The UK’s best skiers with learning disabilities are preparing for their national championships, which are to be held next month.

A delegation of 73 skiers and 59 coaches are set to head off to Special Olympics Great Britain’s National Alpine Ski Championship, which will be held in Pila, Italy, from January 15-22, 2012. The athletes will compete in three different disciplines: super giant slalom, giant slalom and slalom in advanced, intermediate and novice levels. Each athlete is divisioned to compete at their ability level. The team are competing for medals as well as the chance to be selected for the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2013.

One hundred nations will compete at the Games with 2,500 participants with learning disabilities. Head of delegation, Candy Wragg, said: “This is the largest delegation to date! It’s exciting to see the ski programme grow each year – especially in a country with very little snow. It will be the second time we hold our Ski Nationals in Italy.”

Former Olympic skier and BBC TV presenter Graham Bell hopes to attend: “I have been a Special Olympics GB ambassador since 2009 and have seen first-hand the team’s dedication and fearlessness when it comes to training and competing. This is the qualifier for Special Olympics World Winter Games in Korea and I know that these skiers are there to win!”

To be eligible to participate in this competition, athletes must have a learning disability (IQ below of 75), be at least 8 years old and have competed at Special Olympics Regional Skiing competitions.