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British ski cross racer Emily Sarsfield has had a year to remember with an Olympic debut and making British history by making the quarter finals.

Sarsfield talks to the Ski Club about her ski career:

What a year you have had! What does it feel like to become a Winter Olympian?

It’s very hard to put it into words! My journey to becoming an Olympian was a lot longer and had a lot more ups and downs than we expected. With a career-threatening injury before the Vancouver Olympics and red tape enforcing my invite to be declined before the Sochi Olympics. 

Finally getting that opportunity to compete on the Worlds biggest sporting stage was amazing! Being essentially a self-funded athlete with no coach for over 10 years of my career, it was really emotional to finally achieve my dream, it wasn’t about me this was for my family, friends and sponsors who stood behind me and believed in me during the really tough times. To finally get to be part of Team GB made me very proud!

Were you happy with your performance in PyeongChang?

I had an extremely tough time leading up to Pyeongchang. I snapped my MCL’s in both knees 11 months before the games, so I was rehabbing all summer. My daily routine consisted of three hours physio, two training sessions, icing and compression recovery. It got to the point where I couldn’t even walk to the local shop due to the reaction in my knee, everything was focussed around ensuring I could do my training sessions instead, so I had to modify daily life and sacrifice a lot.

It felt like I wrapped myself in cotton wool for six months, which can be quite restricting! Once I made it to Korea all I wanted to do was put on my best performance, that is what I had worked for, trained multiple hours a day, week in week out for many years. So that was what I did! Not everything went my way at the games but making British history and earning a spot in the quarterfinals was amazing. My family and friends were there to share it with me. It was so emotional and I was really pleased with achieving that result.

You've had a fair share of injuries and some setbacks in your career, how did you manage to keep focused on your goals throughout these moments?

Injuries are part and parcel of being an athlete. We are constantly trying to push our bodies to do more. So it’s only natural for you to upset it from time to time, especially doing an extreme sport like ski cross.

I sure have had some challenges in my career but now I see those challenges as opportunities. Injures mean you can take time to build your body stronger and correct weaknesses, other setbacks mean I have to find the strength to bounce back and follow my passions. I am really grateful for those challenges now, as they have shaped me as an athlete and a person.

When it comes to fitness training, what's the toughest part of your routine?

I love my training, I love trying different things out and challenging myself. I’m a power athlete so the long cardio sessions are always my nemesis, but there is something quite rewarding about overcoming the pain you put on yourself in training sessions.

The toughest part is getting the motivation to get to the gym on my own on the rainy autumn days.

You made the switch from Alpine to Skier Cross a while back, were there challenges to adapt to a new discipline?

I switched in 2005 when I first saw ski cross I refused to try it. The idea of my feet being off the ground and skiing so closely to people terrified me!

But when I tried for the first time at the World University Games I loved it, I couldn’t wait to get back to the top and do it again! It brought a whole new love to skiing for me and the idea of racing head to head really motivates me.

What are your goals for this season?

We have world championships this year in the USA, so I am prepping for that and the World Cup circuit. I’ll also be teaching in my ski school ‘EmSKiSchool’ in Méribel. 

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Why is skier cross such a great sport in your eyes?

It’s such a good spectator sport, you don’t need to know all the technicalities of skiing when you watch to know what’s going on; the first one to the bottom wins. All the jumps and elements in the track really make it unpredictable so you never know what’s going to happen.

What are your plans for when you finish competing professionally?

Having been self-funded I’ve always had to juggle work alongside my training & competing.

I have my ski school in Méribel, some ski fitness sessions and I’m the summer I work with an ex-pro rugby player converting shipping containers into bars and pop up Apres ski bars. Very random, but fun and definitely keeps me busy!

Follow Sarsfield and the rest of the GB Snowsport team on our racing and riding news page!