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Audrey Pascual at the Faculty of Communication and Documentation at the University of Granada. Pepe Marín
Meet the Spanish Paralympic hopeful who wants to compete in skiing and surfing
Sport

Meet the Spanish Paralympic hopeful who wants to compete in skiing and surfing

Audrey Pascual is a student at the University of Granada who practises both of the adapted sports, depending on the season

Antonio Sánchez

Granada

Wednesday, 8 May 2024, 23:08

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Audrey Pascual was once told by her uncle that she wouldn't be able to ski because she had no legs. Her reply? She would attach the skis to her prosthetic legs and prove him wrong.

Now Audrey has gone on to be runner-up in the 2024 World Cup in adapted alpine skiing and her main goal is to take part in the 2026 Paralympic Games in Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo.

She has always had a strong connection to Granada's Sierra Nevada where she learned to ski as a child and has gone on to become one of Spain's top skiers. The keen sportswoman also surfs, allowing her to do sport all year round; every six months she swaps her skis for her surfboard.

Audrey has been competing at national level since she was a child. In 2017 she took part in her first Spanish championships and two years later she started travelling abroad to compete in international competitions. She points out that she always has to compete in the adult category as there are not enough athletes in adapted skiing to create age categories.

Bilateral tibial agenesis

"I have always loved competing and winning. I did the first Spanish Championships to test myself, but the level here in Spain isn't very high and I told my coach that I could do well because I love the adrenaline. It was clear to me that I wanted to compete," she says.

Audrey Pascual was born with bilateral tibial agenesis and had to have both legs amputated above the knee. She underwent several operations to be able to live independently with her prosthetic legs and after the last one she made it clear to her parents that she wanted to do sport.

Her mother got the equipment Audrey needed through the También foundation. She admits that on her first day she didn't like it as much as she thought she was going to, but it wasn't long before she decided to give it another try and since then she hasn't stopped skiing.

Although Audrey wasn't born in Granada she feels she belongs to the city and to the Sierra Nevada. She would travel from Madrid to train on the slopes and when she finished her Baccalaureate in summer 2023 she decided to study at the University of Granada to be closer to the mountains.

Surfing in Los Angeles

Audrey admits that it isn't easy to fit in the studying and competing and says, "Sport has taught me to prioritise, to organise myself better. I have little time and I have to use it well. I have to learn that I can't do everything as a student and an athlete and I can't do it all at once, I have to take it step by step."

The journey so far has been a fast one and Audrey is currently second in the world ranking, which will be taken into account when it comes to selections for Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo. The Spanish Winter Sports Federation requires her to be in the top five in order to qualify for the Olympics.

"It's my main objective right now," says Pascual, convinced that she will achieve it next year, despite the fact that in Spain she competes almost always against herself, while waiting for opportunities to compete against European rivals who can give her a real idea of her level.

Audrey would also like to participate in the Paralympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028 as a surfer, but that is not up to her at the moment. Whether surfing will be considered as a sport on the Paralympic programme for that year is still uncertain, but if it is, she is convinced she could be in the USA.

"I can't choose between skiing and surfing because I love them both. One helps the other to keep me fit. They are sports that complement each other because the physical exercises and movements are very similar, so as long as I can do both I'm going to go for it. I surf mainly in the north of Spain because here in Granada there are no decent waves," she says.

Meanwhile, Audrey's parents watch her progress from a distance. "It's hard for them," she recognises and says she keeps in constant contact with them thanks to technology. "My mother has always let me do what I want. I know I can fall, but I'll get up anyway. Thanks to that freedom, I'm very independent," says the athlete, who's looking forward to many more years on the slopes or catching waves.

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