Press and Journal Press Clipping

Press and Journal November 8th 2011

Managed to get front page of the Sports section before Tiger Woods!!

Source: Press & Journal (Aberdeen)

Country: UK Date: Tuesday 8, November 2011 Page: 22

Words by Stephen Kasiewics

Akass’s winding road to Olympics

HIGHLAND SNOWBOARD CROSS RACER HAS SIGHTS ON RUSSIA AND KOREA AFTER SELECTION FOR BRITISH TEAM BY STEPHEN KASIEWICZ Highland snowboard cross racer Tom Akass is prepared formany twistsandturns ashesets out on a journey aimed at qualifying for the Winter Olympics. The 23-year-old, from Cannich, near Drumnadrochit, was selected for the British snowboard cross team after claiming four gold medals in varying disciplines while representing Edinburgh’s Napier University. Akass won the British university dry slope championships in 2009 and 2010 and now wants to make his mark in the elite ranks of the snowboard cross event. The photography graduate trained with the British squad for the first time in Zermatt, Switzerland last month and will compete in International Ski Federation (FIS) snowboard cross races at the start of next year. The former Glenurquhart High School pupil combines working in a cafe in Edinburgh city centre with teaching youngsters at the Midlothian snowsports centre in the capital. Finding the money to compete at the highest level will be a challenge but he is determined to make the British Olympic team. The 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia and the 2018 games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are the targets. He said: “There are many different types of snowboarding but snowboard cross is probably the most exciting discipline to watch. “It is four or sixcompetitors going down a course at the same time over jumps and corners. “I love all types of snowboarding but this is one I am particularly good at. “You need an incredible level of physical fitness to compete at the highest level. “Mental strength is important as well, as you are not going to win every race. “If you crash you have to get straight back up as someone else could have fallen further on. “Someone can crash into you without you knowing it. There is a little bit of luck involved, but it is a huge adrenalin rush. It can be dangerous. “Luckily, one of my sponsors is a body armour company.” He added: “No one has really heard of the event here other than when watching it in the Olympics. “In France, as well as across Europe and in North America, it is very big and taken very seriously. “I aim to do as well as I can in FIS and Europa Cup races this seasonandonce you get a certain number of points you go to world cup level. From there, I aim to make the Olympic team. “I am looking at 2018 in South Korea more than 2014 in Russia. “Funding is a struggle but if you set your heart on something and work hard enough you can do it. “I don’t have world ranking yet but I hope to build that up after the first race inFrance in January next year.”