James Whitley - Alpine Skiing

Hometown: Wilmington, East Sussex
Sport: Alpine Skiing
Event: Slalom and giant slalom
Games: Sochi 2014

James Whitley is a ParalympicsGB skier who qualified to compete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. This was his debut Games and made him the only standing skier competing for the British Paralympic Association. He competed in the slalom and giant slalom events where he finished 15th and 14th respectively.

James has been skiing since he was four years old and made his international debut when he was 11. He has also represented both his school and Courchevel, where he trains, in non-disabled competition, winning six cups.

Since being recruited to the British Disabled Ski Team, James has made great progress and is World Cup qualified in Slalom and Giant Slalom. In 2013, he competed in his first major international, the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain, where he ranked 16th in the Giant Slalom. He finished the 2012//season by winning his first senior medal, a bronze in Giant Slalom at Chamrousse, France.

The following questions were prepared by Heycroft Primary School, Sheffield.

How did you become interested in skiing?

I started skiing as a toddler on family skiing holidays

Who inspired you to take up skiing?

My parents

Did you feel scared when you first raced?

No, it was fun!

How long did it take to become an expert on skis?

I went to ski school on skiing holidays, and then started race training when I was 8 years old.

Who helped you develop your skiing skills?

The ESF (Ecole de Ski Francais) in Courchevel; through ski school and then race training.

Are you confident with yourself or do you need more support?

No, occasionally fiddly things like doing up buttons, or tying shoe laces; but most of my clothes have been adapted with easy fasteners.

How much do you train each day?

From 6am until 12 noon.

What goes through your head just before the race starts?

Memorising the course (after the course inspection) and keeping my muscles warm

What do you do when you aren't skiing?

Studying for my exams and relaxing with my Playstation.

What did you have to do to be selected for ParalympicsGB?

Compete in races in several countries, in order to achieve the qualification points.

How did you feel when you heard you were in the team and went to get your ParalympicsGB kit?

Overjoyed. It was a dream come true.

What is the difference between Slalom and Giant Slalom? Do you have a preference?

Slalom has many more gates poles to ski around and is more technically demanding; Giant Slalom is much faster (up to 50 mph), around gates which are more spread out I especially enjoy slalom, and for the moment - I am getting better results with it.

How did you feel competing in your first Paralympic Winter Games and were you pleased with your performance?

It was a wonderful experience. I was so pleased to complete the races and was reasonably happy with the result.

What's the best piece of advice anyone has given you?

Your biggest fear, is fear itself.