Trinidad and Tobago’s Gillian Martini broke new ground at the Marathon de la Clarée Nordic ski marathon in Névache, France, on Sunday.
“I decided to participate in the 18-kilometre portion of the marathon,” Martini told the Express, “in order to challenge myself, as Nordic skiing is very difficult and technical. The skis are very narrow, long, and requires bodily force to move forward.
“Imagine the Maracas/Las Cuevas road dammed with snow and the exact precipices/cliffs and hills packed with 350 wild skiers looking to pass up each other on such a narrow space…”
Martini, who finished 44th in the women’s race and 104th overall, in one hour, 45 minutes, 12 seconds, was given a special prize for being the first black female as well as the first T&T skier to compete in the event. “The crowd was extremely supportive and curious about my participation.”
Martini grew up in Carenage, and migrated to the United States after completing high school.
“In 2000, I moved to France where most of my entire circle of family and friends are good skiers. For the first three years living in France, I was isolated when the winter sports season and social scene came around, as everyone took off for the entire day once winter vacation came around.
“My motivation to seriously learn Nordic ski,” Martini continued, “came when I saw my three-year-old son ski off a considerable steep slope. I was amazed! I felt so proud, and imagined if I could be with him and enjoy the beautiful landscapes. Today, my Nordic ski skill level and endurance is amazing for an island girl!”
As a youngster growing up in Carenage, Martini never imagined she would make history in the southern French Alps, becoming the first Caribbean participant in the Marathon de la Clarée.
“The locals here in the Alps are very proud to have someone from Trinidad and Tobago in the marathon, as we are most often associated with track and field. I told them: ‘Watch out, we’re moving in on the winter events now!’”
Source: Trinidad Express
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