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Wilson wants to put SA on the winter sports map

By Mark Etheridge

Just being part of the greatest snow sport spectacle, the Winter Olympics is a dream come true… but Connor Wilson is hoping he can inspire his fellow South Africans at PyeongChang this week.

Twenty-one-year-old Wilson is Team SA’s lone competitor and he has support from fellow Alpine skier Sive Speelman (a technical official at these Games) and chef de mission Peter Pilz.

Wilson took time out for the icy slopes of South Korea for a quick update.

‘The moment I received word that I would be an Olympian, I was ecstatic,’ he tells Team SA.

‘So many athletes around the world only ever dream of competing at the Olympics, and I couldn’t believe that I would have the chance.

‘I’m so proud to be representing South Africa, and I hope that I can make the country proud through a solid performance in my races.

On his race expectations he’s realistic but also hoping the race will be more that just about him.

‘Although I’m not sure how difficult the race will be, I’m hoping to place above the athletes from other developing nations. My goal is to put South Africa on the map as a serious contender in winter sports. I’ll be doing both the Slalom and Giant Slalom race.’

His events are on Sunday and next Thursday.

‘I haven’t skiied at this venue and obviously snow and weather conditions always play a part in an athlete’s performance. I’ve been training up on the mountain every day that I have been here in order to get used to the conditions.

On having Speelman on board he says: ‘We know each other from Tiffindell in the Eastern Cape and have become good friends over the years. It’s really nice to have him here supporting me.

Once the snow has settled on PyeongChang Wilson plans on just getting better and better

‘My long term ambitions are to continue developing my skills as a ski racer, and hopefully compete in future competitions such as the World Ski Championships and the next Winter Olympics. Although it’s difficult to train and race while studying [veterinary science at the University of Vermont], it’s a great passion of mine which I would like to continue over the next few years.’

Picture of technical official Speelman, chef de mission Pilz and flagbearer Wilson courtesy of Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images