With less than a year to go until the Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, Macclesfield para-skier Menna Fitzpatrick is counting down the months and days until she embarks on the battle for golden glory.
Fitzpatrick – who has just five per cent vision – and guide Jen Kehoe hit new heights back in January when they won bronze at the World Para Alpine Ski Championships, before adding a World Cup medal of the same colour in Korea last month.
Their success in Italy came as somewhat of a surprise after Fitzpatrick experienced a lengthy spell off the slopes with a broken hand.
But having backed up their triumph with their World Cup success two months later, in an event that doubled up as the test event for the Paralympic Games, Fitzpatrick insists the sky is the limit as she prepares to make her bow at the very top of the sport.
“Our World Championship bronze was definitely my proudest ever medal moment,” she said. “It took some effort and a lot of energy to pull that one out of the bag, but it was amazing.
“PyeongChang isn’t that far away and I am really excited. We have just come back from the test event in South Korea, and it was already exciting being in that environment. It will be my first Paralympics so it was good to see the preparations.
“There aren’t necessarily huge expectations, but we do want to just do our best and ski as well as we can.”
Fitzpatrick was speaking at the Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships in Tignes, where she and Kehoe clinched victory in both the visually impaired Giant Slalom and Slalom races.
Taking place from March 25 to April 7, the Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships will welcome more than 300 of Britain’s most talented skiers to the slopes of the French Alps.
And with opportunities to compete in the same events as able-bodied skiers few and far between, Fitzpatrick insisted she and Kehoe relished every second of the experience.
“Our first [Slalom] run was really good. The snow came in a bit for our second run, but we still enjoyed it,” she said.
“We were pleased with our time and of course the win. The course was well prepared and we just had a really good time.
“I am hoping that the younger athletes look up to us and I know they are working hard and try and get to our level. It is brilliant as we won’t be around forever.
“It is great to see the next generation of young fresh talent coming through. It’s good for the team to keep the competition going and means that we are all getting pushed.
“It is also great to see the young guys coming through and witnessing their journey from the start to competition.
“There is such a great atmosphere within our team, and we all know how hard it is to even get to the start gate, so we just want everyone to do as well they can.”
To follow the Delancey British Alpine Ski Team visit www.teambss.org.uk or follow @teambss on Twitter. As Principal Sponsor of British Ski and Snowboard, specialist real estate investment and advisory company Delancey is proud to be able to support British athletes – visit www.delancey.com
Image courtesy of Vanessa Fry, with thanks.