Words and pictures by Tristan Kennedy
It’s just before Christmas, less than two months before the Winter Olympics kick off in Pyeongchang, and snowboarder Katie Ormerod, one of Britain’s brightest medal hopes, is about to drop in for a training run.
She does a little sideways shuffle on her board as she eyes up the jump below her – a huge, icy wedge standing 12 feet tall, its sharp, sculpted edges glinting in the morning sun. There’s the briefest of pauses, and then she drops. She tucks low on the run-in, gathering speed.
Her control as she rides up the kicker is perfect. But as she leaves the lip and launches over the 60-foot table top, something goes wrong. For a sickening few seconds Katie flies through the air out of control, arms flapping wildly, before coming down hard on her head.
“For a sickening few seconds she flies through the air out of control before coming down hard on her head.”
It’s hard not to be shocked watching her stricken form slide down the landing slope. But as she gets up and dusts herself off at the bottom, Katie is all smiles. “It was my first time riding it switch,” she tells me cheerily. “The transition’s really fast, so it kind of shoots you up and I just took off very wrong.
“But I didn’t care at all. You’re just in the air and you’re like: ‘Oh, it went wrong. Who cares?’”