This is a report on the first week of training for Olivia Sayers, who will be representing Australia at the 2012 INAS World Championships for the Intellectually Disabled to be held in Erzurum, Turkey from Feb 27th to March 24th. I am fortunate to have been selected as the volunteer coach for the team. Olivia has Down Syndrome and is a remarkable athlete, holding many World Championships and World Records as a swimmer, she has been a lifelong skier at Mt Buller and this year has chosen to add competitive skiing to her repertoire.
Myself, Olivia and her mother Fiona left Melbourne on Feb 14th and flew to Geneva via Abu Dhabi on Etihad, and after a long and uneventful journey we caught a shuttle to Chamonix. We arrived in poor weather so it was not until the morning that the majestic peaks that tower over the town revealed themselves, and I was able to share what is a very special place for me with Olivia and Fiona. According to the Chamonix Tourist Office the snow is the best in the last 40 years and we found the skiing superb. We stayed at the lovely Hotel Faucigny and skied 3 days at Brevent & Flegere. The weather was perfect as was the snow and we used our time in Chamonix as a warm up for Olivia and also a chance to try out her new race skis.
We then caught a taxi over to Flaine for a week of race training. I was introduced to the Flaine Super Ski program by a former Buller colleague of mine Lynne Stainbrook who has taught at Flaine for over 40 years. Flaine Super Ski provides daily Slalom and GS courses and training on a dedicated race hill with its own poma lift, and has been most welcoming and accommodating to us.
We have spent 3 days so far in Flaine training Slalom and GS in the mornings, and free skiing in the afternoon. Flaine is a purpose built ski resort with superb groomed slopes for our race training. We could not have wished for a more appropriate training base and we are making excellent progress.
We have 3 further days training here before we fly to Turkey for the competition. Naturally we are very excited but there is also the element of the unknown as Erzurum is in quite a remote location and is not well known to Western skiers so it has been hard to find out information on the resort. But we are training on a steep and technical course so we will be well covered for all outcomes.
Please enjoy the photos below, and also use the comments below to pass on your well wishes to Olivia for her training and races.
I will update again in the next few days.