Sochi 2014: McKenna's high hopes for youthful charges

15 August 2013 / 16:19

Three-time Olympian Lesley McKenna believes Britain's snowboarders are ready to - in the vernacular of their chosen sport - 'go big' this winter.

McKenna, who retired after the Vancouver Olympics, now guides a youthful British team, who start their World Cup campaigns in New Zealand this weekend.

Two-time X Games gold medallist Jenny Jones is the experienced name at 33 but the five other British competitors in this weekend's opening slopestyle event have an average age of just 22.

Slopestyle - dubbed skateboarding on snow - involves competitors navigating an obstacle pitted trail while performing a series of tricks and will make its eagely-awaited Olympic debut in Sochi.

And Britain boasts some of the world's most promising rising stars, including 15-year old Katie Ormerod and 22-year old Aimee Fuller, who will both compete alongside Jones.

Top Sochi hope Billy Morgan leads the men's team, which also includes Nate Kern and Sam Turnbull.

Morgan should have secured his Olympic qualification after his fourth place at the World Championships and World Cup bronze in Sierra Nevada.

But others will be looking for a high position, with the qualification standard two top 12 World Cup finishes and a top 20 in the overall standings before the middle of January.

"It's been a fast and furious ride for this sport since I first competed in 2002. We've got a team of athletes now rather than individuals," said McKenna.

"The level of riding and technical level of our British competitors is very high. 

"The very first Olympics I went to I was the only British snowboarder but we are now holding our own and it's very exciting. We're performing and innovating at the very top level.

"The sport has moved on so much and that's motivating for the whole team. In an event at least one of them is going to have a great day and everyone feeds off that."

Britain's freestyle skiers also start their Sochi campaigns this weekend in the halfpipe event in New Zealand. Murray Buchan, Peter Speight and Rowan Cheshire - average age just 19 - are all in action and looking to bank valuable World Cup points.

© Sportsbeat 2013