ALEC Scott’s Irish grandad Thomas taught him many invaluable life lessons and sport skills except in the one in which he now excels.
“My grandpa is honestly the fittest man I know. He was born in Dublin but grew up in Belfast and moved to Australia when he was around 21.
“Right into his 80s he was running and swimming daily, a real fitness machine. We are very close and he taught me how to ride a bike and kick a soccer ball and would always say ‘do your best at everything you can’.”
That’s what his 24-year-old grandson is now doing on the world’s ski-slopes for Ireland, even though becoming a ski racer was an unusual choice for a kid born in Melbourne, almost five hours from the nearest slopes in Victoria.
Scott was three when he first strapped on a pair of skis on a family holiday. With his parents and sister Zoe also hooked, their visits to Falls Creek increased to spending the Winter there.
He joined the local race club at eight and, within a few years, was training and racing in Europe whose ski season coincides with Australia’s summer. “I’d sometime miss the start of the summer term but my school was pretty good about it.”
His breakthrough moment was finishing fourth, in Under-16 slalom, at the 2013 Trofea Topolino in Folgaria, Italy.
The Topolino (now called the Alpecimbra FIS Children’s Cup) is skiing’s most prestigious underage competition and has been the launch-pad for multiple world and Olympic champions.
In 2018, when Scott was lying fourth after his first Giant Slalom run at the World Junior Championships, he looked around and noticed “it was all the same guys I had raced at the Topolino.”
The first training club he joined in Austria, as a teenager, was the Racing Centre Benni Raich, named after the local superstar and former Topolino winner who went on to win five Olympic titles.
Scott went straight into competitive skiing after school and is now based full-time in Pitztal, about 45 minutes from Innsbruck, training and racing across Europe with a multi-national group called Team Global Racing.
He’s ranked just outside the world’s top 100 (#116 at the moment) in Giant Slalom (GS) which qualifies him to race on the World Cup series (for the globe’s top 150) and he also has dual ambitions ahead of the upcoming Beijing Olympics (February 4-20, 2022).
Part of his motivation when he switched to represent Ireland three years ago was to help build a stronger national team. A crash in a race in France at the end of 2017 meant he needed a full ACL reconstruction on his right knee and he has even gone as far as having stem cell injections, the latest medical innovation in sports’ injuries.
“Skiing is a pretty rough sport on knees, especially putting in a full World Cup season, but I was thinking about trying to grow back that damaged cartilage for life after skiing as well,” he reveals.
“You get fat taken from your body and eight weeks later it is injected into the damaged area. You get a second one three or six months after.
“I had it done a year and a half ago, I don’t honestly know yet how well I’ve benefitted but anything to give myself a chance and it was definitely very interesting learning all about it.”
Scott competed on the World Cup circuit, and had hopes to visit his relations in Belfast over Christmas where he previously watched Ulster rugby in Ravenhill and met boxer Carl Frampton.
“I really want to score more World Cup points because that means you are the real deal but my biggest goal is to represent Ireland at the Olympics and not just participate but get some good results, show what we can do. I think I can break into the top 100 before then because training’s been going well.”