British freestyle skier Emily Sarsfield believes she is only ever one race away from a career-best World Cup finish as she prepares to test the snow of the Olympic venue in Sochi.
The 29-year-old has made seven appearances on the ski-cross World Cup tour this season, placing a best of 26th in Telluride in America less than two weeks before Christmas.
That puts Sarsfield on course to qualify for next year’s Olympics while for it to be rubber-stamped she needs three top-24 finishes in the World Cup and including the World Championships.
She isn’t short of time with five more World Cup rounds as well as the World Championships left this season while the qualification period doesn’t end until January 19 next year.
The first of those last five World Cups come in the shape of the Olympic test event in Sochi, which begins on Monday, and Sarsfield knows how much one outstanding result can change her bid.
“It has been a really promising season. Last year was difficult because the sport of ski-cross is all about confidence,” said Sarsfield.
“But step by step my confidence is building every race. I have been getting World Cup points and in that top 30 where I need to be for the Olympics.
“I have had a 26th and a 28th, knocking around the top 25, and that is promising and heading in the right direction.
“I think if you look at where we are I am now, I am aiming for the top 16 and once you get there it is all about ski technique and having a strong start.
“I just need to make the heats. Confidence is such a big thing and one result can have a massive impact.
“The good thing about the sport is that no one massively dominates. It is very skill based but you are not going to get one person winning every single race.
“Everyone’s excited about the test event, it’s not a regular stop on the tour and it’s quite new. Even if it wasn’t where the Olympics were, because it’s not a regular stop, it would make it quite novel.”
At a test event in 2009 Sarsfield suffered multiple injuries in a crash and, despite recovering, failed to earn selection for ski-cross’ introduction onto the Olympic programme at Vancouver 2010.
And, while she admits she will never be 100 per-cent injury free, Sarsfield insists she feels at her best and is hell-bent on qualifying for the Sochi 2014 Olympics next year.
“I am as close to 100 per-cent as I can be. I had a really bad injury before Vancouver where I snapped all my ligaments and my tibia and fibula,” she added.
“I snapped about every stricture you could but I worked at it and worked with a physio and I am in good shape, touch wood.
“And I am massively determined and desperate to get to Russia, in training I can use that as motivation and I never let it bog me down or to get to me psychologically.”
© Sportsbeat 2013