The Killington World Cup slalom on Sunday, November 27, was a series of personal wins for Ali. A hill that she affectionately refers to as her “second home,” Ali was thrilled to return to Killington, surrounded by her friends and family. “It was a special race,” she says of the weekend, “I got to spend time with my family and friends and that was super nice.” On top of her tight circle, Ali and her teammates were showered with love from a contingent of Canadian fans in attendance. The weekend was made even better for Ali with a fourteenth place finish. “It’s been nerve-wracking for me in the past because Vermont is like a second home to me and I know so many people who are coming (to the race). But I feel like this year I was in a better headspace going into it and I was able to control my nerves better.”
Between the Levi World Cup and Killington, Ali took what she calls a “condensed” approach to her training. With just five days to settle back in on the western hemisphere, the goal was a balance of rest, mobility work, hill time, and dry land training. She admits that after long flights and rest days, getting that crucial time on-snow-on-site was a key component of her training strategy. Ali also credits her extensive summer training as the catalyst for making these shorter stints just as productive, “I felt prepared in general, I would say. It’s nice to get a few runs in the day before (a race) just to get the tempo back and get my ski legs back. But I definitely felt prepared.”
Ali and her team stayed close to the hill, which made the race-day logistics relatively stress-free. After a gorgeous sunrise on the hill, Sunday ended up being on the warmer side, hovering around 8ºC — fairly comfortable conditions for the athletes. “We were pretty warm in our downhill suits,” says Ali. Although rain loomed in the forecast, it held off until after the last skier of the day. The snow, however, was a different story, “The snow is mostly man-made here because it’s early in the season. They have to blow a lot of snow to make it possible for the race to happen. So the snow can be quite aggressive.” In the past, Ali has said that at times she lacked confidence in how her equipment felt on man-made snow. This year, however, was a different story, “We made sure to have me 100% confident in my skis going out at the start. I think that’s something we worked hard to achieve and it went well for me in the race. I was able to feel good with the tuning I had.” Building that confidence was a key component of her Killington success.
After the first run, Ali was feeling pretty good. “I was in twelfth spot this year, and last year I didn’t ski very well. I was super nervous and I didn’t ski like myself. I didn’t even get a second run,” she reflects, “This year I wanted more, but I was really stoked to overcome that hump of Killington being a ‘challenging race’ for me.” Joined by one of her teammates in the second run, Ali was pleased with another top-fifteen finish. “I was happy to turn it around and hopefully I can build on that over the next couple of years,” she says. “I’m going into every race for the rest of this season with a podium finish in mind. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”