Four years after having tasted the Winter Olympics for the first time at age 16, Alice Robinson is heading to Beijing 2022 in February with the world of downhill skiing at her feet.
With three Giant Slalom World Cup victories before the age of 20, a feat not achieved since 1988, the Queenstown-based sensation is one of New Zealand’s top medal hopefuls for the next Winter Games.
Her preparation in Beijing also went very well – netting a career fourth Super G place finish in a World Cup race – until last week when she contracted Covid-19.
This forced her to withdraw from last week’s events in France, but the 20-year-old took to social media to report that she was feeling well and was planning to return. on the slopes as soon as possible.
* Alice Robinson withdraws from World Cup races after contracting Covid-19
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* Alice Robinson seeks speed as new World Cup ski season begins in Austria
Prior to his diagnosis, Robinson traded cold for Back Chat warm seat to discuss all things snow and speed, his Australian roots and, of course, the Olympics.
Competing on the World Cup circuit means a White Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere, and your birthday is in December. Do you already have the opportunity to celebrate these occasions at home?
No, I don’t, and it’s something that I really miss. This is probably the hardest thing for me because we don’t have time, it’s almost impossible to come back.
We are always a few. We call ourselves the orphans of the road and we always team up and have a big Christmas dinner.
When you have the opportunity to take a break, what is your perfect vacation destination – snow or sand?
Sand, certainly. I spend enough time on the snow. If I go on vacation, it will be at the beach.
How does it feel to be the only Kiwi on the tour, not only competing with the heavyweight ski nations of Europe and North America, but beating them?
I remember when I first started doing it it was a big motivation for me to get into the World Cup.
In Austria, Switzerland and these immense ski countries, skiing is like their rugby. You drive in Austria and every two kilometers there is a ski lift and there are people skiing. It is their national sport and they devote so many resources to it.
So being from New Zealand and being the youngest it was fun for me to think, why can’t I take on these great countries, why not? This is what motivated me.
Giant slalom is your specialty, but you’ve recently turned heads in Super G and also added downhill, the other speed discipline, to your repertoire. Have you always had nerves of steel?
I’ve always been – I wouldn’t say fearless – but I’ve always enjoyed taking risks and doing adrenaline-pumping stuff. And starting to ski downhill, I think I’m having too much fun. It’s great, but at the same time when you make 130 clicks and you’re on those little skis, it’s always a bit risky that you’re going to cark.
It’s something that I’m building for the long haul, to be at the same level as I’m in GS downhill and Super G, but it’s more of a three-year plan.
It’s time to clean up. You have lived most of your life in New Zealand, but you were born across the divide. Is there something you still support Australia in?
No comment (laughs). No, I stay with Kiwis on sports.
I have a few Australian sponsors now and a few of my family sometimes give me a bit of a stick to ski for New Zealand but it’s okay. I’m quite happy to be a Kiwi.
A lot has changed since your first Olympics and you go to the next one with new expectations. What does success look like for you in Beijing?
I think success would be a medal, that’s what I’m aiming for. I feel like I’m good enough at it. I have already won these competitions (World Cup) so I feel like I can do it. But at the same time, it’s going to be different all of a sudden to have the whole country paying a little more attention.
It’s going to be new, but it’s also really exciting to show everyone back home what you’ve been up to and they can all experience it too.
It’s going to be cool to show New Zealand snow sports, especially with Nico (Porteous) and Zoi (Sadowski-Synnott) doing so well. I feel like we have a great crew for the country to support.