What does ‘being in shape’ really mean?
Being in shape is the key to preventing overuse injuries which is vital in a sport where there is such risk with crashing. Skiing is a sport based quite heavily on skills that you build up over years and years. However, in order to maximise the time that you can spend training you need good aerobic fitness. To generate as much speed from your skis as you can by flexing them and dealing with the forces that they send back through your body, you need to be powerful. To manage quick direction changes in slalom you need fast feet and for coping with g-forces in speed you need very high strength levels. All of this means that to be the best ski racer in the world, you also need to be a complete all round athlete.”
Do you ever get a chance to relax?
“By the time that rest day comes around, I am grateful for the opportunity to sleep in, eat a lot of food and chill out with a coffee. Of course, I also like to get out and explore and experience the awesome places that we get to travel to – from bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand, to ski-doo tours in Levi, Finland, and hiking through the Alps in Saas Fee, Switzerland. I have an incredible opportunity to experience a lot of the world. However, no matter where I am, I can’t wait to get back out on the mountain for more chances to ski fast!”