Dr Aimee Watson of Cobram Veterinary Clinic, VIC, started skiing as a three-year-old. Now she’s training hard for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“Qualifying for the cross-country skiing event at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 was the culmination of years of effort—from both myself and those around me. With support from the University of Sydney and their veterinary science faculty, I was able to train, race and improve my skiing during my years at university.
“The lead-up to the Olympics in late 2013 and early 2014 was mentally and physically demanding. Prior to the Olympics, I spent just shy of 90 days in Scandinavia and Europe, racing every weekend to obtain the qualification standard.
“While working as a vet in the lead-up to the Olympics, I stayed away from large animal work; I didn’t want to go anywhere near the back legs of a cow! Instead, I concentrated on small animals and managed to get through those weeks injury-free. Ironically, two weeks prior to the Sochi Olympics, we were packing for the pre-Olympic World Cup and I stubbed my foot on the wheel of a duffel bag. I had to compete with a broken toe.
“My younger brother, Callum, also qualified to race in the Olympics at the same time as me. That was pretty special.
“At present, I’m training with the goal of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. If I can stay injury-free, train properly and continue to improve my technique, I hope to be in pretty good shape. Currently, my main focus is the Nordic World Ski Championships in Finland next year.
“The greatest challenge I have is that I put a big emphasis on my career, so I have to juggle skiing and vet work. I’m extremely fortunate to have very understanding and flexible employers and colleagues.
“The joy of competition is pushing yourself and working hard towards a clear goal. Then, if you’ve done everything right, there’s a reward at the end. I get a similar feeling as a vet when I nail a diagnosis, fix or treat a patient and see them come in healthy at the next appointment.
“Growing up, I lived in Cooma [in the Snowy Mountains, NSW] and started skiing with my parents when I was three. I loved the sport immediately and still love it today. Cross-country skiing in Australia lets you visit places that are breathtakingly beautiful and most people never get to see them. A lot of skiers train while wearing headphones but not me—I simply don’t need them.”