Toby Fryers was nine when his friend beat him in a skiing race. He vowed to return the favour.
It took him two years to do so but the talented Richmond racer has kicked on and is set to go up against the country’s finest slope-maestros at the English Alpine Championships in Bormio, next week.
Fryers, part of the British Ski Academy set-up, is no stranger to the Bormio slopes having competed there throughout the age groups in recent times.
It’s a far cry from the day which turned a love of ambling down the slopes into a thirst for zipping past opponents down to the bottom of snow-capped peaks.
“I started ski racing when I was nine,” said the 15-year-old, a pupil at Reeds School in Cobham. “My best friend skied before me – we met up on a skiing holiday, had a race and he beat me.
“I was like ‘OK I need to step up my game’, and that was that!
“It took me a couple of years before I beat him – he’s still a great skier now.
“I think this will be my fifth year competing at Bormio. It’s got good slopes and from my time racing there it’s actually really unreliable weather-wise, you can’t really predict what the conditions are going to be like.
“It starts off quite quiet, everyone’s a little bit nervous at first but as everything unfolds it gets a bit lively and everyone starts cheering each other on. It ends up being a really good atmosphere.”
The English Alpine Championships run from February 11-16 are organised by Snowsport England, the national governing body for snow sport in England that is responsible for growing participation in snow sports through direct funding from Sport England.
They work closely with snow centres, artificial slopes and clubs around the country, as well as managing English squads and athletes across all snow sport disciplines.
Fryers took time out from the slopes to focus on GCSE mocks and, as a result, had limited training for the Anglo-Scottish Cup, his first competition of the new season, just after New Year.
However, he was pleased with his performances in that competition and is hoping to kick on in Italy.
“I skied well at the Anglo-Scottish but had a few mistakes which costs me a bit of time,” he revealed.
“Results weren’t as favourable as they could have been but I was pleased with how I skied. I hadn’t done any skiing before Christmas because of my GCSE mocks, so I was really happy with that.
“I only had four days of training before the Anglo-Scottish, usually there are about two weeks.
“By the end of the season I’m hoping to get a podium in one of the major races, like Bormio or the British Championships. I’ll just wait and see what the future holds.
“My best discipline is Super-G but I would say my favourite is slalom. I really like the quick turns and it’s more technical and it feels nicer when I ski.”
PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR: For this winter Olympics season Snowsport England has launched ‘PyeongChang to Piste’ (www.pyeongchangtopiste.org.uk), featuring events and taster sessions run by various clubs and slopes throughout the country along with tailored downloadable resources for schools