By GUY WILLIAMS
Queenstown ski racer Alice Robinson has emerged from a tough European season as a more mature athlete and person, New Zealand men’s coach Nils Coberger says.
Arrowtown-based Coberger, who joined Robinson’s team for the final two weeks of the season, says her victory in the Giant Slalom World Cup finals in Switzerland on Sunday was ‘‘incredibly exciting’’ to witness.
The 19-year-old, who’ll be back in NZ in a fortnight to start her quarantine period, became the first woman to win three FIS World Cups before the age of 20 since the mid-1980s.
Coberger says it was the perfect end to a season in which Robinson had struggled for results, before finding her groove over the past two months with a fourth in the alpine world champs in February and a second earlier this month.
‘‘It would’ve been nice for [a win] to happen earlier, but for Alice it was such a different summer; she didn’t have the training in NZ, she went to Europe early, and that was definitely a factor in the early season results.
‘‘It just shows how mentally strong she is to spend nine months away, with no family, and in the last race of the season, just destroy everyone.
‘‘You learn way more from failure than success, so from having this little hiccup, she has matured incredibly well, her high performance values have changed, she’s changed and grown as a person, and that’s going to help her become a better ski racer and achieve all the goals that she has set for the next few years.
‘‘She’s got all the skills and all the qualities to take the sport to the next level.’’
He’s hopeful that unlike last winter, her coaches will be allowed into the country so she can complete a solid training block at Coronet Peak in preparation for next season, which includes the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
If that happens, he expects her to ‘‘come out firing’’ for the first World Cup event in Austria in October.