11 Feb 2014

Can Katie Summerhayes deliver another Sochi medal?

At 18, Katie Summerhayes is one of the youngest athletes in Team GB’s squad for the Winter Games. But after taking two World Cup ski slopestyle medals, she is a real prospect for Sochi.

Ski slopestyle Sochi Katie Summerhayes Winter Olympics

The Olympic freestyle events include mogul skiing, aerials, ski cross, ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle, writes Rebecca Horsbrugh. The latter two are making their Olympic debut in Sochi after being added in 2011.

A total of 10 sets of medals are awarded in freestyle, with both men and women competing in the events. In ski slopestyle, athletes perform on a slope with various types obstacles such as rails, quarterpipes and jumps.

The technical characteristics of the course are determined by the rules of the International Ski Federation. The competition follows an elimination format, with semifinals and finals. The final has two runs, and the top finisher wins.

Medal potential

Aged just 18, Katie is one of the youngest athletes in the British squad. However she has real medal potential in ski slopestyle.

She began skiing at the tender age of six on the artificial slope of her hometown of Sheffield, and soon discovered a love for freestyle. She took part in her first competition aged nine, and six years later was invited to the 2011 World Championships in the US, where she finished 11th in the slopestyle and 14th in the halfpipe – a great achievement in her first major competition.

Great Britain’s freestyle skiers are nicknamed the ‘Fridge Kids’ because they learned their trade at indoor ski slopes.

It has not all been plain sailing for Summerhayes, however. The teenager suffered a career-threatening injury to her knee in March 2012 and was forced to spend the entire summer in rehab. But she returned in style, winning British female skiing’s first World Cup medal in 19 years with silver in Switzerland in February.

Her Sochi campaign was disrupted once again thanks to further complications from her original knee injury, and she only competed for the first time this season on 10 January. A week later the 18-year-old showed she was back to her best, however, by taking a second career World Cup medal in Switzerland.

Great Britain’s freestyle skiers are nicknamed the “Fridge Kids” because they learned their trade at indoor ski slopes. However, the freestyle team has shown in recent competitions that the Brits are the ones to watch – and none more so than Summerhayes.

Women's ski slopestyle at Sochi

11 February - ladies ski slopestyle qualification
11 February - ladies ski slopestyle final

Becky Horsbrugh is a producer for Channel 4 News