Teenager Alice Robinson is a world ski star in the making.
After an amazing 2018/19 season during which she won a World Cup final silver medal in Andorra to go with her junior gold medal, the giant slalom ace has set her sights high.
The 17-year-old Queenstown schoolgirl's quest to join the skiing elite kicks off again in Austria this weekend, when the 2019/20 World Cup circuit begins.
Robinson, New Zealand's youngest winter Olympian, is tipped to be a major medal prospect at the Beijing Games in three years' time.
And her stunning record at such a young age marks her as a potential world superstar to follow in the tracks of the sport's biggest names like American Lindsey Vonn.
In line with her ascent, she has changed her coaching set up by splitting with former Olympian Tim Cafe, who has coached Robinson since she was nine. Robinson will now be guided by Kiwi Chris Knight and American Jeff Fergus, whose former charges include Vonn.
Robinson chats to the Herald from Austria.
How has the success last year changed your world?
Last year has sped things up for me – but this is always where I wanted to be. I probably did more events in the past but I'm doing a higher level now so it is more draining. It is also a bit more intense with media stuff and sponsor commitments, with that bit of extra pressure to perform. There are a lot of people watching.
Have you noticed the difference this week?
Yes, there is a lot of stuff going on this week with it being the opener. I haven't done this one before and it is bigger in general, with everyone excited to be back on the circuit. Generally you do something for each sponsor a couple of times a year but it is particularly busy now with new lines of clothes coming out, new skis.
How many sponsors do you have?
I'm not sure…there's ones for clothing, helmets, skis, boots, poles, jackets…my management does all the prep and I come in at the end.
You have also changed your coaching setup – is that a big adjustment?
I was actually with Chris Knight last year but Tim was there as well. Now it's just Chris and Ferg. Everything is the same really except that Tim is not here anymore.
What are your long term goals?
To get right to the top…medals in multiple disciplines in World Cups, Olympics, world championships. I don't want to have only one goal in mind.
What are your aims this season?
To be in the top five for every race, or on the podium. That would be really great. And I'd like to break into Super G, to get my second event going. It will be tough but it is realistic. I was skiing really well last year and thought these things were possible – now I know I'm capable of doing it.
How different is Super G from Giant Slalom?
I had one really good Super G result last year so hopefully I can start chipping away at that. It will mean a bit more of heavier training and racing schedule. Giant Slalom involves your standard turns, in Super G they get a bit bigger. There are bigger distances between the gates – you are going a lot faster and on longer skis. But the basics are very similar.
You must have gained a lot of confidence from you amazing results last season…
You can get to a point where you start questioning everything you do and halfway through January, I was thinking 'I've done nothing this year – what am I doing?' It can be really tough. So when something good happens finally, you know it was all worth it. All it takes is one good result to get your confidence – then you can start reproducing it.
Can you put your great form surge down to any changes?
I was skiing well but with a lot of inconsistencies and crashes. I sorted a few things out with my equipment which made it easier to pull these turns a lot more.
The boot company I work with came out with a new boot which was a big improvement. It felt more like a race boot, a bit lighter, just better. I'm not sure of the technical stuff but I skied in it for a few days, then went back to my old boot and couldn't ski anymore in it.
I also went from a harder, stiffer ski to a softer ski which I tried about a month into the season. I thought the tough ski was faster but the coaches had a look at some video and thought we'd try another one which was easier to turn. It's not necessarily faster but it is easier to recover from mistakes.
New Zealand is not a top ski nation. Does this make it harder for you?
It's a very European dominated sport – it's in the culture here, like rugby is to New Zealand. Their skiers are at home more, they have their whole summers at home and they have massive teams around them funded by governments.
It is really tough for me but it is also pretty cool representing New Zealand in a sport where we're not supposed to be super dominant and showing that we can do well.
There is extensive travel between New Zealand, Europe and North America. How much of the organising do you do?
I've been signed by a really good management company (IMG) and I'm lucky – my manager is my coach's wife. I have a good crew who knows what is going on.
Sometimes my dad will do the travel bookings. The only thing I really need to worry about is doing the flights – I double check with my parents then do the booking.
Is Queenstown still your base?
It's my last year of school so I have to be there a lot. When I'm away I don't do any school work - I'm not very good at multi-tasking. This year I've only been in the classroom (at Wakatipu HS) 40 to 50 per cent of the time. But I'm doing well academically. I don't know how I've managed to pull it off – you've just got to work harder when you are there. My school's amazing, they've helped me so much. I'm really lucky. In the past I've been overseas 120 or 130 days a year. It's worked because I have put a lot of effort into it.
Do you have non-skiing career in mind?
I'm still figuring it all out. There's nothing I want to jump into so I'll take a year off next year and focus on skiing.
Do you miss being home for summer?
I've never really been home in summer so I wouldn't know. It started when I was nine with family holidays in North America. Over the years it has got more and more. Obviously it is tough right now – all my friends are finishing school and I don't get to do the cool summer thing which is a bit of a bummer. But I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing.