Backside 180. Inverted 720. 900 Air. The life of a freestyle snowboarder. Week in week out they push their bodies to the limits knowing that one momentary lapse in concentration can result in a career, and potentially life, changing injury. Nobody knows this better than Britain’s first female snowboard World Cup champion, Katie Ormerod.
- 'We needed to come out of this better' - Inside story on how GB Snowsport dug deep in lockdown
- Mikaela Shiffrin has something to say
- Cancellations, coronavirus and calling it a day – This was a winter sports season like no other
When the final competition of the season was cancelled because of Covid-19 Ormerod was crowned Slopestyle world champion completing her dream comeback season.
“I am super, super happy, I have always wanted to get a crystal globe and to get it in my first season back from injury it is just the most amazing feeling ever,” Ormerod said.
Ormerod’s victory was made all the sweeter because of what came before it. In 2018, on the eve of the Pyeongchang games, the then 20-year-old was heavily favoured to step onto the podium and potentially become Britain’s first snowboard gold medallist.
Two days before the opening ceremony she was practicing on the slopestyle course when she slipped off the rail and broke her wrist. For Ormerod this was no big deal.
Ormerod returns to Slopestyle in style with bronze
In the years previous she had snapped her anterior cruciate ligament, the meniscus on both knees, fractured her shoulder, and broken both her arms.
In a sport where only the strong-willed survive Ormerod was not going to let a broken wrist spoil her lifelong Olympic dream.
However, bad luck turned rotten the next day when again she fell in practice. This time she had broken her heel in two places and in that moment the dream was gone, and her Games were over before they had begun.
“When I did break my heel at the Olympics it was obviously really bad timing. I had been dreaming of going there forever,” Ormerod said.
Rather than becoming a dark cloud over her career that moment has defined Ormerod’s comeback.
I tried to keep a really positive mindset throughout the whole rehab. I kept telling myself that no matter what, I was going to get back to snowboarding even though it was a really difficult time.
“I kept that mindset throughout even when it did feel impossible, and at times it was really hard. But I just kept being so determined, I was limping, I was in pain, but I was like I am going to get through this.”
“Then I finally got back on my snowboard after seven operations on the heel and it was pain free. All the hard work in the gym throughout that time had paid off.”
Ormerod competes in both Slopestyle and Big Air and alongside her title in the former she placed fourth in the latter to add to what was a remarkable, if unexpected return to World Cup snowboarding in the 2019/20 season.
“It has been the best season, with five World Cup podiums, three yellow bibs, I was leading the rankings for three out of the four World Cups in slopestyle. And looking back to my injury and the start of this season, the crystal globe and the title wasn’t even in my thoughts.
“I was just excited to be back in the mountains; I wanted to have a fun season and get back in the competitions without any pressure. I think having that mindset really helped me to do well because I have never had a season like it.”
Consistency throughout the season is crucial in winning the overall World Cup title because of the way the winter sports World Cups operate, with points awarded at each individual meet contributing towards the overall title.
Whilst Ormerod did not win any of the four competitions in slopestyle, she managed podium positions in each with three third places and one second place.
GB's Ormerod finishes third as Blouin wins slopestyle final in Calgary
“You really need to be consistent, especially because the level of snowboarding and particularly women’s snowboarding is really high, so you have to be on your game and landing your best tricks.
“I am really proud that I was landing all my best runs and I even put in new tricks which I didn’t have before the last Olympics.”
Through hard work and determination Ormerod’s Olympic dream is very much alive again. In 2022 Ormerod hopes she will finally get the chance to follow in the footsteps of Amy Williams and Lizzie Yarnold.
“I am so excited for Beijing 2022, it is coming around so fast as well. I know what I am capable of and my snowboarding since coming back from injury has been so much better than before.
“I have had all that time off to spend visualising my tricks and its paid off as I have comeback a much stronger snowboarder. I have got new tricks which I didn’t have before and I am going to take those into the Olympic qualifiers next season and I really hope I can kick on.”