Ormerod ready to soar to new heights in pursuit of Olympic ambition

Ormerod ready to soar to new heights in pursuit of Olympic ambition

13 November 2017 / 22:36
Small in stature and quietly-spoken, Katie Ormerod is ready to go big and make some noise in PyeongChang.
KATIEORMEROD32001800The 20-year-old snowboarder is diminutive and determined in equal measure, claiming that her Olympic moment has been coming ever since she first strapped on a board as a five-year old in West Yorkshire.

Already an X-Games medallist, last season she won bronze at the Olympic test event and became the first Brit to win a World Cup Big Air competition when she struck gold in Moscow.

And she’s continued that form, winning World Cup silver in Milan last weekend to start her Olympic season in style.

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Fellow British snowboarder Jenny Jones famously won slopestyle bronze in Sochi, Team GB’s first-ever medal on snow. Ormerod now wants to make her own piece of history by going even better.

And she’s got form in pushing the boundaries, becoming the first woman to land a dizzying, gravity-defying backside double-cork 1080 - two 360-degree front flips and a full 360-degree corkscrew spin.

It’s a trick - which has now been viewed 180,000 times on YouTube - that many thought was not possible and she remains the only woman to perfect it.

“I watched the last Olympics on television and I remember just feeling really sad,” said Ormerod, who hopes to compete in both slopesyle and Big Air events next February.

“I was just so gutted to miss out because the Olympics has always been my dream. I just had to put it behind me and start working towards PyeongChang and becoming a better snowboarder.

“I was only 16 and the experience of just trying to qualify was amazing. I know I probably wouldn’t have medalled, so these Olympics are about winning.

“Landing the quad 1080 just kickstarted my proper career, after that I started getting all the invites to the big events and that’s just changed my confidence. I’m in the best shape possible and I feel totally ready.

“Seeing Jenny get that medal really inspired me to train even harder because I knew I could do it too.”
GettyImages-868686298Ormerod only called time on her gymnastics career five years ago and admits she was glued to the television during Rio, cheering Max Whitlock and others to their podium performances. 

Halifax, 449 feet above sea level, is not the sort of place you expect to find an aspiring Winter Olympian.

But Ormerod could be joined in PyeongChang by cousin Jamie Nicholls, who finished sixth in the snowboard slopestyle in Sochi and became the first British male snowboarder to win a World Cup event when he topped the podium in the Czech Republic last year.

However, she’s already overcome her fair share of injuries, snapping her anterior cruciate ligament in 2014 and breaking her back during training for this year’s World Championships.

“My friends back home don’t really get what I do,” she admits. “I have to show them videos, it’s a lot easy than telling people I fly off jumps the size of houses.

“I’ve always been super sporty, my Dad remembers me leaping out of this huge cardboard box when I was one and that’s when he knew I’d be an athlete. 

“Snowboarding is an action sport and injuries happen because it’s extreme and dangerous. I’ve had injuries throughout my career but I love it that much that I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

“When I broke my back I didn’t realise how bad it was. It was pretty scary when they told me but I never thought for a minute I’d miss the Olympics again. 

“It feels so close now and I can’t wait. I’m used to the pressure and I’m trying to harness it and turn that into a positive energy. I’m nervous at every competition but I’m much more confident now.”

Sportsbeat 2017

Action photos: Matt Georges

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