Ski champ Menna in for top award

Macclesfield Express - - SEARCH - SKI­ING GARETH EVANS

ATEENAGE sport­ing world cham­pion from Tyther­ing­ton has been short­listed for a pres­ti­gious award by the Ski Club of Great Bri­tain fol­low­ing her sen­sa­tional win­ter sea­son on the slopes.

Menna Fitz­patrick only turned 18 ear­lier this month. But sev­eral weeks prior to that she achieved two other sig­nif­i­cant – and, by any­one’s stan­dards – par­tic­u­larly re­mark­able mile­stones.

For Menna, within just 22 days dur­ing March, won the Over­all Women’s Vis­ually Im­paired World Cup alpine ski­ing ti­tle in Aspen, Colorado, be­fore be­com­ing Bri­tain’s first Paras­nows­port Cham­pion.

And now the Me­dia and Tech­nol­ogy stu­dent at Mac­cles­field Col­lege is one of five young nom­i­nees for the 2016 Evie Pinch­ing Award - a legacy of the 1930s Bri­tish fe­male alpine skier that cel­e­brates the best up-and­com­ing win­ter sports tal­ent the UK has to of­fer.

“It is a great hon­our to be nom­i­nated for this award,” said Menna, “and fan­tas­tic to see a Paras­now­port ath­lete recog­nised in a very strong short­list.

“Win­ning it would be a very spe­cial end to what has been an un­be­liev­able sea­son, and would be a real help on my way to the Par­a­lympics in 2018.

‘Un­be­liev­able’ can be an overused word in sport. And yet there is truly no bet­ter way to de­scribe the progress made by Menna, whose orig­i­nal win­ter tar­gets did not in­clude en­ter­ing the World Cup – let alone lift­ing the tro­phy – with her sighted guide Jen­nifer Ke­hoe.

But af­ter mak­ing a spec­u­la­tive de­but in the com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing Jan­uary, the pair – who had only teamed to­gether two months ear­lier – headed out to Aspen and went on to take the world by storm.

Menna be­came the first-ever Bri­tish ath­lete to win the cov­eted World Cup Globe. And she was to travel home from Colorado laden with tro­phies and medals, hav­ing also be­come Gi­ant Slalom World Cham­pion and picked up a haul of three golds and three sil­vers.

If that were not enough, she and Jen­nifer rounded off an amaz­ing first sea­son to­gether by ven­tur­ing across the Chan­nel to win the in­au­gu­ral In­ter­na­tional Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee Alpine Ski­ing (IPCAS) Bri­tish Na­tional Cham­pi­onship in Tignes.

The 2016/17 cam­paign will bring with it new goals, ahead of their ul­ti­mate am­bi­tion to strike Win­ter Par­a­lympic gold in South Korea two years hence.

“Our aim next sea­son is to keep do­ing well,” ex­plained Menna.

“There are the World Cham­pi­onships in Italy - and also the test event in Pyeongchang which will be fun.”

All the while, Menna’s pro­file con­tin­ues to rise. Last month saw her at­tend ‘ParaSnowBall’ - Dis­abil­ity Snows­port UK’s an­nual fundrais­ing event - at London’s Hurling­ham Club, where Pippa Mid­dle­ton was guest speaker. And be­ing on the Ski Club’s short­list of this year’s ath­letes ‘to watch’ has un­sur­pris­ingly brought fur­ther wel­come ex­po­sure.

“It’s very ex­cit­ing that peo­ple are start­ing to pick up on what I’ve been do­ing,” she added.

“But it’s also good to get pub­lic­ity for dis­abled ski­ing in gen­eral.”

The pi­o­neer­ing Ms Pinch­ing would surely have been very proud.

Vot­ing for the award re­mains open to the pub­lic un­til mid­night to­mor­row (May 26). For more in­for­ma­tion and to vote for Menna visit www.ski­club. co. uk/ eviepinchin­gaward

●● Tyther­ing­ton world cham­pion Menna Fitz­patrick

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