Qualifying for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games was always going to be a long shot for 16-year-old ski racer Alice Robinson. The qualifying period for the games began on 1 July 2016 but it was not until a year later that Alice would be old enough to get a FIS licence and compete in the qualifying events. She would have just under seven months to make a case for selection.
Prior to July 2017 Alice was too young to compete in Continental Cup or World Cup events and was ineligible to compete at the 2017 World Ski Championships; all of these events formed part of the Snow Sports NZ nomination criteria.
“Starting my first year of FIS (open grade racing) this season, the idea of the Olympics seemed like a long shot, so I am so happy that my results over the past six months paid off and gave me a spot on the team,” says Alice. “When I think back to the start of the year I wouldn’t have thought that I would be selected,
"It’s a dream come true.”
With six months in hand Alice set about proving that she could satisfy the tough nomination and selection criteria by podiuming at her very first FIS (International Ski Federation) races with a win and a third-place finish in Giant Slalom at Cardrona, NZ.
The following month she claimed the women’s national Giant Slalom and Slalom titles at Coronet Peak in Queenstown and finished third in Giant Slalom at the Australia New Zealand Cup in Thredbo, Australia. At the start of the northern hemisphere season she won a North America Cup Giant Slalom in Panorama, Canada.
The progress Alice made within her first seven months of FIS racing is almost unprecedented in the world of alpine ski racing and highlights her as one to watch over the next few years. She is currently ranked 67th in the world for women’s Giant Slalom from 3500 competitors.
To put things in perspective, the USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin, Overall World Cup leader, is the only other athlete in FIS history who has progressed as fast as Alice in her first year as a FIS athlete.
Alice had already positioned herself as one of the sport’s best junior racers, claiming Under-14 and Under-16 New Zealand titles before beginning her career on the international stage. In 2017 she won the U16 Giant Slalom, finished second in Slalom at ‘Pokal Loka, a top-level youth race in Slovenia, and was also the winner of the US U16 National Championship Giant Slalom.
But the step up from youth to senior level ski racing is a big one. The courses are longer and steeper, and set on harder (icier) surfaces; there are different rules and even differences to the equipment with competitors having to learn to master longer skis.
Alice – who will also be NZ’s youngest Winter Olympian – knows there is big learning curve ahead of her, with technical and tactical skills to be refined. With some solid results already under her belt the future looks bright for this rising young star.
“I am feeling extremely honoured and grateful for being selected in to the New Zealand team for the upcoming games,” says Alice.PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games Alice Robinson Alpine Skiing