Wicklow’s McKenna Steps Up In First Major Competition



25 January 2023 Despite being one of the youngest athletes competing in Alpine Skiing at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), Wicklow’s Eábha McKenna stepped up in her first major competition, finishing 38th out of 88 starters in the Girl’s Slalom with 1:46.58. The Olympic Federation of Ireland has two athletes competing in the multi-sport event that plays a key role in the pathway of athletes, providing valuable learning experiences for athletes in a high-performance setting. The EYOF is hosted by the the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy and run from the 21 – 28 January 2023.

Competing in today’s slalom event, McKenna had a solid first run, on a course with over 20 athletes marked as DNF. Determined to improve her ranking in the second run, the sixteen-year-old focused on a cleaner execution,

“It was more rutted than this morning so I knew if I kept the line and if I stayed on top I would be faster, and it worked out! I’m happy with that, these are the best in Europe, at the moment in my age group, and it’s one of the better races I’ve had. I’m glad I put down two solid runs. It’s quite a change competing here at this level, absolutely everyone here is trying to get into the World Cup eventually”

For the past five years McKenna has been working with Team Ireland head coach Giorgio Marchesini, who has been working with Irish development athletes since the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The Italian coach works on the Snow Sports Association of Ireland pathway programme, and highlights the importance of events like the EYOF for the development of young athletes,

“When they are young it is important to bring the athletes to competitions at the international level. At the EYOF, the race is the same as what they know, but the big difference is everything that surrounds it. It is more professional, there are TVs, interviews, and all the stuff the athletes meet when they go to big events like World Cups and Olympic Games.”

Marchesini emphasises the importance of creating a consistent high-performance environment for these athletes, saying,

“The path I take with the young athletes is very progressive, there is not much difference between what I said to Eábha today at the race, and what I say when we are in Andorra together. It is very important for us to start working with them when they are children. For instance, with Eábha she knows me well, she knows when it is time to talk, and when the moment is that we get more serious and concentrate. It is really important that this pathway is there for them, so they can propare to move into the senior races.”

McKenna will be in action again tomorrow, competing in the Giant Slalom.



Eábha McKenna –Girl’s Slalom – 38th overall with 1:46.58 (+13.75), (Run 1 52nd with 52.03)

Gold Leonie Raich (AUT) 1:32.83

Silver Laila Illig (GER) 1:33.72 (+0.89)

Bronze Moa Landstroem (SWE) 1:33.74 (+0.91)

SCHEDULE THURSDAY 26th JANUARY 2023 (Irish time)


09:00 Eábha McKenna (bib 64) – Girl’s Giant Slalom Run 1

12:15 Eábha McKenna – Girl’s Giant Slalom Run 2

All events are live streamed HERE, and can be followed HERE.