Sabrina Simader: Breaking the Glass Ceiling on Alpine Skiing
During the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, there will be one competitor’s name that will surely standout from the rest in the alpine skiing events: Sabrina Wanjiku Simader. The February 9th to 25th games will be an opportunity for the 19-year old to etch her name in the history books as the first Kenyan woman to compete in the Winter Games and the first African woman to compete in the alpine skiing event. It would be a remarkable fete for a young athlete whose skills and profile in the sport has rise meteorically since the last global competitive event she competed in 2016. Sabrina is set to break a glass ceiling with unimaginable proportions by competing in an event she also excelled in out of passion and dedication.
An Unusual Sport
Kenya, like the rest of African countries, is renowned globally for their exploits on the track and field with Kenyan athletes standing out in the long and mid distance races. However, Sabrina has set her sights on doing something different and in a sport whose facilities and even support structure even relevant authorities such as the country’s National Olympic Committee is almost nonexistent. She took up the “unusual” sport at three years when she moved to Austria with her mother from Kilifi, Kenya where she was born. Her stepfather, who has mountain skiing facility, knowledge and facilities, took her under his wings soon turned her into Kenya’s very own Snow Leopard. She not only stood out because of her heritage; soon people around her realized her outstanding abilities on the icy slopes. Following into the footsteps of Philip Boit, Kenya’s Winter Olympian, she moved from strength to strength and participated in the Youth Winter Olympic Games held in Norway in 2016.
She later set her eyes on the 2018 and successfully qualified during the 2017 World Ski Championships held in Switzerland. Unlike in the youth games where she finished within the top 25 overall in all the events she competed in, Sabrina has set her sight to finishing within the top 20 overall. She plans to compete in three events including Giant Slalom and Super-G under the Kenyan flag.
Overcoming the Odds
With the cost of participating in the Winter Games astronomical especially for a single competitive and with no support from the Kenya’s National Olympic Committee, Sabrina Simader has resorted to crowdfunding to supplement the funds she has received from her sponsors.