Vinter looks to extend his racing career combining it with education

Twenty one year old Zak Vinter is one of the rising stars of the next generation of British racers coming through the ranks. Season 2018 - 2019 was a break through season for the Glasgow Racing athlete as his results saw him qualify for the British Alpine Team that raced at both Are, Sweden in the World Championships and he also went to the World Junior Championships in Val di Fassa, Italy. Adding to this, Vinter started studying at Montana State University in America. Keeping the mind occupied during time off the slope is vital and Vinter wanted a challenge as well was how he explained his reasons for heading to University.

2018 at Tignes saw Vinter take the runners up spot in the British Alpine Championships (6th Overall) behind Dave Ryding. In 2019, Vinter decided with all the Transatlantic travel to focus on his forthcoming exams and so did not race. Combining travel, studying and racing is hard to do and Vinter felt that despite Ryding not having been in Tignes, he will have other opportunities in the future to win the British Title. Studies at Montana mean that while he is on a sports scholarship, he still needs to meet the grades set on his Economics course.

Vinter has stepped up his game over the last few years and believes that combining studying with his racing career will keep him fresh and challenged. “It really appealed to me to do both at the same time rather than skiing full time and not having anything to fall back on. I thought that if I got three or four years down the line and got an injury that prevented me from skiing, I would much rather have something to fall back on,” he explained while helping the younger racers from Glasgow Ski Racing at the Twin Peaks races.

What did Vinter think about his experiences of the World Champs and World Junior Champs last season? “Och, that was an awesome experience,” he explained, “I had been looking forward to them all year and preparing for them. The World Champs was awesome, such a good experience. It has definitely stuck with me and made we want to keep going and try to do that in the future after University. It was tough conditions, really long. I think it was a minute ten for me on the first run - a real shock to the system but I was happy with that.”

Such is the popularity of competing at the World Championships, unless you are in the top 50 in the world or are the best racer in your country, you need to take part in the Qualifying race. Vinter just made the cut in that, finishing in 24th place with only 25 making it through to the main draw.

The World Juniors was something that “did not really work out for me,” admitted Vinter. The pressure of a good start number (17) and it been his last year racing in the Juniors, was too much and he straddled on the first run. Taking part in the Duel Slalom however saw Vinter as part of the team that beat the Austrians and this, he admits, was definitely a highlight of the season.

The Team Parallel Slalom “was definitely a great atmosphere. A lot of people were really shocked and a lot of countries came up to us and congratulated us, that was definitely a great night,” he admitted. Despite having only three athletes the team finished in eighth place overall, losing in the quarter finals to Germany.

Vinter really enjoyed the Team Parallel as he was able to find an extra gear, “it was a great team effort in the first round (beating the Austrians through the fastest man’s time and fastest woman’s time). “It would have been amazing to go further but we all made a couple of mistakes”.

January and February saw Vinter ski a lot and he had not been at school, he explained. A mix of University races, Nor Ams and regular FIS races saw the school work hit the back burner and Vinter felt that he needed to spend the time that covered the British Champs studying: “I needed to knuckle down and get the exams right, which I did. I managed to get good grades. I will definitely make it over one of these years but we will have to see how it works out with classes,” he added.

Vinter took the opportunity to dust the skis down and raced in the Scottish Indoor Championship, winning it, but most of the summer has seen him recharging his batteries and spending time in the gym. Montana start a little later than other Universities with snow time, so this is spent working hard on the fitness.

The team that Vinter trains with is full of low pointed Slalom racers and this is something that he really appreciates: “There are three guys in our team all with nine, ten points so this a pretty good team to train with.” Vinter feels that this is a pretty good comparison to training with the British Europa Cup team.

Getting the right equipment to race on, no matter what level you are at, is a hard task. Last year Vinter travelled around with just a few pairs of Slalom and Giant Slalom Augment skis. With the huge variation in slope conditions, this is something that he would like, sponsorship permitting, to be able to expand his choice on. “It is pretty hard to get skis once I am in America, I would like to switch up a few models, I need to get the models right before I go. The Nor-Ams can be really hard and icy while the FIS races are a lot softer. I need to be a bit more prepared for that.”

“I haver to do what I can with what I have got and then in the future when I have more sponsorship, I can get more skis,” explained Vinter.

Vinter is a hard working racer that is using every opportunity that he has earned for himself. With a younger brother also successfully competing on the FIS tour, Owen is the current British Overall Champion, Zak knows that success is earned. By combining his racing with education, he is looking at the long game. His work ethic was rewarded with the 2018 Craig MacFie Foundation Award.

Follow Zak’s progress on his FIS page and also through his Social Media accounts!

Insta zakvinter

Twitter zak_vinter

about author