Banchory-born brothers Neil and Andrew Simpson are in with a good chance of being selected as part of Team GB’s Paralympic skiing team for the Beijing Winter Games.
Neil, a para-alpine skier, was born visually impaired with nystagmus, which causes involuntary eye movements, so is guided on the slopes by older brother Andrew.
They communicate via Bluetooth intercoms as Andrew skis ahead of his younger brother to give him instructions and advice on what to expect as they make their way down the piste.
The pair, who are 19 and 21 years old, have started off the 2022 season strongly by picking up a silver medal in the super-combined event at the World Para Snow Sports Championships.
It was an impressive showing from the brothers, as they finished only 0.9 seconds behind the gold-medal-winning pair from France.
The World Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, was the first time the skiing duo have competed in a downhill race, the event they hope to compete in at the Paralympic Winter Games in March.
⛷ #ParaAlpine ⛷
🗣️ "right, left, right, left"
Would you ski down the mountains trusting your sighted guide? BTW, these are 👇"The Simpsons": Neil Simpson and Andrew Simpson. They're brothers 👬🇬🇧
#ParaSnowSports #Lillehammer2021 @Paralympics @GBSnowsport @ParalympicGB pic.twitter.com/lwuAQDdLGg
— #ParaSnowSports (@ParaSnowSports) January 17, 2022
Their success so far this season comes off the back of an impressive 2021, which saw them finish on the World Cup podium for the first time, and means the Simpsons would feel confident if they are chosen for the Winter Games.
Andrew said: “We’re both feeling really good. We had a good preseason, lots of good training and have had a lot of races early on in the season.
“We’re just starting to get a swing of things and it’s starting to come together.
“It’s been great to get a shot at those races and everything else has gone really well so far, we’re really happy with it.”
Neil, a former shortlisted athlete for BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year, believes their most recent experiences on the slopes have better prepared them for what the future might hold.
He added: “It’s about just chipping away and working on whatever there is to work on.
“You’re trying to find little things you can tweak here and there to get quicker as the season goes on.”
Winter Paralympics hopes
The brothers who started skiing as young boys on family ski holidays could have the opportunity to compete at the pinnacle of their sport, as their recent success at the World Championships may have just secured them seats on the plane to Beijing in March.
Neil knows that going to the Paralympic Winter Games would be a great achievement and an experience he would revel in alongside his brother.
He said: “It would be massive. It’s something that we’ve been working torwards for a wee while now, so to get the chance to do something on that stage would be really special.
“It would be a new experience for us and we could try and learn from it, and optimise things for the future.
“And to get to do that with Andrew, even better.”
The older Simpson brother echoes this sentiment, and knows such a momentous occasion in their sporting careers could only bring them closer than they already are.
Andrew added: “We do a lot of things together. We work at the same place, train in the gym and ski together, so it’s brilliant to have each other and to have that support.
“Our goals for the Paralympics would be similar to any other competition in that we won’t really trying to set anything, but we just want to do as best as we can and make sure that we didn’t leave the Paralympics thinking we could have done more or we should have tried harder.
“It’s about making sure that we leave everything out on the slopes.”