SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP WON BY 'RETIRED' SKIER

A FORMER Olympic skier from Ladybank won the Scottish championship after coming out of retirement to help the Scots' team.

Gareth Trayner, of Church Lane, who has won numerous Scottish and British championships, was asked to race one more time to try and boost the Scottish team's score.

Despite not having skied competitively for a year, Gareth (24) actually went on to claim the Scottish title once more!

Thanking the local community and in particular former Fife Herald correspondent for Ladybank, Alistair Milne, for all of the support over the past 15 years, Gareth said he had been extremely grateful to everyone for the enthusiam with which his career has been followed.

Learning to ski at the age of four in Glencoe, the Strathallan school pupil's talent for the sport was instantly recognised and encouraged.

Making the decision to leave school at 16 to ski full-time with the Scottish Alpine Ski team seemed the natural route to follow, but looking back Gareth told the Fife Herald he isn't so sure he could make such a big decision now.

After staying with the Scottish team for two years, he was selected to compete with the British Alpine Ski team where he stayed for the next six years.

In 2002 he took 22nd place in the slalom in the Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, and over the years competitions have taken him around the world.

But he said increased pressure from ski coaches and other internal politics forced him to make the difficult decision and retire.

His retirement sparked a series of approaches by various ski clubs and schools in Britain and abroad to become a coach.

Until recently he declined the offers, but eventually relented and took up the position of coach of the English Kandahar Ski Club.

Amongst the events he took them to compete in was the Scottish Championships which had re-located from the Nevis Range to Courchevel in France due to a lack of snow in Scotland.

It was there, just the night before the slalom at a team captain/managers meeting, that Gareth was asked by the Scottish coaches to compete in the race.

"Although I hadn't competed for a year, my racing points were still better than any of the competitors who had entered," he explained.

"If I finished within the top 10, with a respectable time, my points would go towards helping the other racers reduce their points.

"This is very important to ski racers, especially at the end of a season when they require low points to qualify for selection to any of the national teams or, in some cases, be reselected."

With the blessing of the Kandahar club he agreed to take part, and wearing borrowed skis, a crash helmet, shin guards and clothing inappropiate for an aero dynamic performance, was greeted by rapturous applause from spectators who appreciated his retirement comeback, he took the title.

It was also fortunate that as organisers of the event, his parents Tony and Maureen were also there to witness his success.

Although he would consider returning to ski coaching sometime in the future, Gareth is now concentrating his efforts on building a golf travel business he has set up with his brother Paul in Cupar's Ferguson Square.