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Snow Queen

5 July 2019
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Boasting no end of wins and titles, Olympian skier Alice Robinson has achieved more than most her age, but this hard-working Queenstown teen shows no signs of slowing down.

Words Ella James

It’s been during the 2018-19 northern hemisphere season that Alice Robinson has truly made a name for herself. The teen picked up New Zealand’s first World Cup medal in 17 years, placing a phenomenal second, just 30 seconds behind the world number one at the World Cup Finals Giant Slalom in Andorra. Let’s not forget her stunning participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, where Alice was the youngest member of the team at just 16 years of age, plus a National Champion Super-G win in 2017. Oh, and she was also named Otago Junior Sportswoman of the year at the 2019 Otago Sports Awards. Not bad for a 17-year-old.

Keeping up with Alice Robinson on the slopes is one thing, but even her day-to-day life seems more fast paced than most. We scheduled a phone call for when she had finished her day at Wakatipu High School and, down the line, from her Queenstown home, came a chirpy and fresh voice, seemingly unaffected by a day of exams. Alice’s favourite subject is history, but despite her stellar performances on the slopes, clearly showcasing that she knows a thing or two about gravity, physics is her least favourite.

As an adult who sometimes struggles to balance work, walking the dog and a decent social life, I was desperate to learn how Alice juggles studying, skiing and socialising. “I put all of my effort into one thing at one time,” she quickly responds. For this young star, skiing never overlaps with studying and vice versa. Skiing can often leave Alice missing up to eight weeks of school, but it doesn’t cross her mind when she’s competing all over the globe (Italy is one of her favourite places so far). During that time, it’s all about skiing. When she’s back in class, Alice is fully dedicated to the cause, yes, even if it’s physics. “Never do anything by halves.”

Of course, there are times when it can all seem too much to handle. At just 17 years of age, spending extended periods of time away from family and friends in high-pressure situations can be incredibly hard. Yet Alice’s attitude is a cool as ice. “Sure, sometimes it’s overwhelming, but I just try and relax. If something doesn’t go to plan, it’s not the end of the world.”

Before a big competition, it’s all about staying ‘chilled’, which is achieved by allowing herself time to relax and recover. Proving she’s just a regular teenager at heart, Alice confesses that Love Island is her guilty pleasure when she’s having some downtime.

I’m convinced that you won’t find this feisty teen snacking on chips and pizza whilst enjoying reality television. So what kind of diet does a world-class skier stick to? “Nothing too ridiculous actually. I just try and eat decently, healthily, but I’ll still eat out occasionally. I don’t limit myself,” and neither should she. After all, while in training Alice will attend the gym both before and after school. Free time at home means hanging out with friends and dedicating some to hiking around Arrowtown. I’m sure that all of this fresh air contributes to Alice’s relaxed and confident demeanour.

Alive appears level-headed, calm and undoubtedly capable of incredible things on and off the slopes. The secret? Alice’s biggest support; her parents and two siblings, of course. Born in Sydney, the Robinson family moved to Queenstown when Alice was four, after falling in love with the mountains; the perfect location for this ski-loving family and an unparalleled training ground for Alice. Having skied for pleasure from a young age, her professional career began to blossom at Coronet Peak with the Queenstown Alpine Ski Team, later training with the Sugar Bowl Ski Team and Academy in Tahoe, California during the northern hemisphere winter.

When sat back at her desk in school, Alice isn’t daydreaming about Italian slopes and podium finishes. Passionate about learning new things, she’s always able to concentrate fully on the task in hand. She speaks ever so fondly of her teachers, who help keep her organised every step of the way. Naturally, when Alice returns from training and competing, there is some catching up to be done, but her teachers “always allow for late hand-ins” and “never make things harder than they should be”. Seemingly able to balance all manner of commitments, Alice doesn’t rule out further study in the future either. ‘I’d like to go to university at a later date, but I’m not sure what I’d study yet. Perhaps marketing and advertising. Something like that.”

Showing no end of dedication to both ski and study, we can’t wait to see what’s next for the young super star.

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