Wanaka slalom skier Adam Hall won gold at the Winter Paralympics in Vancouver in 2010, famously getting back up after falling near the finish line to claim the gold medal. A member of the New Zealand disabled ski team since 2005, he will head a three-man team that includes debutantes Carl Murphy (snowboard cross) and Corey Peters (sit ski) at next year's Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. The team is targeting two gold medals at the Paralympics. Nathan Burdon talked with Hall this week about his preparations and his expectations.
Q How would you rate your season so far?
A. It's been a pretty good season, to be honest. We've been tracking as expected and as we wanted to. We've made some good things happen, trained really hard and had some good results throughout the season.
Our No 1 priority is to make sure that we keep that momentum going forward into the northern hemisphere season and continue that campaign towards the games.
Q What has been the highlight results-wise?
A. Obviously it's not every season you get a chance to race at home with the Winter Games, and to have a World Cup [here].
To have a World Cup event here at home for the first time is pretty significant. To win the two slaloms there would be the highlight.
Q What happens in the next phase of your campaign?
A I head away to Colorado this week and continue the build up to Sochi, everything is looking good and we are happy with where we've come over the past season and we will just keep trucking away.
Q What challenges have you had to overcome this season?
A The races we've had have been a good benchmark to see where we are at and how everyone is skiing.
We believe we've made some really good breakthroughs in the technique in skiing and we believe we've got it in us to do what we need to do.
Q It must be nice to have qualified and been confirmed for Sochi this early in the season?
A There are a lot of teams out there that are still fighting to get to the games, for us to be named into a team months out from the games means that we can continue to focus on our buildup and training instead of having to fight for qualification.
Q There are very specific medal expectations around the Paralympic team. Does that put more pressure on the team?
A Absolutely it does, but we are a team that's not there to make up the numbers. We are all very determined to achieve and represent New Zealand to the best level that we can possibly do and to achieve at the highest level possible.
The Paralympics is as high as we go and it's basically our job to turn up to the office, if you like, and perform to the best of our ability. It's something we train for all day, everyday so there shouldn't be any excuses.
Q How does the Adam Hall today differ from the build up to Vancouver?
A My philosophy is that Vancouver was all done on sheer grit and hard work. We've come away from that and training has been about working harder and wiser. That's seemed to pay off in dividends. I think I'm a more mature athlete having had that experience.
The other thing has been to keep injury-free. If you can stay injury-free, be smart about the decisions you make, then you can turn up in good nick going into races.
I believe I'm in the best shape I've ever been heading into the games - even heading into Vancouver. I'm feeing really fit, really healthy, both physically and mentally.
Q You dreamed a lot about standing on the top of the podium before Vancouver, what's driving you this time around?
A It's pretty much exactly the same routines, exactly the same imagery. Not Much changes from an imagery point of view.
Q Snowboarding was your first love and has been introduced to the programme this Paralympic cycle. Did you ever consider switching back?
A If I was to do that I don't think I would last very long because of the event being boarder cross and there's a lot of jumps and berms and all sorts of things involved.
I don't think my body can handle that any more. I guess I'm a snowboarder at heart . . . it would have been cool to go into snowboarding as it's progressed but to go back would have been a bit of a challenge.
Q What does the programme look like looking ahead to Sochi?
A I'm heading to Colorado to build up my campaign and I have a few races starting in December, some internal races and some world cups in Canada and back in the United States.
It will be really good to see where we are at.
In February I'll move to Europe to continue the buildup, do the Europa Cup finals in Austria and then into Switzerland for a holding camp and then we head over to Sochi for the Games.
- The Southland Times