Weybridge skier Ophelia Vesely has gone from young pup to old hand at the English Alpine Skiing Championships. 

The 15-year-old was the youngest participant in an earlier edition by over a year, taken under the wing of her fellow competitors at the tender age of seven. 

Now the Wellington College pupil returns to slopes of Bormio, Italy for an eighth tilt at the national prizes and reflects on a journey that has been fruitful for her nascent career.

“I think it was quite intimidating when I first went at such a young age,” said Vesely, who skis on the dry slope at Sandown Park. 

“I felt like everyone’s mascot! But it was a really fun experience and lots of people were there from my club. 

“It’s a really well-organised event and the resort itself is lovely. The organisers make it really fun with the night slalom and the opening ceremony, they’re really unique.

“In the Super-G you ski on the same piste as World Cup athletes. It’s really cool to know you’ve done the same run as the best in the world.”

The English Alpine Championships, where Olympian Dave Ryding started his career before competing in the World Cup, is one of the biggest annual competitions in the skiing calendar.

The slalom specialist from Surrey took home bronze in the overall category last year, rewarding her consistency across events and throughout an intense week of racing. 

Vesely, who has competed for Great Britain at a number of events in the past, can reflect on prodigious progress and a passion grown from nervous beginnings.

Indeed, she feels she might not even had taken up the sport were it not for the posturings of sisters Cordelia and Miranda. 

“My sisters wanted to join the school skiing team when I was about eight,” she explained.

“We’ve never actually got to race against each other because of the age gap between us but I suppose I’ve always been in competition with them! 

“You could say I was roped into skiing by them, but now I love it!

“I’ve still got the love of the sport and the desire to keep going even with the pressures of schoolwork and exams to handle.

“It’s hard to determine what the future holds but currently I’d like to do it as long as I can and possibly turn it into a career.”

Snowsport England is the national governing body for skiing and snowboarding in England, aiming to inspire as many people as possible to try snow sports. Find out more about Snowsport England’s affiliated clubs, athletes, competitions, coaching and campaigns here: www.snowsportengland.org.uk