With a whole host of silver and gold medals under her belt and having been ranked 28th in the world in slalom racing, Heather Mills is now embarking on a brand new challenge, as she attempts to break the Guinness World Record for speed skiing.
Having lost her leg in a collision with a police motorcycle back in 1993, Heather’s professional sporting career only began in 2011, after she was approached by the head of the Slovenian Masters whilst on a skiing holiday in Austria. The chance meeting led to a trial and then permanent position with the British disability skiing team, with whom Heather has enjoyed a string of successful races.
Now teaming up with the Austrian Speed Ski Team, Heather is in training to become the fastest disabled female speed skier in the world. To secure the title next year, she will need to reach speeds of more than 200km/h – a feat that will involve a vertical of drop of between 300 and 340 metres.
The journey to this point, however, has not been without significant difficulties, with Heather suffering five high-speed skiing accidents and numerous severe injuries, including a fractured shoulder, a snapped anterior cruciate ligament and a smashed scapula.
“Skiing is a high-octane sport and I knew the risks when I first set about training. For me though, the most frustrating thing was that my initial prosthesis only offered very limited movement which was neither natural nor comfortable and tended to hinder my performance somewhat.”
Key to Heather’s Guinness World Record success will be the specialist prosthetic skiing leg designed and built by Abdo Haidar of The London Prosthetic Centre. A painstaking, year-long project which involved over 15 appointments, the prosthesis has been designed to withstand the harshest of racing conditions.
Abdo Haidar said:
“I have been a prosthetist for many years and made limbs for cycling, horse riding and Paralympic running challenges, but nothing compares to skiing – it is without doubt the most difficult sport for an amputee.
“A below the knee amputation, such as Heather’s, causes reduced knee control due to the loss of the ankle joint, so the limb must compensate for this. In this instance, the key lies in the design and fit of the socket – it’s responsible for reducing movement, which consequently enhances control and precision.
“Heather has an incredible drive and determination to succeed, and never shies away from a challenge. I have no doubt that she will achieve what she has set out to do.”
Heather, who is also confirmed to appear in the next series of Channel 4’s reality TV show, The Jump, where she will train alongside 15 other celebrities to master various winter sports, continued:
“Abdo and the team at The London Prosthetic Centre have played an integral role in my sporting achievements, by giving me the tools I needed to perform to the best of my ability.
“They have developed a prosthesis that feels like a part of me when I’m skiing and for that reason I have complete confidence when I’m on the slopes. It’s what allows me to continue pushing myself to the limits, hence my next challenges!”
The London Prosthetic Centre is the only facility in London to provide cutting-edge prosthetic care within a private facility equipped with a modern workshop and silicone facilities. It is a division of RSLSteeper, which was founded in 1921, and is one of the largest suppliers of prosthetic, orthotic and assistive care in the world.
For further information, please visit: www.thelondonprosthetics.com