Updated: Monday, 10th December 2018 @ 4:16pm

'Nice to be noticed': Visually impaired skier breaks down barriers en route to Korea

'Nice to be noticed': Visually impaired skier breaks down barriers en route to Korea

| By Pippa Field

It’s a sign of the success Macclesfield visually impaired skier Menna Fitzpatrick enjoyed last season that even she was surprised by how well things went – but the 18-year-old insists it is just the start of things to come with a Paralympic Games appearance her ultimate aim.

Despite only joining forces with guide Jennifer Kehoe on the eve of the 2015/2016 campaign, Fitzpatrick quickly found her rhythm on the slopes.

They triumphed together on their World Cup debut in January before then winning the overall World Cup visually impaired title at the Finals in Aspen, Colorado.

A British slalom title would also follow, leaving Macclesfield College student Fitzpatrick reflecting on a job well done for the campaign.

But with the Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang only two years away, Fitzpatrick knows she can’t afford to ease off, with a solid block of training planned for this summer.

“It was a fantastic season for Jen and I, it was only our first season together so we were not expecting much,” said Fitzpatrick, who trains with the Welsh Ski Team and Welsh-based club Dragons Alpine.

“So to end up with the overall crystal globe, we were so happy.

“Every relationship needs time to gel together but we are both determined to keep working hard for the Paralympics in 2018.

“Our aim next season is just to keep doing well, there are the World Championships in Italy and also the test event in Pyeongchang which will be fun.

“It involves a lot of preparation but we have got fitness training planned for this summer and a camp at the end of July in Norway and a week in Chile in August.

“We are both dedicated to our skiing, so hopefully this is only the start for us.”

Such is Fitzpatrick’s recent success that she is one of five nominees for the Ski Club of Great Britain Evie Pinching award which celebrates the next generation of young and upcoming snow sport athletes who are considered ‘ones to watch’ in their discipline. 

This award forms part of the Ski Club’s INSPIRE programme which recognises and rewards the talented men and women who are making a positive contribution to snow sports.

There are six categories of awards and funding which include the Thomas Lang Schools Bursary, Student Bursary and The Green Award, which are yearly funding schemes available for schools, students and snow sports enthusiasts, aiming to develop and encourage participation in snow sports.

Voting is open until May 26 and the winning athlete will be awarded a one-off bursary of £1,000 for the year to help their training and competing.

The teenager will be competing against freestyle skier Lloyd Wallace, snowboarder Matt McCormick, alpine skier Yasmin Cooper and visually impaired skier Millie Knight for the gong but claims just being nominated for the award is special.

“It is really nice to be nominated as there are four other top athletes on the list,” she added.

“All the media attention is something that is new to me but it’s nice to be noticed.

“It’s very exciting that people are starting to pick up on what I’ve been doing but it’s also good to get publicity for disabled skiing in general.

“To win it would be amazing, and it would also help with my finances. I’ve had a lot of support from a lot of people so I’m very grateful.”

For more information and to vote for Menna Fitzpatrick in the Evie Pinching award visit www.skiclub.co.uk/eviepinchingaward