Wilmington man’s Slalom challenge

All eyes were on Wilmington’s James Whitley this week as he took to the slopes on Wednesday (March 13) for his first ever Winter Paralympics.

The 16-year-old is representing Great Britain at the games in Sochi, Russia, in Alpine Skiing - Slalom and Giant Slalom.

He appeared on the slopes on Wednesday when he took part in the Men’s Slalom.

There was a good solid run from James who made it down the track in 54.84 seconds in the first run which put him into 21st place and into the second run.

He came 15th in the second run making it down the track in 58.59 seconds.

Medals went to Russia’s Alexey Bugaev (Gold), Vincent Gauthier Manuel (Silver) for France and Russia’s Alexander Alyabyev (Bronze).

James will next appear in the men’s Giant Slalom today (Saturday March 15).

Speaking to the British Paralympic Associaton before the Games began, James said he was going to do the best he could, and keep his head clear and focused.

He said: “It means everything to me to be going to Sochi. I have worked so hard all of my life to get there.

“It has gone extremely well this season and I have had a lot of good results, I have been skiing fast and clean and keep remembering the course well, and I have been training a lot off the slopes which has really aided me.

“I am aiming to do the best possible, I can’t really say any position I want, I am focused on doing the best as possible and hopefully that will reflect what place I come.

“I have always been extremely focused for skiing and the game is on really.

“I need to up my progress to get the best result I possibly can.

“There will be a bit of nerves as it is my first paralympics I have been to.

“I have to keep my head clear and think about the race and hopefully all the nerves will go out of the window.”

James has been skiing since the age of four and has represented both Courchevel, where he trains, and his school in able bodied competitions, winning six cups.

He has risen rapidly through the ranks since being recruited to the British Disabled Ski Team and is World Cup qualified in Slalom and Giant Slalom.

In February 2012, James won his first senior medals, coming second in Giant Slalom and third in Slalom at the Italian National Championships.

He finished 11th in his first World Cup Slalom in 2012 and entered his first major championships, the World Championships in La Molina, where he finished 16th in the Giant Slalom. He finished his season by winning his first senior medal, a bronze in Giant Slalom at Chamrousse in France. James is currently ranked second in the world in Slalom and fifth in Giant Slalom in under 18 level.