From NAS Dubai to UK National Ski Programme

Nine year old Rio Sharman from Nord Anglia International School Dubai, has been accepted into an elite training programme with National level coaches, on a pathway to Junior GB selection...
From NAS Dubai to UK National Ski Programme
By Veathika
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LET'S GO

9-year-old Rio Sharman, a resident of Dubai, wakes up at 6am every morning and is at ski training by 8am. She trains for almost six hours a day as she has been selected to be on the Great Britain Ski Team programme.

A student at Nord Anglia International School (NAS) Dubai, Rio trains at Ski Dubai and in Austria during school holidays.

Her father Mark Sharman, who set up the NAS Ski Club, which has grown to an impressive 220 members, hopes that Rio will get into the GB Academy full time in two years time, when she will be permanently based in Austria. 

"During the next 2 years [from this Sept onwards], Rio will be expected to spend 2-3 weeks per school term in camp in Austria and other European destinations, during which, her schooling curriculum and output will be overseen by NAS and delivered and supervised by the fully qualified Academy teachers,” Mark explained.

We talk to the young athlete and find out about her love for the sport, schooling while training and the challenges she faces...

When did you start skiing?

Rio: I started skiing at Ski Dubai in Sept 2013, I was 5 at the time. I joined a learn to ski group after school.  I loved it so much that I couldn't wait until the next lesson, I progressed very quickly. In February 2014, I went to the Italian Alps with my parents and had my first race, this was awesome.  It helped me realise that ski racing was for me!! 

What sort of commitment does it take to be part of the GB programme?

Rio: I am 9 now, and to get into an elite ski racing programme, I needed to show my coaches I have commitment and can push myself on the slopes. Of course being technically talented is really important, as is being aggressive and fast in races.  I'm very lucky to be able to work with some of the best national level coaches around, who continue to help develop and guide me. 

All these things are important I guess, but overall, it's hard work and commitment that really counts. Even at 9 I have to give up a lot to ski regularly!

Describe your typical day?

Rio: Its different when I am in Dubai and in training camp in the Alps. When in Dubai, I train 4-6 hours a week at Ski Dubai evenings and weekends with my coaches, in 1 to 1 and race group sessions. However when a national level coach visits Ski Dubai, like Stephen Edwards, I am given permission by the school to spend the week out of school and train with him for 4-5 hours a day Monday to Friday

When I was in training camp in the Alps over Easter, I had to wake up at 6am and have a high carb breakfast of breads and cereals. Then I had to prepare my kit and do some stretching and warm up exercises ready for the days skiing. We were out on the slopes by 8.30am, and coach Chemmy Alcott took me and the other U10's out for free ski on red and black runs, and also took us off piste. We then stopped for lunch between 12 and 1 pm and were back on the slopes again race training until 3 pm.

At 4pm the whole squad met up in the gym for team exercises, fitness and games for an hour, before our daily slope video analysis with the coaches at 5.30 pm.  After that it was dinner, free time and bed by 8 pm.


Rio Sharman at Ski Dubai

How do you manage to do school work with all the training?

Rio: Nord Anglia School Dubai really understands the needs of performing elite level athletes, and are fully supportive of those needs.  For me, this means spending some school time away in the mountains and occasionally at Ski Dubai. However, when I hit U14 level, there may be a chance I will be boarding full time in Austria in a GB ski race academy, from where I would push on for international honours.  NAS are already aware of this and are fully behind it. 

As regards to school work, this is the most important thing (at least that's what my mum and dad say!), and I have to do it as part of my daily routine when away from schoolMy teachers provide the work to be done, and mum and dad make sure I do it! 

If I do get the chance to enter the Academy full time in two years, then NAS would co-ordinate with the Academy's School Liaison Officer and I would follow the schools work curriculum via the Academy's full time teaching staff, up to the age of 16 or 18. I guess the good thing is that school work is also the most important element of the Academy too, so I would be well looked after on that front.

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