Less than seven months after suffering permanent paralysis in a racing accident, former ski star Silvano Beltrametti has launched a new fitness project for talented youngsters.
The 23-year-old from canton Graubünden was himself considered one of the country's brightest young stars prior to the tragic crash in December, which left Beltrametti paralysed from the chest down.
Now though Beltrametti is hoping to use some of his sporting know-how to benefit the next generation of stars with a training course based on the fitness needs of top athletes.
"Two years ago, I was already near the top when it came to technical ability," Beltrametti recalled, as he explained the idea behind the new scheme. "But as far as my conditioning was concerned, I knew that there were still gaps."
Beltrametti said he was later able to bridge those gaps with the help of professional trainers "who steered me and watched over me - practically 24 hours a day."
With the help of his former private trainer, Thomas Jäger, Beltrametti is now passing on his experiences. Several skiers from the Swiss B-squad and junior team have already taken part in a nine-week pilot project which included programmes on nutrition, performance diagnostics and mental training.
"We haven't organised these camps as a form of competition to the Swiss skiing association," Jäger was keen to point to out, "but rather as a sensible addition."
The first skiers to benefit from the scheme certainly appeared to have been impressed.
"I don't use the word 'perfection' lightly," said B-squad skier Hans Valer, "but what we were offered here was as close to perfection as you can get."
Beltrametti is convinced that his own improvements with the use of a personal trainer would have impressed the Swiss ski association, if fate hadn't intervened last December.
"If I had been able to complete the winter season, I'm sure every top skier would have been looking to take on a personal trainer," Beltrametti insists.
Because such luxuries are beyond the financial reach of most young skiers, the former World Cup star is hoping his new project, and the backing of its sponsors, can at least get the next generation off to a solid start.
swissinfo with agencies
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