Ski ace TJ's a record breaker

Tharston's TJ Baldwin rewrote the history books and proved that he is the very best U18 skier in Great Britain by winning all six U18 titles at the British Senior Alpine Ski Championships held in Meribel, France, last week.

Tharston's TJ Baldwin rewrote the history books and proved that he is the very best U18 skier in Great Britain by winning all six U18 titles at the British Senior Alpine Ski Championships held in Meribel, France, last week.

The clean sweep of winning all six titles had never been achieved before in the history of British skiing.

In a hectic schedule of nine races in just eight days, he showed that he was just in a class of his own against his fellow U18 competitors.

The 17-year-old said: “I'm really happy with how the champs went, especially the seniors. To win all six U18 titles feels great, but to be the best junior at the champs and to have two third places in the seniors really puts the icing on the cake.

“I was a bit disappointed to have not finished the junior GS and slalom, but my results in the senior champs make up for it. My goals at the start of the season were to be top 50 in the world for my age and to get on the podium in one event at the seniors.

“Being ranked number 12 in the world in Super G and number 15 in downhill, plus getting on the podium twice in the seniors has really exceeded my expectations.”

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He added “I start my summer training in just over two weeks. I want to be much fitter and stronger for next season so I can maintain my world rankings and really challenge the seniors especially in the speed events. I'm also hoping to get some Europa Cup starts for team GB in both Super G and downhill.”

He ends the season ranked number one junior in GB in Super G and giant slalom, number two in downhill and number three in slalom.

Day one of the championships saw TJ put in an absolutely stunning performance in the Senior Super G race.

He flew down the 1992 Olympic piste to win the U18 Trophy by a staggering 5.15 seconds; he was also the first Junior U21competitor (no award). More importantly he took the bronze medal by finishing third in the senior standings, his first ever podium in the senior champs.

After the race one of the GB Europa Cup team coaches, Mark Lees simply said: “TJ's performance was just world class!”

And so it proved to be as his FIS World ranking points scored from the race now rank him at number 12 in the world for age 17.

With bad weather the following day meaning the cancellation of both downhill training runs, the race schedule had to be quickly changed to make it even more hectic.

Day two of racing again brought brilliant sunshine. After the morning downhill training run, the senior downhill race took place in warm temperatures and softening snow.

On a highly technical course TJ again showed his dominance over his British U18 rivals by skiing a really fast run to win the U18 Trophy by 1.75 seconds. This time he was the second junior and sixth in the senior standings.

The following day of the rescheduled programme saw an early morning start to race the junior downhill competition. Held on the same course as the seniors the previous day, and with very cold overnight temperatures, the course was hard and icy which meant much faster times.

TJ's run was two seconds faster than the senior race and despite a big mistake and almost crashing after the second jump, his time was still fast enough to give him second place in the junior (U21) championships.

The FIS world ranking points that he scored in these two downhill races have also ranked him at number 15 in the world for age 17.

That evening saw the weather again deteriorate for the senior slalom event, staged over two separate runs on two different courses. In falling snow TJ was easily the quickest U18 competitor on the first run and had put himself in contention for another top-three finish in the senior standings by laying in sixth position.

The second run was held in almost impossible conditions with heavy snow and thick mist enveloping the course. TJ skied the most inspired slalom run of his life to come out of the gloom and win the U18 title by 2.15 seconds.

He was also the first junior and had made up the three places to finish third in the senior standings and take another podium position. Speaking after the race, TJ said “This is a huge surprise and bonus for me. My slalom form has been shocking this season, and I have really struggled to complete any races. To get third place in the senior's is brilliant and a great boost. To stand on the podium next to Alain Baxter is great. Everything just seemed to come together at the right time!”

With no let-up in the race programme the next day was also a double race day with the junior super G in the morning followed by the senior super combined event in the afternoon (super combined is a super G and a one run slalom).

In the Super G, TJ proved that this is his best event and that there are no junior skiers in Britain who can match his speed. He stormed down the course to win the British junior title for the second year running and also give him the lead in the U18's going into the slalom leg of the senior super combined.

The slalom course was a long tough test in softening snow conditions. Again TJ held his nerve and put in a determined run to win his fourth U18 title by 3.51 seconds. He was again the first junior and was placed fifth in the senior standings.

The final event of the senior championships, the giant slalom (GS), took place the following day. The GS is again staged over two separate runs on two different courses, combining both times.

On two long and demanding courses TJ showed great maturity and strength to easily win the U18 title by a massive 4.22 seconds and complete the clean sweep of all the U18 titles. He was also first equal junior and fourth equal in the senior standings with fellow GB team member Pete Whelan.

TJ's results in the senior champs meant that he easily took the U18 overall combined title with five first places. He was also top Junior (U21) with four first places and one seconnd place.

Most amazingly he was placed fourth in the senior overall standings with two third places, one fourth, one fifth, and one sixth place. He missed third place overall by just 2½ points.

The last two days competition of the week saw the conclusion of the British Junior Championships with the Slalom and GS events. Unfortunately TJ crashed out in both these races. Despite this he still finished second equal in the junior overall combined standings after his first place in the Super G and second place in the downhill and was also in the winning Junior Best Club team (British Ski Academy).

TJ said: “I want to really thank all my sponsors, especially Sunfold systems of Wymondham, Chillspeed of Diss and the Ski Club of Great Britain who all give me financial support without which I would not be able to continue training full time with the GB team.”