TT skier Abigail Vieira

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WHEN she was getting her feet wet in the sport of skiing Abigail Vieira would always think about competing at the Winter Olympic Games. Ten years later, the TT teenager is almost guaranteed a spot at both the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics and the 2022 Winter Olympics after her strong performances in alpine skiing recently.

Abigail, now 16, along with her 18-year-old sister Ria, was born to TT couple Richard and Alison Vieira. The family lives just outside Boston in the north-east region of the US and Abigail attends a boarding school named Holderness School in New Hampshire, just north of Boston. On Saturday, Abigail competed at the Devo Alpine Finals.

The teenager, who has been racing since she was six years old, said competing at the Olympics is now on her doorstep and the thought of competing at such an event has given her an extra push to qualify. “I am really looking forward to it,” Abigail said.

“I always remember when I was younger I would always think of myself as going to the Olympics (but) I would never think that it would actually become a possibility, but now it just makes you want to work harder to get there.”

A skier with TT roots is not a regular occurrence and Abigail knows some people may be curious to learn about her journey.

Abigail, who admires American skier Lindsey Vonn in the sport, said, “I guess when people see my name on the start list they are probably a little bit confused on how a person from the Caribbean is skiing, but I really just like to focus on what I am doing when I am racing and if people have questions I’ll obviously talk about TT and how I got into skiing and what it means to me to represent TT. But besides that, during race day or training day I am just focused on getting better and getting ready for the senior Olympics.”

Skiing is predominantly an individual sport, but Abigail said training among her peers is one of her most enjoyable times in the sport. In alpine skiing, competitors have to battle step hills and injuries are common.

Earlier this year, Vonn announced her retirement from the sport saying her body is now “broken beyond repair” because of injuries sustained during crashes. On her injuries Abigail said, “Not major (injuries I have had), but I do remember one time I was trying to make up for a bad first run so I went super hard (the following time) and I fell and I fractured my finger.”

Abigail is thousands of miles away from TT, but the Vieira family is still connected to TT as Richard said they make regular trips home as Abigail’s grandparents live in Trinidad. Richard, who moved to the US to further his studies in 1993, grew up in Diego Martin.

Richard said, “We try to get there (Trinidad) every year, sometimes twice a year. My parents are there, my wife is also from Trinidad...Trinidad is a big part of her (Abigail’s) life and has always been a big part of her life from when she was born to now. She has spent a lot of time in Trinidad.” Richard said the family cooks local dishes so Abigail and her sister can stay connected to TT. Asked what is her favourite food Abigail said, “Roti hands down.”