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Olivia Ward 2016/17 Season Round-Up

April 20, 2017

Welsh Team member, Olivia Ward is one of Britain's brightest junior Alpine stars. This was her first season competing in FIS races and here she tells us how she got on. 

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"This season has been a very exciting season for me as an athlete because of my move up into FIS. It was a difficult step up but I have learned a lot, moving up to FIS meant that I would be skiing on a longer ski and starting right at the back of the field, as I was starting with no points and racing against girls who have been racing for many years in FIS.

I had many aims for my season, my first was to be much fitter and stronger than I was in children’s. I did manage to gain strength and I felt this helped me a huge amount, I still struggled skiing on the flats, but this can be improved upon. My next aim for the season and probably my biggest was to make criteria for Team GB and the European Youth Olympic Festival which would take place in February. To make the criteria I needed to make a sub 85-point score, people said it would be easy but it was far from it for me. During the build-up to the selection I was finding it very hard to put two runs together - which is vital in ski racing! 

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The selection date for the European Youth Olympics was on the 17th January and by the 15th I was still no closer to making criteria, in my mind it was wasn’t going to happen as I had been close a few times but unable to complete anything. I had one more race to try and make qualification and I did it! I scored a 74.97 in a GS race in Reiteralm, Austria. It felt great that I finally qualified for selection and just before the deadline. I was now looking forward to the Welsh Alpine Championships in Champery and feeling confident. 

The Welsh Championships was great as usual, I love the race hill as I did my first ever alpine race there when I was younger. I managed to gain a great GS result and really enjoyed being there. It was great to race on that hill as a FIS athlete. 

After a short week at home it was time to go to Erzurum with Team GB, I can describe it as an opportunity of a lifetime, from the kitting out at Bishop Abbey, to the closing ceremony in Turkey. I made some amazing friends whilst I was there, from all the sports. Usually when I go to a race I am used to just seeing ski racers, it was very interesting to meet many other athletes. 

After coming back from Turkey, I had an infection which did affect my training and some races but it happens! The build-up to the British Alpine Championships was nerve-racking for me. I lacked confidence throughout the week of racing but managed to gain a 2nd place in the NJR downhill race, which I didn’t think would be possible as I’m not the biggest fan of the speed events. 

Finally, to describe my season in three words it would be: exciting, rewarding and demanding. Next season I hope to be the strongest and fittest ski racer I can be and with the aim to compete in the World Junior Championships. During the summer I will also be entering the indoor and plastic races, I have missed the atmosphere and the friendships I have gained from my previous years of racing at the plastic slopes. 

I would like to say a big "thank you" to everyone who has supported me this season, Snowsport Wales, Sport Wales, Conwy County Council, Dynastar skis, Surf Snowdonia, Anna Davies, Ambition Racing and my family - you have all helped me a huge amount throughout the season. Here’s to the next!"

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