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"I’m only 6 but I have been skiing for half my life."

I’m only 6 but I have been skiing for half my life.

My Mum and Dad took me for my first skiing lesson just after my 3rd birthday. Before I was born, I was diagnosed with the medical condition Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). This meant my lungs didn’t grow properly, my heart was pushed over to one side and my tummy was where one lung should be. I was only born with 1 lung and spent my first 6 weeks in Intensive Care in the John Radcliffe Hospital.

My parents enrolled me in my local Snozone SnoAcademy to help get me physically active and to help build up my lung capacity. I was really tiny because of my CDH, and I had to have lots of extra socks as the boots were big so it took me a little while to get going. I was a bit worried going out into the snow on my own but once I finished my first lesson I was hooked! I’ve loved it ever since. My Dad found me the smallest boots made so I only need one pair of socks in my boots!

I ski most weeks and Mum always comes with an inhaler in case I have an asthma attack but so far it has not happened and now I have lots more energy and a lot less asthma attacks generally. I did my first race in the SnoAcademy, I was nervous at first but when it started I just tried to ski quickly and smoothly and I won my age group!

I love racing against other people and I love the feeling of speed, but most weeks I’m just trying to be better than I was last week. I do fall over quite a lot, but that’s what happens when you are trying hard to learn new things!

Getting good is hard work. When coaching or training stops, I still go skiing with my dad. We are on the snow at 7:30am many Sundays.

Getting good at skiing and starting to train with the race team has shown me that my medical condition doesn’t stop me doing the things I want to do. Some things just need me to work a little bit harder!! I love This Girl Can for showing me other people who don’t let things stand in their way! I’m hoping to continue with my race training but also to learn some freestyle skiing (think jumps and flips).

I would recommend skiing to other girls, young or old — although we don’t have too many mountains in England, we have 6 real snow slopes and many more artificial slopes. I have talked about my skiing to my friends at school and in assemblies and some of them have started taking lessons.

If you’ve been inspired by Olivia’s story, find out how to get started with skiing.