Combining University life with chasing the Olympic dream: Ireland’s Cormac Comerford

The dream of racing for your country is one that every athlete has no matter the sport or the country. When you live on the island of Ireland, even that little bit further away than Britain, things are that little bit tougher. 23 year old Cormac Comerford has battled his way down to the low 40’s in Slalom while continuing his studies in Mechanical Engineering at TU Dublin. This has all been done under his own guidance and planning.

Comerford spent much of his early racing career training with Impulse Racing but now spends as much time as possible training in Italy at the Kronplatz racing center.

Cormac Comerford joined Impulse as he was finishing children’s racing and moving into FIS. Phil Brown, programme director for Impulse said: ’it was always obvious that Cormac had a great work ethic.’

Being based in Italy, Comerford had a good insight into the origins of the Coronavirus and as such the season ending the way it did was, he felt, ‘inevitable.’ He explained: “I was well aware of what the virus was doing before it hit anywhere else. It was only a matter of time so I was lucky to squeeze in the last couple of races and trainings that I did. I initially didn’t think too much of it but dawned on us quite rapidly in fact how big an impact it was going to have.”

Was it a mad panic and dash to get home once the call to abandon the
season was made? “The final days of this ski season were nothing less than eventful. I arrived back to Italy at the start of March after a week at home for university and with the ever worsening situation in Italy I had already started organising training and racing in Austria. After only a day back in Sud-Tirol it was starting to get a bit tense.

“After two days of training we got a call to say the chef at our accommodation had tested positive and for the next week we were isolated in our rooms. We got tested and half of the team were negative and half positive. Luckily I was negative and a test 48 hours later confirmed that and I was allowed to leave for home.”

Comerford was lucky in the his training group and staff were not badly hit by the virus.

Did he feel that he was building up to a series of strong results or happy with the way his points finished up?

Comerford explains: “In the last week of February right as the pandemic was starting to make people uneasy, I had a run of personal bests with 2 pb’s in slalom at Sudelfeld (GER) and Maria Alm (AUT) and a pb for this season in GS in Santa Caterina. My skiing has undergone massive changes in the past two seasons and it was only in the months after Christmas that I really started to ski more consistently.”

Now that the season is over, how is he preparing for the next season in terms of fitness and looking after sponsors and supporters?

“Since arriving home I have been studying for university exams and doing three to four sessions a day of light fitness to keep up my strength and work on any imbalances I’ve built up over the season. My body is always destroyed after a season so it was nice to just focus on caring for my body while getting through lots of study.

The budget Comerford works on does not include much exercise kit so he has been resourceful around the house using tyres, building blocks and the like, he adds: “It has been interesting but nothing beats the basics: Sprints, Jumps, Pull ups, HIIT, balance. There’s plenty for me to do for now.

“With exams out of the way I’m looking forward to putting out some more content and giving more context to what I’m doing. I’m so lucky to receive some amount of support from my university (TU Dublin), Snowsports Ireland, the people at home in Ireland and this season I’m proud to show them where their support is going as it makes up over a half of my expenses.

“What I’m doing is very much uncharted waters for any man / woman from Ireland so it can be quite lonely at times despite having such a big ski family in mainland Europe. Any support, even encouragement goes a long way and funding is the icing on the cake. Despite having a less than ideal budget, this season was the first full season I’ve ever been able to afford. This was huge for me and it paid off to have those extra weeks training on the glaciers in summer.”

Which was the race that gave Comerford the most amount of satisfaction last season?

“This was definitely Maria Alm in February. I had just had a series of personal best results and despite being on different equipment because of equipment breakages I was feeling quite solid and consistent. It was the Dutch National Champs, it was war, and raining but they had set quite a forgiving course. I put down two solid runs. Not amazing, not bad either and the result was a pb so I was very satisfied with that.”

Setting goals is always something to aim for in the short term, did Comerford feel that he met his targets this season?

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