“This event in Stara Planina is also an important step forward for our countries to increase the efforts towards increasing the number of athletes participating in PyeongChang 2018.”
More than 20 alpine skiers, snowboarders, their coaches and guides from seven countries participated in the first PyeongChang 2018 Actualising the Dream education and training workshops which concluded in Stara Planina, Serbia, on Friday (29 January).
The sessions are the first of five taking place in partnership with the organisers of the next Paralympic Winter Games and the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee.
Each day athletes, experienced and new to the sports, were trained by experts including Serbia’s Jugoslav Milosevic, a Paralympian in alpine skiing who also works with the National Paralympic Committee.
Activities included an introduction to the Paralympic Movement and Paralympic Winter Games, the different kinds of alpine skiing and snowboarding competitions, classification and equipment. A mentoring session was held with Russian Paralympic medallists, such as Maria Papulova, talking about their experiences competing at the highest level.
Skiers and snowboarders also got to train in the gym and swimming pool, learning techniques in stretching and competition preparation, alongside their coaches.
Marko Lenchevsky, 17, an aspiring snowboarder from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said: “Practicing sports has been very important for my rehabilitation process after I lost the mobility of my right arm and leg due to a car accident. Before the accident I wanted to be a professional snowboarder and my goal is to participate in the next Winter Games in Korea 2018. This camp allowed me to get to know the Paralympic Movement in depth and it has been very encouraging to be able to receive instructions of established athletes.”
Practical on-snow sessions took place in slalom and giant slalom, before athletes got the chance to put what they had learnt into action in IPC Alpine Skiing races on Saturday and Sunday (30-31 January).
Croatian skier Eva Goluza, 14, from Croatia said: “It is very good for me to train with others from the region. It is fun to exchange experiences and be able to stay here with the other teams and to participate in the races this weekend.”
Participants from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Russia attended the first Actualising the Dream sessions in Stara Planina.
The project features a series of workshops and grants for equipment to improve winter sport around the world as part of the legacy of the next Paralympic Winter Games.
Luka Debeljak, a sport manager and coach from Croatia reflected on his own experiences of the camp: “This is a unique opportunity for the young athletes from the region to acquire experience and to be inspired by Paralympians such as Jugoslav Milosevic and Maria Papulova. This event in Stara Planina is also an important step forward for our countries to increase the efforts towards increasing the number of athletes participating in PyeongChang 2018.”
A further four workshops for sport managers, coaches and athletes in alpine skiing, snowboard, cross-country skiing, biathlon, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling will take place.