Get to know Andrea Rothfuß, an ambitious world class athlete with a personality to match. She was born with only one hand, which obviously did not keep her from following her big passion, skiing. At the age of 7 she started racing and 9 years later she made the German National Team. For the last couple of seasons she´s been one of the few dominating the sport and she´s not done yet. Watch out for this young lady! She´s fired up for the Paralympics!
When and how did you get into skiing?
I started skiing when I was five years old. My elder sister and I always watched ski racing on tv and imitated the racers. So my parents sent us to the ski club, where I learned to ski on a very flat hill near the village in which i grew up. Two years later the ski club founded a kids and youth racing team and I joined it. At first I was very doubtful and couldn't imagine racing is more fun than free skiing. But soon I found out that racing is really more fun.
Why do you ski? What does skiing mean to you?
Skiing was and still is fun for me, because it's never the same and you never get bored. You can ski a course a hundred times and it’ll be different every time. As a racer you‘re training for the perfect run, but it seems you‘ll never achieve it. That‘s a big challenge and you’ll always push yourself forward for a better and faster run. And that‘s the fun for me.
She is fast. Very fast.
Always trying to improve. Andrea getting instructions from her coach.
What does a day in Andrea's life look like?
There isn‘t just one kind of a day. My days vary during the season whether I‘m at home, at a training camp or at a competition.
Is there any difference between the Disabled World Cup and the World Cup if you compare it?
I guess the passion and ambition from the athletes are the same. It doesn't matter if you have a disability or not. The big difference is the level. The World Para Alpine Skiing (WPAS) World Cup is not as high as FIS World Cup. The reasons are diverse, for example, there are fewer athletes with disabilities all around the world and most of these athletes are not completely professional. They have to go to work to earn a living. And also there is less media coverage and public attention for the disabled sports.
Do you get any support as a professional athlete? Do you have another job?
During the last years the support in Germany increased, e.g. since last may I‘m a member of the Zoll Ski Team and funded by the Finance Ministry from Germany. All the support helps me to finance my sport and that I don‘t have to pay for it on my own. But for my subsistence, especially after my skiing career, I will have to work, so I‘m doing an internship as a Sports and Fitness Management Assistant at the moment.
The 3 S's: Slalom + skis + snow = SMILES
Is there anything you'd wish for concerning the acceptance and attention which is drawn to you as a professional disabled athlete?
Like the support, we get much more attention from the media and public since I started, but I wish my sport was seen on the same level as able-bodied skiing. Maybe we don‘t get the same acceptance and attention because there are still some prejudices. But some big improvements in para alpine skiing were made. There are only rankings in three categories, visually impared, standing and sitting. Therefore it is more competitive than in other para sport disciplines. And we are trying to follow as closely as possible the rules of the FIS, only making small adjustments where they are necessary. I hope the IPC will go on with this to make Para Alpine skiing more interesting and exciting.
What´s your goal for the Paralympics in PyeongChang?
I won the gold medal in slalom at the Paralympic Games in 2014 in Sochi and I also won the Giant Slalom and Slalom races at the World Championships last season. So winning a medal is definitley my goal and if the colour was gold that would be another dream come true for me!
Photos: Paul Hoffmann @paulhoffmann_photography
FB @andrea.rothfuss https://www.facebook.com/andrea.rothfuss/
Good Luck! We are rooting for you!