Skiers selected to represent ParalympicsGB at Sochi 2014
on 23-01-2014 14:00
With 43 days to go to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, the BPA today announced the seven alpine skiers and three competition partners who will compete for ParalympicsGB.
The team was announced on the first day of the Deloitte ParalympicsGB Team Launch, a two-day celebration event which brings together all selected athletes to make final preparations and celebrate with a gala dinner before they head off to their final preparation camps.
ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe said: “It is fitting that my first important task of our Team Launch event is to announce the alpine skiers here today. We have selected some incredibly talented skiers, some of whom are very experienced and some of whom are exciting prospects, not just for Sochi but also for future Games.
"I will be leading a team in Sochi with some of the best prepared athletes that have ever represented ParalympicsGB at a Winter Games"
“I am confident that I will be leading a team in Sochi with some of the best prepared athletes that have ever represented ParalympicsGB at a Winter Games, but we will not take anything for granted. We know that the margins will be small and that we cannot underestimate how others will perform on the day. What is not in doubt, however, is the skill, determination and commitment of our athletes, who have shown that they can thrive under pressure and compete up there against the world’s best.”
Amongst the 10 selected athletes is sit-skier Mick Brennan, a retired serviceman who was injured while serving in Iraq in 2004. Brennan took up skiing through Help For Heroes and travelled out to Vancouver in 2010 as part of the BPA’s inaugural Paralympic Inspiration Programme. Mick has received substantial support in his journey to the Games by BPA partner Help For Heroes, who funded a new sit-ski for him.
ParalympicsGB will also field three competitors in the women’s visually-impaired category, including Northern Ireland’s Kelly Gallagher who previously competed at the Vancouver Paralympic Games where she finished fourth in the Giant Slalom – the best finish for a British visually-impaired skier since 1994.
Kelly Gallagher said: “Charlotte and I have been working together for four seasons now and we have been putting 100% in every day both on and off the hill. Being named for the team for Sochi is another step on our amazing journey with each other.
“We’ve had such fantastic support from our families and lots of other supporters, and our selection today feels like a great reward for all their hard work behind the scenes. They have really made this possible for us.”
"I am so excited to be going to my first Games, it will be a whole new experience for me."
Gallagher’s guide Charlotte Evans said: “I am so excited to be going to my first Games, it will be a whole new experience for me. It’s going to be great to top off four years together with being selected and the chance to compete in Sochi.”
Gallagher and Evans have already picked up a number of World Cup medals this year including three gold and a silver at the recent World Cup in Panorama in Canada, but face fierce competition out in Sochi from both international and British challengers.
One of their closest competitors on the hill is up-and-coming British prospect Jade Etherington, guided by Caroline Powell. The duos have been pushing each other on in both training and racing, and their friendly rivalry has benefitted both pairings.
Racing in the same category is the youngest selected athlete in the team and youngest ever British winter Paralympian, Millie Knight, who is only just eligible after turning 15 years old earlier this month. She will make her Paralympic debut alongside guide Rachael Ferrier.
"Everyone in the team has been incredibly supportive and have helped me along the way."
Millie Knight said: “Having only joined the team in 2012, it’s been an amazing few years to get this far. Everyone in the team has been incredibly supportive and have helped me along the way, especially all my guides over the years. I’d like to particularly thank my mum, who was my first ever guide because I wouldn’t have got to this point without her.”
Millie is one of three teenagers selected to compete in Sochi, reflecting an effort within the sport to develop new potential talent. Millie will be joined by 19 year old sit-skier Ben Sneesby, who has been skiing with the BDST Youth Development squad since he was talent spotted at the age of 13.
Having first skied aged just four and made his international debut at the age of 11, 16 year old James Whitley will make his Games debut in the standing category. He is currently ranked second in the world at under-18 level.
James Whitley said: “I am extremely excited that I have been selected for the Games. It’s what I have been working for all my life and I’m looking forward to seeing what Sochi will bring.”
Completing the team line up and returning for her second Games is Anna Turney, a University of Bristol graduate who was a snowboarder prior to her accident.
Anna Turney said: "I'm really privileged to be part of ParalympicsGB and I'm looking forward to going out there and showing the world what we're made of.
"I've put in a huge amount of hard work into my performance in the four years since Vancouver. I feel like a much stronger athlete now, I'm very focussed and I can't wait to go out there and compete.
"It's also great to have the opportunity to show off winter sport. Alpine Skiing is fast and exciting and I think people will really love watching it at the Games."
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games begin on March 7, 2014.