British celebrity Heather Mills – ex-wife of Beatle Sir Paul McCartney – is coming to Queenstown for the Winter Games as she pursues her Olympic dream.
The charity campaigner and former model, who lost part of her left leg in a road accident in 1993, is now part of the British Disabled Ski Team.
Mills, 45, will race in two prestigious World Cup-rated Adaptive Slalom events at Queenstown’s Coronet Peak next month – she is aiming to secure qualification for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
While the $50-million divorcee no longer takes a regular battering from the British tabloids, she’s taken some big knocks on the slopes.
The talented skier recovered from a badly broken shoulder, broken thumb and injury to her amputated leg to last year win gold at the Austrian Super G Ski Speed Race. Mills followed that with four gold medals at the USA National Championships World Cup and two golds on Aspen’s formidable Tiehack speed course.
Audi Quattro Winter Games boss Arthur Klap confirms she’s competing in two separate International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Adaptive Slalom World Cup races in Queenstown on August 22 and 23. It’s the same discipline which star Kiwi adaptive ski racer Adam Hall dominated at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Klap says: “She’s been in the British team for a few years now. We’ve got a really strong British team coming out. It does attract widespread attention to the event.”
Mills and the British team are expected to spend six weeks training in New Zealand.
The Games’ two adaptive World Cup events are followed by two IPC World Cups in Super G and Super Combined at Mt Hutt in Canterbury for the last week of August – Mills is also expected to compete in those.
The two Mt Hutt events are badged Winter Games NZ associated events, organised by Snow Sports NZ. A further two IPC World Cups in Australia in September means scores of adaptive athletes will prepare here for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics.
Klap’s delighted to see not just the British but large adaptive teams coming from the United States, Russia, Canada and Australia.
Klap says having 40 to 50 competitors in alpine Paralympic events is a decent field: “But we’re going to go well past that, we might well get up to 80, which is a huge field.”