We are delighted that Millie Knight, Menna Fitzpatrick and James Barnes-Miller are amongst the 18 athletes forming part of the biggest ever squad taken by Great Britain to the World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway. The Championships run from 12-23 January 2022.
Initially scheduled to take place in Lillehammer, from 7 to 20 February 2021, the competition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It marks the first time that the Para Biathlon, Para Alpine, Para Cross-Country and Para Snowboard World Championships are held in a single host nation.
Millie said “This is a big set of races, not ideal coming so close to the Paralympics in March, but great race training. There are 6 races to finish over 10 days, then on to Sweden for more World Cup races, before heading off to Beijing in February.”
A total of 852 athletes from 42 nations will compete at Lillehammer 2021. This includes 362 Para Nordic skiers, 350 Para alpine skiers and 140 Para snowboarders.
Jayne Kavanagh, Head of Paralympics Programmes said “After a superb start to the season from all our Para Snowsport athletes, we go into this year’s World Para Snow Sports Championships ready to show the world what this group of athletes can achieve. We’ve got an exciting blend of experienced athletes and Championship debutants which reflects the strength-in-depth that we have to call on across all our disciplines.
“The extra year of preparation from the delay to the Championships has given us the opportunity to really build towards this moment, and we all look forward to seeing British athletes out there competing with the best in the world.”
Millie competes in the visually impaired category having lost most of her vision by age six due to an illness during her childhood. It’s going to be a very busy time for the athletes and Millie said: “In February we fly out to begin our holding camp in China before the Paralympic Games begin on the 4th March – assuming Brett and I get selected for the team!!
“We have just been told there will be no international spectators at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing. This is such sad news but at least there will be some local Chinese supporters, who are allowed to attend the events.
“Having a limited crowd, and no friends and family, will be really odd – very different to my previous Games experiences. Hopefully, this won’t have an impact on our preparations and performances.
“Thank you for your constant support. We could not do any of this without you.”
Menna Fitzpatrick was born visually impaired; she has no vision in her left eye and limited sight in her right – less than 5% overall vision. Her parents taught her to ski when she was 5 years old on holidays in France.
At the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Games, Menna and her former guide, Jen Kehoe became Britain’s Most-Decorated Winter Paralympians winning one gold, two silver and one bronze medal.
James Barnes-Miller became the first snowboarder to represent Great Britain at the Paralympic Games at PyeongChang 2018. James ultimately finished 7th in the snowboard cross SB-UL and 10th in the banked slalom.
Born without a right hand, James has worked for the UK Ministry of Defence as a casualty role-play actor, helping train soldiers in field surgery and trauma first aid. He competes in the Upper Limb Impaired category.
We would all like to take this opportunity to and wish Millie, Menna and James the best of luck for their future and here’s hoping they get selected for the Winter Paralympics team.