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THIS IS MY TIME - Jane Peel, Laax, Switzerland
Monday April 17, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

GB's top female snowboarder Katie Ormerod believes she has a good shot at an Olympic medal next winter. The 19-year-old speaks to PlanetSKI about success, disappointment & injury.

Katie Ormerod is at The Brits - the British Snowboard and Freeski Championships - in Laax in Switzerland.

She is here as a spectator and supporter. 

She is unable to defend her halfpipe and slopestyle titles as she is still recovering from a broken back sustained during training at the World Championships in Sierra Nevada in Spain in March.

It's not as bad as it sounds, she assures me.

"I fractured my L3 vertebra.  It's a minor injury. I don't need surgery," she says

"It takes about four to six weeks and I'm at the end of that now.   I'm doing gym work and physio."

Ormerod tells me the injury happened when she "overshot by a mile" a jump and caught a heel edge.

"The conditions were terrible," she says, but doesn't elaborate.

Ormerod's team-mate in the GB Park & Pipe squad, James Woods, has been highly critical of the conditions in Spain, as we reported here.

Fortunately,  Ormerod's injury came at the end of the World Cup season - a season in which she had already achieved huge success.

It started with a bronze medal at the Olympic Snowboard Big Air test event in South Korea and ended with several more pieces of metal to add to her collection.

There was a gold medal at the Moscow Big Air World Cup, silvers at the Moenchengladbach Big Air, the Innsbruck Air & Style event, and a bronze in the slopestyle at the winter's biggest freestyle competition, the X Games in Aspen.

She ended the season second in the FIS world rankings for Big Air and second Overall.

Katie Ormerod winner Moscow Big AirWinner of the Moscow Big Air
















Katie Ormerod Second in the Big Air World rankings - photo Katie Ormerod Twitter


















Ormerod's results mean she has done enough to qualify for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics next January, although the official announcement of which athletes get to compete in which event won't come until shortly before the competition.

"At the start of the season my main goal was to qualify for the Olympics," she says.

"I didn't think about podiums.  It was about landing my runs and hoping it would be enough to get enough points.

"When in the second event of the season - the Olympic test event - I got the bronze, I thought I could actually get an Olympic medal.

"It really increased my confidence so much and from there it got better."

Katie OrmerodIn action - photo Peter Morning















South Korea will be Ormerod's first Olympic Games after the crushing disappointment of failing to qualify for Sochi in 2014.

"I tried to go to Sochi but I was super young and I felt so much pressure," she says.

"I was 15.  I was very inexperienced and that was probably my worst season to date.  Every single contest was the worst weather and, because I was so small, I couldn't get over the jumps.

"I was really gutted at the time but looking back it definitely gave me a lot of experience. Now I know how to ride in bad weather and when to play it safe."

Ormerod is still small and slight but her appearance belies the strength and power - both physical and mental - that has brought her so much recent success. 

She is determined and confident.

"I feel this is my time and I have got a really good shot of getting an Olympic medal," she says.

Her chances of following snowboarder Jenny Jones - Britain's first Olympic medallist on snow - onto the podium have been boosted by the introduction of Snowboard Big Air to the Games for the first time in South Korea.

Olympic triumph is probably not so what she was thinking about when her parents bought her first snowboard when she was five.

Katie Ormerod aged 5 and dad5-year-old Katie with her dad















She had been on her first family skiing holiday when she was three.  Her older cousin, another of GB's leading snowboarders, Jamie Nicholls, then aged seven, was on that trip too.

Jamie NichollsCousin Jamie - photo Jenny Bletcher














Ormerod's whole family got hooked on snow sports on the holiday, so they began travelling from their home in Brighouse in West Yorkshire to Halifax dry slope.

At 5-years-old she began snowboarding at the dry slope, fitting it in with her other childhood passion, gymnastics - a talent for gymnastics being a huge advantage for the aspiring freestyle snowboarder or skier.

I get the impression that the young Katie would probably have excelled at almost any sport she chose to take up as a child.

Sport is in the blood.

She tells me that her 14-year-old brother, Harvey, has just signed a two-year contract  to play football for Bradford City FC.  Her great uncle (she thinks his name is Charlie Collard) played rugby for England.

But now, she believes, it is her time to shine, and that means at the Olympics.

"I would love to get the gold," she says.

"I have got a lot of confidence now that I know I am one of the top contenders.  I feel I can do it.

"There will be a lot of pressure.  People will expect me to do well, but I am going to try to turn that into a positive thing."

For now, though,  it's back to on-snow training in Corvatsch in Switzerland later this month and then three months in New Zealand with the GB Park & Pipe Squad.

Ormerod has played a big part in making this last winter season the best ever in terms of results for the Squad.

The challenge is to make next season even better. 

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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