From where Piera Hudson finds her lofty mark on the giant slalom the vertical drop insists it's all downhill but not as we know it.
"With every race you do you sort of learn from
it and take tools from it, even if it's not a good race you can learn something from it every time," said Hudson from Zhangjiakou after finding a perch on the podium at the Thaiwoo Ski Resort as the Far East Cup series embarked on its second leg from Wanlong Ski Resort in China yesterday. "I mean, you either win or you learn so I think I've got a lot of experience under my belt now even though I'm still going in kind of learning things," said the 23-year-old from Hastings who had finished third before she was going to race again about 6pm NZ time today. READ MORE:
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Hudson said wind was a major factor so it had pretty much boiled down to a lucky dip on who had the good wind and who got the ill one.
Hilma Loevblom, of Sweden, won the event on a time of 1m 55.75s after clocking 59.64 in the first run but finding better traction with 56.11 in the second one.
Zuzanna Czapska was second with runs of 59.96 and 56.79 for a total time of 1:56.25 in the field of 53 where six competitors didn't finish either the first or second runs.
However, Hudson wasn't too far off on a total time of 1:56.30, with 59.57 in the first run and 56.73 in the second in a series where Japanese athletes outnumber other nationalities.
She had arrived in Thaiwoo on a magical run of three podium finishes on as many consecutive days from Wanlong and, in the process, had scored a personal best.
The Havelock North athlete's purple patch began on Wednesday last week with victory in slalom before a third place in the same discipline the following day. She then carried that stellar form to giant slalom on Friday, scoring 15 FIS points. On Saturday, the giant slalom script got a little askew when she didn't finish the first run.
If anything, that hiccup only hardened Hudson's resolve this week.
"It's motivated me more so I've got one more day to try to get the result I really want which will really help my world ranking in giant slalom," she said of tonight's race.
"I'm going to put everything into [today's] race."
The former Woodford House student is ranked around the late 40s in the world but when the powder settles tonight she hopes to whittle that down to 31st.
Hudson is chasing a maiden berth at the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, after missing out on the Pyeongchang one last year.
Nevertheless, a more immediate goal is to make the cut for the Olympic qualification muster, which won't begin until next year but the points she's accruing now are crucial in teeing her up for the qualifiers.
She started this season training in Colorado in the United States early last month with some decent races at the end of that month.
"It's definitely early days in the season so we've got until the end of March [to tweak the runs]."
After tonight's giant slalom, she will jet off with coach Jonny Rice and assistant mentor Sami Corne to Europe.
The St Moritz World Cup beckons on Friday and Sunday (NZ time) in Switzerland before the Courchevel World Cup in France on Tuesday next week.
When juxtaposed with last season, Hudson is in a happy place both on and off the skifields.
"I'm healthy so that's always good. On the skis I'm definitely the fastest I have been in my career and I'm feeling my most confident in giant slalom, which is good because usually my slalom is stronger."
It's the ideal catalyst to providing a mental platform going into the world cups to eke out productive results to accumulate FIS points although it helps immensely if the sun aligns with the moon and the stars.
Asked what was conducive in creating that environment, Hudson said despite not much snow on the slopes of New Zealand she was able to train with more quality and intensity in November with Rice.
"And then at Colorado we had a really good training block there so I took a lot of confidence out of my skiing and time wise I'm stacking up well to [compete against] some of the top girls in the world."
The incremental gains from every year have also provided her with a solid constitution.
Hudson said honing her skills in the Indo-China circuit also was challenging.
"I definitely can't afford to button off here at all because the Japanese are really fast and then you get quite a few Eastern Europeans and some of the Americans come over as well."
While there were fewer skiers when compared with those at the equivalent American and European series, she said the agility was on a par.
"You've still got to go for it every single time."
No doubt the familiarity with the Indo-China circuit will be priceless with the Winter Olympics in China.
"Being here is a lot different to a lot of places I find myself in Europe and America. So it's very cold here while most of the snow is man-made stuff," she said, revealing China's average snowfall was around 20cm.
Factor in the food and culture and Hudson finds the overall tuition is pivotal to the building up to the Winter Games.
While skiing fulltime, Hudson also is working part-time as a copy writer for a Swedish company's website.
"I can just take my work anywhere and it's all online so that's brilliant," she said with a laugh.
Her parents, Fiona and John Hudson, were lucky enough to make it to Killington World Cup, Vermont, in the US a fortnight ago.
"That was amazing because they haven't been able to watch me race internationally in almost five years so that was a really big treat for them and awesome for me to have them over there."