Dalbeattie’s Ryan Powell is part of a team from Dumfries & Galloway Disability Sport which is taking part in the 2020 Special Olympics GB National Alpine Skiing Championships.
The event gets under way tomorrow (Saturday) in Crans Montana, Switzerland, and runs until February 8, with 13-year-old Ryan accompanied by three other young team members from the region.
The team of skiers, accompanied by three coaches, will compete at these National Games for the first time in a Special Olympics Winter Games.
The athletes have been training hard on the dry ski slope in Carlisle, having only started skiing in November 2018.
Along with Ryan – a visually impaired novice skier who takes part with a guide in front of him – is Hayden Keir, aged 19, from Annan; Lennon Hughes, also 19, from New Abbey and Sam Pattinson (28) from Rigg, Gretna.
Ryan said: “I’m very excited and a wee bit nervous.
“I’m really looking forward to skiing on a mountain for the first time and to meeting new skiing friends.”
The progress of the local group has been significant in a short time, with them partticipating in their first competition in June.
They are now ready to take the next step and compete in the slalom, giant slalom and super G events at the GB championships in Switzerland next week.
The Dumfries & Galloway Special Olympics Team has raised over £10,000 for the trip and has expressed thanks to everyone who donated to their cause.
Special support came from The Holywood Trust, Solway Spirts, Lions Club Dalbeattie, Gretna Bakery, and many other local businesses who gave donations and prizes.
The Special Olympics GB National Alpine Skiing event takes place every four years and is one of the highlights and biggest events in the Special Olympics GB calendar.
This is the first time Special Olympics GB’s winter event has ever competed at the beautiful Swiss resort.
Ninety athletes from across ten clubs in England, Scotland and Wales will compete over the course of three days, with their first day on the slopes being all about classification.
The three main races and levels being run are slalom (novice, intermediate and advanced); giant slalom (novice, intermediate and advanced) and Super G (intermediate and advanced).
An opening and closing ceremony at the start and end of the event will celebrate the week’s competition and athlete’s participation.
Laura Vickers, disability development officer with Dumfries & Galloway Council is the team manager: “Team D&G is very excited about our trip, following months of hard work and preparation for the competition,” she said.
“I am sure they will all be great ambassadors for Dumfries & Galloway and come back with an array of medals and ribbons.”
Laura also conveyed thanks to everyone who has supported the team, along with the group of coaches and volunteers from Carlisle Snowsports, who had helped prepare the athletes for “this spectacular event”.