Jack of all skiing trades bids for European Youth Olympic glory

CHICHESTER’S Jack Gower is arriving at the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival as the man to beat – but the West Sussex ski ace insists he won’t be making bold gold-medal predictions.

Gower laid down the most impressive pre-games marker last week when he was crowned under-17 giant slalom world champion at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Crans Montana.

Hot on the heels of his Switzerland success comes the trip to Liberec for the EYOWF event which sees 1,500 athletes from 44 European countries go head-to-head in the Czech Republic, starting this Saturday.

Gower, who hails from Chichester, is part of the 15-strong GB team heading to Liberec but despite his recent glories the 16-year-old insists he won’t be setting himself up for a fall.

“Winning at the world championships was amazing for me and I was so pleased to have won it,” said Gower.

“I skied well there and now I just want to concentrate on doing the same thing in Liberec. I don’t really know what to expect. There’ll be some people I’ll have skied against before and others I might not have, so anything could happen.

“I’d love to ski really well and if I do that, anything is possible. My skiing has been going well this season so far.

“Hopefully that will continue in the Czech Republic. It was a great feeling when I found out I’d been selected and I can’t wait to get out there now.”

Despite being a jack of all the skiing trades, Gower will concentrate on the giant slalom and slalom for the Eastern European event, which runs for a week.

And the Donnington-born teenager – who spends much of his winter jetting to and from the European ski resorts – believes his GB team-mates could be his secret weapon.

“It is going to be a really cool event and it will be great to meet all the guys in the rest of the team,” added Gower.

“My coaches and all the support I get is great during the season but it will be nice to have all the rest of the team there and I’m sure it will make for a really good atmosphere.

“Hopefully we can all support each other and all put in some really good performances and enjoy the experience.”

* The British Olympic Association prepares and leads the ‘Best of British’ at the summer, winter and youth Olympics. It supports Team GB and National Governing Bodies to enhance Olympic success and is responsible for championing the Olympic values. See www.olympics.org.uk for more.