Welsh para-skiers Fitzpatrick & Lloyd target 2018 Winter Games

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What's it like to ski virtually blind?

Welsh para-skiers Menna Fitzpatrick and Chris Lloyd race for crucial Paralympic Winter Games qualification criteria at the Kühtai World Cup this week.

They hope to be the first Welsh alpine skiers to represent Great Britain at a Winter Games, the 2018 Pyeongchang event.

The duo go to Austria with that in mind.

"It's very nerve-racking but exciting at the same time," Fitzpatrick told BBC Sport Wales.

Fitzpatrick, 18 and who has 5% vision, says she has been training with this week in mind for months.

"It's always been said 'ok, you need to be ready by this date' - now it's finally at that date. But it's really exciting," said Fitzpatrick, who skis behind guide Jennifer Kehoe, a British Army captain.

They will be in action in Austria from Tuesday, 19-Friday 22 December.

100km/h, two metres apart & Bluetooth

The pair travel at speeds of up to 100km/h around two metres apart and communicate via a Bluetooth headset in their helmets.

In 2016 they became the first British skiers to win the overall visually-impaired World Cup title.

"I trust Jen 100% with my life to know she can get me down the course safely," Fitzpatrick continued.

"If we go [to the Games], it would be both our first experiences of a Paralympics. It's the highest point of the sport."

'I was told I'd never ski again'

Chris Lloyd concentrates on this downhill ski run
Chris Lloyd will compete in Austria on Tuesday, 19 December

The Kühtai World Cup is the first Para Alpine Skiing World Cup of the season after last week's event in St Moritz was cancelled due to bad weather.

Pontypridd's Lloyd, who's 43, will race in the LW9-1 standing classification.

He was paralysed from the neck down in a rally car accident in 2011 and still suffers from a loss of power and feeling.

"The consultant came into the room [after the accident] and the only words I remember were 'you'll never ski again'," said Chris.

"London 2012 was on at the time and when I was in my wheelchair, I thought 'yeah, I'll have a go at getting to the Paralympics'. Step by step I started skiing again.

"It'd be amazing [to go to the Games]. It's been a rocky road along the way, but it'd be a proud moment to represent my country."

The 2018 Winter Paralympics takes place in Pyeongchang from 9-18 March, 2018.

The first British athletes to be selected will be announced on 5 January.

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