For the first Wonderkid Wednesday feature of the new year, GYS spoke to ten-year-old freestyle snowboarder Amenah Almuhairi off the back of her hugely successful 2018.
As the only female freestyle snowboarder to be sponsored by Ski Dubai in the whole of the UAE, big things are expected of the young Emirati girl – and in the last twelve months she’s more than lived up to her billing as one of the regions most promising young athletes.
Victory in the Dubai Police Ramadan Ski & Snowboard Championship back in May was followed by two more Ski Dubai Freestyle crowns in the following months, before rounding off the year with a massive win at the UAE National Slope Style & Big Air Championship in November – a triumph Amenah calls the highlight of her fledgling career:
“The UAE Championships is my proudest moment to date because I trained very hard to get to this stage,” she said. “I’m surprised by how well I’ve done this year, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to train and be involved in the sport as a young girl.”
Despite her age, Amenah already has bags of experience on the snow; she began learning to ski at five and then started snowboarding when she was seven and hasn’t looked back since.
She said: “I tried snowboarding when I was seven because it looked fun and cool and I loved it.
“I started freestyle snowboarding last winter when my coach showed me how to ride in powder snow and taught me to do tricks.
“I really liked it; it was exciting and I wanted to keep going.”
And keep going she has; the training has paid off and she is now the only Ski Dubai sponsored freestyle snowboarder in the UAE.
But, despite undoubtedly being proud of her status as a pioneer for female snowboarders in the region, Amenah is hopeful that more girls will be inspired to take up the sport:
“I really hope that other girls try snowboarding and that eventually we will have more on the freestyle snowboarding team,” she said. “It can be a little lonely being the only girl and I’m much younger than the other athletes.”
And what advice does she have for any young person thinking of taking up the sport? It’s simple:
“Go for it,” she urges. “Don’t be afraid to try something new, train hard and never give up.
“Snowboarding is really fun and I advise you to try it.”
On a personal level – as we enter 2019 – Amenah’s attentions are turned to the future for what she admits will primarily be a year of development.
She said: “Unfortunately, I am still too young to compete on the international circuit and I need to learn harder tricks, so 2019 will be a training year for me; I have a busy winter schedule training in Laax, Switzerland and Jahorina, Bosnia.
“Other than training, I will be competing in Ski Dubai events and I want to once again win the National Title.”