A freestyle skier from Great Britain, Katie Summerhayes is one of the new influx of sportswomen stepping up to the plate and representing her country at the Olympics. Despite a hectic training schedule, Katie found a few minutes to speak with us about fulfilling her dreams and doing something she loves as her career.
How did you first get into Freestyle Skiing? People are still surprised when someone from the UK opts to specialise in a winter sport (despite our weather!).
It was after my dad first took Molly (my sister) and I to the Sheffield Ski Village way back in 2001, when I was just 6 years old. As soon I could ski I joined the Sheffield Sharks Ski Club. Skiing with the Sharks gave me the chance to try everything both race and freestyle.
What made you want to try Freestyle as appose to sticking with standard Downhill skiing?
I think it was just because of how much fun it was and how less competitive it was compared to racing. When I first started skiing I did everything; racing, moguls, skicross and freestyle and I loved all of them! However I soon found out the freestyle was the thing I loved doing the most.
Have you been surprised by how much public support you have gained in such a short amount of time?
Yeah, it cools now to see that people are interested and want to follow the team and to see how we are doing. It’s also great that they know what Slopestyle and Halfpipe skiing is. The media coverage is also getting better which hopefully means more people will try it.
Did you ever truly believe that you would be selected to compete in the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012? Do you think it has prepared you well for the Winter Olympics that took place last year?
Doing the Youth Olympics was such a crazy experience and I have so many great memories from there! It definitely prepared me, but going to Sochi was on another level to the Youth Olympics. It still got you prepared for what to expect and how to deal with everything, because without the Youth Olympics I think I could have been blown away by Sochi.
How do you deal with disappointment? Have you ever injured yourself so you have been unable to compete in a competition that you have been training for, for a long time?
I nearly didn’t actually make the Olympics due to injury. I had very serious knee surgery in May, which made it touch and go if I was going to be included in the team. I trained and worked super hard leading up to the Olympics to make sure that I was on the team, so disappointment was narrowly avoided but if it hadn’t been, I would have trained harder and made it next time.
Have you always been a sporty person? Do you think that more should be done to encourage girls into sport from a young age?
I have always loved sports and I’m such a big sports fan. I love taking part and I also love watching it. I think more should be done but it’s hard to make sure that girls don’t feel like they are being pushed and pressured into taking part in sports.
Do you feel a lot of pressure to succeed? Your GB coach, Pat Sharples, describes you as “one of the most naturally talented skiers” he has ever seen, does that add to the pressure?
I just always try my best and always have fun in everything I do. I sometimes do feel the pressure but you just have to put your head down and try not to think about.
Would you call yourself a feminist?
I would say that I am a feminist, I do believe in equal rights for men and woman in sports. Also in everyday life, because I think women can and do work as hard as men!
What advice would you give to other girls who dream of being an Olympian? Did you get any advice that has stayed with you?
I would just say always have fun! That’s the thing I make sure I do in everything and it’s the most important thing. I love what I do and I’m so lucky that I get to do it every day. The best advice I have been given? Have fun but work hard.
What is your most memorable moment so far?
I think defiantly it has to be the Olympics. It was the first time Slopestyle has been included and everyone was just so stoked to be there. It’s something I will never forget.
What is your ultimate ambition, the one thing that will stop you resting until you achieve it?
I really want to win Olympic Gold and X Games gold. That’s my dream and I’m going to work really hard to make sure that it comes true. I also want to push the sport as much as possible.
For more information about Katie, or to stay updated as to her progress, you can visit her website HERE.