Ten-year-old Sunshine Coast student Ben Gannon achieved three gold medals at the recent Inter Schools Snowsports Championships, after relocating to the Snowy Mountain for three months over this winter.
Ben, in Year 5, is home for spring after attending school in the Snowy Mountains and training with the Perisher Winter SportsClub from June to August.
He won three gold medals, amongst many other medal placings for individual and group races, in the State and National Inter-Schools Mogul and Alpine races (Division 5). He also won gold medals in two NSW Junior series Mogul events for his age group.
Mogul races are Ben’s favourite race, and involve free skiing on a steep, heavily bumpy course at great speed with technical turns and aerial manoeuvres to finish.
Ben said he was happy to be home and had been welcomed back to Flinders with open arms.
“My friends and teachers at Flinders have given me lots of support, by sending me encouraging messages when I was in the Snowy Mountains and by welcoming me and making it easy for me to return to school,” said Ben.
“They even congratulated me in assembly and made me wear my medals.”
Flinders Principal Stuart Meade said Ben was a wonderful role model for young people.
“Ben’s success and commitment at such a young age is inspiring to observe, and we congratulate him for his achievements in his chosen sport of skiing,” Mr Meade said.
“With the support of his family and our College, Ben has embraced the challenge of joining a new school over the winter and training diligently to compete in state and national championships.
“Ben’s enthusiasm for skiing and his determination to grasp new opportunities demonstrate to other young people how a passion can enrich your life.
“Flinders is committed to encouraging our students to embrace opportunities and to excel in learning and life, and we are pleased to support Ben as he grows in confidence and shows great persistence and resilience.”
Ben first started skiing at age three while living in England and taking ski holidays to France and Austria with his family.
“I am passionate about skiing because it is something I have enjoyed ever since I was little,” Ben says.
“My goal is to one day go to the Olympics and ski for Australia in the Moguls competition.
“What I most enjoyed about being at Perisher for the winter was making lots of new friends and being up amongst the mountains almost every day,” he says. “The most challenging things were getting up early to train on rainy and very cold days, and it was also hard when I didn’t do as well as I hoped in an event because I felt like I’d let my coaches down.” Ben credits his coaches for their “amazing” mentoring and for teaching him to do his best at every opportunity.
“My coaches Steffan, Katie and Chappie helped me to improve my skiing. They also taught us important lessons about being a gracious loser and about being pleased for others in our group when they achieved in races.”
Ben is grateful to his family for their support, as his parents took turns to be with him in the Snowy Mountains while also looking after his brother and sister who remained at home on the Sunshine Coast.
In 2019, Ben will train for Moguls races, which includes a program of trampolining, gymnastics and water ramps t practise jumping into water before trying his manoeuvres on snow.
Ben’s advice to other students wanting to chase their goals is “to do something you love, to never give up and to keep practising”.
Read more about sport at Flinders.