‘Train hard, race easy’ says skier Menna Fitzpatrick ahead of Winter Paralympic Games debut

Five Paralympic events in nine days may sound like a lot but alpine skier Menna Fitzpatrick is confident she and guide Jennifer Kehoe can take every one in their stride.

The Macclesfield Paralympian is less than 48 hours from taking to the PyeongChang slopes, with Saturday’s downhill the first of five chances they have of reaching the podium.

The Super-G, super combined, slalom and giant slalom follow across the week but, for the 19-year-old at least, it’s all about taking things one step at a time.

Training has been thwarted somewhat with weather ruling out two of the three practice runs, though Fitzpatrick is confident things are heading in the right direction ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony.

“We had a strategy for the training run and we definitely stuck to it, that’s always a big plus and now we just can’t wait for the racing to get started,” she said.

“It takes so much time to learn where all the little lumps and bumps are on a course, you’re going at 90kph and you’ve got to know the course inside out so these training runs are so important.

“We’re used to a busy schedule, we’ve often had five or six days in a row on the snow, either in racing or in training, so it doesn’t really bother us too much. Train hard, race easy as they say!

“We’re aiming to do our best in all the events, there are a lot but I speak for both of us when I say that we’re going to be happy if we try our best – to get a medal on top of that would be amazing.”

For Welsh-born Paralympic debutant Fitzpatrick, each experience is a new one to savour even before taking to the snow.

And in a journey that has had its fair share of ups and downs, the teenager is keen to make the most of everything that comes her way in South Korea.

That included an official team welcome into the athletes’ village, an introduction to the Paralympic stage if ever there was one for the visually impaired skier ahead of Friday’s main curtain-raiser.

“We’ve been in the village for four or five days, getting settled in and we had a chance to go up to the mountain for the first time on Wednesday which was good, an exciting moment for us,” added Fitzpatrick, who has only five per cent vision.

“The official welcome was so fun, we had some beautiful weather and it makes it all feel very real.

“It’s been such a long time getting here, so much training and preparation has gone into making this possible so it is such a big relief to finally be standing in the Paralympic village.”

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