FREESTYLE skier Anna Vincenti has cancelled Christmas as she bids to realise her Olympic dream.
The 18-year-old will step up her Sochi 2014 aspirations this weekend when she flies to Colorado in the United States for six weeks, which will either make or break her hopes of competing at the Winter Olympics in February.
Having achieved an eighth-place finish in her first-ever World Cup event in New Zealand in August, a similar result in North America next month would go a long way to securing the former George Watson’s pupil one of two places available with the GB team bound for Russia in February.
“It’s kind of sad missing Christmas, but it’s just something you have to sacrifice,” Vincenti explained. “It’s that time of year when you spend time with your family, but I can have a Christmas dinner when I come home in January. If I get these results and I prove to the BOA (British Olympic Association) that I am capable then I stand a very good chance.
“I think another eighth place would probably secure my place, but we won’t know until the team is announced in mid-January. I have to be confident, but it’s quite scary thinking about the Games as they are coming up so fast – it would be awesome and such a great honour.
“New Zealand was big for me as well as I had something to prove. My coach (GB Freeski’s Pat Sharples) put all his faith in me and believed I could do really well. I was a bit of an underdog as it was my first World Cup, but these competitions in Colorado are huge for me. I’ve had a really busy year travelling, but it’s been great as I love going away. I’d never been to New Zealand before so that was a really good experience.”
Vincenti admits, however, she endured a tough start to 2013 after damaging her knee on the slopes of Colorado before making her choice to switch from half pipe to slopestyle in order to enhance her Olympic credentials – a decision, she feels, may have been just in time.
She said: “I’ve changed my discipline this season as I wasn’t doing so well at half pipe.
“I had a competition in Colorado at the end of last year where I injured my knee, so I took a bit of time off the half pipe and just spent some time on the jumps. It’s so much more fun and it came really easy to me, so me and my coach sat down and said ‘Let’s try slopestyle’, which I am so happy about.
“With the half pipe, it’s all about just the one feature, whereas slopestyle you don’t actually know what the course is going to be until you turn up to train or compete. It could be two jumps and three rails or two rails and three jumps – you just don’t know.”
Vincenti has benefitted a great deal after being awarded a position on the Bank of Scotland Local Heroes Programme and speaks of her admiration and enthusiasm for what, she perceives, as being a vital component of her development, not only as an athlete, but as the young woman she is today.
She added: “Aside from the financial benefits, they’ve really helped build up my confidence speaking to people and I now feel I could go anywhere and talk about what I do. I’ve met a lot of really good people through the initiative as well.”
• Bank of Scotland Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, has supported 170 of Scotland’s most talented developing athletes. As part of Bank of Scotland’s commitment to helping future sports stars prosper, the programme has continued in 2013. Follow future stars at www.bankofscotland.com/localheroes