Stockport skiing sensation Sofia Iglina admitted she was overwhelmed to have secured a top-three finish at English Alpine Championships having battled back from injury.
The English Alpine Championships, organised by national governing body Snowsport England, help provide an early glimpse of the stars of tomorrow.
And with 400 of the country’s best alpine skiers descending upon the Italian resort this week for the 20th running of the event, Iglina had her work cut out for her.
But the 18-year-old recovered from crashing out in both of the opening slalom events to deliver the goods in Tuesday’s FIS national junior giant slalom competition, finishing as the third-highest Brit and 28th overall in a highly-rated international field.
And after not expecting to even be fit enough to race a matter of weeks ago, the result meant a lot to the plucky starlet.
“I was quite happy with my first run, but I made a massive mistake on the second one which was a bit of a shame,” Iglina said.
“I skied out in both slaloms, and I’m very happy to have made it through today as I just made it through a paralysis injury. I wasn’t even supposed to be here so I am just so happy to be racing.
“It’s the third time I’ve had this illness, and it just starts from nothing. Sometime you are totally paralysed, and sometimes it doesn’t go away.
“I’ve been lucky all three times to come back from it, but I still don’t have full mobility in my feet yet which isn’t very nice as it makes it hard to ski.
“So it feels great just to get down, and I am happy just to be here, but at the end of the day you are still racing and I would like to be doing better.
“I had a full week before the English Champs of GS training only, so I guess that is the reason why I’ve managed a decent result rather than in the slalom when I didn’t even finish.”
The English Alpine Championships are an important step for any young skier, with British Olympians Chemmy Alcott and Dave Ryding both having competed at the competition.
Alcott, now retired from racing and coaching her own team, CDC Performance, is taking in the action all week from the sidelines, and she believes she has already seen several stars in the making.
Alcott said: “Being here still brings back so many familiar feelings of wanting to race for me. Obviously I was English so these Champs were always such a big deal to me, and it’s great to come back in a different role.
“I think I’d still be racing if it wasn’t for my leg injury so I try to live vicariously through all of these kids now!
“The competition at this English Champs has been absolutely unreal so far. I’ve never seen such great skiing from British athletes of all ages, and I thank God I’m not racing in this age.
“The level is so high that these guys are all having to push themselves. It’s not just about finishing anymore and pushing the boundaries will reap the rewards.
“That’s what British skiing is about now and it is fantastic to see us trying to be the best.”
The English Alpine Championships, organised by Snowsport England, are run every year in the Italian resort of Bormio. Follow the action via www.englishalpinechamps.org.uk or @SnowsportEng on Twitter. Want to get into skiing or snowboarding? Find your nearest slope offering value-for-money GO SKI GO BOARD sessions at www.goskigoboard.org.uk.
Image courtesy of Racer Ready, with thanks.