Two years ago, 17-year-old New Zealand ski racer Alice Robinson stunned the Alpine Skiing world when she won her first World Cup race at the season opening giant slalom in Solden in Austria.
It was a result and a performance that didn't get the traction it deserved here, due to its timing, coming a few hours after the All Blacks had lost to England in the Rugby World Cup semifinal.
But in Europe where races are shown live on television throughout the continent, she became an instant star and has since developed into one of the finest giant slalom skiers on the World Cup circuit.
Two years on, Robinson starts her 2021/22 campaign as one of the contenders for the overall GS World Cup title. She has three World Cup race victories to her name, including the season-ending race at the World Cup Finals in Switzerland last March. There is an air of confidence and belief from the young Kiwi, still not 20, that she can win the overall GS Globe.
"It's pretty exciting, always a big build-up when we get to Solden just because everyone's had the whole summer of training and no one's really sure where they are at and it's the first race of the season so there's a lot of energy," Robinson told the Herald.
"I've had a good 10 days of training on the glacier and have had a couple of days on the race hill so I'm super excited and I'm confident on my skis; it's just about bringing that confidence in on Saturday."
A year ago, Robinson finished 12th in Solden while defending her title and endured a difficult first half of the season that proved challenging during a new Covid world.
She had already spent two months in Europe after her coaches were unable to get home during the New Zealand winter due to the closed borders.
She wasn't as fit as she should have been at the start of the season and faced mental battles knowing it would be nine months before she would see her family again. This year, Robinson has had a more conventional build-up.
"I feel in a lot better space this year than I did last year for sure. Last year everything was very uncertain and there were a lot of unknowns and this year it's feeling a lot more like things have lined up the way that we planned. We've done everything we could have to be in the best position so I'm feeling pretty confident."
There are also going to be crowds back on the mountain for the first time since the pandemic hit and that excites the young Kiwi who says it will feel more like a "normal race".
Robinson feels in the best physical shape of her career and heading into her third full season at World Cup level, realises it's the top two inches that can make the difference on race day.
"I put in a lot of work in the pre-season in the gym, more than ever before, and I'm feeling pretty good on the skis. But you are never really sure how you stack up at the end of the day so it's a big mental thing. I'm just going to have confidence in myself going down there with good intent in my skiing and try to put it down."
Solden marks the start of the biggest season to date for the Queenstown skier that includes the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, the super giant slalom (super-G) season and introducing downhill to her repertoire.
Her co-coach, Italy based Kiwi Chris Knight, shares Robinson's belief that she can win the overall GS Globe, with the key word being consistency over the nine-race programme.
"It's a realistic goal," Knight said. "She's won three World Cup races already in giant slalom as a teenager, so she's proven herself to be competitive and she just needs to have that competitiveness across every race this season to win the GS Globe. You can't really afford to have a bad result in any race so that's how competitive it is, and the other girls aren't going to give it up lightly that's for sure."
Those rivals include Italian Marta Bassino, the reigning GS Globe champion, her veteran compatriot Federica Brignone, American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin who has committed to competing in all five alpine disciplines in an Olympic season, Frenchwoman Tessa Worley, Slovak Petra Vlhova, and the Swiss duo of Michelle Gisin and Lara-Gut Behrami.
Robinson says you always keep an eye on your rivals but "I try not to get that worked up or think about what others are doing because I can't control what they are doing I can only control what I'm doing so I just focus on skiing my best".
During her first two seasons on the circuit, Robinson ended up skiing 'blind' in numerous races, not being able to ski the race hill before competing. She was at a disadvantage to her rivals who had raced the hills used for World Cup races before. But Solden is different, it's her third year in a row on the hill and she's had several days training on it leading into this weekend's race.
It's expected to be fast and icy, just the conditions Robinson thrives on, and Knight says the preparation has been excellent and she's in a "good space".
"She's in really good physical shape, has done a lot of work over in the gym. She's going to be really competitive and should be close to the top," Knight said.
Robinson will head to the US after Solden for a speed training block at Copper Mountain in Colorado before competing at the GS in Killington in late November and potentially heading to Lake Louise in Canada for some downhill training ahead of the first World Cup super-G race there in early December.
The first run of the event in Solden is set to start from 9pm on Saturday with the second run from 1am.