It has been a year since the news came that Estelle Alphand, daughter of a Swedish mom Anna Karin and the Swedish ski racer Luc Alphand, would switch from the French team to the Swedish National Team. In some respects, the nationality change was controversial but for her it’s been a boost.
– It feels great to have swapped teams; in fact it’s been better than I expected. If you refer to my results, it’s been better than what I expected. And it’s been great to meet other people and be in a totally different environment, said Alphand.
She kick-started her season with a 14th place finish at the Glacier Opening in Sölden and then collected a series of top 20 and top 10 results. The fans got used to seeing full charge from the French-Swedish racer who mostly scored great results but also had some ups and downs. She herself says that with more experience she has also learnt to take the results with a grain of salt.
– I used to be pretty hot-blooded and injured both my knee and shoulder – I’ve had way too many operations. I’ve calmed down a lot but it is good for me because now I know exactly what I want and where I am headed.
Estelle Alphand leaves a focused impression. She has had a good training season although she’s been plagued by some back problems.
– I’ve had some problems with my back but I am working on it so that I do not get any issues during the racing season. I can do normal strength training now and it is getting much better.
Her form pointed upwards all last season and Alphand is hoping to take the next step this season. Both the team management and her are confident that this will be the case.
– Obviously it was a big step for me to reach the top 30 in both slalom and giant slalom so that was cool. I did not expect it to go that well so it will be tough for me to improve from here and to reach the very top but that is what I am working for, said she and continued:
– I think I can make it. Now I just have to concentrate and do what I know I can. I have also worked on my mental side and that’s helping enormously.
Do you have a special pre-race routine?
– I have no real routine, nothing like Frida! I try to focus on what I do well. I have a little bit of a routine for relaxing so that’s what I do.
Estelle is feeling comfortable on the Swedish team and Sweden is starting to feel more like home. She is now also a member of the Åre Slalom Club and Sweden, the country where she used to spend summers at her grandparent’s house, has a special place in her heart. She continues to live in France however. That reduces her travel to many World Cup venues and she can spend more time with her family, even if it is difficult to have the entire Family Alphand in one place at the same time.
– I like to be at home but it is not often that all of us five are at home at the same time. Both of my brothers Nils and Sam are competing with the French national team and my dad travels a lot.
Estelle’s goals for the coming season are clear: score as many top 10 results as possible, rank within the top 15 on the World Cup start list and have a good start number at the World Championships. Åre 2019 feels like home World Champs, but then also not, noted Alphand.
– I am competing for Sweden and the crowds will be cheering for me. I also have friends in Åre. That’s awesome but also a bit strange as I have never lived in Sweden.
The biggest goal at the moment is to get ready for the long season, to charge hard and to recover after each race to keep up the form. Estelle also thinks it is important that the team takes it easy and has a great atmosphere which is the case at the moment.
– It’s great that everyone knows what they want and where they are headed so it’s good right now. The team is very professional in my opinion.
Did the Olympic gold medals by Frida and André inspire you?
– Absolutely! It was amazing to see the joy and share everyone’s feelings. We were super happy to get to experience all that.
The next step is a big one but Estelle Alphand thinks that winning a medal at the World Championships is within reach. But most of all, she is looking forward to starting at Åre 2019.
What are you most excited about at the World Championships?
– The crowds! It will be great to race in Sweden where everyone will be cheering or us; it will be a blast. I hope for great weather, sun and excellent snow conditions. And a base as we have gotten used to having it in Åre.
4 short and sweet with Estelle Alphand
What do you like to do when not training?
Spending time at home with my family. Or riding my motorcycle – Enduro - by myself or with my two brothers. Or riding my bike in the mountains.
How would you describe yourself?
I’d say I am laid back, but not extrovert. I like to get to know the people before I open up. I am perhaps a bit shy but also determined. I know what I want and what I will do next.
How is it to live in France and race for Sweden?
It’s much easier for me to live in France because we mostly train in Switzerland and Italy so I spare myself a lot of flight miles. I get more time at home which is nice.
Was it a natural choice for you to start ski racing?
It felt natural because we lived in the mountains and it is normal you ski and have fun in and on the snow. I really love to race. I wanted to race and be on the national team and race in the World Cup. That was my goal since I was a kid and I’ve made it so that is cool.