Young but not daunted, freestyle skier Atkin ready to seize chance
Freestyle Skiing

Young but not daunted, freestyle skier Atkin ready to seize chance

16 February 2018 / 18:33
Izzy Atkin goes for Olympic gold tomorrow - with grandma Betty cheering her on back in Birmingham.

It pays to spend time hanging with the cool kids at the Winter Olympics.

France’s Perrine Laffont won the women’s moguls aged 19 and Chloe Kim, just 17, became the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal with her gold in
the halfpipe.

Now the most junior member of Team GB is hoping to follow their lead in tomorrow’s freestyle skiing slopestyle and strike another blow for teen spirit.


Izzy Atkin, just 19, is the only member of the freestyle skiing squad who didn’t learn her trade inside Britain’s refrigerated ski domes.

She’s the odd one out in the self-styled ’Fridge Kids’ but this is a sport where standing out from the crowd is positively encouraged.

Born in Boston to an English father and a Malaysian mother, Atkin started skiing at three years old and was hooked.

The family moved to Utah, enrolling her in a special school whose academic year extensively runs between April to November, so she could spend four months on the slopes.

“My grandma was so happy and proud when I got the call, she probably told everyone,” she said.

“It’s still just very surreal and I hope I do everyone proud watching back in the UK, especially as they’ll need to get up really early.

“It feels like a family this team, it’s so close knit, everyone knows each others name. I’m not the most outgoing person and I think I’d have got lost on the US ski team, plus I also feel very British.

“I’m quite a shy person, I just express myself and my creative side when I put my skis on, that’s when my personality comes alive.”

Since joining the British team Atkin hasn’t looked back - winning World Cup gold and World Championship bronze in her debut senior season.

And she is considered one of the team’s best medal shots, underlining her form with a World Cup bronze in Aspen just last month.

“I watched Chloe Kim win that gold and it definitely was inspiring, our sport doesn’t really care about your age or your background, it just cares about what you do,” she said.

“Often the younger guys are the ones that are so hungry and really want to push it.

“I’ll be 23 at the next Olympics and they’ll be a whole load of new guys I’ve not heard of yet coming through by then. It keeps you working hard and pushing every day in training, you can never sit back.

“My past results are definitely a confidence booster, it’s certainly given me the belief that I belong and I can challenge.”

Atkin’s main rival would have been Estonian Kelly Sildaru, who isn’t even old enough to compete on the World Cup circuit.

The youngest ever X Games gold medallist, aged just 13, she turns turns 16 on finals day here, but an injury in training means she’ll be watching at home.

“You want to compete against the best in the world and it’s really sad that Kelly isn’t here,” adds Atkin. “She’s a world-class skier who is really pushing our sport to new levels.”

Sportsbeat 2018