Charlie Guest realises her dream of winning her first World Cup points…and now wants more!

The 2020 season saw Charlie Guest step up and join the list of British racers that have scored World Cup points. Guest had a monumentally successful outing at St Moritz in December 2019 where she qualified in 13th for the knock out Parallel Slalom before skiing away with her first two World Cup points. Add three podiums, including a race win, on the Europa Cup tour and Charlie Guest can rightly look back at the last season with pride. From starting out with the Scottish Ski Club and British Ski Academy, Guest has fought for her results all along the way.

Guest is the oldest of four children and cousin to Jack Gower, a fellow GB Snowsport teammate, and has also embarked on combining her racing with studying as well. There is a growing number of racers that are taking this route as they feel that it gives them better time management, more appreciation of life and means they focus on things better. For Guest she sees it as a "chance to give me some space from ski racing. It's been such a great move for my confidence and I am loving being back in the books."

With the World Cup season having already been shortened, Guest was preparing for the last race of the season in Are, Sweden when the call came to head home. How much of a shock was it to her that the season ended the way it did? “It was quite a shock, I was just getting some last minute studying in before heading to dinner the night before the parallel event. The coaches were all at the team captains meeting and, I think it was 6.30pm that I had a text come through saying that everything was cancelled and our service man was leaving with the van at 4.30am the next day. GBS then booked me a flight straight home from Ostersund, so by lunchtime the next day I was back in Edinburgh. Everything happened so quickly. I had known that the races in Are were likely to be the last ones, so I thought we would just be getting through the next 3 days of racing and then there would be a bit of clarity as to whether we would come home or keep training somewhere.”

Having scored points in St Moritz in December, Guest was looking forward to racing another Parallel. With the three podium places on the Europa Cup Tour, her ability is being noticed. With the races cancelled she was still “really happy with the way that the season went and I had been skiing well in all of the races. I was 100% in the mindset of charging, so I really feel that anything was possible.”

Instead of waiting to see what was going to happen GB Snowsport and its staff put together a programme that would have the racers fully prepared for next season. Dan Hunt and his staff at GB Snowsport were hugely proactive given the situation and Guest has embraced the whole situation in terms of fitness. The longer summer break will give her time to strengthen her back that has caused her issues over the years.

“In terms of fitness looking forward to next season, I have already finished my first block. The extra time that we were given meant that we could just start really early, which is nice, as I have had time to really work on certain weaknesses. The first block has all been about moving well and adapting to volume and the next block is going to be all about strength gains. I am really fortunate to be able to have access to all of the gym kit that I need at the moment and have a lot of open space right on my doorstep to be able to crack on with training,” Guest explained.

Working with sponsors is always a tough job as without sponsors, ski racing is hard to financially undertake. Guest continues “I am actively searching for sponsors, I decided in October that I really wanted to focus on finding partners and brands that hold the same values and ethics that I do. I have been keeping all of my supporters up to date via social media channels, so I hope I have been able to keep the training vibe alive through these lockdown months.”

Which was the race that gave her the most amount of satisfaction last season? “There are a couple of races from last season that were really satisfying. I think the Europa Cups in Funaesdalen were really important as I missed almost all of summer training, so it was really cool to see results still very much in line with where I left off last season. Secondly, it was the place where I broke my back over 5 years ago, so there was a nice slice of redemption in there too. Alongside that were my first WC points in St.Moritz, which was a milestone that I am so happy to reach and of course the EC win in Hasliberg. I am so proud of the charge that I brought to all three of these occasions and they really made my season!”

Did she meet the goals she set for yourself at the beginning of the season? “I achieved all of goals set for this season. The next step is to ideally be making regular WC points, but I had set the minimum to just once, so we got those 2 points and I am happy. Above and beyond all of that though, it was huge for me to make it from the first slalom race to the last race healthy and producing strong performances throughout. That was the first time since 2013 that I have made it through a winter, so I am aiming for the whole year next season!”

What does Guest put her strength and fitness down to this season? Guest is quick to praise her coach Simone who she explains has been “Hands down my biggest supporter. There are so many refreshing changes that he has allowed to happen and a much more in tune approach to coaching focussing in longevity and health has been put in place. He has really helped me to break down so many barriers that I have had with confidence etc after all of the injury years and for that I am hugely grateful. He brings such great energy to our team and everyone there is working towards the same goal!”

With the results starting to come for her, how does Guest feel the sport is supported by the UK press? “The one thing I feel that would really help British events improve is more coverage from the mainstream UK press. The skiing community does so well in making sure that everyone knows what is happening, but we really need to work towards building a platform that draws people in to the UK events and makes them even bigger and better. I didn’t make it to British Champs last year and obviously it was cancelled this year, but an increase in profile would benefit all involved!”

Guest is delighted to see how the academies and clubs are “attracting kids to the sport at a young age. There are so many young British racers out there both on snow and on dry mat – I was blown away by the volume of young British racers up training at Hintertux in October. However, more needs to happen to keep those young racers involved, there is such a huge drop out once racers get to Uni age which is such a shame, as that is the age where results started to happen for me. I was just so fortunate that there was a training group (Myself, Alex and Cara) I could join that really brought me through, but for girls at the moment, there is no where to move onto from academies. I really want to have training partners and see the next generation of British women at Europa Cups, but firstly, they need the support to get there.”

With the news that borders are starting to open, this will delight Guest as she looks to get back on snow and start building up for next season. “For next season, I will still be working with Simone and goals are to be making World Cup points consistently and most importantly staying healthy! We still need to talk about specific goals for Cortina World Champs, but an improvement on 24th from Are will definitely be on the cards!”

As with the GB Snowsport fitness programmes, Guest has taken positives from the situation this summer: “Isolation has actually been a really great thing for my mental health. It has forced me to slow down a bit and with all of the extra time that I have got I have been able to get back into a lot of hobbies. So I’ve been drawing, painting, cooking new recipes, gardening and catching up with friends over zoom calls that I don’t always have the time to do, and that has been great. I hope everything continues to some degree when lockdown is over. My training schedule has remained pretty similar with two to three sessions a day, so that has added much needed routine to my days! I still have days in lockdown that feel completely rubbish and well … isolated, but I’ve just been picking up the phone to friends or getting stuck into a project and not putting too much pressure on myself to be overly productive and I find things get back to being nicely aligned before too long!”

With 34 career FIS race wins to date and now points on the board at World Cup level, Guest is looking to keep moving up next season. Guest is delighted to be continuing "the ongoing work with Fischer and Shred who have of course been great throughout the whole season."

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