Team GB Exclusive: McKenna’s Fridge Kids upbeat with 500 days to go until PyeongChang Winter Olympics

Team GB Exclusive: McKenna’s Fridge Kids upbeat with 500 days to go until PyeongChang Winter Olympics

25 September 2016 / 23:07
Lesley McKenna wants her Fridge Kids to keep pushing the boundaries and forget about medals in the countdown to the Winter Olympics.
summerhayesGettyImages-468605157It’s exactly 500 days until the opening ceremony in PyeongChang and three-time Olympian McKenna, who now manages Great Britain’s freestyle skiing and snowboarding hopefuls, is rightly looking ahead with confidence.

Snowboarder Jenny Jones’s slopestyle bronze in Sochi, a first British Winter Olympic medal on snow, broke new boundaries and established new expectations.

Billy Morgan, James Woods, Katie Summerhayes, Katie Ormerod and Jamie Nicholls are all now World Cup podium regulars and boast an average age of 22.

Youth Olympic gold medallist Madi Rowlands is only 16 and slopestyle skier Isabel Atkin, one of last year’s most consistent World Cup performers, is just 18.

It’s a deck stacked with young and emerging talent but competition for the limited places is expected to be fierce.
“Olympic qualification has started now and it brings a lot of pressure and a lot of stress on the athletes because they have to compete in all the competitions,” said McKenna.

“It’s relentless and that’s a big challenge, getting our athletes safely through that process and then getting them in a position to do their best at the Games.

“We believe if we can do that then a few of them will have a chance of winning a medal but it’s more complicated than just getting them to peak in PyeongChang.”

While some Olympic programmes have a 'medals, medals, medals' mantra, McKenna is all about 'tricks, tricks, tricks' and staying true to the 'go big or go home' ethos of her sport. 

Ormerod made headlines when she became the first woman to land a backside double cork 1080 and gymnast turned snowboarder Morgan went viral with a showstopper quad cork jump last year.

Success in Sochi - Woods and Summerhayes also achieved top tens - secured valuable National Lottery funding for McKenna’s team, while she also hopes to benefit from a new British Ski and Snowboard initiative, backed by leading UK travel operators.

The British Snowsports Fund will see holidaymakers encouraged to make a small donation when they book their getaway to the slopes, with over one million Brits heading for their annual ski and apres ski every winter.

Money and the appliance of science goes along way and McKenna recently took delivery of a double size Olympic trampoline to aid training, the first of its kind in Europe.

mckennaGettyImages-94261801“Our programme is built around tricks,” added McKenna (pictured above).

“We don’t have a ‘win at all costs’ approach, we have a ‘do better tricks’ approach because if you do that you are probably going to win and it also protects the athletes from external pressures.

“The valuable thing is learning and developing as a person and we’ve got the ultimate area to do that. The chance to do something that’s better than anyone else is what motivates our athletes. It’s more valuable than winning.

“If someone wins and they’ve not done a good run or the conditions weren’t great then everyone is a bit down and flat. That’s different from many Olympic sports where the winner is just the winner and this is what makes people passionate about our sport.

“It’s about doing something better than you’ve ever done before or that you’ve never done before. 

“James Woods, Billy Morgan and Katie Ormerod are the most exciting athletes in turns of new tricks. They are out there leading the world with their innovation. They all got a strong desire to progress and learn and strive for those radical moments.

“The only way we can increase our chance of wining a medal is to have more athletes there.  In our sport the chances of it going wrong for any athlete, even the most consistent in the world, is really high, about 20 percent.

“If the very best in the world fall over two times in ten in their finals then we can expect things like that to happen to our team, so the only way we increase our chances is to have more athletes at the top.”

By James Toney, Sportsbeat

Sportsbeat 2016

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