Queenstown golden girl Taylor Rapley hadn’t been on her super G skis all season before she won the prestigious Winter Games race last weekend.
Rapley – the only Kiwi female athlete to win gold during the second biennial event – says she had no expectations going into the race, at Mt Hutt last Saturday.
“I wasn’t sure how I would perform because I hadn’t trained super G this season,” Rapley says.
“I just focused on some key tactics and technique and hoped that by doing so, that would result in a good run.”
Rapley was up against a field of 20 women – all viewed as stiff competition – in the fastest ski racing discipline.
“I wasn’t too sure how I’d end up.”
Rapley’s result not only means she earns valuable points for the northern hemisphere season, she also walks away with the coveted Janey Blair Trophy – awarded to the fastest female Kiwi super G athlete.
Fellow teammate Tim Cafe won the Pieter Small-Smith trophy for fastest Kiwi male.
It’s been a mixed season for 20-year-old Rapley.
She suffered concussion during training a few weeks ago, denting her confidence before racing at Australia’s Mt Hotham.
“Having a concussion isn’t that fun. It messes with your mental state a lot and can be scary for when you get back on snow.
“I’ve had a few too many knocks to the head so the thought of smacking it again … isn’t a nice feeling. I only get one brain.
“But you can’t be scared in ski racing. I feel much more confident now than I did after my crash.”
Rapley has spent her first New Zealand season training under coach Nils Coberger with the national men’s ski team – she’s the only woman to do so.
Rapley shares the training slopes with Cafe, Ben Griffin, Jamie Prebble and Andrew Wylie.
“This is because we have no funding for a women’s team programme,” she explains.
“In fact, there isn’t even any funding for a men’s team programme.
“That is why Nils, myself and the boys are training through Queenstown Alpine Ski Team which has actually worked out really well.
“I love training with the boys. They are better and stronger skiers than girls which pushes me to do better.”
Rapley hopes last weekend’s win will give her an added boost before heading to the upcoming Australia NZ Cup finals at Mt Hutt.