DARLINGTON cross-country skier Sarah Hale believes experience will prove the key when she takes to the snow at the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival in Romania.

Hale is one of only three Brits who took part in last year’s inaugural Winter Youth Olympics in Austria to travel to Brasov this time around as part of a 17-strong team.

She impressed with a 16thplace finish in the sprint discipline in Innsbruck, a vast improvement on her 32nd in the 5km classic event two days beforehand.

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And, a year the wiser, the 18-year-old is confident of going better still this time around in both events in Romania as well as the 7.5km freestyle.

“It is a big advantage to have been to a big event like Innsbruck and sampled the atmosphere already,” said Hale, who now lives in Falun in Sweden.

“I am really looking forward to getting back out there and getting into it all over again. The first time around I had little idea about anything.

“You cannot gauge how good the other competitors are before you have been out there but I feel a lot stronger than I did last year.

“I won’t struggle with the nerves or anything like that because last year I did have a lot of fear about how I was going to compare.

“Training has been fantastic, I’m in much better shape than I was 12 months ago and I would like to think that I can improve on my previous results.”

But, rather than make predictions on how she’ll fare, Hale instead prefers to focus simply on her performance, insisting if it’s right the results should follow.

“It’s difficult for me to say that I will get into the top ten, or the top 20. I cannot be sure about the competition,” she added.

“All I can be sure of is that I am better than I was last year and that I am going to give it my absolute all in the races so that I cross the line with nothing left.”

  • The British Olympic Association prepares and leads British athletes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games. It works in partnership with sport National Governing Bodies to enhance Olympic success and is responsible for championing the Olympic values.olympics.org.uk