Ali started the 2023 Alpine Skiing World Cup season off strong with a fourteenth and seventeenth place finish, on Saturday and Sunday respectively, during the two-day World Cup in Levi, Finland on November 19 - 20. Ali and her fellow Canadian teammates joined the best female alpine skiers in the world three days in advance of the race and had the opportunity to train on the race hill itself. “It’s pretty uncommon to train on the race hill before a race. It was definitely an advantage to spend time on the hill with it being so unique — flat at the start and then very steep. The training was very beneficial to have,” she recalls of the days leading up to the event.
In regard to Levi, she says, “I really like it because it’s quite a steep hill and it’s challenging. They do a great job preparing the snow each year and it’s really good conditions. And I do look forward to it in the sense that it’s the beginning of the year and we get to see a lot of people that we haven’t seen over the summer. It’s a fun one for sure.” One of the unique challenges of Levi? “There’s usually big rollers, which is kind of a signature of Levi. It adds a different kind of difficulty that we don’t get other places.”
As this was her fourth time competing at Levi, Ali was able to lean on some of her experience in her training strategy. “In October, we trained at a hill in Europe that was quite steep and icy, which helped in coming to Levi. Sometimes it’s hard in the summer to get a full-length 50 to 60 second course, so it was really nice to get to train on the hill in advance too.” While she was very familiar with the venue, competing in two races on the same hill was out of the norm, “Competing on the second day was atypical for a World Cup. Usually we race in one location and then go to the next place. It’s not very common to have two slalom races in one location.” After traveling for thirty hours, Ali says she was grateful to have the two races — which she saw as opportunities. But that’s not to say she doesn’t love the challenge of switching up venues either, “It’s good to have variety too,” as she puts it.
Overall, Ali was happy she got two results and sets of points under her belt, but she’s hungry for more. “I’m excited to build on that (result) over the next couple of races,” she says in reflection of the weekend, “There were some really good sections of skiing.” After shaking off the inevitable beginning-of-the-season nerves during the first run, Ali was feeling confident in her training, her mindset, and the rest of the upcoming season, “Mentally I learned a lot from these races.” She was proud of her effort and knows without a doubt that she gave it her all both days and adapted to the hill well run after run. “I have a clear vision of what to work on for going back there next year,” says Ali.
As for the city, Ali and her teammates love visiting Levi every year. They always make a point to swing by their favourite coffee shops and chat with the locals. “The people are so friendly!” Ali says with a smile. The hardest part of the trip? “Having the sun set at 3pm!” Ali laughs, referring to Finland’s long, dark winter. It’s safe to say that this Canadian likes her snow with a side of sunshine!