RAF Halton corporal assists in International Paralympic World Cup Ski Finals

RAF Halton Corporal Gary Smith, TG4 ICT Tech, has spent the last four weeks training and racing as a guide with visually impaired Paralympic gold medallist Kelly Gallagher in Aspen, Colorado. Prior to their first competitive race in Aspen they had less than two weeks training together. In this short period of time however, the partnership showed real promise with the pair competing in all four disciplines and medalling in all including; gold in the Slalom, silver and bronze in the Giant Slalom, bronze in the Downhill and bronze in the Super G at the IPC World Cup Finals.

Kelly Gallagher was feeling very optimistic with the partnership and thinks that Cpl Gary Smith has the appropriate qualities which are needed to guide her competitively and is hopeful that they can maintain their partnership for the next Winter Paralympic games which take place in 2018 in PyongYang, South Korea.

The guide needs to learn quickly in order to build trust and rapport with the athlete and their results demonstrate Cpl Smith’s ability to do this. He says of guiding: “It’s a challenging yet rewarding experience which requires a lot of communication and trust but one that I am thoroughly enjoying”.

During this last month the pair have been supported by the wider Para Snowsports GB staff including a skilled coaching team, physio, sport psychology and an onsite chef, all which have provided valuable contributions to their success.

Kelly and Cpl Smith will now compete together at the British Championships in Tignes, France at the end of March, which will finish off this season as they look forward to the next two years of preparation with the aim of participating at PyongYang Paralympics 2018.