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Paralympian Gallagher delight at world ski medals

By Elizabeth Hudson

Kelly Gallagher
Gallagher says she has learned from her Vancouver experience

Paralympic skier Kelly Gallagher says her double medal success at the IPC World Championships in Sestriere is a massive confidence boost.

The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland, who is visually impaired, followed up her silver in Thursday's slalom with bronze in the giant slalom on Saturday.

They were Britain's first medals at a Paralympic Skiing World Championship.

"We knew we were skiing well coming here but we wanted to ski more consistently," she told BBC Sport.

Gallagher, who failed to win a medal at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics, her first major event, takes to the slopes with the help of guide Charlotte Evans who skies ahead of her with the pair using headsets to communicate with each other during their runs.

They linked up together just five weeks ago but marked themselves out as World Championship contenders with two silvers and a bronze at the Europa Cup events in Kuethai in December.

"To come away with two medals from the World Championships gives us so much more confidence, especially as we are a new partnership," Gallagher added.

"We've had to learn a lot in a short space of time but it has been exciting to work with someone new and it has been a smooth transition.

"The course was an exciting one and tougher than the ones we raced on in the Europa Cup but it was great to have so much support from family and friends here.

"Giant slalom is probably my strongest event so I was so excited to do so well in the slalom and I'm very proud to have won Britain's first world championship medal.

"I was nervous at the Vancouver Paralympics and probably didn't perform to my best but here I felt a lot more relaxed and a lot more confident, but we still have work to do and develop our super-G and super combined skills and become more technically proficient in the downhill."

We're delighted for Kelly and Charlotte but the whole team have put in a lot of hard work

GB head coach Jane Stevens

Evans, 19, who combines skiing with studying for a Sports Science degree at Brighton University, suffered a cruciate ligament injury at the British Championships in Meribel in 2009.

She went into coaching before becoming a guide and despite her skiing experience has had a lot to learn since linking up with Gallagher.

"Skiing as a guide means I've had to completely change the way I ski," she admitted. "It's a new challenge and to have someone speaking to you through a headset all the way down the course is an intense experience.

"When I raced I was nervous abut now I have to try to control someone else's nerves but I love guiding and it makes me feel like I'm back racing again."

The pair will now go back onto the training slopes ahead of the Europa Cup finals in Spain in March.

Gallagher and Evans's results were the best by the British team in Sestriere, with Anna Turney finishing fourth in the women's seated giant slalom while in the men's seated competition Sean Rose was sixth in both the downhill and the slalom and ninth in the super combined.

Newcomers Mick Brennan, Pete Dunning and Martin Hewitt, who have all come through from the Armed Forces disabled ski team, all made their World Championship debuts, with Brennan and Dunning finishing 23rd and 27th in the seated giant slalom and Hewitt 23rd in the standing giant slalom.



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see also
Skeels-Piggins takes Cup victory
12 Dec 10 |  Disability Sport
Winter Paralympics lacks party atmosphere
22 Mar 10 |  Disability Sport
Gallagher fourth in giant slalom
19 Mar 10 |  Disability Sport
Gallagher added to Vancouver team
03 Feb 10 |  Disability Sport
A-Z of Paralympic classification
28 Aug 08 |  Disability Sport
Disability Sport on the BBC
02 Nov 09 |  Disability Sport


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