Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Sunday, Wikinews sat down with Australian Paralympic guide skier Andrew Bor who was participating in a national team training camp in Vail, Colorado.
((Wikinews)) This is Andrew Bor, who is Melissa Perrine’s guide skier. How did you become a guide?
- Andrew Bor: I was coaching with the team, the September before the games here. And the APC [Australian Paralympic Committee] found out, I’m not sure how, sent Melissa out to New Zealand where there was a training camp. She didn’t have a guide. And one of the coaches chose me to guide Mel.
((WN)) Had you done much guiding before?
- Andrew Bor: Two days. Guided a visually impaired athlete twice before that.
((WN)) Was there a steep learning curve?
- Andrew Bor: Yeah, very steep learning curve. Still learning.
((WN)) Is it more difficult as a male guide with a female skier, do you think, because the rules require you to use male ski equipment?
- Andrew Bor: No. No, I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s any issue with that. The skis make a different radius turn. Sometimes. No, I don’t think it makes a huge difference.
((WN)) As a guide skier, do you think that guides should be getting medals when their skier gets a medal? Are you that important?
- Andrew Bor: No, I don’t know. It’s the athlete’s performance really.
((WN)) But you’re an athlete aren’t you?
- Andrew Bor: No. I’m their eyes if that makes any sense. If they don’t have the commitment to go down the hill, you’re never going to get them to go fast anyway. The guide’s responsibility is to put them in the right place. But beyond that…
((WN)) You’ve gotten support because of the performance in Vancouver? The government has been supporting you guys?
- Andrew Bor: The government has decided to support the guides as equally as the athletes. Before I was employed by the APC, and now I don’t get paid by the APC, I get the same support levels. Otherwise, you can’t do it, you can’t afford the time.
((WN)) Why have you chosen skiing as opposed to oh, waterskiing or some other sport?
- Andrew Bor: I’ve worked in this industry for about 20 years. Teaching skiing, coaching. It’s not something I chose to do, it’s something that kind of happened. After a while a door closed, a door opened. I enjoy the environment. Working outdoors and work in some lovely places. You get some great days when there’s blue sky and sunshine and other days in Australia where it might be two degrees and raining. But it beats working in an office.
((WN)) Do you think the classification system for blind skiers works and is a good one? Especially with the factoring issues, and you’re competing with B1, B2, B3, all compete against each other.
- Andrew Bor: Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a big enough pool of athletes to have three different classes. It’s never going to be ideal. Different classes have different issues. The handicap for the twos and the threes is fairly similar across the different disciplines. Maybe the threes have an advantage in the tech because they can see a bit more, but they have a bit of a disadvantage in the speed because they can’t see enough to see the next gate and have to rely on the guide. Bit of a trade off. It’s never going to be perfect. It’s a tough one.
((WN)) Are you planning to go to Sochi with Melissa?
- Andrew Bor: Yes. Yes I am.
((WN)) Do you think you guys have, you and Melissa can pick up a medal, and you get a medal?
- Andrew Bor: I think Melissa is yeah. I think Melissa has a fairly good chance. You know, if things fall in place. I think she’s got an opportunity to win at least a medal. If things don’t fall in place. Yeah. She might miss out completely.
((WN)) Do you plan to continue guide skiing with Melissa for a period following Sochi, or are you going to be like “I’ve had enough, I’m getting old, these mountains are really tall, I’m going to retire?”
- Andrew Bor: I don’t know. We’ll wait and see. At the moment the commitment is until Sochi. You see with athletes, some announce their retirement early. Depends what Melissa wants to do. Depends on whether you achieve the goals that she sets or not. Whether she’s got unfinished business…
((WN)) But at the moment, the goal is Sochi?
- Andrew Bor: The goal is Sochi, yes. You’ve got to have an end goal, and at the moment it’s Sochi. The energy of the last four years has been put into that. There’s been a commitment for her to go to Sochi, and at the same time you’ve got to commit to the same thing. The guide-to-athlete thing is a relationship that takes time to build and work out the needs of the athlete and the wants of the athlete. Beyond Sochi, don’t know. We’ll see.