3 March 2018
Great Britain's Whitley ready to take on alpine nations
A different ilk
Four years older, four years wiser and a whole lot stronger – James Whitley is readier than ever for his second Paralympic Winter Games.
The Wilmington skier is back for a slice of the action in PyeongChang having taken to the Sochi slopes in 2014, a coming of age competition if ever there was one for a then 16-year-old.
Back then two top-15 finishes marked an impressive outing for Whitley on a piste unlike any other, when still finding his feet as a skier on the big stage.
One Games on and this is a man and competitor of a different ilk to that teenager, with lofty ambitions for the upcoming two weeks.
I’m really excited to be able to go to PyeongChang after my time at Sochi, I’m four years older, four years wiser, had four years more experience of skiing and I feel really well prepared for this.”
“I’ve had that Games experience so I have pretty good hopes to do the best I can.
“Four years is a long time, I’ve had that time on the snow but also in the gym to get as strong as I can.
“From the mental side of things I’ve had a few more World Championships so I feel confident at a big event, I’ve done a Games before, which can be quite daunting but this time I should be able to focus more on the job than the event itself.
“Everyone in my family loves their holiday skiing but nobody is really a racer, it was just me that made myself the speed freak.”
No snow no problem: Whitley is ready
Badge of honour
The lack of snow in Great Britain didn’t put Whitley off a career in skiing - he wears it as a badge of honour.
In fact it’s taken him to race and train with Europe’s best, training full-time in Courchevel where the likes of Alexis Pinturault – able-bodied bronze medallist in PyeongChang - hone their trade. But the 20-year-old knows these Games is about more than who ends up on the podium. Constantly threatening a top three spot in Europa Cup races, victories have already come Whitley’s way and he is keen to show just how much he has improved on the biggest stage of all.
“One of the proudest things for me to do is be beating these guys from Austria, from Switzerland and that’s what I’m aiming for,” he added.
“Great Britain doesn’t have the snow so if I can go to PyeongChang and beat the guys who are from alpine nations then I’d be delighted.
“I want to translate some really good results into the speed events, the super-combined, Super G and downhill, and I feel like I’ve made some really big improvements in the slalom.
“The ultimate dream is to have a medal at some point in my life, whether it was in PyeongChang or not, but if I was to leave knowing I did the best I could with two really good runs there, I will leave a very happy man.
“Representing ParalympicsGB is amazing for me, I love being a part of Great Britain wherever I go and the Paralympics has been a part of my life for quite a while now so it’s an honour to be able to go to South Korea.”
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