A Bittersweet Weekend in Spindleruv Mlyn

Ali putting on her ski bootsAfter ten days at home, Ali and her teammates made their way back to Europe to continue their circuit. Although the Czech Republic was ultimately her final destination, she got some quality training while in Austria before making the drive to Spindleruv Mlyn. “I feel like they were really productive days,” she says of the training block, “acclimating (to the time zone) this time felt easier.” The Spindleruv Mlyn World Cup over January 28 - 29, held a special significance for Ali, as this venue marked her comeback in 2020, since undergoing double knee surgery. Since then, Ali has made leaps and bounds and was proud to have made it back to an even higher level of competition this season. “It was cool to go back now that I’m further out from my injury and more confident. It made me proud in a way, because when I was there (in 2020), it was one of my first World Cups after my injury and they weren't my best races. But to come back ranked in the top 15 made me realize how far I’ve come in four years,” she says of the weekend. Ali’s calm and collected confidence as she approached Spindleruv Mlyn was a true testament to her hard work, determination, and resilience. Not only had she overcome the physical challenge of injury and surgery, she also saw payoff in her efforts to regain her mental and emotional strength, calling it a “surreal moment.” 

Although she was disappointed with her overall performance on the first day, ending up in nineteenth after both runs, Ali was determined to bring more aggression to day two. “I didn’t give it my all and I did regret it. It was a big learning day for me and (full of) mental lessons for me to grow from. I was tentative on the first run and was discouraged for my second run. It wasn’t my best day but I learned a lot,” she says as she reflects on the race. On the second day, her goal was to push herself saying, “I did ski a lot better most of the run, and then I made a mistake that cost me too much time to get a second run, which was unfortunate. Even though I didn’t get a result from that day, I do feel like I didn't leave anything out there. I was more aggressive and committed, which was my goal that day.” Despite any lingering disappointment over the thirty-eighth place finish, Ali remains grateful, optimistic and determined to finish the season strong.

Of course competing at Ali’s level takes mental toughness, but the demanding travel schedule also takes a toll on her body, “We drove eight hours to Spindleruv Mlyn and then drove another eight hours to train in Italy, and I think honestly it’s just the time in the car that’s worse (than racing).” Over the next two-and-a-half week training block, Ali and her team have plans to spend time on and off the snow, with a focus on sports psychology and brain training at Formula Medicine. “The clinic specializes in mental training, and we’re taking five or six days off to do that. It’s a new thing for us but it seems really cool,” she says. Despite any challenges, Ali continues to show her dedication and determination to be the best.

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