Born in the Italian Alps to an Austrian mum and a Kildare dad, Gloria and Giorgia Lyons are already ideally placed to realise their dream
TWO teenage sisters with ambitions to become the country’s first world-beating skiers have told how there’s snow place like Ireland for honing their downhill skills.
Born in the Italian Alps to an Austrian mum and a Kildare dad, Gloria and Giorgia Lyons are already ideally placed to realise their dream of becoming Winter Olympic champions.
The girls — at 16, Gloria is a year older than her sister — moved to their mother’s home village of Ramsau am Dachstein in 2004 and have been skiing there almost since they could first walk.
And regular trips to Ireland have nurtured a deep love for their second home.
Mum Elisabeth told how their path to racing on the slopes — and potentially becoming the first ever Irish athletes to medal at a Winter Olympics — was clearly laid out from the start.
She explained: “Usually when you live in Austria you learn to ski when you are very young. You have your first ski classes in Kindergarten, which is why many kids can ski well in Austria.”
Both Gloria and Giorgia began training with the village ski club, and before they hit the age of eight they were racing in regional competitions.
With results steadily improving, the sisters found themselves at 11 taking on some of Austria’s fastest girls in the Schülercup.
And in 2016 Gloria caught the eye at the Irish Dry Slope Championships — an experience, which Giorgia repeated a year later, that opened the door to representing Ireland.
Gloria said: “It’s so great to be on the Irish team. Here in Austria, there are so many people who would love to race for their country.
“Even really talented guys and girls don’t get that far because there’s such stiff competition.
“I’ve been to Ireland twice to compete on the dry slopes.
“That was a lot of fun because we don’t have it in Austria. It’s different, but it’s very cool.”
The siblings have already gained invaluable international race experience with Team Ireland this year, competing in Andorra and Italy.
And they are now undertaking an intense training programme to ensure they are peak fitness.
Georgia revealed: “We exercise every day and in summer we do a lot of strength and co-ordination. It’s hard work but we enjoy it. We train together so it’s fun.”
“My goal is to compete in the Olympics and the Youth Olympics. It would be so cool if I could get that far, so I’m going to train hard to achieve my dream.”
Gloria added: “I’d love to race for Ireland in big televised races and make my family proud. I’d also love to go to the Youth Olympics, it’s one of my biggest dreams.”