Liv Foster raises her game in Giant Slalom yet knows there is more to come from her Slalom

It was a long season for Olivia Foster: 43 race starts taking in Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Italy and Austria in the search of scoring great results. The season yielded three sub fifty point results, all in Giant Slalom as well as two wins and five other results on the podium. This form saw Foster selected for the British Team to go to the World Junior Championships in Narvik, Norway. Foster herself feels that there was still more to come from herself, especially in Slalom but the sudden and abrupt end to the season was “disappointing.”

How much of a shock to her was it that the season ended the way it did? Was it a mad panic and dash to get home once the call to abandon the season was made? “When I arrived in Narvik, just before the tech races began, WJC was in full swing and Owen (Vinter) was doing a brilliant job in the speed races. I had no idea how quickly the situation would escalate. Two days later we were in a 10pm meeting being told that we should book the next available flight home! World Juniors was cancelled later that same evening due to coronavirus. It was rather stressful! Once back in Austria with the rest of the Ambition Team, it quickly became clear that this meant the end of the season - all remaining races were being cancelled. We had a day to pack up everything from the season and rush back to the UK before the borders started closing.”

With five of the seven races prior to racing in the World Juniors yielding top five results, including an impressive win at the English Alpine Championships in the National Junior Giant Slalom in Bormio, followed up with a fourth the following day, Foster was in great form in the middle of March.

Did she feel as though she was building up to a series of strong results or happy with the way her points finished up for the season?

“I was really looking forward to racing in Tignes at the British Championships. It’s always an enjoyable week for me and the end of season races are so important.

“I am generally pleased with the way my GS has gone this season. However, I was really disappointed that the season was cut short as I feel I hadn’t had the chance to ski to my potential in slalom due to a serious concussion in January and a couple of other more minor injuries which really affected my slalom timing. This was a shame but it has really spurred me on to work hard in this off season so that I can come back ready to achieve my goals once we are able to get back on snow.”

Now that the season is over, how is she preparing for the next season in terms of fitness?

“This time in lock down is actually the perfect opportunity to work on my fitness and focusing on becoming stronger is helping to bring structure to my day and keep me busy,” Foster explained.

Foster is not just a one discipline racer. Her excellent Giant Slalom skills compliment both her slalom and also her rapidly improving Super G skills. It was her performance in the ANC Super G, she shared the podium with New Zealand World Cup star, Alice Robinson. In the process of doing this and making the most of the opportunity that saw her score a massive personal best in Super G, 65 points. “It was a great feeling to be sharing the podium with such an outstanding athlete and one I look up to. Winning the NJR GS race at the English Championships in Bormio in February was also pretty special.”

Did Foster meet the goals she set for herself at the beginning of the season?

“Having finished my A levels last summer, this was my first season as a full time athlete. Up until now I’ve always had to fly backwards and forwards between school and the Alps fitting in training immediately prior to races. My main goal for the season was to be selected to compete at World Juniors which I managed to achieve. Obviously, it was such a shame that the Championships were cut short but even to have managed to race the GS was just brilliant. Although it wasn’t a perfect season, I’m still pleased with my achievements.”

Ski racing is a tough sport to be successful in. The support of the back up team is vital and Foster is quick to acknowledge the support given to her from both her parents and her coach at Ambition, Marc Telling.

It is the support of them plus her equipment suppliers, Atomic, that has seen her rise up the world rankings. Foster now sits in 307th in the Super G rankings and 396th in Giant Slalom. She freely admits that her slalom ranking (615) could be higher had it not been for the injury in the season.

Foster has a very mature outlook in how she is approaching the difficult conditions being experienced at the moment. How is she looking after her mental health in this time of isolation?

“Athletes’ mental health is just as important as their physical health. In such uncertain times it’s easy to feel anxious. I’ve been trying to keep in contact with friends and family and also trying to continue as many of my hobbies as possible, particularly my art work. Working on my fitness has been helpful too and sticking to a routine every day helps me to prioritise my mental health,” she explained.

Foster has her younger sister chasing her so knows that she cannot relax if she is to continue improving. While Olivia went to the World Juniors, Sophie was selected for the GB Team to go to last season’s Youth Olympic Games. With the return from injury of Sarah Woodward, the Ambition Girls FIS team is setting standards that the rest of the British female racers are having to match.

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