Katie Ormerod: 'It was scary being told I'd broken my back'

Katie Ormerod with her overall World Cup silver medal
Katie Ormerod proudly shows off her overall World Cup silver medal

Katie Ormerod was having a fantastic season. The British snowboarder won her first World Cup gold, claimed bronze at the X Games and was favourite for more silverware at the World Championships.

But her season ended abruptly in March when she crashed heavily during training for the World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain.

"I knew straight away that I'd hurt myself, but I just felt really sore," the 19-year-old told BBC Sport.

"I didn't want to go to hospital as I thought that was a bit overkill but my physio persuaded me to. I was X-rayed and the doctors gave me the news that I'd broken my back, which was scary.

Katie Ormerod
Katie Ormerod revealed the news of her back injury on social media

"It's not something you want to hear but in reality I've just chipped a bit off the L3 verterbra. It's stable so it is just a case of resting until it's healed."

Ormerod was speaking at the Brits freestyle skiing and snowboarding championships in Laax, Switzerland, where she was not allowed to ride while she recovers, but it did not prevent her competitive streak coming out as she triumphed in a singing competition called Famous First Words.

"It was a shame to miss the end of the season but it hasn't affected my world ranking so it was probably a blessing in disguise to have a bit more rest," she said.

In her Yorkshire accent, Ormerod is so matter-of-fact when she talks about her latest injury, but like most freestyle skiers and snowboarders she can list a catalogue of other body parts which have been snapped or broken in pursuit of sporting glory.

Katie Ormerod wins Famous First Words in Laax, Switzerland
Katie Ormerod beat Katie Summerhayes in a famous first words competition at the British championships

"I've snapped my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament], my meniscus on both knees, broken my shoulder, broken both arms, as well as cut my eye open. Injuries do come with the sport unfortunately," she said philosophically.

"It doesn't shake me up or anything. I just keep coming back stronger. Hopefully there won't be any more injuries and I stay safe ahead of Pyeongchang next year."

Ormerod has been Great Britain's most consistent snowboarder this season with three World Cup podiums in big air to finish second in the overall standings, as well as a silver medal at the Innsbruck Air and Style, in which women were competing in for the first time, not to mention the X Games where only the top athletes are invited to compete.

"This season has boosted my confidence massively. Winning in Moscow was amazing and then to compete at the X Games and come away with a medal in slopestyle was awesome," she said.

But her focus is now firmly on the Winter Olympics, which will be held in South Korea in February next year. The GB Park and Pipe team will spend three months in New Zealand in the British summer as they prepare for the Games.

Jenny Jones with her historic Winter Olympic bronze medal
Jenny Jones became the first Briton to win a Winter Olympic medal on snow

The 2018 Games will be the 23rd Winter Olympics, yet Great Britain have only ever won one medal on snow in the 94-year history of the event.

That came courtesy of Jenny Jones' bronze medal in snowboard slopestyle in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Team GB came close to adding to that tally with freestyle skiers James Woods and Katie Summerhayes finishing fifth and seventh respectively, with snowboarder Jamie Nicholls - Ormerod's cousin - in sixth place.

Great Britain will again be in the medal hunt in 2018 and the addition of snowboard big air is a huge bonus for their podium aspirations.

Ormerod, who was the first woman to land a double cork 1080, just missed out on qualifying for Sochi in 2014 when she was only 16, but will aim to compete in both slopestyle and big air in South Korea.

"I watched from home and I was gutted not to be there," she said. "But looking back it was probably for the best as I was so young and inexperienced."

Last December she competed at the Alpensia World Cup in Pyeongchang and finished third at the venue which will stage big air when it makes its Winter Olympic debut.

"The Olympics have been my main goal and I believe now is my time to shine," Ormerod confidently added.

"The team has been smart this season by getting the Olympic qualification out of the way to take the pressure off. I've also been mainly doing tricks I know I can do safely.

"But there's still a lot more to come from me and there will be bigger and better tricks in Pyeongchang."

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Katie Ormerod: Day in the life of GB Winter Olympic hopeful

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