8 Mar 2014

Kelly Gallagher: skiing for Paralympics gold

Competing in five Alpine skiing events for the visually impaired, Kelly Gallagher is ParalympicsGB’s best chance for a medal at Sochi as the team goes for its first-ever gold.

Kelly Gallagher (Getty)

Kelly Gallagher has oculocutaneous albinism, an inherited condition that affects the pigment in the skin, hair and eyes, writes Becky Horsbrugh. She has had poor eyesight from birth and was registered blind as a child – although she does have partial sight.

The 28-year-old tried skiing for the first time at the relatively late age of 17 during a family holiday in Andorra but was soon hooked, and just four years later made her international debut at the Winter Games in New Zealand in 2009.

This is the Bangor native’s second Paralympic Games. She was a late call-up for the GB squad in Vancouver in 2010 and just missed out on the medals there, finishing fourth in the giant slalom and sixth in the slalom, along with her guide Claire Robb.

She also made history in Canada by being the first athlete from Northern Ireland to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Best prospects

Later that year she teamed up with a new guide, Charlotte Evans, who will also be her partner in Sochi. The pair have performed well together. Just five months after teaming up, they won silver in the slalom and bronze in the giant slalom at the World Championships in Sestriere, Italy.

The pair also won a gold medal in slalom at the European Cup finals the same year, and claimed a further two silvers and two bronzes at the 2013 World Championships in La Molina, Spain.

Gallagher and Evans are probably ParalympicsGB’s best medals prospects for Sochi as the team looks to claim its first-ever gold medal at the games. They won the test event in the Russian resort last year and are competing in all five skiing disciplines.

In action

8 March: downhill

10 March: super-G

11 March: super combined

14 March: slalom

16 March: giant slalom

Becky Horsbrugh is a producer with Channel 4 News