AS many of us were hankering for a white Christmas, the bright young talent who is setting British skiing abuzz was turning one down in order to secure some much-needed rest after a spectacular effort throughout December.

Alex Tilley, from Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, is among those who were omitted from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics as a result of what proved to be deeply controversial selection criteria set by their own management and she admits that was a contributory factor to the "burnout" she felt in February.

However, having joined a new programme overseen by the New Zealand coach Johnnie Rice, the 21-year-old has rediscovered her zest and found winning form that is placed in perspective by Duncan Freshwater, Snowsport Scotland's performance director. "These are probably the best results from a British skier in North America ever," Freshwater said simply of a sequence in which she won three of her last six races, including the last two North America Cup giant slaloms back-to-back.

"Given that, historically, there is an extremely high history of conversion [from North American Cup] into strong performances on the World Cup, World Championships and Olympics, this certainly is a marker of intent from Alex of great things to come in the future. She will move well up in the world rankings now and sit among the top 50 ranked female alpine athletes in the world."

Unofficially, she is actually reckoned to have reached 31st in the giant slalom rankings which, Tilley admits, is well in excess of her own expectations since her target, on heading to the USA in November, had been to get within range of the world's top 100.

Her excitement is not just down to having performed so well, but the implications. "I never expected this in a million years but, more than anything now, it's really just about bib number in World Cups," she pointed out.

"I always had the opportunity to do World Cup races in the past couple of years, but I'd maybe be starting bib 62 or 58 and it was very difficult to pick away at that many numbers to get a second run, whereas now I just see it as an awesome opportunity to start just outside the [top] thirty."

Tipped as a hot prospect when she claimed a clean sweep of all five available titles at the British Skiing Championships in 2012, her form stalled last season, which led to a decision to accept an invitation from her friend Piera Hudson, an up and coming New Zealander, to join her in working with Rice.

"I really enjoyed working with them. I was very comfortable and very happy with where I was, which is something I really struggled with last year," Tilley explained. "I went home in February because I was completely burnt out [but] the atmosphere out in North America really helped me. Everyone was a bit more relaxed, chilled out. I think that works better for me.

"When I look back at this trip then, honestly, as cheesy as it is, I was just happy and enjoyed every minute of it and because I enjoyed it I worked harder and then the confidence came and then I could maintain the confidence as well. It wasn't constantly getting knocked down."

There seems little doubt that the aforementioned British Olympic Association selection policy was among the demotivating factors which contributed to her dip in form. "There were people who were more affected than myself, because I was still 20 years old so I was quite young. Of course I would have loved the opportunity to go, but I was quite realistic going into it," Tilley explained.

"The selection criteria were made and I wasn't exactly on path to make it, but I can't say there wasn't that tiny bit of hope that maybe on selection day they would say 'you know what, we're going to give it a chance'."

She resists the temptation to drive the message home regarding the opportunity that was missed to gain real experience, however. "I can't say I set out to [make a point] but, yes, of course it's always nice to prove yourself, especially after last year when I never really moved forward in terms of world rankings. I'm saying I'm still here, still doing what I do," she said.

She most certainly is and this product of Aboyne Academy, with parents who followed her into skiing rather than the other way around, believes it is time to shed the defeatist attitude that has surrounded British skiers because of perceived inferior conditions in which to learn and train in this country.

"I think people almost started to use that as an excuse," Tilley suggested. "I look at my childhood skiing and I was very fortunate in the amount of time I did get on snow. As long as you are putting quality in the time you're doing . . . doing the right things with the time we have I can't see why we can't do what the Austrians are doing."

They also, of course, have a built-in advantage when it comes to creating a Christmassy environment but Tilley is coping with that. "I never like to get away from the snow, but I'm happy to have some time off. I was super tired at the end. It was an intense two months," she said.

A whole week off then, before getting back to work in the New Year when she starts tackling the World Cup schedule with real reason for optimism. Scottish audiences will, it seems, have an additional reason to tune in to Ski Sunday when it returns to our screens early in the New Year.