World Championships 2017

January 27, 2017

Really sad to be leaving Tarvisio today. Home to do rehab! I’ll have to leave being world champion until 2019!

Best of luck to all the other athletes competing, ski well, be proud and have fun!

Thank you everyone for your help and protection, especially miss Catherine Smail and Kelley Fay who helped me through my morphine sweats and sickness after my arm was placed back. Catherine again for helping me with all manner of recovery methods, compex, game ready, massage, needles, hydration! Cheers to Gary for being a total dote immediately after the accident, even prizing my engagement ring off my hand so it didn’t get cut off! We’ll be back! And to all the skiers and coaches for your help and concern. 

Home time to work hard so I can come play in the snow real soon!

“Not ghosts but human beings!” – This week, the UN Human Rights Office launched its microsite dedicated to the rights of people with albinism.

It contains general information to better understand the condition, and several stories of albinism champions of all walks of life that, they hope, will change the misconceptions and myths around albinism. More on the website! http://albinism.ohchr.org/

Filming for UN - Strandhill, Co. Sligo July 2014

Filming for UN – Strandhill, Co. Sligo July 2014

Are you a person living with albinism? Have you assisted someone with the condition and think others could benefit from hearing your story? The UN Human Rights Office would like to hear from you! Share you story with them! They may use it to celebrate International Albinism Awareness on June 13th

@UNrightswire

#Sochi1yearon

March 10, 2015

Today we celebrate the first anniversary of our very special win in Sochi.

It really was an incredible moment to have Sir Philip Craven present us with our gold medals. We’d coveted and worked very hard for our medals for so long, and when they were finally placed around our necks, it was an moment we will never forget! Sir Philip placed that moment in his own top 5 highlights from Sochi 2014.

My lasting memory of the medal presentation was feeling the considerable weight of the gold medal, singing the British national anthem, and realising that it is in such a high key that I sound terrible singing it!

Some incredible doors have opened outside of the field of play since the Games. Our nomination for BBC sports personality of the year was an incredible milestone for our sport. This is the first time a pair has been nominated since Torvill and Dean. The first time an alpine skier has been nominated, ever. That’s a huge milestone. We were the only paralympians nominated, and two of only 4 women. As a young woman from Kent teamed with a woman from Northern Ireland, we were so proud to be the ambassadors for alpine. To gain more than 35,000 votes without a big PR team behind us was overwhelming.

We as a sport may never get that platform to speak to so many people again (although I hope we do!). We were so nervous speaking live to the 10,000 people in the audience. Afterwards, I was inundated with messages after from children and adults with and without disabilities who enjoyed seeing the coverage of us on TV and the message we are trying to spread. It makes me so proud to know that something I enjoy as much as ski racing has a positive impact on other people’s lives. That Charlotte and I were able to present a positive representation of albinism, disability visual impairment and blindness is something I will always hold dear in my heart.

For us off stage it was a surreal to get an insight to how professional sportsmen and women live their lives in their sports. Hair, make up, private jets, pets on the red carpet, stylists, agents, managers, fans, after parties, after after parties, video production companies, interviews, it was a whirlwind for us.

So, today, we are thrilled to celebrate a truly special year.

Watch our winning race again

Here are some ways in which we’ve celebrated since winning our historic gold last year! It has been so brilliant to get the message out to children and young people that you can achieve your dreams and follow your passion.

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Today I was removed as an administrator on the British Disabled Ski Team Facebook page. A page started by athletes back before Vancouver 2010 to spread the word about our sport and what succeses we are achieving. I’m not sure whether the athletes’ representative will be able to post about the successes of the guys in the future. I’m not sure either whether there will be a dedicated press officer on the team to update Facebook and Twitter and fire on a few pics from each day 

So to hear about what’s going on in Panorama and to support the athletes, over there in Canada, keep an eye posted on each individual athlete’s page!!! 

Here’s a few to get started
Little Miss Millie Knight and her guide Jen Kehoe.
Ben Sneesby
Benji Millard
James Whitley
& Mick Brennan
And obviously there’s the usual athlete page I’m always pedalling 😉 us

Or even better, watch the races being streamed here.

It has been nearly a year since our last update. A lot has happened. (a massive understatement). We’ve loved sharing all the news through our Facebook page and Twitter accounts (here and here) and speaking to anyone and everyone who wants to hear about our amazing sport and progress. Here is one example.

This update feels like it requires a more detailed post.

Last time we were on snow together was on 13th January. Charlotte and I were working on gliding, which every ski racer works on for Downhill and Super G training. As a pair, we also work on our spacing over the flats and transition from steep to flat terrain. Spacing of athlete and guide is a characteristic unique to visually impaired ski racing since this category of the sport involves two people on the same course trying to be as close to one another as possible, rather than one racer. If Charlotte becomes too far ahead, from steep to flat or by accelerating across the flats, she has to slow down because I have to communicate with her via my headset to let her know that I cannot see, by which time we’ve lost speed and usually don’t have an opportunity to regain that on the flats. I am heavier than Charlotte, too, so when we are on the flats and tight together, I can end up drafting in her slipstream. This is a situation that we practise and explore often. It is a delicate skill and involves a great deal of communication and time on snow together.

Charlotte and I have been skiing together for over five years, during which time we’ve had lots of bumps, crashes and falls. Most of those have been me. This time, however, I injured Charlotte. I clipped the back of her skis, while moving from right to left as I was drafting in her slipstream. Both of us fell, but Charlotte fell very hard. At first instance I thought she had reinjured her ACL, as knees are every skier’s worst fear when injured! Initially Charlotte couldn’t communicate anything about her own fall because – ever the professional guide – she was asking me how I was! (I was totally fine!). At the scene it appeared that Charlotte had hurt her left shoulder, maybe a subluxation or dislocation.

I know Charlotte very well. She doesn’t complain, ever, so if she ever does, it’s serious. She also hates fuss, so persuading her to go to the doctor or hospital straight away was difficult. She knows her own mind too, so it’s extra hard to boss her about and tell her she’s going to hospital. In hindsight, I should’ve bossed her about more and been more stern about calling a day to the training session, but it is very hard to do so when you’re focused athletes training together for world champs. As a result, I didn’t notice the gravity of the accident.

Only after spending the rest of the day skiing together, followed by a night’s sleep and finally a trip to the doctor in Austria, did we learn that Charlotte may have suffered a concussion. Sure enough, when we returned to London and sought medical help from the EIS doctor, we found out that Charlotte had suffered a serious concussion and is now, a month on, still recovering and unfit to return to activity or snow.

Concussion is horrible! I’ve had at least three.

We have experienced and overcome many physical injuries together. From strained ligaments to hip surgery to bone bruises to surgical dentistry to loss of hearing, the list is extensive. Some of the crashes and falls were dramatic; some were trivial. Some lingered on and became chronic injuries, and some recovered so well that we forgot about the whole incident. Concussion is different, in that it’s unique to each person and, the first time, it is terribly scary. People’s reaction to hearing you have a concussion is totally different in comparison to their reaction if they see you on crutches in an air boot. I think that’s because they can relate to injury of a bone break or a strained ligament or bruised muscle, but with concussion, they can’t understand the nausea, confusion, inability to concentrate, frustration, the ebb and flow of energy, sensitivity to light, noise and smells and the lack of confidence in when you’re going to feel better. It is really misunderstood.

Since last year’s Games, all we’ve been asked is about our next event. “When will you compete next?”; “World champs – when are they, where are they?” and the inevitable…”Do you think you’ll win?”

We are as focused as ever on competing to the best of our abilities, and we know that our best is really great. However since 13th January our main focus and that of our families and medical team (physiotherapists, psychologist and doctor) is more focused on Charlotte’s long term well being than what we can achieve in March in Canada at World Championships.

In the hope that Charlotte will be fit to return to snow soon and that we pull off the most miraculous end to a ski season ever, I am getting ready to “compete” next week in at least one of the EC finals. Ross, our coach, is stepping into the role of guide! I’m delighted that he has kept our dream of competing at World Champs alive, and the purpose of the upcoming race is to enable me to fulfil the eligibility criteria from the IPC which states that I have to have achieve race points in the 2014/15 season. Mine and Charlotte’s form is fine, so the race points don’t matter for qualification, it’s just a funny little hurdle we need to overcome. And in the meantime, Charlotte can remain in England as she continues to recover.

Of course, this could all be in vain. Next week the advice from EIS could be that Charlotte is still not able to take on guiding or racing at World Champs.

Once again we aren’t ashamed to throw everything we’ve got at our performance plan and just see how it goes.

Leaving Sochi, knowing that we had put in 100% effort meant that, whatever the results, we were happy. That’s how we approach our sport.

When Charlotte is allowed to use a computer again, or her telephone, she can tell this in her own words and write a blog post from her perspective.

Oh, and….as a funny little aside….feel free to send us all your inspirational memes and quotes! Our friends have been sending us some really cheesy ones of late – you know the ones like, “fall 7 times, get back up 8”, etc. But this one has been my favourite so far……..#Glee #notrelated

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Paralympics holding camp

February 18, 2014

Reiteralm today above the clouds

Reiteralm today above the clouds

We've been GS training this week

We’ve been GS training this week

Top of the Super G course

Top of the Super G course

Being interviewed  @kellygallagher @charevans1

Being interviewed
@kellygallagher @charevans1

We arrived in Austria on 10th February, Europa Cup finals were cancelled in Abtenau so we came straight to Reiteralm near schladming for some training.
We had some fun filming media segments last week. its great to see the increase in interest in disabled alpine skiing in the lead up to Sochi 2014. and at home in the UK and Ireland it’s really nice to see the coverage in the papers and online, profiling winter and disabled sport.
This week we’ve been able to focus back in gates and we’re delighted to have received some new comms from cardo systems who’ve supported us these past four seasons in preparation for the Games.

The weather is looking good for super g training tomorrow so we’re excited for that too.

For updates on our training please follow us on Facebook and Twitter

http://www.facebook.com/KellyandCharlotte
http://www.twitter.com/kellygallagher
http://www.twitter.com/charevans1

London to Sochi challenge

December 3, 2013

Really excited for this weekend when we will be in London at the snow centre, Hemel Hempstead for the London to Sochi ski challenge. It’s going to be a great Saturday evening and we are so delighted to be part of something so special.

We are so grateful for all your support so far! Only 1,928miles to go!!

https://www.justgiving.com/local/project/londontosochi

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Delighted!

May 24, 2013

I’m delighted after taking the plunge and opting to have some surgery to my right hip. Last night the surgeon came to tell me that the surgery had gone well, I was overjoyed. Thank God and thanks to loads of people for their careful advice and support. Charlotte, our mums, and families, the physiotherapists, sports psychologist, S&C coach and doctor from the sports institute Northern Ireland, our team physio for letting me be indecisive on a very long phonecall but still managing to give professional opinion, the medical scheme for organising all this and always SportNI and all the staff here the hospital in Coventry. I have been complaining and struggling through with the soreness for the past two seasons and was so reluctant to make a decision to have surgery, after my daddy dying last year too, I was lost for confidence in such a huge decision so thank you all so much for showing me how to get along again without him here. Now that it has gone so well I’m excited to get back home and rehab for the next couple of weeks in the hope that when Charlotte and I return to skiing, it will be pain free! Hip hip Horay!! (Like that?! #rubbishjoke)

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Visually Impaired Skiing

October 3, 2012

We are asked all the time about how we manage to race through alpine skiing courses. We thought we’d explain a little about how we ski about the mountain, quickly and safely.

In IPC alpine skiing, the visually impaired athlete is led from the front through the course by a fully sighted guide. Charlotte says, “Kelly struggles to see me, so I wear a high visibility running vest over my training and racing suits so that she can have a better chance of following my racing line.”

Kelly and Charlotte Gold Downhill

Kelly and Charlotte Gold Downhill

“We travel pretty fast, and there isn’t as much time nowadays for verbal communication. I also used to look over my shoulder a lot more, that can be dangerous in speed events such as super-g and downhill, so we use bluetooth radio communications, originally designed for motorbikes but they work really well for skiing”.

Kelly explains, “Cardo system’s Scala rider is an essential part of our equipment, we don’t go skiing without them. The lightweight system is very adaptable to skiing. We put the two way system onto our helmets with ease. Using the comms system has made skiing for someone with a visual impairment a whole lot safer”.

cardo systems

cardo systems

“Charlotte is able to tell me in real time, what she’s experiencing, bumps, ice, changes in light or terrain, it’s so important. All the racers use radio comms.”

“We charge them up every night as a precaution, but the battery life lasts all day, even in very cold temperatures, or extremely windy weather, we’re able to articulate the important bits quite clearly”.

In addition to the high vis. vest and the comms, Kelly also uses a high category goggle that filters as much light as possible similar to the Oakley fire iridium lens.

Here’s a short video of us skiing in Hintertux this week, the snowcat had just made some pristine snow for us and we weren’t about to let this snowboarder ruin our corridor! 🙂

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