Skiing: Capital’s Paul Henderson relishes Winter Youth Olympics chance

CAPITAL skiing prospect Paul Henderson feels in great shape physically and mentally as he prepares to compete at the first-ever Winter Youth Olympic Games, which begin tomorrow.

Henderson, who turned 17 yesterday, is one of six Scots selected in the Great Britain squad for the ten-day event in Innsbruck, Austria. The Stewart’s-Melville College pupil will be the only alpine skiier in the British team and winning his place after putting in one of the performances of his life against some very strong competition in the time trials on Kitzsteinhorn Glacier in Austria at the end of last year.

He narrowly won the first run but had to settle for second place in the next run. With everything resting on the last run of the day, he laid down a great performance to win the trials by half a second.

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Henderson said: “My whole 2011 was really building up to those trials as I knew I would be up against some top quality skiers. I just tried to stay calm and use my previous experiences to see me through and when I found out I had made the team for the Winter Youth Olympic Games it was a feeling of sheer joy.

“This is something I have worked and worked for and I hope it is only the start of an exciting career for me. I will be giving it my all in Austria, that is for sure.”

As Henderson said, he had a busy 12 months of training and competitions all over the world to prepare him for the trial and the upcoming showcase event.

In fact, the build up really began in late 2010 when he headed to Colorado in the USA for three weeks ahead of last February’s European Youth Olympic Festival in Liberec in the Czech Republic.

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He competed well there before working hard in the gym for a few months ahead of a trip to Australia last summer.

There he was able to take advantage of their winter snow for just over a month, training as well as competing in some exciting Southern Hemisphere competitions.

“Being able to spend time in Australia was really valuable,” he said. “It is great being able to keep fit in the gym and such like, but nothing beats competitive skiing – I really enjoyed it.”

And a couple of weeks prior to Christmas, Henderson and the rest of the Scottish ski team were lucky enough to travel to Norway for a camp which he just returned from earlier this week.

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He added: “With Australia, Norway and various other trips under my belt I feel very good within myself at the moment. I am under no illusions that it will be a big test for me in the coming days, but to be part of Team GB at such an event really is a career high. I love being part of a multi-sport team because you all feed off each other, learn from each other and spur each other on, so I am really just itching to get going.”

The first event for Henderson is the Super-G on Saturday.