Ipswich High at the British Schoolgirls Ski Race 2017

On Saturday 28th January, six Ipswich High girls assembled in the ski resort of Flaine, France to take part in the 58th British Schoolgirls ski race. With fifty teams from over thirty different schools, this is always a fiercely fought event, with places on the podium often decided by 100ths of a second.
Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to training, with Kandahar coach, and former GB women's team coach Sam Liddell putting the girls through their paces with some intensive practice both on and off the race training piste.
On Monday the race commenced with the Giant Slalom, and the first Ipswich High Girl down the slope was Schoolgirls' race veteran Antonia Durant, competing in this event for her sixth and final year. Wearing bib 5, Antonia set the pace with a fast 53.18s and ensured the team were in contention from the beginning. Bib 36, Alexa Elliff, came next and recorded an impressive 51.40s, and when Annie Shelley, wearing bib 67, recorded 54.76s after having to have a rerun after she overtook the competitor in front of her we knew Ipswich High were in medal contention.
Our B team were no less impressive, and Grace Levene and Maddie Shelley both completed their runs and recorded good times. Last up for Ipswich High was Grace Rankin who completed a full set of runs for Ipswich in her ski team debut and first ever snow race. 
In the afternoon it was time for the nail-biting Parallel Slalom event. The knock out relay format race is fiercely contested, and usually one mistake means the team is out and has to put its hopes to one side for another year. Our A team of Antonia, Alexa and Annie, battled their way to the semi-finals, and thus equalled the School's best ever performance in this event. In the semis they were pitched against North London Collegiate, one of the strongest teams in the event. After a closely fought race, the judges ruled it to be a dead-heat, the first ever in the 58 year history of the event. On the re-match, Ipswich took advantage of a mistake by North London, and secured their place in the finals against Essex rivals New Hall. If our girls felt any pressure, they didn't show it, as they beat New Hall by the narrowest of margins to secure the Parallel Slalom trophy for Ipswich for the first time.
On Tuesday, rain ensured conditions for the individual slalom were challenging. However, that didn't stop Alexa Elliff, recording two times that would eventually see her win the event outright, and Annie Shelley obtain 3rd in the U14 category and Antonia 1st in the unregistered U18 category. 
Grace, Maddie and Grace completed good runs for the B team, rounding off two excellent days racing for the school. Now all there was to do was wait for the results!
When the results came, they confirmed what the whole team suspected, these had been Ipswich High's best ever races. The A team had won the team slalom event, and came 4th in the overall combined rankings. Individually, Annie had come 3rd in the U14 overall rankings, and Antonia had topped the U18 unregistered rankings, this coupled with Alexa's overall slalom win, unprecedented for an under 14 racer, meant the girls were spending a lot of time on the podium at that evening's prize giving!

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