The talented alpine racing champ talks heroes, ambition and hockey
Siena Horton is not only a slalom supremo rocking Great Britain’s U16 alpine racing team. She’s also pretty nifty on the hockey pitch too. When Siena’s off piste, she stars in Bromsgrove School’s first team as well as Stourport U15 Girls who came fifth in the national championships. She played for Mercia Lynx at England’s U15 HIPAC tournament in October and is part of the England Hockey Performance Centre programme. Phew!
Skiing is Siena’s first love though which has been a big part of her life since stepping onto the slopes aged only two. Having access to a chalet in Colorado meant that skiing in the holidays and Christmases was the norm as a small child. Siena’s parents and grandparents are keen skiers – her grandfather is still skiing aged 76 – and by the age of five Siena was mixing it with the grown-ups and could tackle any slope. Although she may have enjoyed the odd shoulder ride from dad when her legs got tired!
The sport became more than a hobby when Siena started racing aged 11. She recalled: “I never really thought I was that good, then I won an indoor race and it all started from there.” Training in Milton Keynes meant a trip south every Saturday and sometimes Tuesdays, but it was all worth it. She was selected for the GB squad last year in the U14 category competing in Andorra and Topolino, Italy.
Sponsored by Atomic Ski, Siena now races in the U16 team which is a big step up with some competitors nearly two years older. She’s not fazed by that and recently came fourth in the slalom and eighth in the giant slalom at the Ski Interkriterium International Race in the Czech Republic which drew competitors from 11 nations.
Siena trains with Ambition Racing based in Leogang, Austria – a programme for elite skiers – which means weeks at a time away from home and school. The mornings are reserved for intense training on the slopes while the afternoon is set aside for school work. Siena’s school, Bromsgrove School, is on board providing her with appropriate school work and support during the weeks she misses.
On being away from home Siena said: “At first it was a struggle but I got used to it quickly.” Naturally, Siena’s parents travel to see her race and a couple of weeks is generally the longest they go without seeing one another. A five-and-a-half week stint in New Zealand over the summer was the longest Siena has been away but it was an ‘amazing’ experience which she’ll probably repeat again this year.
When she’s at home and attending school Siena, whose hockey prowess means she’s a sports scholar at Bromsgrove School, makes the most of the school’s facilities working on strength and conditioning which really helps with skiing as well as hockey.
Although not generally regarded as a skiing nation, Siena assures me Great Britain is competing on the world stage. Brit Dave Ryding is ranked number two in the world and many young skiers who are benefitting from the kind of top-flight training programme Siena is used to are coming through too.
Siena would love to get to the Youth Olympics and Youth World Championships when she’s eligible to qualify. Two of her older team-mates from Ambition made the cut this year, so it’s highly realistic. She’d like to emulate her heroes, top US ski champions Lindsay Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, who she trained next to last year but was too self-conscious to say hi. We reckon in a few years they’ll be making a beeline for Siena.