Jasmin Taylor - Telemark skier who went from a car boot sale to World medals

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
How a car boot sale launched skiing star's career

Jasmin Taylor has won more medals at World skiing level this season than any other British athlete, but the chances are you've never heard of her, or her sport - Telemark skiing.

Telemark events - which are not in the Olympics or X Games - are made up of a gruelling combination of alpine, cross-country and ski-jumping elements.

It makes Telemark arguably one of the toughest winter sports.

"It can be brutal on the body, but I love the challenge," said Taylor, 23, who has claimed six World Cup medals and a World Championship bronze this season.

Just a few years ago the suggestion that a Briton could win multiple honours on the snow would have been laughable.

Then along came 'the freestylers' with a unique brand of slopestyle flair-and-dare which enriched the Sochi Winter Games, and where snowboarder Jenny Jones secured GB's first-ever Olympic medal on the snow.

Since 2014 the 'fridge-kid' generation of Katie Ormerod, James Woods, Aimee Fuller, Jamie Nicholls and Billy Morgan have demonstrated that GB can be a major power despite a lack of the white stuff in their own country.

'I put an advert in the local newspaper'

They initially honed their skills indoors, but for Taylor - who was an alpine skier as a child and trialled her new sport aged 15 - there is simply no substitute for the slopes.

However, were it not for a car boot sale and the generosity of her local community in Colchester back in 2012, she may never have been able to reach the summit of her sport.

"I was 17 at the time and didn't have any or money or results to show what I could potentially do in the sport, so I put an advert in the local newspaper," she told BBC Sport.

"It simply read 'please donate unwanted items for skier to sell at a car boot sale'.

"People I didn't even know were unbelievably kind and I was able to go to the car boot sales throughout the summer and sell things for practically 100% profit."

She raised over £2,000 which took her to the British Championships, where she won a title and perhaps just as crucially, secured her first sponsor.

More backers would follow, as would historic success.

Jasmin Taylor
Suffolk-born Taylor won her second World Championship bronze medal last week

A first for Britain

In 2013 Taylor became GB's first-ever Telemark World Cup medallist before claiming Britain's maiden World Championship medal with bronze in 2015.

"It was such a vital step and winning bronze was magical; not only for myself but also for my friends, family and the sponsors who helped me get there," stated the skier.

"It was really cool to be from a non-skiing nation and to put down something like that because it shows just what is possible."

As a non-Olympic sport, funding is in short supply with Taylor needing to top up her finances by working as a fitness instructor during the off-season, while also studying for a sports science qualification at the University of Suffolk.

Although Telemark will not be included in the 2018 Winter Olympics, there are growing rumours that the sport could be added for the Beijing 2022 Games.

"In February [last year] we had a demonstration at the Lillehammer Youth Olympics and it was amazing to be part of it and help put on a show," said Taylor.

"Obviously I think the sport should already be in [the Olympics] as it has so many exciting elements and is great to watch, but we've made a good move in the right direction."

The Norwegian county of Telemark - from where the sport originates - donated money in 2015 in order to help it progress and move closer to achieving its Olympic ambition.

British team
Taylor and her fellow British Telemark ski team members

A place at the 2022 games?

Former British Telemark skier turned commentator Jack Harvard-Taylor says the investment has seen the sport undergo a huge transformation.

"Compared to when I started racing in 2010, the World Cup setup is much more professional now," he told BBC Sport.

"A lot of investment has gone into live streaming of the events and that has really helped show off the sport to people who had never heard of it before."

With many athletes - like Taylor - coming over from alpine skiing, France and Switzerland are unsurprisingly among the strongest nations.

However, attaining an international spread of medals and competitors is crucial to any sport's hopes of attaining a place in the Winter Olympics.

"We've had great numbers across Norway, Germany and Slovenia which is also helping increase the number of nations who are taking part," added Harvard-Taylor.

The number of athletes competing on the World Cup circuit is up by over 20% over the past four years - a positive step, which the sport hopes will go some way to convincing the International Olympic Committee [IOC] of its worth.

Telemark will not learn its Olympic fate until after the 2018 Games, with a decision most likely to be made by the IOC around mid-2019.

"We have a long way to go actually but there is potential and it's a really exciting time to be involved with Telemark for sure," concluded Taylor.

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