Alex Tilley | Photo by Vanessa Fry Photography

20 March 2017

uvex: A Day in the Life of Alex Tilley

Alex Tilley is one of the UK’s brightest skiing hopes. The 23-year-old from Aberdeenshire has been competing on the FIS Alpine World Cup circuit since 2015, and is looking to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympic games. uvex spoke to her as she prepared for the 2017 Alpine World Ski Championships in St Moritz, which took place in February. Part of the Delancey British Alpine Ski team, Alex is sponsored with both equipment, and personally, by UVEX SAFETY (UK) LTD and is kept safe whilst skiing by many uvex products, including uvex hlmt 5 race, uvex race+ helmet; uvex downhill 200 and uvex fire race goggles. This season Alex has been using, and is a big fan of, the uvex variomatic lens, with its ability to change with the different light conditions.

                                                                            Alex Tilley | Photos by Vanessa Fry Photography

 

Talk us through a typical day when you are training

A typical training day changes a lot depending on the place and the time of season. During summer training, we aim for volume, rather than quality, of skiing, whereas during race seasons we have to manage fatigue a bit more, so we try to really focus on quality.

Yesterday, for example, I woke up at 7.20 am, had breakfast, and hit the ski lift at 8.30. I always do an off-ski warm-up before I start my ski runs, which includes work with a gym band and dynamic movements. I then did a couple of ski warm-up runs with a mix of exercise drills focusing on my technical work, plus some normal ski turns to get ready for skiing in gates. Finally, I took an inspection run of the course before starting to ski it.

By 11.30 I will have completed five full race length runs, plus three sectioned runs, so time for lunch back at base, followed by a quick afternoon nap and then a weights session in the gym to ensure I can maintain my strength throughout the season. Dinner follows that, and then we watch and analyse videos of the day’s skiing from to make sure what I am feeling correlates with what I am actually doing!

 

What are the challenges you face?

Skiing can be a very weather-dependent sport, with fog, snow, rain and high winds all playing a part in a difficult race day, but it’s the same for everyone competing. The part I find the most challenging on race day is to make sure I am in the right place mentally at the right time of day. Sometimes I can get a bit overexcited, and try a bit too hard – it’s something I’m working on.

 

What’s it like to actually compete?

Racing is the whole reason we do this sport; it’s fun to really take all the work from training all hours and put it into a one-minute run. It’s never ever easy, but when it works out, it’s a great feeling!

I love the feeling of being completely “on it” or “in the zone”. Some races I can stand in the start gate and I just know that it’s going to be a good day, everything comes naturally and it is the best feeling. That self-confidence isn’t something I have ever really experienced in day-to-day life but I wish I did!

 

What do you eat during training/competing?

We move around in hotels so much that it’s very difficult to control every aspect of our diet, but I always try to have a breakfast with slow-release carbohydrates that includes some protein and fruit. I also always try to have a small meal between the first two runs to make sure I don’t find myself hungry in the start gate of the second run and running out of energy before the race is over.

 

Describe a normal, free day with no training or competing

A day off for me is normally as relaxed as I can make it. If we are somewhere with easy access to a nearby city or town I will try to get out to explore the area, but often we are in a fairly secluded place where you have to make your own entertainment. A ping-pong table gets a lot of use!

 

How do you handle the balance between training, competitions and socialising?

My social life is a little different from most people my age. The people I am surrounded by when skiing become like a second family as we live together day in, day out. When I go home, it’s all about spending time with my family, and doing normal things that I don’t get a chance to do when competing.

 

How do you motivate yourself? What do you do when you feel unmotivated?

Everyone goes through moments of not feeling motivated. January this year was a big struggle for me – the race programme was really stacked and I was paying a heavy price for small mistakes. When I reached the end of the month I felt completely defeated and unmotivated. I talked it through with my coach, focusing a lot more on building on the positive parts of my skiing, and making sure that each training day was enjoyable – I always find I ski my best when I am enjoying myself.

 

What are the satisfactions of doing what you do?

One of the huge benefits of being a ski racer is being able to travel to parts of the world that you wouldn’t go to otherwise. We don’t often end up in the most touristy parts of the countries, so to see different cultures around the world is a really cool experience. I also feel very privileged to do something that I love as a job – to be working on becoming the best in the world is an opportunity that not everyone gets in life!

 

What do you do in the evenings to wind down/switch off/relax?

On a training day, there is not always a lot of free time, but I always like to have an hour before bed where I can just be in my own company and wind down for the day, reading a book or listening to music. It is really important to do that to recharge my batteries.

 

 

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