When I first started skiing years ago (in July 2014) my parents were given some advice from a very knowledgeable skier/coach. Chris David, who was snow sports manager at Chill Factore, at the time, told my Mum & Dad that as I was 9, fun was the most important element of snow sports. He also recommended that I should be trying as many different snow disciplines as possible that way I could truly move forward, driven by my developing passions, what ever they turned out to be.
I've been very lucky that my parents followed this advice and encouraged me to give it all a go at different levels (just for fun, competitive both at home and abroad) and across a widely, varied, discipline spectrum (slope-style, halfpipe, moguls, ski cross, slalom and big air skiing and even snowboarding). I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my skiing & other snow opportunities so far. I feel that these opportunities have helped me develop into a good person, and a dedicated, hard working athlete. I think of myself as a pretty grounded individual that still has the ability to dream big and set myself goals and then work towards achieving them.
Last winter I decided to specialise in ski cross. Over the years this discipline has always given me the most exhilarating experiences. It combines multiple aspects of all disciplines under one title. It gives me the opportunity for timed runs as well as head to head racing against multiple competitors on a varied terrain course. The jumps, berms, rollers and other features bring in an exciting freestyle aspect to the discipline but still has the very clear cut interpretation of who wins. First over the line, taking the win!
I first experienced the buzz of ski cross after I had been skiing for about 6 months. Chill Factore built ski cross courses every few months at that time. I received some coaching from a Chill Factore coach. Matthew Reid, was always excited to be coaching ski cross and his enthusiasm really spurred me on. Shortly after my first experiences in ski cross, I joined a Manchester based, grass roots, ski and snowboard cross team, Cross Snowsports. The club helped me develop into a confident ski cross athlete. Training every week on snow and also training in other sports off the snowthat enhanced the skills needed for ski cross athletes. (BMX pump tracks, skateboarding, strength and conditioning, cross fit, Bear Grylls assault courses, trampolining to name just a few) They encouraged my competitive spirit and helped me gain multiple podiums over the following 4 years (both in the UK and in Switzerland). In 2015 I experienced my first taste of ski cross competitions. My first UK competition, The English Indoor championships 2015 I won a Gold medal (U12 category), shortly after that I won a Silver medal in The British indoor ski cross championships 2015 (U12). 2015 was the year of my first, ever 'big' ski cross race weekend in the Scottish resort, Glenshee. This was such an amazing experience, and my very first time on a mountain! I knew I wanted more! The Scottish race gave me my first taste of some of the spills as well as the thrills of ski cross. I made it through the timed runs and into the third set of head to head races. Sadly it wasn't to be that year as a crash left me with only one ski from very early on in the 3rd head to head race. I was still determined to ski the whole course. Despite my eyes being filled with tears from the pain in my shin and the frustration of the crash still stinging my pride, I was determined to finish the race even though I only had one ski. This really helped me find some aggression to add into my skiing. The desire, not just to win but to always finish the race and give it my every ounce of strength both physically and mentally.
After the Scottish SSBX competition, Cross Snowsports took me on my first trip abroad to race ski cross in the Swiss mountains in 2016 I was on some brand new GS skis and didn't know about the importance of waxing skis. So in my first run, needless to say, I was at the very back of the pack of racers. A fellow, British, ski cross parent (A lovely chap called Martin Dade, very experienced as his two sons are awesome ski cross racers) Gave my skis a magical coat of wax. What a difference!!! It was totally different to my first run, stuck in the snow, barely moving. As soon as I left those gates, with my freshly waxed skis I was way ahead of all the other racers. I won that heat by a massive margin. Sadly, my first run meant that I wouldn't progress through to the next round. That didn't matter at the time as I was just so thrilled at the realisation that I might actually have a small amount of talent in this exciting discipline! From the Audi race, Cross Snowsports took me through to Laax, Switzerland for the Brits skier cross competition. I was thrilled to take home a bronze medal in this competition in my age category (U12). I also got my first tastes of slope-style & halfpipe competitions. Managed to gain a bronze medal in the slope-style too.
Once back in the UK I entered the English Indoor ski cross championships 2016 in which I won a Silver in U12 category. This was followed by a Bronze medal in The Snozone indoor ski cross race 2016.
I returned to the Brits in Laax, Switzerland in 2017 where I achieved a silver medal in the Ski Cross and a silver medal in the big air (both U12 categories).
May 2017 saw a series of ski cross races based in the snow domes across the UK. These were my first U14 races despite still being 12 years old. This hasn't been an obstacle in my mind though. If anything it has helped me progress at a faster pace as I always have to push that bit harder. Over the 3 GBX races I gained a silver medal in GBX 1 (Braehead, Scotland) and another Silver in GBX 2 (Snozone, Milton Keynes). The GBX 3 race (Chill Factore, Manchester) I won a Gold medal. (All of these races were in my age category U14). The final race of 2017 was organised as a joint event between the GBX series and the Snowsports England indoor ski cross championships 2017 to act as a final for the GBX series and The English championships. Instead of racing in my age category (U14) I decided to forfeit my age category instead opting to race in the open category for a higher level of competition with seasoned, racers. I was thrilled when I won the overall English ski cross championships in 2017. This result also meant I was the overall series winner in the GBX series (U14).
From this point on, I decided that I would only ever race in the open categories and never in my actual age category. I felt it gave me a much tougher challenge and also gained me a more better progressive experience.
The 2018 English Indoor championships, was an even bigger step up where I had the opportunity to race some former junior olympians. I managed a respectable 2nd overall podium spot that year. After the 2018 championships I was determined that I would return to the 2019 English championships and give it everything I had to try to regain my overall English champion status! I trained harder than I ever have, both on and off the snow for the whole year. I really focussed on getting my nutrition right and also working on my mental focus and positive mind frame to give me a further competitive edge as soon as I stepped into the gates. My hard work paid off against some older and more experienced racers, again, some who were former junior olympians, I was able to keep my nerve and win every single one of my head to head races to give me back that top podium spot in the English indoor ski cross championships 2019.
It was at this point I knew, for sure that I wanted to specialise in ski cross. I want to pursue the highest competitive level possible in ski cross. I know it's a cliché, but I really want to represent GREAT BRITAIN at the winter olympics as a ski cross athlete.
I know that the path is a long one with many constraints (financially, access to training etc..) but I have to give it my best shot. It's the only way I will be able to feel that I am fulfilling my goal that has been a burning, desire for 4 years now. Not only do I know I want to ski at world cup, Europa cup, Fis level and the holy grail of competitions, the winter, Olympics but I now know, 100% that I want it to be as a ski cross athlete!