The new year is certain to be a very different one for multi Winter Paralympics medallist and Lincolnshire Sports Personality of the Year Jade Etherington (23).
In place of the skis and goggles will come whiteboards and markers as the former pupil at both Baston and Langtoft Primary Schools enters a brand new phase of her life as a geography teacher.
Jade said: “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I was at school because I love geography and I like helping other people.
“I’m the eldest of four girls and I’ve always enjoyed playing the teacher with them.
“The medals I won at the Winter Paralympics are brilliant and they’ve done a lot for me.
“But I value teaching so much more because it’s about other people and when I go round visiting different schools, I can feel the impression that I’m having on them and so I’m really drawn to that.
“The novelty of skiing will wear off and I’ll become the geography teacher who also happened to have skied.”
Jade brought the curtain down officially on her seven-year association with the British Disabled Ski Team (BDST) on November 5 after a heart-to-heart summit with fellow Essex girl and guide Caroline Powell (20).
The thrill of winning three Winter Paralympic Games silver medals in Sochi, Russia, in March, the silvers in downhill, slalom and combined, plus a bronze in super-giant slalom, wasn’t enough to keep the pair together competitively.
“It was difficult because myself and Caroline had achieved so much in Sochi so we did have that potential together,” Jade said.
“But on the other hand, neither of us expected to carry on skiing competitively because I had my teaching career and Caroline has her skiing instruction work.
“Retirement was always the plan, so it was good to go out on a high.”
That high started for Jade as a seven-year-old when she went on skiing holidays with her parents Andrew and Amber who both now live in Bourne.
“I was born in Chelmsford, Essex, and came to Lincolnshire at the age of seven or eight,” Jade said.
“It was really my mum’s fault that I started skiing because we were looking for skiing resorts with wider slopes to take my mum, who is fully blind, and my dad who guides her.”
No discussion with Jade is complete without addressing the eyesight issue, glaucoma (damage to the eye’s optic nerve resulting in blindness) and Axenfeld-Rieger Syndrome (abnormality in the front part of the eye).
“I’m so used to thinking of different ways to do things that I don’t really care about having to use different resources because I have the time and the patience to work things out,” Jade said.
“People say that your limitations force you to be creative and in my case, all I can see is blurs, movement and colours, but no detail or context.
“It annoys me that I’m not independent and I hate it if my visual impairment stops me from doing things.”
Despite having less than five per cent vision in each eye, there was no stopping Jade and Caroline on the slopes of Sochi in March, though, as their performances earned them a place in British sporting history as the most successful pair ever in Winter Paralympic history.
The memories of Sochi and the glorious aftermath, including the honour of being made a Freeman of Bourne in April, have all come as a result of a successful fortnight for Jade in the Russian city.
Jade said: “I met Caroline in May 2013 and we started skiing together in August before going to a BDST training camp in New Zealand for two months.
“It was pretty intense as Caroline had never been around someone who couldn’t see before.
“But everyone around the team was brilliant and we were all like a family, despite knowing that we had to race four weeks later.
“Myself and Caroline were working out each other’s personalities and we had to learn things so quickly.
“We did have arguments because Caroline is very relaxed and likes to do things with plenty of time to spare, whereas I prefer that last-minute panic with things.
“But we got to know each other really well at an International Paralympic Committee World Cup event in January 2014 and, although our Winter Paralympic careers have been short and sweet, we’d built up such a strong relationship that we agreed that we wouldn’t go with anyone else.”