The last time I was in Schladming was back in 2008.

I was out at the Austrian ski resort for the FIS Ski World Cup as an assistant coach with the British Ski Team. 

The famous night slalom is a highlight in the ski racing calendar and attracts upwards of 45,000 spectators. 

I remember the buzz of the crowd under the floodlights and thought this is something special. 

To stand at the start gate and the feel the cool mountain evening air as you control your heart rate and get both mind and body ready for optimal performance is something else. 

This is what ski racers train for, this moment where the slightest mistake can put you out the race. 

Some might see it as pressure, but I always thought this part of sport is a gift. 

Last summer, when I was sat in a Swiss hotel drinking coffee with British ski racer Charlie Guest, we chatted about the upcoming season, the Olympics, World Cups and the blessing of her day job. 

It is easy for the public to think ski racing is all glamour - people easily relate it to their winter holiday - but I know from my time in the sport this is tough.

There are early starts and a constant life on the road. 

However, it is a gift to be good at what you do, especially if it’s a sport that most do as a hobby. 

The life of a ski racer may be hard on the body but when you stand at the top of a mountain watching the sun rise it is a very special experience and one of my favourite sports. I feel lucky to have had involvement in it.

Charlie has had a rough time with injury. She has maybe even written off by some.

But she has kept chipping away at the process goals and in Schladming delivered a top 15 result as she skied herself into 13th place in a race that seen Mikaela Shiffrin make ski racing history.

It was also the first time the women’s tour had raced under the lights in Schladming and although Covid didn’t allow for the full experience it will forever stay in the mind of Guest as her first top 15 result. 

This has got to have filled the Scottish skier with confidence as the Olympics approach.

And it was not just a one off as Guest has been bagging top 20s this season and is showing consistent skiing each week.

Watching her the last few weeks took me back to our coffee in Switzerland and the conversation we shared about the beauty of the mountains.

How even on the hard training days on the glaciers that this sport is special. 

Maybe as skiers we are biased but life in the mountains has a simplicity to it. 

Some would say they is a spiritual essence to life in the mountains. They remind us how small we are - and how you must respect them. 

When you race in them every day it is easy to forget how incredible these mountains are.

Like me Charlie has spent lots of time in the confine of gym walls trying to rehab her body. 

I remember sharing with her of when I stood up on the glacier last year watching the skiers and wishing I could just take one run. 

I would give so much to just click into my skis and do that. 

As we spoke, I saw the energy in her so to see her ski into a top 15 after everything she has come through made my morning coffee in Jamaica just that bit sweeter this week. 

Whatever happens next or at the Olympics I am sure will show Charlie that on her day she is one of the best in the world at what she does. It’s great to see another Scottish athlete shining on the world stage