IVANA Trump, a Russian millionaire, and a posse of high rollers from Las Vegas can all claim a little credit for the appearance of Scotland's Laura Donaldson in Great Britain's Winter Olympic free-style team.

The 30-year-old Donaldson, last to be added to the ski squad for Salt Lake next month, worked for all three. She skivvied on yachts to bankroll her campaign, having recovered from crippling injuries to fulfil the stringent Olympic selection guidelines.

She did that just last weekend in Andermatt, finishing fourth in a European Cup moguls contest. ''I then skied like mad, down to the next station, for a phone, to ensure the information got back to the British Olympic Association,'' she said. It being the weekend, there was no-one there. She faxed details to the ski governing body in Edinburgh, only to learn that the BOA had already chosen the team, and its announcement was due that very day.

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''I was told I wasn't getting to go, because the paperwork could not be done in time. I was very, very dejected. I just couldn't comprehend it.''

Yet she drove to Geneva, boarded a plane for London for a meeting with BOA chief executive Simon Clegg. Their selection window had closed seven days earlier, but as some qualifying events had been cancelled, Clegg agreed that her appeal for an extension was valid.

This woman does not take no for an answer. While at Glasgow University, she was competing in the student windsurfing cham-pionships at Tiree. ''It was a force nine; I came off in two or three feet of water and my foot went into the sand. All my weight went sideways. I'd a compound fracture of the knee. I needed a bone graft, a five by one centimetre plate, and three two-inch screws. Now that it has healed, they've been taken out.''

That particular trophy is at home in Bearsden ''all shiny stainless steel, in a drawer, wrapped in tissue paper.''

Yet that was only one setback. ''Cruciate ligament injury'' are dread words for sports people. They have ended the careers of a catalogue of luminaries. Donaldson had spent just a season on the US circuit when she was crocked. It was two years before she was able to return to ski-ing. ''I spent it working in the Glasgow office of Scottish Power, processing gas and electricity applications. It made me determined to get back. I did not want to leave ski-ing like that.'' She spent every spare minute in rehabilitation sessions at Esporta and the Kelvin Hall.

Back on skis, she was spotted by the former wife of the billionaire entrepreneur, Donald Trump. ''Ivana wanted someone fit and sporty, and I was hired as a stewardess,'' she says. ''I was very well paid, but she was demanding. I worked as a deckhand, did her wardrobe, arranged flowers, organised champagne receptions for guests - lots of celebrities. I'd to clear up after her. And when she went back to New York, I'd to sign a release form, agreeing not to talk about the details.

''I had other yacht jobs, one chartered by a Russian for the Cannes Film Festival, another with a set from Las Vegas, at the Monaco Boat Show.

''I've been incredibly lucky. I've had modelling jobs, with Fat Face and Snow and Rock. I've sponsorship from Salomon, but I also had an inheritance from a relative. Without that, ski-ing would have been impossible.''

Laura was first on skis in the Campsies, aged four. Her father is Strathclyde University Emeritus management-science professor Bill Donaldson, while her mum, Connie, featured in Frith Finlayson's book, The Ski Teacher. The pair met ski-ing.

''Mum was one of the first female instructors in the Cairngorms,'' says Laura. ''I guess I got my passion for ski-ing from her.''

Now Laura herself is now considering coaching, but not before satisfying her lust for adrenalin, in extreme ski-ing. She is signed up for two televised events to be staged in March: ''Speed ski-ing, over cliffs, that sort of thing,'' she says casually. ''There's big money to be made.''

Ms Trump, a former Olympic skier herself, gave Laura much advice ''about achieving, and goal-setting, but nothing about how to catch your millionaire.''