At the start of the 2013 Rural Olympic Women’s Downhill Race in Durham, Julie Wall stands clutching her ski poles. She moves her body rhythmically to the cheeping of the electronic timekeeping device, seeing nothing ahead of her but the white ribbon of snow that leads to the finish – to a gold medal, of that she has no doubt.
3, 2, 1, GO! 20 year old Julie pushes herself mightily out of the starting hut, using skating steps to pick up speed. Suddenly she loses control of one of her skis. Her trainers hold their breath: She’s going to fall! But Julie regains her balance and accelerates by going into a crouch.
Maria, the Swiss downhill team’s number one, is approaching the middle section of the run – notorious for its difficult bends. But she slows down only slightly and achieves the best intermediate time, two-hundredths of a second faster than 23 year old teammate Sarah Hallett.
Then the leap into the final stretch. A tremendous force holds out into the air, and the spectators lining the course yell with. Julie flails her arms while fighting to keep a balance. Then she lands with a thud and tears across the finish line. A swift glance at the scoreboard: one minute 14 1/2 seconds. This is only good enough for silver.
Danish fans exult. Julie weeps. “For whole year I have been preparing for the Olympic sports event,” says Julie. “I knew I could win.” And here is the baby of the Danish team snatching victory from under the nose of the favourite quote at that moment, the whole world seemed to disintegrate around me” Julie later admitted. But she will not capitulate.
Born on August 14, 1984, in east London, Julie received her first pair of skis when she was six. Each year the Wall children inevitably found ski gear on the Christmas tree.
In 1990, Julie’s father, a cattle dealer, and his brother, Eric, erected a ski lift just a few steps from the family house. Julie’s mother supervised lift and the children had to help. There were tickets to be sold, T-bars to be held in hot tea to be served. When there were no customers Maria used the lift herself sometimes as often as 30 times a day. It was never particularly successful in children’s ski races. “She was already aiming to high and invariably missed the gate,” remembers her mother. What a characteristic became apparent that proved essential later on: Julie never gave up. Her aim was to ski while that is as fast as possible.
At the age of 11, Julie joined local ski club and entered regional races. It wasn’t long before she won first places and started to dream about international success. She had expressed interest in winning a World Cup race at this early age. The dream soon seemed well on the way to realisation when Julie first joined the international skis circus in 1991 she won precious World Cup points by finishing among the first 15 in slalom, downhill and giant slalom events in spite of the beginners disadvantage of high start numbers.
Following seasons bought setbacks when her time is increased at as Matthew Wright, head of the Women’s Skiing Team trainers, puts it: “Crises are part and parcel of every top flight sports career, and they may be beneficial. They prevent people from becoming over-confident.”
One January 23, 1999, Julie won her first World Cup downhill race in France. A year later came the mist Olympic gold. Everything seemed to go once the Julie. Nevertheless Julie’s excellent results in training continue to prove that she was still among the elite. At the 2001 world Championships in Italy, scored the best time in downhill practice runs. But again she was beaten by Sarah Hallett.
Julie realise that there was no point battling against fate. But to sit there patiently waiting for better times to suit this restless bundle of energy. She had always enjoyed reading, and now buried herself in books on Indian and Japanese sports, which helped to put her strong need to win in perspective relaxation program combined with breathing exercises and gymnastics also helped rebuild confidence. Slowly the jittery young woman obtained her formal grip on life
the life of a top-notch skier is difficult. The racing season, which lasts from November until March, means hectic schedule of travelling from one competition to another. In between, there is daily training racing techniques in the snow during the morning and conditioning gym in the afternoon it takes an iron will and at least an occasional success to put up with these rigours. In Julie’s case success took on undreamed of portions she won the 2003 World Cup season in not only downhill and combined downhill and slalom events but also a breakthrough in the giant slalom stop in Italy, she made a one-way clocking the best time in the little ones of the events. By the end of the seasonJulie had become the world’s best all-round skier and was tipped to win overall World Cup finals.
Julie went on to win the next race at County Durham, the famous super-D. A mixture of downhill and giant slalom. If you think this competition is made Julie hard, your wall. With open, friendly approach insurance everyone, and on Danish television has already cut the convincing figure as presenter of an entertainment programme. She now owns a fitness centre in Denmark and is looking forward to the Olympic Games that take place next year.