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AFTER more than three years off snow, Michael has dusted off his skis to spend two weeks coaching development athletes at Falls Creek in Victoria's Alps.

It's been Michael's longest break from skiing, including the time he took off to be treated for cancer as a nine-year-old when he had his leg amputated.

"After the 2006 Paralympic Games and then setting a new speed skiing record, I just wanted a break. I'd been on snow for most of every year my whole life and it was time to give it a rest.

"The following winter I was sick with cancer and the winter after that I was on the bike training for Beijing," explained Michael.

He said he's been looking forward to being back in the mountains although he never had ambitions to be a coach.

"It's been a real challenge for me. I have always expected a lot from my coaches and my long-time ski racing coach Steve Graham really set the bar high. But it's been a great experience and I've learned a lot. I hope the athletes can say the same," he laughed.

Michael has coached nine athletes over the last two weeks, with different disabilities and of varying skill levels.

"It's a challenge that coaches of able-bodied athletes don't have to the same extent. They generally start with a group of athletes who are very similar physically but that's rarely the case with athletes with disabilities.

"Obviously I have a good idea about coaching standing ski racers but most of the development athletes I have been coaching are in sit skis. It's completely different but still fun and very very interesting," Michael explained.

The development program is the result of a partnership between Disabled WinterSport Australia (Victoria) and the Australian Paralympic Committee.

In September Michael will spend a week at Thredbo coaching another group of development athletes.

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