Teenage visually impaired alpine skier Menna Fitzpatrick says scooping a prestigious Ski Club of Great Britain award is a huge boost to her confidence with the 2018 Winter Paralympics fast approaching.
Macclesfield’s Fitzpatrick won the Evie Pinching Award as well as a £1,000 bursary for the year to help with training and competing.
The 18-year-old topped the poll after a two-week public voting period, which saw her shortlisted along four other athletes: Yasmin Cooper (alpine skiing), Millie Knight (visually impaired skier), Matt McCormick (snowboard – park & pipe) and Lloyd Wallace (freestyle skiing – aerials).
Talent-spotted by the Disabled Ski Team (now ParaSnowsports GB) at Chill Factore in Manchester, this season Fitzpatrick joined forces with her guide Jennifer Kehoe and qualified for World Cup races.
They became the first British snow sports athletes to win the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) 2015-16 overall skiing World Cup visually impaired title at the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colorado and Fitzpatrick was also crowned the giant slalom world champion, along with three gold and three silver medals.
“I am over the moon to have won this award,” said Fitzpatrick, who alongside Kehoe will compete at the World Championships in Italy next season as they work towards South Korea in 2018.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to vote, it was amazing to receive messages of support from around the world, as far away as India, South Africa and Australia.
“This award will really help me on my way to the Winter Paralympics in 2018. It was a privilege to even be nominated amongst such high achieving athletes including my teammate and friend Millie Knight, who is also one to watch for the next winter games.
“Finally I would like to thank the Ski Club of Great Britain for all their hard work on behalf of British Skiing, and Snowsport Wales for their continued support, and for nominating me.”
This year, athletes were nominated by the sport’s National Governing Bodies, Snowsport England, Snowsport Scotland, SnowSport Wales, Disability Snowsport UK and British Ski and Snowboard – with a shortlist of five chosen by the Ski Club.
The award is named after Evelyn Pinching (1915-1988), a British alpine skier who competed in the Olympics and won the 1936 women’s downhill and combined events in the World Championships in Innsbruck.
To be eligible, athletes must be aged 24 and under, and considered ‘ones to watch’ in their discipline.
Frank McCusker, chief executive of the Ski Club of Great Britain, paid tribute to Menna and the promising athletes she pipped to the award.
“We hope that the bursary helps her continued development and success for the future,” he added.
The Evie Pinching 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.