Disability

Full transcript: Off-piste at the Paras #3: First day - 10 March 2018

This is a full transcript of the 10 March 2018 Off-piste at the Paras #3: First day presented by Beth Rose with Chris Osborne.

MUSIC - Off Piste at the Paras, from the Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang. With Beth Rose.

BETH - It's a beautiful morning in Pyeongchang. The sky is blue, the sun is definitely shining, and if you're from Great Britain then it's an even better morning because day one, event one and GB has a medal. Millie Knight and her guide Brett Wild went out in the visually impaired downhill skiing and it was a successful day for them.

CHRIS - Yeah, the Winter Paralympics were barely half-an-hour old when GB had got its first medal of the Games. It didn't start great because Menna Fitzpatrick was the first athlete in the whole of the Games to get to the snow and she fell pretty quickly. Fortunately she seems okay. But great stuff from Millie and Brett and they were absolutely delighted.

BETH - We should just say you're listening to Off Piste at the Paras with me Beth Rose, and Chris from Sport is with me. We're also in the queue for the ski lift and we're going to try and get on the lift and keep recording but I'm not sure how it will go. And Lily from BBC Ouch is valiantly holding the microphone. So, it could all go a little bit wrong.

So, you had a chat with Millie earlier today. She said she was fairly nervous because what we've heard over the last 12 months is she's had a bit of a tough time. She was known as kind of the most fearless skier on the visually impaired circuit, and then she had two really big crashes. She got concussion; she was out for about five months. And also it just massively knocked her confidence and brought the fear back, so it's been a massive test for her.

[Music]

CHRIS - Millie, can you sum up how you're feeling right now?

MILLIE - I think the only way I can sum this up is with just a massive smile. I can't stop smiling and it is the best feeling in the world.

CHRIS - I saw when you crossed the line there was a big yelp from both of you. You knew you'd done something quite special.

MILLIE - I knew I'd stopped in the finish line and that was my goal. No repeats of last year where I just landed on my face, [laughs] so I was so chuffed.

CHRIS - Can you just talk us through: how did it feel and how did it feel to be out there?

MILLIE - I was quite nervous in the start gate. But the moment we pushed out it was just purely about what we needed to work on and the technical aspects that we wanted to think about all the way down the course. The course ran amazingly; the snow was perfect. It was just about making the tweaks that we wanted to make.

CHRIS - What is that feeling like when you come across and you're pretty sure that you're going to be up in that top three?

MILLIE - I just wait until I can hear what Brett's reaction is, because obviously I can't see the screen. And when Brett said, yes! I knew it.

CHRIS - Let's talk about that reaction. It was a big yelp. I think they heard it on the next mountain along. You knew, didn't you?

BRETT - Yes. I think it's just we've been working so hard and all season we've been so far away from the top guys. Henrieta and Natalia, and to cross the line and to see we were 0.8 behind them I knew that was a good run. They're normally a couple of seconds ahead of everyone else. So, it's got in the way we were behind them, coming second, but it was still phenomenal for us to be back where we wanted to be and be back in the mix. We've got four races left. It's amazing, isn't it?

MILLIE - And the best thing is this is our best result so far this season.

BRETT - What a time to peak.

CHRIS - Yeah, peak at the right time. When you had that injury, it was 12 months or so ago was a bullet time for you, were there times when you thought, mate I don't know if I can get back to this point?

MILLIE - Yeah, there were a lot of times like that. I'm not going to lie, it was a very, very tough recovery. But we have such amazing support staff. Our sports psychologist, Kelley Fay, is just second to none, and what she's done to help us get over this, both together, because poor Brett it's been tough for him trying to help me recover. We've got so many people so a lot of people to thank.

CHRIS - How much pride are you feeling right now?

BRETT - Oh, I've never felt so proud in my life to be honest. To be here, to be representing the Navy, the Paralympics GB and Great Britain has been phenomenal. And the support back home has been so good. I've never had so many messages, and we're both so grateful to everyone.

CHRIS - Yeah, we've been quite privy to that. There's been a massive buzz, people on Twitter, especially from some of the stuff that we've been putting out there and getting out there and getting your name out. Have you been feeling that?

MILLIE - Yeah, definitely. The buzz is massively increased. Just to have that support from Great Britain is wonderful and I think it really helps us.

BRETT - We hope we've done them proud today!

MILLIE - Yeah, exactly.

CHRIS - Did you do your little routine with the script beforehand?

MILLIE - We did yeah.

BRETT - I can be the greatest, I can be the best, I can be the King Kong banging on my chest.

CHRIS - It does the trick. And confidence for the Super-G tomorrow? You must be sky high now?

MILLIE - Yeah.

BRETT - Yeah, for me Millie feeds off confidence; it's always been the case. Like last year it was like a run of form, and I'm really hoping that we can soak up today, go back, sit down, have a chat with our coach, come up with a game plan tomorrow and just go flat out again and see what we can do. I hope this confidence flows from race to race.

CHRIS - And a quick word for Menna. Obviously, you probably didn't see what happened to her, but hopefully she can pick herself up from there.

MILLIE - Yeah, hopefully because I know how tough a crash is, and hopefully she can recover and get back ready for tomorrow.

BRETT - It was absolutely fantastic to see her and Jen ski down, which means they can still ski, so that's the best thing. We're really glad they've not injured themselves, so that's really positive for the whole team.

CHRIS - Well done guys. Congratulations.

[Music]

Yeah, she said afterwards speaking to us that she didn't think she could get back to this point, that's how bad it was. I think even Brett would admit that he sometimes had some doubts. And I think actually more interestingly, because Brett would have helped her to that process, he just seemed like such a proud big brother with her; he was gleaming as much as her.

BETH - They're more than just kind of team mates; they're really good friends. And I know that they spend time off the slopes: they go to the cinema and music gigs, they spend time together in the summer on holidays at each other's houses.

CHRIS - Wow.

BETH - Proper friends. And you could see right at the end, before they even knew the results, that they were just really happy to get down the hill.

CHRIS - Well, when they crossed the line there was a massive yell from Brett, a real roar. And not everyone had been at that point, so I think they'd got into second, but this great Scottish roar going across the hills and they obviously knew that what they had nailed it there was perfect.

BETH - We're going to keep recording but we have got to try and get on the ski lift.

CHRIS - Feet on the floor. Match your feet up.

BETH - The seat is coming behind us. We think it's aligned but it could be a bit of a Bridget Jones moment, but here we go. And we're in. We've got the rail down. We're now heading down the mountain. We actually go up quite fast. It's a bit like a rollercoaster. Let's hope we don't drop the microphone.

But what was really great this morning is the alpine skiing, visually impaired was the first race, it started quite early. So, last night was the opening ceremony, that finished late, later than expected. Lots of the athletes didn't go because they had to get up at 4am this morning. We got up a bit later, but it was fairly quiet in the stands to begin with, but there was a massive Team GB section decked out in flags and everything. Millie's mum and friends and family were all there cheering. When it came to Menna's turn she was the first out the gates, wasn't she?

CHRIS - Yeah. I think first of all it's just worth describing this view up here, because we're in the Pyeongchang alpine resort, and we can just see snow-tipped mountains, pine trees. It's absolutely glorious. But Menna's fall did drag the atmosphere down a bit because all those GB friends and family were really up for it, and then there was a noticeable lull, even with the subsequent ones. But then fortunately Millie managed to pick it back up again.

BETH - Yeah, you could really see. Obviously the cameras are there to capture the key moments, and they panned to the GB team and I'm not sure who it was, Menna's family or friends, there were some tears. Because obviously this is the big Games, this is what they train for. They might have World Cup medals and everything, but everyone knows about the Paralympics, it is the world stage, and for your first event not to go so well is not ideal.

CHRIS - And we did walk past Menna's guide, Jen, earlier and she gave us a thumbs up and said "look, we were a bit unlucky, but she's physically fine." And they've got four more events to go.

BETH - That is really good. It's a really long competition. We should say how visually impaired skiing works. There's a bit of time travel involved. There are three categories involved in visually impaired, but each three category races for one gold medal. They don't go out of the gates separately; they all go in one. If you're visually impaired you have a guide but you're not tethered in any way; you just have a Bluetooth headset and you talk to each other, so your guide gives you as many directions as possible, like left, right, turn, off, on. And the skier says yes, if everything's going well. That's what Brett and Millie have told us anyway.

And they do this time travel thing where times are factored. So, depending on which category you're in the clock will move a little bit slower or a little bit faster. And thankfully for us at the bottom all the maths is done for us, so you just look at the scoreboard and you can see, like we did today, that Millie came second. She got a silver, which was really exciting.

CHRIS - Yeah, we just have to trust the system basically with that time. You just have to trust that it's fine. So, basically if you can see less, if you're at the lower end of the scale and are legally blind then the clock will run slower for you, so you are basically given more time. And as you say, it's time travelling. But we have to trust that it all works out and all levels the playing field. And yeah, on that playing field Millie was the second best.

BETH - The other thing that we need to remember is that for the visually impaired skiers - if you've seen skiing during the Olympics then obviously there are lots of cow bells, whistling, shouting, clapping for the people coming down - but in visually impaired everyone has to stay quiet right until the end. So, it has a slightly different atmosphere. And there wasn't so much deejaying of the music going on during the visually impaired skiers.

But it was a great atmosphere up there. The weather is beautiful, which helps I think. It's quite hot, so I'm not sure if the snow is going to start thawing, which might cause a problem for the snowboarders. Because we were seeing them build the snowboard track, weren't we, as well?

CHRIS - Things were happening, yeah, some last minute adjustments I think.

BETH - Like things happening now. We're just about to try and get off the ski lift smoothly. We'll try and keep recording. We managed it pretty well I think. So, we're now at the bottom of the ski lift.

If you're interested in visually impaired skiing or you want to read more about Millie and Brett we've got a really exciting interactive feature on the BBC News website, you can check it out on BBC Sport as well, all about Millie and overcoming her fear of crashing, which has played a huge part in the last 12 months of her and Brett's career. But today they are all about celebrating.

But it wasn't just Millie and Brett on the slopes, there were also two of our male skiers as well.

CHRIS - Yeah, Chris Lloyd and James Whitley were both in the standing event in the downhill. It wasn't a bad day actually. Neither were really expected to get into the medal mix. James got himself a 10th place finish, which is actually pretty terrific. That's probably as good as he can hope, and he said his run was really good. I think he said he would have liked a bit more but I think deep down he knows that was pretty good. And Chris Lloyd came in 20th, also a great result, and once again they've still got four more events to come. And recovery for Chris is so important because he will get so fatigued and so tired because of his condition, so hopefully he can get back on the slopes numerous times this week.

MILLIE - That's pretty much it for the alpine skiing this morning. Obviously it's really, really exciting for team Paralympic GB. Basically the most perfect start they could have with a silver medal.

And as we approach the car park we should probably finish this podcast. But don't forget you can follow us in various ways. JJ Chalmers is on 5 Live. You can sign up to this podcast to get it delivered directly to your phone. Check out the BBC News website, check out bbc.co.uk/ouch. Follow us on Facebook. Tweet us @bbcouch. Email us if you want ouch@bbc.co.uk. And we're on Instagram as well. So love to hear from you.