Charley Field didn't enjoy the kickoff to her sophomore NCAA season that she might have liked.
But a day after placing last among finishers, taking a 33rd in the slalom, Field recovered nicely, leading her University of Alaska Anchorage teammates with a 10th-place finish in the giant slalom in the season-opening event in Park City, Utah.
"It's nice to kick it off back in Utah again like last year," she said shortly after getting off the hill on Jan. 5. "I'm pretty happy with how it went. Maybe not the slalom so much, but today was pretty good."
Noting the giant slalom is her premier event, the Pemberton product explained she was excited to get back into action and tackle it right away. But she also was able to avoid getting too down on herself, regaining a confident mindset to ski well.
"It's a team event, so for me, a lot of the time it's thinking about the team and just saying 'OK, I had a bad day, but I know I can go out there and just nail it,'" she said. "I'm thinking about the good days of training — what was I thinking about? What was I doing that was good? I'm just taking those moments and putting them into the two runs that we have to do for GS.
"It's staying confident with the skiing and allowing teammates to get you fired up."
Also benefitting Field in the giant slalom was the ability to get it out of the way relatively early, as conditions were not ideal for the competitors, she reported.
"They decided to water the hill, so it was pretty hard throughout the race. It got a little choppy," she said. "I had enough points that I could start early enough so I could ski in pretty good conditions. I needed to put my ski in the groove and just arc."
The choppy conditions came a day after she skied in some pretty soft slalom conditions, which didn't jive all that well with her style. Still, she feels she could have made some hay and placed higher in the standings with a few better movements on the course.
"I would have gotten my foot in the groove a little bit more and gone a little bit faster," she said. "I'm still working on my slalom technique but it's slowly getting there."
Former BC Ski Team athlete Alix Wells of Prince George, who Field gushed about and was glad to see come to Anchorage, paced the Seawolves with a 22nd-place showing in her debut.
Heading into action for the rest of the season, the 20-year-old noted it's a major positive to know exactly what she has to do, though with entrenched habits as a veteran skier, it's not always easy to make tweaks on the fly.
She worked on improving both disciplines in advance of her second season in the NCAA, and expects speedier performances out of herself than she enjoyed last year.
"In GS, a lot of it was cleaning up the turns and going faster," she said. "GS comes really naturally, so I just make sure I have a clean top of the turn to create speed.
"In slalom, I've been working on being early to allow me to go up and though the turns and create speed and move at an angle where I can go faster."
After the Utah event, Field and the rest of the Seawolves went north to Big Sky Ski Resort to compete at the Montana State Invitational. Field placed eighth in the giant slalom to lead the team.
If Field makes all the necessary in-season adjustments, she should make a return to the NCAA Championships this March, where she posted the team's best giant slalom performance in 2015.
"For college, I would love to make it to NCAA champs, which is in Steamboat Springs this year and become an all-American, which means top 10 at NCAAs," she said. "It would be really awesome to be recognized with that. Top eight would be great."
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