What’s seldom is wonderful as Tess Arbez found out in 2020 when she took a year out of competitive skiing to concentrate on her biomedical studies in Geneva.
The talented 24-year-old French-Irish skier was only 20 when she made her Olympic debut in PyeongChang in 2018.
She had put her law studies on hold to qualify and then resumed them, via distance learning, but then switched to a more demanding course.
“I had started law but I prefer science and medicine and I had to take a full year out of skiing to pass first year as it is a difficult course.”
With her passion reignited she returned to the slopes in late 2020 which turned out to be perfectly timed, paradoxically due to the global pandemic.
“I was in second year and, with COVID, university was all distance learning and on Zoom which meant I could do the entire ski season. I was maybe the only person who was happy about the Covid situation,” Arbez jokes.
“I was skiing in the morning and catching up with my lessons in the afternoon so it was a really busy year but I think it was worth it.”
It certainly paid off as she finished 38th in giant slalom at this year’s World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo (February 2021), her best international result ever.
Getting lots of slope time also helped fuel her love for speed and she could be the first Irish woman to race Olympic Super-G in Beijing next February.
In Beijing Arbez is hoping to do even better than on her Olympic debut.
“I hope this time I will be more mature and ski better because the first time it’s really stressful. I was very nervous. You know the whole country is watching you and your parents are at the bottom waiting for you.
Her maternal grandfather was born in Carlow and lived in Blackrock in Dublin and her mother Marguerite lived in England before her parents moved to France.
Marguerite is a genetic scientist at the same university where Tess now studies “I actually had her as a teacher a few weeks ago, that was funny.