Winter of Summerhayes
One of Britain's finest freeskiers, Katie Summerhayes is making her mark on the international stage this season
Katie Summerhayes on course in Slopestyle
First World Cup podium - second in Silvaplana
This winter has been crucial for British athletes aiming for Sochi 2014, with the qualification period well underway.
Slopestyle skiing and snowboarding and skiing halfpipe are included at Sochi 2014 for the very first time. It’s an exciting development for freestyle skiing, with the inclusion of these constantly evolving disciplines comes a whole new crop of British skiers and riders with Olympics aspirations.
British athletes who made their first turns on the dry slopes at Sheffield Ski Village, were introduced to freestyle through the Salomon Freeski Grom Camps, and honed their skills at UK indoor slopes, are rising through the ranks to stand on the podium with the best in the world.
James Woods won back-to-back gold medals at the first ever FIS Freestyle World Cup slopestyle events, followed by a bronze medal performance at the invite-only Winter X Games, and silver at the recent World Championships in Norway. Woods failed to progress through qualification at the X Games in Tignes, falling victim to some atrocious weather conditions, but GB Freeski teammate and training partner Katie Summerhayes shone through, showing that the British Freeski team has depth and talent.
It’s been a standout season for Summerhayes, the 17-year old Sheffield native who competed at the Youth Winter Olympics in Innsbruck last year. Despite under-going knee surgery last summer, Summerhayes began her campaign to qualify for Sochi 2014 in style, picking up a silver medal at a World Cup Slopestyle event in Silvaplana, Switzerland. She followed this up with a 4th place finish at the World Championships in Voss, which means she’s currently sitting in 6th in the World Cup Slopestyle standings.
But it’s not only in FIS World Cup events that Summerhayes has impressed. At the recent Nine Queens contest, a freestyle contest at an enormous sculpted snow castle in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, Summerhayes landed a switch 1260. That’s three and a half rotations, taking off backwards, and it’s the first time the trick has been landed by any female skier in competition.
Katie Summerhayes in action at X Games Tignes
Despite starting as an alternate at the European installment of X Games in Tignes, the slopestyle skier (who also competes in halfpipe) impressed judges with her superior skills on the rail sections. She posted a score of 79 in her second run, which was good enough to finish 4th.
Although the World Cup season wraps up in Sierra Nevada, Spain this week, Katie Summerhayes and the rest of the British Freeski team will continue training hard under the expert guidance of head coach Pat Sharples. These young guns have shown this season that with a little bit of funding, British skiers can have a chance to stand on the podium with the very best.
Nine Queens 2013 Highlights including Katie Summerhayes
Follow Katie Summerhayes on Twitter: @suumerhayes
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