When ski racer Jade Etherington and her guide Caroline Powell approached us at Thule for sponsorship, we jumped at the chance to help out this inspirational sports duo on their way to the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi. … 

It was Caroline Powell, ex -Team England member and FIS Ski Racer and now guide to Jade Etherington, who thought that Thule would be a great fit for their mission. Caroline has been familiar with Thule all her life, as her family uses Thule products for transporting their sports gear. She has also frequently seen Thule’s ski carrying products around the dry ski slopes in the UK. At Thule we want to enable active lives for as many people as possible, so helping Jade and Caroline in their quest to get to the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi was a given.

22-year-old Jade Etherington is an inspirational sportswoman who has come a long way in a short period of time. An amateur skier at age 17, she rapidly lost her eyesight due to a genetic condition called Axenfield’s syndrome, leaving her with less than 5% vision in each eye. Despite what most might think, this didn’t stop Jade from skiing. ”I use my skiing as a distraction from losing my eyesight, in a way it has helped me cope with the sight loss. I see it as something positive that has come from something negative.”

In the same year that she had to cope with this sight loss, Jade decided to take part in the British Disabled Ski Team’s squad trials. She was offered a place and soon after she truly caught the racing bug. Since then, she has been competing in highly ranked races all over Europe and has achieved a podium position in nearly every race she’s competed in.

Helping her along the way is Caroline Powell, who was selected to become Jade’s guide earlier this year. “My relationship with Jade is all about trust”, explains Caroline. “On the slopes, I race ahead and tell Jade via our bluetooth headsets what to expect on the course, about the weather conditions and the terrain.”

Jade and Caroline’s mission is to win a medal for Great Britain at the Paralympic Winter Games in alpine ski racing. To help them attain their goal, Thule has sponsored Jade and Caroline with a range of top-quality products, including the Thule WingBar Edge roof rack, the Thule Xtender 739 ski carrier, Thule Easy-fit Snow Chains, Thule Crossover Carry-On suitcases, and Thule Gauntlet 13″ MacBook Pro Attachés.

“The ski-carrier is fantastic for transporting our precious cargo to races across Europe. It is very expensive to fly by plane when you have some much outsized baggage as we do. Besides, you never know how the luggage is going to be handled at the airport. Going over by car, using Thule’s snow chains, ski carriers, and luggage solutions has made things much cheaper for us. Moreover, we know for sure that our gear is safe”, says Caroline.

“Not only do we know that our gear is being transported in the best possible condition”, adds Jade, “it also empowers us to be more independent athletes, as we’re not reliant on others for transport. It has helped us in building our morale too, as we can now choose when and where we want to train, rather than having to go to over-used slopes close to airports.”

When asked what their favourite piece of Thule gear is, they’re unanimous: “the Thule Crossover suitcases, we love them! Of course we still have to travel by plane to get over to other continents”, Jade explains. “For our upcoming trip to Canada for example, the Crossovers are perfect. As we’re restricted to 25 kilos of hold luggage only, it’s hard to fit everything in. The Crossovers are a perfect carry-on size with loads of luggage space. Caroline adds “and we can now put our boots in our carry-on luggage, which is a very safe feeling as the Crossovers protect them perfectly”.

Both of them were surprised by Thule’s wide product range. “I never knew that Thule did iPad cases, for example, but they are great” says Caroline “and we would never have guessed that we would use them so often”. “There are things just you don’t think about when you focus on skiing all the time”, says Jade “but it’s great to not have to worry about your laptop, when you’re driving on rough terrains in order to reach the best slopes, because it is protected by a top quality hard top case”.

Thule is proud to sponsor Jade and Caroline in their mission to win at Sochi and will be there to protect their precious equipment all the way. A last word from Jade: “Knowing that there will be no damage to our gear gives us one less thing to worry about and will make us able to focus on the job at hand – to bring home that medal!”