IT'S been a pretty good year all round for 15-year-old Brixham ski-racer, Cameron Thomas, whose achievements were recently recognised at the Torbay Sports Awards.
Nominated by both Torquay Alpine Ski Club, where he trains, as well as Brixham College, Thomas was a proud runner-up in the junior sports personality category.
In 2012 he became the Great Britain indoor and outdoor champion at U16s, achieving 16 podiums out of 18 races and two other national championship titles.
In the Great Britain Indoor and Outdoor Series between April and July, Thomas secured seven gold medals, five silvers and a bronze.
He was eighth-placed male overall in the indoor series, ninth-placed male overall in the outdoor series and was fifth across all categories and races combined – a huge achievement against many of the UK's top racers.
Thomas also won the Welsh National and Welsh Open Championship titles in his age category at Pontypool in early September.
With a top-five position over both days, Thomas was selected for the England A team in the KO parallel slalom, his team ending with a silver medal.
As the winter season fast approaches, Thomas is working hard on his fitness after a recent knee injury in a biking event.
"Apart from a high-speed crash in Super-G training last winter, I have been lucky so far, with no long-term injuries, so it's a bit frustrating to have hurt my knee from a biking fall," said Thomas.
With exams in January, Thomas has a shorter training/racing programme planned for this winter, starting in February and focusing on the British Championships in April in Meribel, France, after which he will move to the Junior category.
Thomas has proved his versatility on all surfaces – artificial, indoor snow and alpine snow. He is currently ranked in the top 10 in the alpine races in his age category, after only three years of competing in with limited training in comparison to many others.
For Thomas, it means a big year-round commitment, competing at slopes all over the UK during the summer, including Manchester, Norwich and Glasgow, before his winter training weeks in France.
Fitness is now an important part of Thomas' development and he has worked on a varied and balanced fitness programme for the last 18 months.
His self-motivation and commitment to training is huge and his determination has been recognised by many, including his coaches, teachers at Brixham College and circuit-training teacher, Grant Churchward from Torbay Taekwon-Do, who is helping him build his fitness.
Thomas balances his racing career with his schoolwork, aware that it will be a tough journey ahead with the move to juniors as well as his GCSEs.
"I have great support from my coaches at Torquay, the British Ski Academy in France and my teachers at Brixham Community College," said Thomas.
Thomas starts his GCSE exams this year, one of the reasons why he has trimmed his competition commitments.
Richard Burden, the assistant principal at Brixham Community College, said thanks to the internet it was possible for Thomas to keep on top of his studies.
"This is a big year for Cameron in terms of his sport and also his education and we want to support him on both fronts," said Burden.
"Hopefully, skiing will be his living some way, but he is keen to balance sporting successes with academic success.
"It helps that Cameron is terrifically motivated in everything he does and wants to do well at his studies as well as his sport.
"In previous years when he has been abroad skiing he has done his work and we know he will do the same now.
"Thanks to the internet you can look at revision sheets and coursework anywhere in the world."
Thomas has also been busy over building up a video selection for his website.
With the help of John Reynolds of Scan & Go, he now has a new promotional video incorporating a song made for him especially by Chris Moore of Plymouth-based band, Last Child Dancing.
Said Thomas: "John's help with videos and QR codes over the past few years has been fantastic and I am also really grateful to Chris for the song and lyrics which really start to tell my skiing story – it has been a great journey so far."