Willows reaches quarter finals in Universiade Skier Cross

After the qualification round Laurence Willows of Great Britain managed to qualify 16th in the Universiade Ski Cross event. Willows has been training hard and raising money for many months to compete in Almaty, Kazakhstan for the Winter Universiade, one of only two multi-sport winter events open to senior athletes. 

Laurence was pleased with his top 16 qualification: “I was pretty happy with qualification. Before my run and the games, my coach (Ian Findlay) and I wanted to secure a green bib (top 16) from qualification to ensure I would get the green bib in the round of 32. With a few little mistakes I still managed to finish 16th which gave me the green bib for finals day, giving me second lane choice.”

The Portsmouth University student was up against Merenkov of Russia and Kerenek of the Czech Republic in the first round of the day. It was a great effort by the Brit as he managed to qualify in second place ahead of Kerenek. This meant he was through to the quarter finals.

Willows then had a tough draw against Merenkov again and Fromm of Switzerland, who both eventually reached the final. Willows finished fourth in his quarter final and didn’t progress further in the tournament as a result. Ranked 16th, it was just about the right result for Willows, who will use this experience to race in the World Junior Championships later this season.

The Bromley skier said the international experience was like no other: “The event has been incredible. The support off and on the hill helped my performance massively. With some ongoing issues with my calves, my Physio (Leigh) was able to support me constantly on and off the hill.

“The guys at Headquarters helped me with media coverage and everything generally when I was on and off the hill, which was also great. I certainly perform better on the big stage knowing people at home were watching live, that helped push me to perform even better.”

Going to Kazakhstan for the first time also added to the experience: “It is certainly a different experience being in Kazakhstan as it’s my first time in Asia. The 45 minute journey to the mountain meant I could see a fair chunk of the country daily.”

After the Universiade, Willows will return to Portsmouth to study, but his ski cross season has not ended quite yet: “Next is a lot of university work to catch up on and back to the gym. I hope to qualify for the World Junior Championships again this year, with it being my last Junior Championships.”