CHARLIE GUEST admits she was getting slightly frustrated at being known as the skier who broke her back.
In 2014, during a training session, Guest lost control and fell, fracturing four vertebrae. It was a career-threatening injury but her subsequent comeback meant that it was the first thing most people asked her about.
There comes a time though, when every athlete wants to be known purely for their athletic performances and while Guest’s remarkable story has been hard to dislodge from the forefront of people’s minds, she has now managed it.
In March of this year, Guest won a Europa Cup race in Italy, becoming Great Britain’s first-ever female alpine skier to win a Europa Cup.
It was quite an achievement and, Guest admits, it has been quite a relief to have people ask her about something positive rather than bring up her accident time and time again.
“It’s nice being known for other things rather than just the girl who broke her back,” the 25-year-old said.
“It was crazy to win – I did not see it coming at all. I really couldn’t believe it. I’d been going through these injury problems for so many years so it was nice to finally win.
“When I first went into the Europa Cup, I remember thinking that I’d never be at that level, I couldn’t imagine ever being as good as those girls. So to now be standing up there in the same league as those girls is huge.”
Guest’s Europa Cup victory marked a huge leap forward for Perthshire athlete, who represented GB at the 2018 Winter Olympics, and this season, she is looking to take another step up in class. Guest is just days away from making her assault on the new season, with World Cups her priority over the coming months.
The first World Cup takes place next weekend in Solden, Austria and with Guest having now proven to herself that she belongs at that level, she is looking to make her mark amongst the best slalom skiers in the world.
“It’s nice feeling like I belong there in World Cups now. I’ll start in the early thirties so you’re racing straight after the very top girls, you don’t have a half hour wait until you race,” she said.
“It feels like I’m not there to make up the numbers now, I’m there to try and do something.
“The aim is to get into the top 30. That’s been the goal for a few years now but this year I’ve got a really good opportunity to do that so that’s exciting.”
Guest may be mixing it with the best skiers in the world but last year, during a rough patch of form, she decided that having few distractions from skiing was doing her no favours.
So, despite spending the majority of her time away from home, she applied to study psychology at Aberdeen University. And so just a few weeks ago, Guest began her degree.
It may seem ambitious to fit in a full-time degree while simultaneously striving to be one of the best skiers in the world but Guest is confident that having an interest away from the slopes will do her the world of good.
“Around last Easter, I just wasn’t very happy with things and I wasn’t making results,” she said.
“I was injured too and wasn’t feeling great about things and so decided to apply for uni and all of a sudden, I turned a corner, things started going much better.
“I missed the first few weeks of the course because I was in New Zealand and I’ve not been at lectures much but everything’s online and it’s going well.
“It’s good to have something other than skiing to think about. Especially because I always have these problems with my back and so it’s good that when my back flares up, now, I can do other things.”
Guest is one of only three skiers in the GB World Cup squad and by a twist of fate, the only other female selected is Alex Tilley, a fellow Scot who hails from just a few miles from Guest.
With Tilley a giant slalom specialist, the pair rarely race against each other but Guest admits it’s nice to have her compatriot competing at a similar level.
“It’s great that we’re both there,” she said.
“Specialising in different diciplines means we don’t train together all that much anymore and we actually don’t even see each other loads because we do different things. But we grew up racing together it’s so great that we’re both from Scotland.”