On March 14, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, gave her nation a simple message: “We must fight by going hard and going early.”
At that time, COVID-19 was moving around the globe at full speed. And while other nations debated over what to do, Ardern put a firm plan in place as quickly as possible. By March 25, the entire country was on total lockdown.
One of the New Zealanders who’s been part of that swift lockdown is the young, mega-fast Alice Robinson, whose debut World Cup season was nothing short of incredible. At the GS opener in Soelden, Austria, she took the win ahead of Mikaela Shiffrin. Later in the season, just after her 18th birthday, she won another GS in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia—nudging out Petra Vlhova with an absolutely blistering performance. Robinson also sprinkled in a handful of other top-10 results. In other words: Before the season came to a screeching halt, Robinson was on an absolute roll.
Hunkered down in Queenstown with her older sister, younger brother, parents, and dog, Robinson is living through perhaps the most rigid COVID-19 response on Earth. And as a result, her nation has seen less COVID-19 cases and deaths than most U.S. States. Now, countless media sources are reporting that New Zealand is virtually coronavirus-free—suggesting a brighter future for the Kiwis might even include skiing sooner than expected.
The interview below with Robinson, from early May, details what she’s been up to during this strange time, and how she sees the road ahead.
What’ve you been doing to pass the time indoors?
Lots of cooking and watching Netflix, to be honest. Picking some apples. Playing tennis in our neighbor’s yard. Sometimes I just change my clock so I can sleep in later and make myself feel normal.
What else are you up to outdoors?
In our initial lockdown period, we weren’t allowed to drive to exercise, so we had to do everything at home. It was pretty strict. But now we can drive so we’ll go on a hike when we can.
What’s your fitness regiment been looking like?
I don’t normally have a gym set up at home, so my physio dropped off heaps of stuff to make sure I’m all set. I don’t have a squat rack or anything, but I’ve got bars and stuff. And this time of year I usually do more cardio and endurance, so I’ve been doing a lot more running and just a few strength sessions a week.
You had quite a season. Looking back, what’s your take on it all?
It was full of highs and lows. Things started off well in Soelden and then had to take six weeks off due to injury. It was hard and that definitely halted my trajectory a bit, but I was skiing pretty well for the rest of the season and had pretty solid results in most GS races. It really came together at Kranjska Gora again. So I was pretty excited for the rest of the GS races, but of course, none of them wound up happening.
Now that things seem to be improving in New Zealand, do you expect to be skiing anytime soon?
The main months you train here are July, August, and September, so I think there will be skiing by then. It depends on what alert level we’re on. If we can get on level 1 which basically means no restrictions except international travel, we’ll be looking good. I think the next level up allows a max of 500 people to gather, so that could be hard to navigate when you’re figuring out ski resort crowds. But I’m hopeful there’ll be some skiing.
Probably none of my staff will be able to get here, though. My serviceman is American and one of my coaches is American and they can’t get in due to the travel ban. My other coach is a Kiwi but he lives in Italy so it’ll be tough, but you just need to take it day by day.
Alright, some rapid fire questions here… What have you been eating all the time?
These Peckish Crackers. They’re so moreish. And stir fries. Lots of stir fries.
Cocktails… Passion fruit and grapefruit ones… We’ve been making some nice Lychee Martinis. And lots of smoothies. There’s one called the Tank Mango from this smoothie joint we’re obsessed with that’s been closed. Every day, we try to get closer to recreating it perfectly.
Lots and lots of TikTok videos. You just get sucked in and can’t stop watching them, it’s bad.
No… I don’t read much, I’m bad with that right now.
Lots of podcasts when I’m running. Mostly TED Talks.
For me, traveling used to seem like the easiest thing ever. But going into a different country and doing whatever you want is such a privilege. This all makes me thankful for the opportunities I’ve had because this happens and all of a sudden you can’t travel or see any places. Another thing I’ve taken away is just learning how to relax, take a breath, and realize it’s okay to chill for a bit.