Making the Case at the World Juniors

In January 2020 things were looking exceptionally sorry for Toby Case. A debilitating knee injury meant that he left the Excel Race Academy that he was training with and returned home: season over. Case was a skier that had already shown tremendous promise in Slalom and had demonstrated this through his children's career and taken his pedigree through to the FIS ranks. Through careful management of his injury, fourteen months after the curtailment of his season, Case will kick out the start gate in Bansko bib 39, the first of the three British racers. Owen Vinter will go 45 and Ed Guigonnet 50.

Case is 18 years old and in his first year of the Under 21 year group in FIS racing. In January 2020 his racing was cut short due to chronic tendinopathy and Osetochondritis in both knees.

Case underwent six months of rest and "a lot of physiotherapy" he explained. How did he feel when things came to ahead with the injury? "Very annoyed but it had to be done as I could not carry on as it would have made my knee a lot worse than it was," Case explained as he sat in his room after travelling across to Bansko in Bulgaria from Austria. "It was definitely the best decision but at the time it was very frustrating."

With ski racing off the menu last summer, Case spent time quelling his competitive streak on the Go-karting track. "It was a step up from the rental kart scene," he explained. During this time, while the country went into the first lockdown period due to Covid-19, Case was helped to recover by James Vickers at CHHP Physio, recommended by Paul Trayner from GB Snowsport and he had four sessions of shockwave therapy to get him back into being able to ski.

Case trains with the Excel Ski Race Academy and under the coaching of Brad Morgan and New Zealand World Cup racer Willis Feasey. With the help of Rob Bullen, programme director at Excel, Case was back on snow at the end of September 2020 at Chill Factore in Manchester before getting back on the glaciers in October.

In his first year on FIS, case made his mark with a best of 88 FIS points, then in the second year lowering them to 64 before the season was halted by injury in January 2020.

At this stage, Case was not even contemplating the World Juniors for 2021. When did he start to think they could be on the horizon? "Not that long ago," he admitted, "probably the start of Feb was when I started to think it could be possible."

While Case is only racing in the Slalom in Bansko due to the pain in the knees from Osgood-Schlatters disease, he has raced a few Giant Slalom races this season. At the end of January, Case scored two 50 point results in Slalom. Then a win in Abetone saw him score a 47 point result. Then came a superb 39 point result in Santa Caterina where he finished second in the middle of February. This had his coach, Rob Bullen, delighted as he posted on the Academy Instagram page: "Really cool skiing to watch in a strong field."

"It was after scoring the result in Santa Catarina that I thought it might be a possibility (going to the World Juniors)," Case explained. "I think it was Rob that came to me and discussed it as it was not really on my mind, I was just focussed on getting really good results," Case admitted.

Case spent the first two days in Bansko soaking up the atmosphere and experience. Despite having taken part in some of the biggest Children's race "this is upscaled massively," he explained.

With Bansko having hosted the Men's World Cup the week before the World Juniors, much of the infrastructure needed for the event is still in place. Hopefully for Case, it will not be too long before he is experiencing the World Cup in his own right.

Case will be wanting to make sure the extent his coach went to, driving for 17 hours through the night to get Case to Bansko, will not have been in vain. These are strange times due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Bullen is one of a group of programme bosses that has been looking at every way to keep the athletes in his care racing and within the legal boundaries.

And as for the race, what does Case hope for? "Making the flip run one and a solid second run would be nice."

Case knows that without the support of the coaches at Excel and of Rossignol and Ski Racing Supplies amongst others including his parents, this opportunity may not have come about and is very grateful for this chance.

(1) - Wikipedia

Toby Case FIS page

Picture courtesy of Excel Race Academy

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