Racing to an opportunity
National champion ski racer Taylor Rapley is about to open a new chapter in her athletic career but the talented Queenstowner promises she is not turning her back on New Zealand for good.
The 21-year-old leaves tomorrow for the United States where she has been awarded a valuable scholarship to study and race at the University of Vermont.
Having secured a spot in the best university ski team in America, Rapley knows the big challenge will be retaining it.
"I have three years of eligibility over there but it's all dependant on how fast I ski and how good my grades are. I will be the underdog but it will be good for me. I will have to step it up to stay on the team," she said.
Excited about the new opportunities, Rapley said she was really looking forward to being part of a successful racing team.
"I've been training mostly with boys and joining other teams so it will be good to train with girls who are way better than me.
"I'm really excited. It will be a good change."
And she was looking forward to facing different kinds of expectations from team mates and coaches.
"There is pressure to perform for your team and not just yourself."
Lectures start on January 7, so Rapley plans to train in Colorado for a month before her gruelling new schedule.
"We race every weekend all over the East Coast and rest of the country and we can train up to five days a week but we also have to be full time in class."
Rapley, who is a second-year Massey University psychology student, hopes to eventually graduate from Vermont, reduce her world ranking and FIS (International Ski Federation) points and represent New Zealand at the Olympics.
She said she had no regrets about her decision to turn down the opportunity to compete at the World Championships in Austria in February 2013 and said it was more important she focused on performing for the Vermont team.
"The University of Vermont is giving me more opportunity in one winter than anything I have ever been given here.
"I'm just doing what's best for me," she said.