Katie Summerhayes has told The Star about the agonising wait for her Olympic Winter Games place to be confirmed.
The 18-year-old from Sheffield had spent a year working back to fitness after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligaments in March 2012 on the Mammoth Mountain in the USA - an injury that required reconstructive knee surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation spell.
The slopestyle skier has returned to form, though, in 2013 – securing two silver medal World Cup finishes, the most recent being earlier this month in Gstaad, Switzerland and a fourth-place finish at the European X Games as well as achieving the qualifying standard for the Sochi Games.
But she was still worried that her hard work had not, in her words, paid off.
The call finally came in the early hours of Wednesday morning that she will be on board the plane with the rest of Team GB bound for Russian on January 31.
“It was a massive relief,” Summerhayes said. “I have worked so hard over the past two years and I was so happy that everything paid off in the end. Everyone wants to compete at the Olympics, they are the pinnacle of anyone’s career, and to have our sport in the schedule of the Olympics is amazing.”
Summerhayes, who carried the Team GB flag at the Youth Olympics back at the start of 2012, has been preparing in the Copper Mountains of Colorado ahead of the World Cup in Gstaad and a potential call to Sochi.
She became the first Briton in 19 years to take to the podium last year with a second placed finish and she repeated that same feat a year later despite it only being her second competition back after fully recovering from her knee injury.
“Gstaad was really good fun, there was only three of us there as well as my coach, Pat Sharples, I worked really hard in the build up to that tournament and it really paid off. I am just happy to be back on the slopes with everyone again though, my schedule was really messed up by my injury and I am ready to put it behind me.”
Her event, freestyle skiing, will see her tackle some of the most dangerous jumps and rails to try and build up the biggest score possible.
She said: “I will basically attempt three rail features and three jump features, there are no rules and the aim is to record the highest score possible by executing the most dangerous jumps and tricks possible!”
After investing £14 million into GB’s winter sports, UK Sport set an ambitious target of seven podium finishes for the team.
Summerhayes is aiming to be part of that target and bring a medal back with her to Sheffield.
“It’s great to be back from injury and I am fully prepared now and want to go out there and bring back a medal,” she added.
“Everyone wants to win at the Olympics, I have got nothing to lose and I am going to give it my all to get that gold medal.”