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Australian Skiers Arrive in Zakopane for the Virtus Skiing World Championships

Sport Inclusion Australia would like to congratulate the team of seven skiers who have arrived in Zakopane, Poland this week to represent Australia at the Virtus Skiing World Championships from 2 to 8 March.

Laura Flynn

The team of seven skiers and 2 staff members is the largest Australian team to attend the Virtus Skiing World Championships, our previous largest team consisted of just 2 skiers.

Skiers will compete in Giant Slalom, Slalom and Super G events as well as the team parallel slalom event.  There will also be Nordic events, but Australia has no Nordic skiers competing at this event.

Alex Cherny and Laura Flynn have returned for their second Virtus World Championship having competed in Seefeld, Austria in 2023.

Flynn finished just outside of the medals in 4th place in the Super G event last year and is hoping to do better this year by finishing in the medals.  “I was very nervous last year as I knew it would be much more challenging than what we ski here in Australia”   Flyyn said.  With the experience from Seefeld behind her and a valuable weeks training at Whistler in Canada, Flynn will return a more confident and capable skier.

Alex Cherny

Cherny also returns with an increased confidence having skied last year but also having 2 weeks intensive training in Europe at Bad Kleinkirchheim where he was also able to compete in a FIS Para event.  Thanks to assistance from local contacts Cherny was able to enter the event gaining valuable experience and confidence having finished with a Bronze medal.

“I will be working hard to increase start gate push off and following the best line down the course. I will be going for Gold, but know the competition is very high.” Said Cherny.

After a successful competition in 2023, Cherny, Flynn and Sport Inclusion Australia were keen to promote the sport to a wider audience with an aim to return in 2024 with a much larger team.  Domestic competition opportunities for school aged athletes with disabilities, including physical, visual and cognitive disabilities, is provided through the Snow Australia Interschool Competitions and the Multi-Class events.  All of the 2024 Virtus team members have come through the Victorian multiclass program and competed at The Australian Multiclass Championships, a testimony to the programs success, and the level of athletes competing at these events.

Sport Inclusion Australia’s CEO Robyn Smith is committed to developing the sport nationally and Internationally. “Australia has not competed at these championships for 10 years, we were very excited to see Alex and Laura compete last year and to see the impact of their participation growing the sport is wonderful,  Having such a large team compete, helps support Virtus’ bid to build the sport in both Alpine and Nordic” Smith said.

Two skiers have been there from the beginning in 2013.  Evie Patterson and India Biesse-Fitton are making their debut for Australia on skis, but both are experienced travellers and competitors.  Patterson having represented Australia at Basketball collecting Gold Silver and Bronze medals and Biesse Fitton also represented Australia in Swimming and Triathlon.  Patterson follows in the footsteps of Australia’s only medallist in skiing Nicole Harris.  In 2012 Harris played Basketball for NSW at the Ivor Burge Championships before heading to Turkiye for the Virtus Skiing World Championships where she won 3 Gold medals.  Patterson played for her home state of Victoria earlier this month taking home a Gold medal. Later this year Biesse-Fitton will compete at the Triathlon World Championships in Townsville, Qld.

Samantha Li is the youngest member of the team at 17, she has been skiing since she was 10 and like all others it is a family activity each year.  Li is currently in the United states preparing for the Championships.

Millie Warbrick now lives on the Gold Coast an interesting location if you want to Snow ski, prior to her move to the Gold Coast Mille had grown up on the ski fields in Victoria, Japan and New Zealand.  Warbrick also suffers from Tuberous Sclerosis and is keen to show others with the condition that anything is possible.

Charlie Jones will compete in the II-3 category for skiers with Autism, it will be his first time overseas and Australia’s first skier with autism to compete in these Championships.

Snow Australia’s Para Pathway Development Coach and Talent ID Coordinator Tom Hodges will take the team away as head coach.   This will be Hodges’ first time with the athletes at a Virtus event.  “Snow Australia is excited to be supporting this team of talented athletes at the upcoming Virtus Games. Their inclusion in the sport of Alpine ski racing is a testament to their dedication and determination. I am honoured to guide them on this journey, and I am confident that they will showcase their skills and inspire others on to the world stage.” Hodges said.

All skiers are a little bit apprehensive, especially the debutants, but at the same time they can’t wait to get to Zakopane to come together as a team and compete.

The Championship Opening ceremony will take place on the 3rd of March with racing to start on the 4th with the Giant Slalom (GS) first up.

Media Contact;
Michael Thomson
+61 414 733 339