Kenya's first speed skier now want to go professional after representing Kenya in 2018 Winter Olympics

Unlike other skiers from Africa and outside the traditional Alpine skiing nations who are normally seen more as a novelty than equal competitors, Ms Simader is no pushover.

The 18-year old skier is set to be Kenya's only representative in this year’s Olympics scheduled to take place between Feb 9 and Mar 9 2018.

After that Sabrina who is aiming for Gold hopes to go professional.

“I want to give a good performance that helps me to become a professional.”

And she has already taken her first steps on the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit and harbours ambitions to establish herself as a professional.

“Because I‘m a Kenyan, that makes me exotic and some people think I can’t ski well,” she told Reuters after competing in the Super G at St Moritz, the second World Cup race of her career.

She has already conquered the slalom and giant slalom races and now competes in the more challenging and dangerous speed disciplines, downhill and Super G.

“At the beginning, people looked at me -- okay, a black skier always gets looked at -- but when your performances get better and you improve, you win them over,” she said.

So determined and consistent has she been that she has already winning respect on the International Ski Federation (FIS) circuit.

In 2016, she competed at the Winter Youth Games and last year’s she took part in the world skiing championships in St Moritz.

It has been a smooth ride for Sabrina though and even as she is preparing for the Winter Olympics she has to contend with serious manpower shortage.

While other teams on the FIS circuit boast an impressive staff of coaches, fitness trainers, doctors, physiotherapists and media officers, Sabrina has only team members who are also her biggest fans: Simader, her mother Sarah and coach Christian Reif.

“In our small team, it’s not easy, because our trainer is training, he services the skis, he organises everything,” she said.

Her coach who works full-time for the team is however upbeat and confident of overcoming the odds.

“We can’t work as professionally as the big teams who have three of four trainers, physiotherapists and so on,” said Reif.

“Sometimes we cooperate with other teams such as Austria and Germany. We also have some partners (sponsors), without them our programme would not be possible.”

Simader will become only the second Kenyan to compete at the Winter Games after Philip Boit, a former middle distance runner who participated in cross-country skiing at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Games.

“My roots are Kenyan but I have the Austrian mentality,” Sabrina said.

Sabrina Simader was born in Kenya, but  moved to Austria with her mother, she began skiing when she was 3.

“I didn’t live there but I‘m very proud of my Kenyan roots. I‘m looking forward to representing Kenya enormously. The Olympics have been my dream since I was small.”

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