Alpine Ski Racer, Heather Mills
Back in 2010 I was on a skiing holiday at the Mölltaler Gletscher in Austria, and being one for a challenge I decided to push myself and go for a black run! For anyone who's not familiar with skiing, a run or piste as they are known are graded using colours to identify the difficulty the skier will face.
Green's are very gentle gradients for beginners or first time skiers. Blue's are for novice and early intermediate skiers. Red's for medium to advanced intermediate skiers and black's are for skiers who are advanced or experts and who want a high degree of difficulty. In order to ski a black confidently, skiers must be able to link together consistent short radius turns and vary speed and direction with ease.
Whist on the black run I was spotted skiing in a straight line directly down the mountain by a gentleman called Peter Prodinger, who just happened to be an ex Olympic coach to the Austrian alpine ski team. Peter said how impressed he was with my skiing and how confident and in control I was on skis. The when he found out I only had one leg he was even more impressed. After chatting more in depth with Peter, and seeing his total faith in me, that was it, I decided to embark on a career in alpine ski racing.
Initially as a novice ski racer, I thought it was all about going as fast as you can. But, over the course of my first year in training as an alpine ski racer I realised that ski racing involves 5 disciplines.
Despite some setbacks, accidents and breaking a few bones, I trained hard and continued to push myself, getting better and better at all aspects of ski racing.
My previous training within these disciplines now became invaluable, as I now had to compete in all 5.
Although I only had a short period of time to understand the different technical and tactical element of each discipline, I soon realised this was where I wanted to be in my life.
A year later in 2012, I found myself winning 4 Gold Medals in Aspen, USA for the Super G and Downhill events. That same year I went on to win gold in the Austria Cup for Super G in Innerkrems, Austria and followed that up with success at the Lackenhof, Austria, Super G where I took the Bronze Medal.
What a surprise, 5 Gold and 1 Bronze Medal in a year.
I was extremely proud of what I'd achieved and that all my hard work, dedication in training and overcoming numerous injuries along the way had paid off.
In 2013 I carried my form into the new season and won 3 Silver Medals and 1 Bronze Medal in Innerkrems, Austria.
Then that year in New Zealand I won a World Cup Silver Medal in Slalom. I was overjoyed.
When you start to ski race you are ranked with a starting number of standard points, which are high, and placed in a category eg: IPCAS, Europa cup, World cup.
When you finish in a race, the points allocated to you are reflected by the place that you finish in that race.
A higher finish means more points are deducted from your original starting number of standard points.
The lower your original starting points get, the higher ranking you achieve and the higher category you are placed into. World Cup being the top category. So to win a Silver medal in a World Cup, was the icing on my vegan chocolate cake.
In 2015 I added the cherry on top of my vegan chocolate cake by setting 5 World Records in Alpine sports.
Following on from that I recently achieved my Alpine Coach and Ski Instructor qualification and I've also been invited to sit on the committee for the Special Olympics in 2017.
I continue to train hard, pushing myself to become even better. I love competing and fingers crossed I can win a few more medals along the way and inspire people to achieve the seemingly impossible.