Cheshire primed and ready for long-awaited Olympic bow
Freestyle Skiing

Cheshire primed and ready for long-awaited Olympic bow

18 February 2018 / 18:02
It will be nervous excitement rather than trepidation which will greet Rowan Cheshire when she finally gets the chance to put her Sochi nightmare behind her.

Four years ago the freestyle skier’s first Olympics Games experience was over before it had began, as a training crash left her unconscious, concussed and ruled out of the competition.

The physical scars – puffy eyes, bloodied lips and broken nose - eventually healed but the mental anguish was only just beginning as another two serious head injuries over the next 18 months all contributed to a state of anxiety and worry.

It forced her to take two years away but she returned in style, successfully qualifying for PyeongChang, where she will compete in the halfpipe qualification tomorrow.

“I kind of think of it as muscle memory but with your brain in certain circumstances it can cause anxiety. I did get it quite a lot during the start of my head injury when I had it but that doesn't happen anymore,” she said.

“I did have that scare that if I was in that environment of being at the top of the halfpipe I would get a wave of anxiety. I've learnt to deal with those things and I'm feeling positive about it.

“Coming into the competition, I will feel a bit nervous but I just want to get going.

“I had quite a few messages from people saying that they thought it was just them who had a head injury.

“It's nice to put things out there which might help other people, especially with the anxiety side of head injuries.”

Cheshire would have been given an unwelcome reminder of her Sochi difficulties by teammate Katie Ormerod, whose own Games debut was ruined by a training crash which left her requiring emergency surgery on a broken heel.

"I really feel for her,” she said. “It's such a horrible thing to get so far and she's done so so well over the past season or two so it's really gutting for her. I feel really bad for her going through a similar process.

"There's nothing you can really say to take someone's mind off it, you've just got to send them reassuring words and be there for her.”

As for matters on the snow, the 22-year-old will hope the ankle ligaments she tore in the run up to the Games hold up to the rigours of competition.

A return to the form that saw her become the first British female skier to win a World Cup halfpipe title in January 2014 may be too much to ask but Cheshire is taking inspiration from her sixth place at last year's World Championships.

“I've been working on the run I did at the Worlds which I did quite well with,” she added.

“I don't think the sport has progressed massively since then so I'm pretty confident if I put down the run I want to and ski to the best of my ability I could be up there and make the finals.”

Sportsbeat 2018