London, 3 November 2014.  Heather Mills announces her intention to set a Guinness World Record as the fastest disabled speed skier ever.

Heather Mills embarks on one of the biggest challenges of her life by attempting something that has never been done by a disabled woman before.  Heather will make her mark and join the elite list of Guinness World of Record holders.  Heather aims to Speed Ski her way into the record books and be the first disabled woman to reach speeds of over 200km/h.  Speed Skiing started in 1930 and the Austrian, Gustav Lantschner then set the first official record of 105 km/ph in St. Moritz, Austria.

Since then it has become a sport for pure adrenalin seeking alpine athletes.

Speed Skiing is the fastest non-motorised sport on Earth. Acceleration can be from 0 to 100km in less than 3 seconds. The speed track can be up to a kilometer long and the top of the start can reach a gradient steepness of 112% (48degrees).  The vertical drop needed for Heather to reach a speed of 200km/ph, will be between 300 to 340 meters depending on the steepness.  In a speed ski race, the speed is recorded very simply. The difference in altitude between the start and measuring distance is between 200 and 500 meters. The athlete reaches the first 300 to 400 meters of distance at speed, which is measured on the following 100-meter long section (the timing zone). Thus, the competing sports persons comparison is always fairly compared and the fastest athlete wins the competition.

It is essential that the last 200 to 600 meters of the course serves as a braking zone.

The Austrian Speed Ski Team has taken Heather under their wing and are working in unison with Heather to achieve the record next year. Their head coach, Christoph Prüller, who trained the current able bodied world cup Crystal globe overall winner Klaus Schrottshammer to success in 2014 said:

“Heather is an amazingly focused skier, she puts her heart and soul into it and most importantly has no fear, what she is trying to achieve seemed impossible to me when I was told, but now having worked with her and watching how she works consistently on her prosthesis have proved that with her determination anything is possible.  Skiing with a prosthesis is the hardest form of speed skiing ever, you are never 100% sure what your prosthetic leg is doing in a tuck position as it has very little pressure on it, especially when you have a tiny stump as Heather does.

I am an able bodied ex Speed Ski Racer and have reached a speed of 207.16km/ph in 2013 Verbier – so Heather aiming for 200 km/h is an incredible challenge.

Heather’s ski sponsors Atomic and Uvex helmets and goggles along with the Austrian Speed Ski Team are working together to create the specilaised equipment that Heather will need to wear in order, not only to reach her optimum aerodynamic position on 2 skis, but ultimately to remain safe during training and on her record day.  Most important is the ski leg Heather has worked for years on with Abdo Haider of the London Prosthetics Centre.

Abdo says, “I have been a prosthetist for many years and made limbs for cycling, horse riding to Paralympic running challenges but nothing compares to skiing, it is the most difficult sport for an amputee.”

Heather is a daredevil. When she sets her mind to something she achieves it, when many give up she carries on. I fully believe she will achieve her crazy attempt; I admire her. – Franz Klammer, former Austrian Olympic Skier

Heather will have to wear a tight-fitting racing suit made of coated polypropylene, an aerodynamic helmet and body appropriately shaped poles. The Atomic ski boots additionally have a mounted spoiler attached to the back of the boot. The ski suit is then fitted over the spoilers to streamline the whole body. The skis have a little more width compared with normal skis and are 2.25 to 2.40 meters long. They are very difficult to stop in.  Heather is currently designing an aerodynamic helmet with micro cameras and sound equipment so the viewer can see and feel and hear the adrenaline rush experience, as no film has ever shown just how scary and super fast it is.

Christoph Prüller says:

Heather will have to battle against the forces of nature and she must ensure she has the necessary mental and physical capacity to stay focused throughout. The training is basically no different from an able bodied athlete. Luckily Heather is in incredible physical condition after a lifetime of dedication to fitness and she knows the importance of maintaining her already strong pelvic, back and abdominal muscles to be able to hold her position at high speed.

For Heather, Speed Skiing is a very big challenge. With the prosthesis Heather has a great disadvantage compared to the able bodied speed ski athletes.

Whereas able bodied athletes have to deal with boot and ski alignment and waxing and testing, Heather has these plus the special requirements for the prosthesis as it needs to be adjusted again and again, run after run, in the course of the training, the limb also has to be removed for the blood circulation to recover and the necessary changes needed to keep the skis flat. Never mind the tissue damage and pain amputees suffer.

Step-by-step, the aim is to increase the speed in training and to analyse whether skiing at high speeds with the prosthesis causes problems. Any possible occurring problems will need to be analyzed and solutions developed and implemented until the desired speed is reached. Luckily Heather is a natural ability to glide on the snow and that is something that is difficult to teach.

When the athlete is in the aerodynamic position, the pressure distribution changes on the skis, so Heather has to cope with a major challenge in order to lay a safe and quick journey of 200 km/h.

The stimulus for speed is in Heather and the courage you must devote to this project, you have to pay great respect to her.”

A video of Heather to provide an insight into the training required and see why World renowned sculptor Louise Giblin asked to cast Heather to sculpt a bronze torso and dedicate it to her life’s achievements, of which there are many.