Wales is on the up on the downhill slopes
Gary Baker on 21/12/2011
Charlotte Davies will be rushing down the slopes of Switzerland at break-neck speeds next month as a shining light for Welsh ski racing.
The 19-year-old from Avonmouth will be one of the many competitors over four days at the Welsh Championships.
And, in complete contrast to the direction she competes in, her career on the mountains is on a big upward path as she bids to reach her own personal summit.
The Welsh Alpine Championships take place at Champery, Switzerland, between January 24 and 27.
It will be the fifth year that they have been held in Champery and teams from across the world will be competing for the top prizes.
Davies, whose parents are Welsh and considers herself very much part of the Principality, is already in France training and racing for the winter season while she is also number one in the UK on artificial slopes.
Add two other great Welsh competitors, in Robert Taylor, a 27-year-old from Barry, who will ski in the World Cup in Colorado, USA, this month in the freestyle half-pipe, and teenage snowboard racer Maisie Potter, from Bangor, and Wales are making a real mark in the world of snow and ice.
The Welsh Championships, which are backed by the Champery resort as well as the local authority, the Canton du Valais, in Switzerland, will see two days of international races and then two days of British-only racing, the latter being aimed at children where 120 boys and girls will be enjoying the slopes.
But these are not just children who are in the resort on holiday but those from clubs and academies in the UK who specifically go over to Champery for the Championships.
Snowsport Wales chief executive and national coach Robin Kellen said: "These events are aimed very much at Juniors and Under-21s who use our Championships are part of their development pathway.
"These are the first steps they will be taking if they want to compete for their national teams and in their junior championships."
It takes a fair amount of organisation, though. Snowsport Wales are taking six officials across to the venue for the Championships, while an army of helpers from the resort will carry out various other tasks during the week.
Kellen said: "We rely on 30 volunteers from local ski club and ski patrol to assist us and run these races. They are there from 7am at 2,000 metres up on the slopes to get everything set-up and are there all day (until about 2pm to 3pm when racing finishes)."
Davies is well on the way in her Alpine ski career, but it is not just about the slalom and giant slalom racing at Snowsport Wales.
Freestyle and snowboarding are starting to enjoy success, with Taylor a high hope for major world glory soon.
He holds the one and only British team place in the half-pipe and his place at this month's World Cup is a magnificent high for his country as well as Taylor personally.
It is the first time that Wales has been represented in the World Cup, and Kellen added: "We are hopeful that Robert Taylor will work towards qualifying for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014."
And it has been a tough road for Taylor to negotiate in his snowy journey. Kellen said: "He started skiing as a child, then took up freestyle and the half-pipe seven years ago. Robert seems to be making his mark now following injuries over the past two seasons."
As for Potter, she competes in the sometimes rough-and-tumble but often exhilarating discipline of Boardcross.
This is similar to cycling's BMX track racing, with jumps and banked slopes, where competitors race against each other rather than individually against the clock.
The 14-year-old Potter is also rather good at it. She is in the British Youth Snowboard team and the current boardcross British champion. Kellen added: "She looks to be a star of the future."
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