An Interview With: Matt Short

Matt is a British Parasnowsport athlete, who lost his leg following a bone cancer diagnosis 10 years ago. Determined not to fall out of love with sport Matt, who hails from Kent, started skiing competitively in November 2012, as an independent athlete in what was then known as the British Disabled Ski Team.

At first Matt was juggling full-time studies and skiing, before juggling the sport with a job in the legal sector. Nowadays, as a member of the 2016/17 Podium Foundation squad of British Parasnowsports (which succeeded the aforementioned British Disabled Ski Team), he’s recently qualified for the Europa Cup in slalom. This was after a very strong performance at the opening races of the season in the Netherlands.

bagSOLO have managed to catch up with Matt in between his current qualifiers for the Winter Olympics.

Where in the world are you competing now? And how are you getting on?

I’m currently back in the UK but during January we will be training and competing in Switzerland and France. My performance in competition isn’t there just yet, but we’ve been somewhat disrupted early this season with some adverse weather causing race cancellations, and I had to manage a niggle or two just before Christmas which made things a bit trickier. All in all, a solid start to the season and now I need to push on.

Tell us about your different ski disciplines and what is your favourite?

I ski all five ski disciplines – from the technical and turnier slalom and giant slalom events, up to speed events – being downhill and Super-G – where we travel much quicker across the ground. For me, Super-G is a really fun discipline – it’s fast, thrilling, slightly scary at times, and it suits my disability. As a below-knee amputee, making fast turns and hopping from edge to edge of the ski is harder work, so a discipline where the transitions are smoother is more comfortable.

How long have you been skiing competitively for?

This is my sixth season – I started in November 2012. I was at university at the time and then moved into London to work, so I have always balanced skiing with “real life”. This is my first season being a full time athlete and it’s been great fun.

What does a typical day look like when you are training?

That depends on where we are! If we are away on snow, we’re normally up early for warm ups and breakfast, before jumping on the lift or gondola to the training pistes. Once we get there, we will be focusing on skiing for three to four hours (with short breaks to refuel and hydrate throughout) before lunch. After lunch, we will do a recovery session, which will either be yoga and stretching, or more conditioning based exercises and strength work – we do the latter less often as we are mainly looking just to maintain the levels of strength and fitness we have when we come into the season as opposed to improving that aspect of performance when training on snow. We normally have an hour or so of downtime, some video analysis then dinner and after that normally I can’t wait for my bed!

Where is your favourite ski destination and why?

I grew up skiing with my parents in Soll, Austria, which is part of the Ski Welt region near Kitzbuhel. It’s always had a fun mix of runs from nice and easy blues up to demanding and challenging blacks, with some cracking places to grab a hot chocolate or a snack around the region. I haven’t skied there for a while, but I will go back soon I’m sure.

What are your ambitions for 2018?

2018 in winter snowsports is all about the Olympics and Paralympics in South Korea this coming February and March – and I’m focused on qualifying to represent the British team at the moment. I have a few weeks left to make the qualification criteria, so for now I’m purely focused on that. If I’m lucky enough to be selected, then for me my aim will be to make sure I do my best at the biggest event in Para Alpine Skiing.