Youth Winter Olympics: Moynihan Jr flies down the slippery slope to success
Sunday 13 February 2011
British skiing has been in the deep freeze for some years now. Not that it was ever really hot stuff, most of the nation's wintry successes coming via the ice age of daredevil bobbers, sequinned skaters or the inimitable dancing feet of T and D. So it is heartening to learn that there is a teenage skier whose burgeoning talent is warming the cockles for the future.
Nick Moynihan put on his first pair of skis when he was two, the moment he could jump off a chair and land cleanly on both feet. This weekend he is among 15 youngsters representing Team GB in the European Youth Winter Olympic Festival in the mountains above Liberec in the Czech Republic.
His family lived in the French resort of Courchevel for three years – his father commuting from London at weekends – so the piste came naturally to him. The family? He's the 16-year-old son of Lord Colin Moynihan, Olympic silver-medallist rowing cox, former sports minister and now chairman of the British Olympic Association. So no pressure then? "Certainly not from me," insists Lord M. "But plenty of parental support."
Nick has support in abundance, not just from his family but also from his prestigious public school, Tonbridge in Kent, where the state-of-the-art sports facilities are so outstanding that the Australian track-and-field team have chosen to base their pre-Olympic training camp there. Also the headmaster is allowing him to spread his A Levels over three years instead of the customary two so he can slope off to the slopes as often as possible.
He has won several British championships and his success at junior international level has come in the slalom and giant slalom, racing in Europe, the USA and South America. "I always worked hard at training and I was always the one who would try and go for another run after everyone else," he says.
The good news is he is not alone. His closest rival also has a famous sporting name: Jack Gower, also 16, nephew of former England cricket captain David. Nick seems to be edging their rivalry and in Liberec, where they will be room-mates, they will race against each other and together in the team event.
"When you are skiing there is no better feeling than standing at the top looking down with the mountains all around you and then having that rush of adrenalin and wanting to go faster and faster," says Moynihan.
He seems on the small size for a skier but at 5ft 8in he is taller than his dad, once labelled – to his own eternal amusement – "Miniature for Sport". "Size used to be important in skiing but skiers seem to be getting progressively smaller as technology improves," says Nick.
In Liberec, over 1,500 athletes from 44 European countries will be competing. All are aged between15 and 17 and for most this will be their first experience of a multi-sport environment and of Olympic-style competition. Naturally Nick has his eyes on a World Cup place, then the Olympics. "Not Sochi in 2014, that would be a bit too soon, but certainly in 2018."
Dad is reckoned to be a decent skier himself. "But I was beaten by Nick when he was eight, so make your own judgement." He adds: "In my role at the BOA I see sportsmen and women at the very top level and when I turn round and see Nick's total drive and commitment and the way he goes about delivering results, it's very special."
Fingers crossed, Britain may just have one young snowman who won't melt.
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