Fresh off winning the Emerging Talent category at the Halberg Awards, Kiwi skier Alice Robinson is back on the slopes for the sixth round of the World Cup Giant Slalom in Slovenia.
The 18-year-old is fifth in the standings heading into the race, which has been moved from Maribor to Kransjka Gora in the west of the country due to a lack of snow in Maribor.
"Maribor is a low elevation slope and doesn't get much natural snow so we have moved to where I had my first World Cup race two years ago - it is exciting to be back," Robinson said.
It's a slope she knows well, which is a significant benefit; all but one of Robinson's races this season have been held on hills she hadn't skied on before.
"It's always hard coming into a race blind because you never really know what it's going to ski like," Robinson analysed.
"You can look at it as much as you like but until you ski you are not sure what the speeds are going to be or how much time you will have in certain sections. So to be on a hill I have skied before gives me confidence and I will get to freeski on it tomorrow, which is great."
Robinson finished fifth in her last Giant Slalom in Sestriere, Italy, last month. She believes the course in Kransjka Gora will suit her aggressive style.
"It's quite technical; it starts out flat and rolling before a deep pitch at the bottom so I think I will like it more than if it was in Maribor. It's just a matter of putting two really good runs together and being fully confident that I can ski my best on race day."
The next six weeks will be crucial for Robinson. While her focus is the Giant Slalom, she will incorporate a couple of World Cup Super G races into her schedule in a bid to qualify in both disciplines for the World Cup Finals in Cortina in Italy late next month.
"I'm feeling good and have come off a break after Sestriere for 10 days at the end of last month and then went to Garmisch Partenkirchen in Germany for a Super G. I had been skiing really well but unfortunately my ski popped off its binding which was unfortunate. But that happens so I am excited to get back into the GS and it's a hectic six weeks now. I have a race every week until the end of the season."
The DNF in Germany has dented her chances of making the World Cup Finals in that discipline, but it hasn't dented Robinson's confidence.
"It's not nice, especially coming onto sheet ice skiing at 80 kilometres per hour and then losing a ski and falling, smashing yourself and sliding 50 metres on ice," Robinson recalled.
"But sometimes you can just be in the wrong position and be loaded at the wrong time. Especially because I was starting a bit later, there was a little hole forming from all the people skiing and I just hit it with too much force and pushed the binding off. So I will just have to ramp up and start using the men's bindings."
Robinson, who has had a meteoric rise over the past 12 months, will have a good starting position among the first seven racers to go tomorrow night (the first run is at 10pm with the second run at 1am Sunday), meaning the young Kiwi will enjoy the best of the snow conditions.
Italian Federica Brignone leads the Giant Slalom standings with 375 points with American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin second on 314. Another Italian Marta Bassino is third with 254 points, just ahead of reigning world champion Slovakian Petra Vlhova on 253.
Then comes Robinson on 200, made up of the stunning win in the season-opening race in Austria, where she became the youngest skier to win a World Cup race, and a 10th, a ninth and a fifth, in her last race in Sestriere.
With 100 points for a race win, the overall title is not out of the question for Robinson who has races in Ofterschwang in Germany, and Åre in Sweden to come before the World Cup Finals in Cortina d'Amprezzo in Italy.