Laid-back sit-skier Sam Tait is eyeing a breakthrough Winter Paralympics medal when he competes in downhill on the opening day of the Beijing Games.
Sam Tait has one shot at downhill skiing glory in Beijing and is determined to finish Australia’s first day of Winter Paralympics with a medal.
Tait’s laid-back nature belies his fierce competitiveness. On paper, the 30-year-old is a medal smoky. But medals aren’t won on paper.
“I’m putting a lot of high expectations on myself,” said Tait.
“I know I’m good at downhill, I know I can ski fast and I definitely have a high expectation of myself getting a medal tomorrow.
“I think I’m gonna be pretty devastated if I don’t.
“But at the same time, I’m gonna be happy with finishing downhill, getting down and being at my second Paralympics.”
Downhill is a brutally dangerous and difficult prospect at the best of times and the speedy Yanqing course has proved particularly tough to handle.
“The hardest part for me is pushing out from the start and once you’re on the course, you get rid of all that fear and all that doubt and then you’re just doing what you know and it becomes habit,” Tait said.
“There’s always moments in the course when you’re like ‘holy shit I’m going so fast, this is hectic.’
“I had that the other day in training. It feels so good but at the same time you’re on the limits of crashing.
“When you get down to the bottom of a downhill, I’ve never felt any feeling like that in the world. You’re full of adrenaline and happiness you survived.
“It’s a great feeling and that’s what bring me back to doing downhill every time I can.”
Three Australians will compete in downhill on the opening day.
Patrick Jensen will kick off Australia’s campaign in the vision-impaired classification.
Fresh off attending the opening ceremony in Beijing, joint flagbearer Mitch Gourley will commence his final Games in the standing event before Tait rounds out the day in the sit-ski.