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The sky is the limit for Peak District skier

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A high–flying teenager is looking forward to a flipping good gap year as he trains to compete in freestyle skiing competitions at an international level.

Liam Keyes, of Tideswell, has high hopes of qualifying for the Europa Cup and North American Cup with his speciality discipline of skiing, freestyle moguls, in which skiers perform back flips and forward flips.

The 18–year–old said: “It’s really fast–paced. Every skier will tell you they do it for the adrenaline.

“It’s 30 seconds a run and when you get to the bottom you think ‘what an amazing feeling’.”

Liam has been skiing with his family since he was five years old, but decided to take up freestyle moguls after being inspired to do so by neighbour, Ellie Koyander, who was in the Team GB for the sport at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in 2010.

“She said to me ‘why don’t you try moguls?’ and I just loved it from there really and starting doing competitions,” he added.

Liam was already a member of Sheffield Sharks skiing club, but started training especially for moguls by using techniques such as trampolining and water ramping, where by a skier jumps off a ramp into a lake.

He said after lots of practise doing that, performing back flips on actual snow wasn’t so much of a daunting experience.

Having just completed his A–levels – achieving straight As in maths, chemistry and biology – Liam has been accepted onto a medicine course at the University of Sheffield, however he is taking a year out to work on his skiing.

He will be working at Hathersage Pool as a lifeguard as he saves up enough money to travel to either Europe or the USA to train full time later in the year.

Unlike many elite athletics, moguls receives no funding so he is currently looking for sponsorship to help him compete internationally.

Liam’s first competition will be indoors at the European level championships at Chill Factore in Manchester on September 13 and 14. Chill Factore has supported Liam with sponsorship.

He is uncertain at this stage what type of medicine he would like to go into, however he particularly enjoys cardiology.

Liam commented: “I am so excited at the prospect of concentrating full time on my mogul skiing.

“It has been hard to put the time into my studies and reaching the top level in mogul skiing, so I am grateful to the University of Sheffield for deferring my place to allow me to concentrate on my sport and follow this dream.”

To comment on this story online, visit www.matlockmercury.co.uk or www.facebook.com/matlockmercury

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