SunGod Pro Team snowboarder Katie Ormerod shares her journey from the UK dry slope to the World stage…
“I’m fuelled by the idea that if I can be successful on the world stage, I will inspire others that they can do the same!"
At only 23 years old, Katie Ormerod has already had the career of a lifetime and yet she’s only just getting started. As an X Games medallist, Olympian and reigning Slopestyle World Champion, you'd be forgiven for thinking this incredible athlete had been surrounded by snow her whole life, but this is not the case. As we celebrate Katie joining the SunGod Pro Team, she shares with us how a Yorkshire girl, or any talented British athlete for that matter, can rise through the ranks to compete on the world stage…
Tell us how the love of snowboarding began?
My love for snowboarding began when I was 5. My mum and dad were keen snowboarders at our local dry slope in Halifax. I've been skiing since I was 3 but on my 5th birthday I got a snowboard for Christmas and it was true love, the rest is history!
Where did you train in those early years?
Growing up, I mainly rode the local dry slope in Halifax. A few years later, the snow dome at Castleford opened up as well so I was able to balance the two. Halifax was really good for getting the repetitions on the jumps which were there year-round, but the snow dome was great for rails. Between the two, I was getting everything I needed!
How did you develop your riding during these early years?
In those early years I worked hard on staying versatile and I balanced snowboarding alongside gymnastics. I was actually Yorkshire gymnastics champion a few times and competed at nationals as well! The skills I was learning were super helpful for progressing my snowboarding. When I turned 13, I was selected to ride on the British snowboard team which gave me the opportunity to travel the world and experience different parks abroad. This was when my riding started to really excel!
And when did you commit yourself to the goal of becoming pro?
There was never really a moment where I consciously made a decision that this was where my life would go. I’ve been competing since I was 6 so it’s always been there in my mind! I think I’m incredibly lucky, I love competing and have competed in both snowboarding and gymnastics my whole life – I love it so much and can’t imagine doing anything else! The more comps I entered, the more I trained and the more I progressed – I guess it’s all snowballed from there and I am so thankful for the journey I’ve been on.
Did you feel at a disadvantage coming from the UK and pursuing a career as a professional snowsports athlete?
I was always aware that the people I was competing against grew up with snow in their back garden. I still live in the UK and the people I compete with have access to snow all year unlike myself! I think feeling this disadvantage has fed my determination and it makes me work harder - I’ve always worked extremely hard for my success.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced while building your career?
The biggest obstacle for me I guess was feeling that I wasn’t training on snow as much as my rivals. Overcoming this obstacle was of course helped by the on-snow training offered by GB Snowsport, but it’s also a mental game - I’m definitely fuelled by the idea that if I can be successful on the world stage as a British snowboarder then I will inspire others that they can do the same too! Hopefully, I am proving that if you want it badly enough and you work hard enough you can make it happen.
Do you think this is true in general for most aspiring British snowsports athletes?
In general, I think coming from the UK can make it harder to get the on-snow training in, like the other international athletes are doing. But like I said, if you want it badly enough it’s absolutely still possible to compete at the top level in snowsports. If you enter all the local comps, there is more likelihood that you’ll get noticed by GB Snowsport who can help you get the training you need to be successful!
What's your top piece of advice for a young British snowsports athletes looking to make a career competing?
Have as much fun as possible! The more fun you have, the more willing you’ll be to learn and the more versatile you will become. Alongside that, enter all the local competitions you can at all the dry slopes and snow domes. That’s how it happened for me, I was doing all the small comps and I got noticed by the British selectors. Keep chipping away at the small goals and the bigger things will fall into place!
What's your proudest achievement to date?
It’s got to be winning the Crystal Globe in 2020 and becoming the first British snowboarder to win the overall World Cup title. The Crystal Globe is one of the biggest achievements in snowboarding, and to win this after the biggest injury of my career, it meant even more to me! I’m so proud to have come back from such a horrific time with this injury to win that, and I think I will be proud of that forever!
What are you most looking forward to in the future of your career?
I’m really looking forward to competing at the Beijing 2022 Olympics! Of course I made it to Pyeongchang in 2018 but it was a bit of a false start after I broke my heel pretty badly in practice. The Olympics are a huge dream of mine and I want to go out there and do the best that I can do. I’m still absolutely loving every moment on snow, loving the progression and the challenge. I can’t wait to see how far I can take my own riding!
We’re stoked to be working with Katie as she continues to inspire a new generation of British snowsports athletes. We’re excited to see where her relentless attitude and determination will take her next, because if one thing is certain, we haven’t seen anything yet!