‘I never wanted to ski’: Anna Vincenti on swapping soccer for the slopes with the Winter Olympics in sight

When 20-year-old freestyle skier Anna Vincenti is asked where her passion for snow sports began, she sheepishly admits that it almost didn’t.

“I never wanted to ski. Actually I was a footballer first…” 

This is certainly a strange confession, coming from a member of the British Freeski Team. But Anna Vincenti is nothing if not honest. 

While other professional skiers profess a love for the sport since their early years, Anna is refreshingly candid about where her priorities lay just a few short years ago.

“I played football for Scotland with the U15’s and U17’s, and that was the thing I always wanted to do – I wanted to go to America and get a scholarship. I was a goalkeeper. I never wanted to ski.”

The Scottish star was a member of Hibernian LFC and trained with the club from the age of ten, and says she ‘grew up’ with her teammates.  

Although she often skied with her family and occasionally competed at her local snow sports centre, Anna was more comfortable on the pitch than the piste and never considered taking skiing to a professional level.

But that changed when she and some friends went on a summer trip with the British Freeski Camp, where she met her future coach, Pat Sharples.

She said: “It was just a trip, we were just having fun, and the vibe was amazing. Everyone was so chilled and supportive of each other. And then Pat said, ‘Would you like to come away on a trip to Saas-Fee?’ And I really wanted to go…”

It wasn’t long before Anna discovered a natural talent for freeskiing, and she soon had a difficult choice to make: join her team in the Scottish Football Cup Final, or compete in a national ski event in Milton Keynes.

“My dad sat me down and said, ‘You’re going to have to choose. You’re committed to that team.’ And then I just realised, I don’t want to play football anymore, I want to ski.”

It was a tough decision which marked the beginning of Anna’s rapid rise to fame on the freestyle ski scene.  

Specialising in slopestyle, Anna is now a familiar face on the world freestyle circuit and is a serious contender for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Despite her unconventional sporting background, she is startlingly confident in her abilities and is fiercely determined to push herself as far as she can go.

A recent knee injury and a nine month stint in rehab would be a serious setback for some, but for Anna it has only strengthened her determination.

With a wry smile on her face she repeats the familiar mantra of all extreme sports athletes: “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger!”

Her passion for the sport and her relentless drive to succeed are clear, but she can’t help but feel a tinge of regret when remembering her years with Hibernian LFC.

“I really do miss it. Watching people play now kills me; I never watch games because I miss it so bad. And most of [the team] are now all in America on that scholarship! So I feel like my life could’ve gone either way.”

As Anna twists through the air with such ease and agility, looking as if she was born on her skis, few could deny that she has made the right choice.

With the Winter Olympics and World Ski Championships just around the corner, Anna shows no sign of slowing down.

Her tagline on Instagram seems a fitting prediction: ‘You don’t know me but you will.’ 

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