A PIECE of history is in the making if snowboarder Thomas White is selected to compete in the Winter Olympics.
Thomas and sister Nicola, a gold medallist in hockey at Rio, would become the first siblings to have competed at the winter and summer games.
And Thomas, 23, has taken the first step towards that dream by being selected to join the 15-strong Great Britain boarder-cross squad for a five-month training camp in Austria.
That is hopefully the first step towards competing for Team GB and ultimately winning selection for the Winter Olympics, though the next games in early 2018 will probably come too soon for him.
There has also never previously been a British male boardercross skier who has competed in the Olympics, which is another record he is eyeing.
It was only back in 2014 that Thomas, former pupil at Buckstones Primary, Shaw, took up snowboarding after visiting Manchester’s Chill Factore.
“I only went to have a look around but, after seeing the slope, went to reception to rent a board and boots,” he explained.
Thomas initially took part in freestyle events, but has switched to the marginally less dangerous boardercross having previously broken his collarbone that had to be plated and screwed.
Boardercross is essentially a track from top to bottom in which various obstacles have to be cleared and burns (corners) gone round.
Thomas, whose grandmother lives in Delph, said: “It was while studying at college, I decided to take up snowboarding and challenge myself in a completely new sport.
“From that very first day I absolutely loved it and went on to complete my level one instructor course, allowing me to gain employment at Manchester Chill Factore, where I coach boarding and also head up the snow park as park shaper.
“To have grown a career out of something I love is amazing and now to be given the chance to represent my country is an exciting opportunity that I look forward to.”
Thomas has yet to compete for Great Britain which is why his chances of making the Winter Olympics are unlikely.
He explained: “There are a lot of competitions and selection is on a points system.
“I don’t have any so I would have to win nearly every race this winter. It is possible, but I only have a slim chance.
“I would need to make the top 40 in Europe and the world to have a chance, but I love a challenge.”
Thomas, who also studied at Rishworth School, has been to some fabulous resorts in Austria and France to snowboard, but says his favourite place up to now has to be Whistler, Canada.
Nicola is delighted for her brother, who was also a talented hockey player who initially wanted to follow his sister.
He represented Lancashire and the North West at junior level. He was also invited to HI-PAC camps, one step from the national team.
She said: “I am excited that Thomas has found a sport he loves.
“If I were Thomas, I think I would have found it difficult being overshadowed by a sibling who was already established in the same sport, but he is recognised in his own right as a fantastic snowboarder.
“I know how talented and fearless he is having been on ski holidays with him. And I think he is very cool, chilled and creative to perform the flips and moves he does.
“Thomas is very much like me as we both hate losing, love winning and have always been competitive and driven.
“And when I look back, it is no coincidence that I was brought up in a house where my two brothers were also very sporty.”
Sadly Thomas receives no official funding and is on the lookout for sponsorship. He already receives support from Kerri McGill at clothing supplier Tino Designs, but needs more backing.
If anyone is interested in sponsoring Thomas, email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.