Piste de resistance.
FEW of us are privileged enough to say that we do what we love, rather than just something that pays the bills.
For professional sportsmen it's generally a labour of love, with paying the bills secondary to shaving that hundredth of a second off your time.
Fife skier Gareth Trayner is in that position.
While his respectable 23rd position in the Salt Lake City slalom event went largely unheeded due to the Alain Baxter furore, Gareth is hoping to make a bigger mark in the 2003 World Championships in St Moritz.
Just 22, he has been skiing for 18 years, encouraged by his ski-mad family from an early age.
"We would travel from Ladybank to Glencoe every weekend," says Gareth. "My family has a long tradition of skiing and it was something that was just a part of life. We skied every weekend during the season."
Gareth progressed at an early age to the race training camps and the Scottish Ski Team, impressing coaches so much that he was the youngest member of the junior squad.
The rigours of professional-level sport and the travelling involved went hand in hand with his education, made more difficult by the fact that he is dyslexic and colour blind.
According to Gareth, nothing has affected his skiing, however.
"The thing is, although the slalom poles are red and blue, I've always seem them in black and shades of grey so it's never been any different for me.
"If I had been able to see colours and then it was suddenly taken away, that would have made a difference."
At the end of his schooling at Strathallan, skiing was far from his only option. Gareth was also good enough to consider a career in cricket.
"Obviously I opted for skiing. Something I don't think the school was too pleased about, but I was happy. I still play for the Old Strathallians as part of the other sports I take part in."
Sportsmen at this level rarely have the chance to do anything else to make a living and Gareth is no exception.
"My basic dry land training takes about six hours a day and then there are other training programmes on top of that."
So sponsorship is obviously a priority and Gareth is looking for a new sponsor right now.
His family have been very supportive, with his father's determination evident after Gareth's serious knee injury in 1999. His father noticed how quickly footballers recovered from sports injury and wondered if the magic sponge could do the same thing for Gareth.
Enter Celtic FC, who gave Gareth free rehabilitation along with intensive training from club physio Brian Scott. Just eight months later he was getting back to fitness and was faster than ever.
However, he wasn't so fast out of the blocks at the last Olympics. Gareths managed to remain completely oblivious to the fact that he featured on a Budweiser poster that was displayed everywhere.
It was only when a friend spotted it in a grocery store in Maine after the event that Gareth knew anything about it.
"When I went to the store and asked the guy if I could have the poster, he asked me why. When I told him, he took it off the wall asked me to autograph it for him, and put it back on the wall."
Let's just hope Gareth will be ordering champagne and not Bud in St Moritz next year.
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jun 27, 2002|
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