If 15-year-old Edinburgh skier Scott Waitt was Austrian, Swiss, French or Norwegian, his talent would be supported and developed with a view to competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, but here in Scotland his prospects are somewhat different.
Here, skiing is seen by many as an elitist minor sport, and as such there is little or no funding available, leaving Scott and his contemporaries to rely almost totally on The Bank of Mum and Dad.
The frustration for Scott and his family is that he has just completed a highly-successful racing season, while continuing to juggle his National 5s and Saturday rugby at George Heriot’s School.
Scott represented Great Britain in Andorra in January and Scotland in Italy last month, and joined his big brother Stuart, 18, at the World Schools Championships, also in Italy, in February. The Scottish Schools team finished a highly-creditable fifth in the under-16 category, behind four of the traditional Alpine nations. Individually, Scott won the Scottish slalom title and was second at the English Championships held in Italy and sixth at the British in France.
“The Great Britain ski kit is subsidised, but we had to fund the international races ourselves,” explained Scott’s physiotherapist mother, Dawn, who introduced him to skiing when he was three on a family holiday in France. “The question is: how do you take things further when the funding has to come from your parents?
“Sponsorship in Scotland only really comes to teams. We’ve been encouraged to open a Facebook page and we’ve put together powerpoint presentations, but the only success we’ve had so far is from ski companies giving us discounts and from Blues & Tiso shops.
“We can’t keep funding him year after year. Eventually, we’ll get to the stage where we have to say enough is enough.
“Some kids leave school and give it a go in Europe or America, but Scott is doing his Highers next year. He takes masses of schoolwork with him when he goes away racing and a lot of studying will have to be done between January and April, which is exactly the same time as the ski season.”
Finances permitting, the international FIS circuit is Scott’s next target, but mum Dawn warned: “So far he’s mostly been up against other children from Britain. Next year it’s the rest of the world.”