Ski ace TJ at home in snow

Viv ThomasNorfolk's young ski star TJ Baldwin is used to hurtling down snow-covered mountains in pursuit of titles.But last week the 19-year-old was also able to tramp around in the white stuff near his family home in Tharston.Viv Thomas

Norfolk's young ski star TJ Baldwin is used to hurtling down snow-covered mountains in pursuit of titles.

But last week the 19-year-old was also able to tramp around in the white stuff near his family home in Tharston.

Britain's number one junior ski racer returned from a highly-successful two weeks of cup racing in Canada with a silver medal and three bronzes in his bag - and got the surprise of finding England snowbound.

'When I came back from Canada and saw the snow it was really strange - it's really cold as well,' he said. 'Normally I take off from no snow and land in snowy countries!'


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Ironically, he had gone over to Canada to compete in the North American Cup competitions (the level just below World Cup) as there had been a lack of snow in Europe's Alpine countries in the past month.

After summer training in Chile, TJ had been in Austria since October where there was 'some good, really early snow'.

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But more recently the situation had changed radically. 'Races have been cancelled because of no snow in the Alpine nations so I went to Canada, the cup circuit, and I skied really well,' explained TJ.

He gained four top 12 overall positions and won the silver and three bronzes in the junior (under 21) category. He also scored his best world ranking points in Super G, Slalom and Super Combined which meant he moved up to 12th in the lists last week.

He said: 'It was really good. I certainly wasn't expecting to come home with four medals from these races. Scoring my best-ever FIS points in three different events is really pleasing and moving up the world rankings will give me better start numbers and conditions in future races.'

Asked what his aim for 2010 was, he said: 'My main goal was to qualify for the World Juniors - and I have qualified because of Canada so am really happy about that.

'My Super G is really going well for me and hopefully it will continue all the way through until the World Junior Champs in February. I want to try and get into the Super Giant Slalom top five, hopefully a medal. My world ranking is 12th in the world juniors so it's realistic.

'Ultimately my goal is definitely to get to the Olympics - hopefully in Sochi, Russia, in 2014,' he added.

The former Long Stratton High School pupil, who first learnt to ski at the dry slope in Trowse, is now at home for Christmas but returns to Europe on New Year's Day to start his Europa Cup race programme at the Lauberhorn Downhill course at Wengen in Swtzerland.

TJ's main sponsors are doors and windows firm Sunfold of Wymondham and refrigeration company Chillspeed of Diss. He also gets a grant from the Norfolk Sports and Cultural Foundation.

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