Alpine skiing requires muscle power, speed, endurance and mental toughness

Alpine skier Charlotte Henriksson is a first-year student at the School of Business
Charlotte Henriksson, Kauppiksen opiskelija
Charlotte Henriksson. Photo: Teemu Moisio

Alpine skiing has been part of alpine skier Charlotte Henriksson's life for as long as she can remember. She started her studies at the School of Business last autumn.

‘I was on the slopes for the first time with my parents when I was only a couple of months old. At the age of about 6, I started at the GrIFK Alpine ski school and around the same time, I started in artistic gymnastics at the Espoo Telinetaiturit. Competitive gymnastics went hand in hand with alpine skiing for 10 years, and the choice of sport was not clear until the 8th grade. The choice of sport was influenced by camps, success and a close-knit alpine team. I started competing in alpine skiing at the age of 8, but it's hard for me to say when it became a competitive sport. I joined the women's national alpine skiing team in 2021.’

Charlotte Henriksson
Photo: Filippo Dias

Orientation week is worth taking part in

Charlotte applied to the Aalto University School of Business primarily through a matriculation examination results based selection process and was accepted to study in that selection group. Just in case her marks from her high school examination were not enough for direct admission, she also filled in an application form to be assessed for special achievements (in Finnish: erityiset saavutukset). This could be a possible route to a place at the School of Business for a competitive athlete.

‘If you are a competitive athlete and starting your studies at the School of Business, I recommend skipping training or competitions during the first few weeks. During orientation week you can get to know a large group of people and get a feel for the way things work. I myself left the camp early to get home in time for orientation week and I'm really happy with my decision.’

Starting at the School of Business has not had a negative impact on Charlotte's sporting results, and the 2023–2024 season has been the best season of her career so far in terms of results. Charlotte scored her career best ranking points this month (March -24) in Kronplatz, Italy and a few weeks earlier she competed at the World Youth Championships in France. There she finished 17th fastest in the world in the downhill. Other great achievements include Finnish championships, silver and bronze at the U18 World Youth Championships and bronze at the Australia-New Zealand Continental Cup in New Zealand.

Flexibility for studies through Urhea membership

Charlotte Henriksson was a member of the Helsinki Metropolitan Sports Academy Urhea even before she started her studies at Kauppis. Aalto University has been a partner of Urhea since 2015 and is thus committed to supporting the flexible combination of sport and studies. In line with the Urhea agreement, Aalto University takes into account the challenges and specific needs of sports careers, for example by helping students with scheduling and planning their studies.

‘I have been completing my studies at a slower pace than usual and, exceptionally, I will only choose my major after my second year. My Urhea membership got me a free gym membership at UniSport. In addition to that, I have the possibility to have flexibility in the days I can return to work, but I haven't felt the need for it yet.’

Early in the season, Charlotte had camps in Norway, Austria and Lithuania. Between January and March, she has only spent one week at home. Starting in mid-October, Charlotte's team had a two-month "base camp" in Levi. Since the beginning of January, the team has rented a cabin for 2.5 months in Italy.

‘Long training and competition trips alongside studies have been possible because there has been no compulsory attendance at lectures. The group calls have also helped the group work to go well. I did have that long training period in Levi, and I couldn't take the exam in Otaniemi. Urhea made it possible for me to take the exam remotely, with one of the Aalto Urhea representatives supervising my exam. I had to film myself on my phone from behind, from the front on my computer and share my computer screen with the invigilator.’

‘It would still be nice if studying remotely was more supported. Videos and more extensive explanations of things would help you understand things better than what you learn just by watching slides and reading by yourself.’ 

Charlotta Henriksson joukkueensa kanssa
Charlotte in the middle back row. Photo: Filippo Dias

Alpine skiing is a very versatile sport

In alpine skiing, the conditions are often different, the course is never the same and the slopes are very different. Competitions are fought for hundredths of a second and top speeds in the downhill reach 120 km/h at best. 

‘Alpine skiing cannot be practised in the Helsinki region in good quality after my junior years, so I spend most of the winter in Lapland and Central Europe. The snow conditions in Central Europe have deteriorated in recent years, so a year ago I went all the way to New Zealand to train and compete. Although the long journey to the training grounds is sometimes exhausting, it is also one of the great things about alpine skiing. I love seeing new places and I know Central Europe like the back of my hand." 

A typical training day for Charlotte consists of a couple of hours of alpine skiing training in the morning and physical training in the afternoon. She sets aside time for studying before and in the evenings. The rest days from sport are also mainly reserved for studying. However, she has to maintain her skis every day and spends between 0.5 and 1.5 hours every day doing this.

‘When I'm at home in Finland, my training consists of physical training, because the slopes in Southern Finland are too small for training. Usually I have one training session a day, often two in the summer. Alpine skiing requires a very varied training. You have to have very strong leg muscles and core, and you also need speed and explosiveness. Endurance is needed to ski the course at maximum power from start to finish and to recover from the performance. Mental stamina is also required, as speeds can reach well over 100 km/h in the best speed events, so concentration must not be lost."

Charlotte says that, as in many other sports, feelings of achievement, lifelong friendships and great experiences are the lifeblood of alpine skiing and keep you going year after year.

Text: Terhi Ollikainen

Combining an athletic career with studying at Aalto

Aalto University is committed to helping students belonging to the Metropolitan Area Sports Academy Urhea combine studies with sports and to considering the particular needs and challenges of a career in competitive sports. Below you will find additional information on Aalto University’s support for student-athletes. The support is contingent upon the student’s Urhea membership. If you have been a member of Urhea before beginning your studies at Aalto, you must notify Urhea of your change of study place to have Aalto University notified of your membership. Please contact Urhea to change your details or check with the Urhea contact person of your Aalto school whether your name is already on the university’s list of Urhea members. See the bottom of the page for contact details.

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