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Onwards & Upwards: Army Veteran Para-Skier Sets Sights On Beijing

A wounded former British Army staff sergeant has spoken about his next steps, after missing out on a place on the start line at this year's...

A wounded former British Army staff sergeant has spoken about his next steps, after missing out on a place on the start line at this year's Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang by seconds.

Steve Arnold, who served in the Army for 16 years and completed tours of Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Iraq, had his life turned upside down in Afghanistan in 2011 when he stood on an IED and lost both legs above the knee.

He found solace and inspiration from being at Headley Court rehabilitation centre, however, where he was introduced to adaptive sport and the military charity Help for Heroes.

Headley Court

The war veteran is now part of Great Britain's ever-growing Para-Nordic skiing squad, with it announced last week that British Ski and Snowboard & Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK) has merged its Olympic and Paralympic teams into one programme.

The move means Para-athletes will soon able to benefit from Olympic coaches and research and innovation projects.

Steve was moments away from featuring in Pyeongchang but in the end, it was his team-mate and good friend Scott Meenagh, who flew the flag for Great Britain. Steve told Forces Network:

"I found out last minute, unfortunately... that I didn't quite make the team but I was over the moon for Scott and he definitely deserved to go."

"It was great to see him out there and what he achieved out there for himself and the team."

Steve and Scott spent a lot of last year together, with some time in Florida on the roads and in the sun.

Training doesn't stop for winter athletes just because it's summer - not even in a heatwave.

He's now looking to make improvements, in discussion with his GB coaches. He said:

"[I'm] trying to get stronger... [and get] good core stability... [and] that explosive power which I need to get up those hills when I'm skiing."

He added that he's been working on the water with British Canoeing:

"You need to put a lot of power down in the boat to move it in the water really quickly and that's what I need for the skiing.

"I need that 40 seconds [of] explosive power when I'm racing to get up and down those hills."

An added incentive is that he's come across some of his former military colleagues, Nikki Paterson and Nick Beighton:

The GB Para-Nordic team regularly visit Oberhof, in Germany, to make the most of the indoor tunnel there.

Para-Nordic skier Steve Arnold

The two-kilometre track of cross-country skiing trails will no doubt be well-used over the next Paralympic cycle. 

Away from the skiing, though, it's also a busy year ahead for Steve.

He's got fatherhood on the horizon, while he's also the Invictus Games athlete representative on Team UK's delegation board.

But mixing it up in training is keeping him firmly focused on team selection and success in Beijing in four years time.

Cover image courtesy of Help For Heroes.

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