BASILDON skier Caroline Powell is on course to represent Great Britain at this year’s Winter Paralympics in Russia.
The 19-year-old will act as a guide for podium hopeful Jade Etherington, 21, at the Games in Sochi.
The former pupil of Cooper’s School in Upminster, came to Etherington’s rescue over the summer after the visually impaired skier was forced to start the season without a guide.
And they haven’t looked back, returning from the NOR-AM Cup in America last month with four golds, two silvers and two bronze medals to show for their efforts.
They backed that up with three victories in four days in Pitztal last week – in giant slalom, Super-G and slalom.
Powell had dreams of representing Great Britain as an able-bodied skier before she turned her attentions towards instructing, but is now delighted to be on the big stage with Lincolnshire’s Etherington.
“I love guiding and I want to achieve the best possible result from the position that we’re in,” she said.
“As a guide I work on snow and off snow. We’re in the gym all the time we’re off the slopes. It’s a full-time position but it’s great to be able to work alongside Jade and build our relationship.
“Skiing has been a big part of my life from a very young age. I almost learnt to ski before I could walk so to be able to represent Great Britain alongside Jade at the Paralympics would be a huge honour.
“I think it would be amazing to be able to introduce skiing in Great Britain to people who don’t usually associate Great Britain with ski racing.”
But despite their strong bond now, it wasn’t always plain sailing between the duo when they started working together.
Powell said: “The partnership has definitely had its difficulties at the beginning but we’ve established each other’s roles now and it’s now working well.
“We’re now definitely on the road qualifying-wise to Sochi. Early on we had to learn to be honest with each other and establish at what points we need to stop talking to each other.
“But we’ve definitely grown as friends now rather than just ski partners and I think that bonding has really helped our skiing.
“I’ve learnt to read Jade and her emotions so can help her in the build up to a race. I’ve been a guide since June and in August I took my first trip to a camp.
“I was introduced to Jade in Manchester in June and we did a trial run and I loved it and haven’t looked back.”
The Games will be staged between March 7-16 and coverage will be shown on Channel 4.
>SAINSBURY’S is a proud long-term supporter of the British Paralympic Association and a champion of inclusive sport for all. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit www.Sainsburys.co.uk/activekids