Combining racing with studying has meant Sophie Foster has had a full itinerary

From being one of the big fish in the small pond of British Children’s ski racing, Sophie Foster entered the harsh world of FIS racing and managed to secure selection for the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne along with Daisi Daniels. 50 FIS races in her first season saw three runners up finishes and a third place as well as a highly accomplished 62 point result in Giant Slalom. With an older sister, Olivia, also scoring great results, Sophie Foster has high standards to match not only against her teammates but also in the Foster house.

As with many racers in the current climate, Foster is a multi talented athlete. Not only does she compete successfully on the skis but she combines this with studying at Woldingham School in Surrey.

While many racers were in Europe competing and training, Foster was back in the UK studying. She explains: “I was at school in the UK when I heard the news that the British Championships had been cancelled. However, I was still hopeful that I would be able to fly out to Austria the following week for some training prior to the final races of the season. In the next day or so though, it became clear that, in fact, this was the end of the season and that all races were being cancelled. I was so disappointed as I had been very excited to compete in my first British FIS Championships. Despite this, it was absolutely the right decision.”

From starting her FIS racing career in South Africa with a runners up spot, Foster also raced in New Zealand before racing back in Europe. The Slalom race series in South Africa yielded a return of three runners up spots and a third place from the races. The races in New Zealand saw her post some impression fourth and fifth place results including her first three sub 80 FIS point results. It was in Bormio at a CIT race in November that saw her score a season best result in finishing 8th, scoring 62 points.

With this in mind, how did Foster feel her season went in relation to what points she scored? “I was very pleased with my points in my first FIS season. I was really looking forward to racing in Tignes and the end of season races. I was very happy with the beginning of my season in the lead up to the Youth Olympics but, after that, I had important interim exams at school and so hadn’t had as much time on snow as I would have liked. As a result, with my exams over, I had been really looking forward to a solid block of training before trying to improve my points in Tignes, Val d’isère and Reiteralm.”

While it is points that measures the ability of racers (and their start positions in races), some put too much emphasis on the numerical meaning of results. Seeing racers compete at the same race, like at the British Championships, is always more of a guide as to how racers stack up against others. The long term is much more interesting and important than the short term.

Experienced racers talk at length about putting money in the bank with regards to fitness and Foster explained that “Lock down has actually given me some much needed extra time! I am normally very busy with school and I play a lot of hockey so it has given me the perfect opportunity to concentrate specifically on improving my fitness levels and strength.”

Every two years the Olympic Movement puts on the Youth Olympic Games and Foster put in the performances that saw her selected to the four strong Team GB. It was at these races that Foster felt gave her the most satisfaction of all the races she did last season. “The Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne was the most amazing experience. It made me understand how much work it takes to become a top athlete and gave me a glimpse of what racing at the top level would be like. It was a huge honour to have been selected and was definitely the highlight of my year.”

Foster set her goals at the beginning of the season to include making the team for Lausanne and then making the jump to the British FIS Team for 2020-2021. These were both achieved before the season ended prematurely and she did not have to rely on matters out side of her control.

It is said that ski racing is a very lonely sport. From the moment a racer hits the wand and enters the course it is just the racer on their own. To this extent it is the support from all behind the racer that is vital and such an important element to a racer making the most of their ability. This is something that is not lost on Foster as she immediately recognises the support her parents give in allowing her to compete, study and be herself: “As a part time athlete still competing in other sports as well as skiing and taking challenging A levels, they help me to balance everything. They always make sure I don’t miss anything important at home or school but also make sure I get as much “on snow” time as possible.”

How has Foster looked after her mental health in this time of isolation? “Lots of exercise, keeping busy with school work and chatting to my friends daily!” She replies smiling!

Foster is only just starting out on her career in ski racing and knows that it will be a long road to catch the standards set by her older sister and the rest of the Ambition Team.

Many thanks to Atomic UK for their help with this article in promoting one of the their inspiring young racers.

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