Dual Threat | The Katie Ormerod Interview

With a year to go, the Duchess of dryslope has her sights set on Olympic glory

The countdown is officially on. The XXIV Winter Olympic Games is set to kick off in Beijing on the 4th of February 2022. With Team GB’s squad looking in fine form for the year ahead, we sat down for a chat with Slopestyle & Big Air phenom and all-round good ol’ Yorkshire lass, Katie Ormerod.

For many of us, 2020 was a banana bread-filled blip that we’d sooner forget, but Katie Ormerod was grafting hard, both on and off the hill, sewing seeds of hope and success that have every chance of taking root and flowering in triumph come next year.

“The first ever British snowboarder take home the honour, Katie racked up the most FIS points over the winter to be crowned the World Cup Champion”

Fresh off the back of an incredible winning season, Katie is the proud owner of the 2019/20 Slopestyle Crystal Globe. The first ever British snowboarder to take home the honour, Katie racked up the most FIS points over the winter to be crowned the World Cup Champion. Katie pulled off a clean sweep and went four for four on the podium, putting a solid 400 points between her and the nearest competitor.

Julia Merino, Reira Iwabuchi and Katie Ormerod at the Laax Open | PC: Dominic Berchtold / Red Bull Content Pool

Whitelines: First of all, we’ve got to say huge congrats on last year’s Crystal Globe! That’s incredible anyway, let alone it being your comeback season. You podiumed at every stop, right?

Katie O: “Thank you, yeah, every stop at the World Cup I made the podium”

That’s an accolade in its own right, but even more impressively, Katie won the title just months after returning from a potentially career-ending injury. At just 20 years old, Katie was a strong medal contender at PyeongChang’s 2018 winter Olympics. Fully in the zone, she was pumped and ready for the games to commence, but in a midweek practice run, just days before the opening ceremony, she scuffed a landing and fractured her wrist.

“The road to recovery was long, with Katie having to re-learn how to walk unaided”

Determined to carry on despite the injury, Katie hit the course again the next day, this time taking a serious fall which ended up splitting her heel bone in half and scuppering her dreams of Olympic glory before they’d even properly begun. The road to recovery was long, with Katie having to re-learn how to walk unaided, and leaving her unsure if she’d ever compete again.

“It was pretty tough, it was a serious injury, I had to have 7 operations. I remained as positive as possible throughout the whole rehab and it did take a full year to recover from that. It was tough but I put in the effort, I was so determined to get back to snowboarding no matter what. Having that belief that I would get back to it really helped me when it got hard but mentally it was difficult. I didn’t know if it was going to end my career because it was a really bad injury, but I just kept pushing through and kept believing.”


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“No matter what it took I was going to try and get back because snowboarding is my life, it’s what I do. I was keeping resilient and determined and I got there in the end and it was the best feeling when I could eventually get back on snow. It just makes me appreciate every single second I have in the mountains and on my snowboard now. After going through all that, especially during the Olympics it was just not ideal at all. But being back on my board is the best feeling, every day is the best day. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to compete at the next Olympics”.

“It’s nice to know that I’ve got some points under my belt now going into the rest of Olympic Qualifying season”

And that opportunity has finally come knocking at the door once again, qualifying season for the 2022 Olympics is well underway, with athletes competing across the globe to earn themselves enough points to snag a coveted spot in Beijing. In early January, Austrian resort Kreischberg played host to the Big Air athletes, dusting off the cobwebs and kicking off their 2021/22 season. Katie stormed out of the start gate, chomping at the bit to put down her runs and prove herself once more.

“I came 8th in Kreischberg which was the first event of the season, but it’s also the first Olympic Qualifier so it’s nice to know that I’ve got some points under my belt now going into the rest of Olympic Qualifying season. It takes the pressure off a bit and gives me some more confidence knowing that I’ve already got some points in the bank going into next year.”

PC: Syo van Vliet / Red Bull Content Pool

I guess Covid’s gonna affect a lot of travel and events going forward, but what’s the rest of your season looking like at the moment?

“Right now, I’m not too sure. I’m just playing it by ear and staying as strong as possible, so when I do know what’s happening, I’m ready. I’m hoping next season’s gonna be pretty good, they’ll be able to do more contests. I’m hoping by then COVID will have settled down a bit but for now I’m just focusing on the short-term bits and not really planning too far ahead cos I don’t really know what’s happening right now. But yeah, just staying as ready as possible.”

“I’m kind of used to everything now, it’s the new normal”

COVID restrictions mean less opportunities for athletes to compete in the run up to Beijing, piling on the pressure and upping the ante even more than usual. Strict measures have been put in place to ensure that athletes can compete safely over the next few months, with no crowds, stringent testing measures and limited capacity at events.

“There are no crowds at all this season because of COVID which is one thing I noticed. I’m kind of used to everything now, it’s the new normal. I felt really lucky to be out there at all doing the Olympic Qualifiers but there are a lot of safety measures in place so the comps can go ahead. Obviously, they want to keep everyone as safe as possible and COVID-free, so we’ve all got to get regular testing, wear masks everywhere, social distancing and each nation keeps to their own bubble”.

PC: Dominic Berchtold / Red Bull Content Pool

“It makes me feel good that we know they’re doing everything possible, we’re all in the same position like we all really want to compete which means that everyone’s being as safe as possible. It is really different, but I guess it’s good that we’re able to do this and still compete and train.”

With the next Winter Olympics less than a year away, training is in full swing for the Beijing hopefuls. Pushing their bodies to the limits, with long days on the hill and gruelling workouts, is all part and parcel in the life of an Olympic athlete.

“A lot of tricks are upside down and you need a lot of spacial awareness for that as well”

Getting your body ready for competition is a huge endeavour, what does a normal day of training look like for you?

“Well, a normal day when I’m away would be wake up early, go snowboarding all day from like 9-4 and that’s training for Slopestyle and Big Air, so on the jumps and the rails. The come down and maybe do a cool down or gym session. My gym sessions are mainly focused on legs and core strength so keeping all my body strong to prevent injuries but also to be as strong as possible so I can get more power on my snowboard.”

“Then I do gymnastics training as well, but that’s mostly in the summer months when we’re off snow and that’s because gymnastics goes hand in hand with snowboarding. We also have a gymnastics coach through GB Snowsports to help us with special awareness and strength. Now that snowboarding’s progressing so fast, a lot of tricks are upside down and you need a lot of spacial awareness for that as well.”

That’s your physical training, but I know I’d for sure be getting super spooked and nervous if I was dropping in in those scenarios. How do you dial it in mentally?

“When I’ve been at big competitions and there’s big crowds and it’s been on TV I kinda just zone it out. I focus on what I’m there to do and what I’m doing in that moment. I don’t even really think about the telly or the crowds until afterwards. I’m so in the zone and in the moment, focusing on the tricks I’m doing, I think that helps, just being focused on myself and my performance.”


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From humble beginnings, Katie cut her teeth at the Halifax Ski and Snowboard Centre, an unassuming hill in West Yorkshire covered in synthetic Snowflex material. It may not look like a world class Olympic training facility, but over the years it’s nurtured some of the very best of British Snowboarding talent.

What’s amazing and it’s one of the things I don’t think other competitors or even spectators understand is that most UK riders didn’t grow up in the mountains or even near any actual snow. You came from Halifax dryslope and now you’re on the world stage at these incredible resorts and you’re taking home these wins. What advice could you give to young people who are in those shoes now?

“It’s possible with hard work and passion that you can reach the highest level”

“Just have as much fun as possible, just believe that with hard work and determination that you can do anything. I’m hoping that I’ve proved that just because we come from a nation where we don’t have mountains or snow resorts that it’s possible with hard work and passion that you can reach the highest level. To win World Cups, and X Games medals and Crystal Globes, it’s all within reach with the determination. Just keep having fun because when you enjoy it, you’ll find it easier to learn more and keep that passion and the drive to succeed.”

“It’s like doing a slip n slide on a cheese grater”

A similar story marks most British snowsports athletes, the majority fighting tooth and nail against the odds to make it to the world stage, despite not having the same advantages as many of their international rivals. Determination is not unique to snowboarders in the UK but it is particularly rife, the grit and tenacity that athletes have to display to make it to the top is staggering. Anyone who’s honed their craft on dryslope can attest to the fact that hitting the deck on it’s like doing a slip n slide on a cheese grater. Despite this, we’re seeing Team GB’s success story continue to grow.

GB Snowsport got a bit of an influx of funding a few years ago which seemed to really benefit the programme. It’s cool to see and surely good for you guys as athletes.

“Yeah, it’s amazing to get that support. It does really help, especially going forward into the Olympics. The way things are now, to train at the highest level you need to be going on these performance camps, but they’re not cheap. In order to stay at the top and keep challenging for podiums we need that funding to help us do that so we can train at the best facilities, you know the airbags and everything.”

PC: Shamil Tanna // Red Bull Content

We’ve seen a real explosion of talent among British youth recently, we’ve had some really good young riders coming up in the last few years, who should we be keeping our eyes on?

“Mia Brookes is the next one to watch for sure, she’ll be doing big stuff in the years to come!”

“I’m really proud of everything I’ve achieved in my career so far and I just want to keep challenging what I can do on a snowboard”

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about you becoming quite possibly the most successful British snowboarder in history, do you find that high pressure or are you just stoked to prove them right?

“I’m just more excited than anything, I’m really proud of everything I’ve achieved in my career so far and I just want to keep challenging what I can do on a snowboard and keep progressing myself and women’s riding. I’m just focusing on that really, I’m not feeling any pressure, I just wanna keep up with the contests and my snowboarding.”


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A dual threat athlete, Katie competes in Slopestyle and Big Air, different disciplines and skillsets but with similar threads running throughout. Aerial manoeuvres translate particularly well between the two disciplines, like Bronze Medal compatriot Billy Morgan, Katie’s background in gymnastics comes in handy for dialling in new tricks.

“I don’t really have a favourite; I enjoy both of them. I guess last season I won the Crystal Globe in Slopestyle but I also got a World Cup Podium in Big Air so I do enjoy them both!”

“Athletes are engaged in a constant game of one-upmanship, battling to be the first, the fastest, the best”

Double the events means double the competition, Katie consistently has to square up against heavyweights like Anna Gasser, Jamie Anderson and Zoi Sadowski- Synnott. Despite the obvious camaraderie between riders, having come up in the sport together, riding for the same sponsors and training together, competition is fierce. Athletes are engaged in a constant game of one-upmanship, battling to be the first, the fastest, the best.

Katie in Cardrona | PC: Miles Holden/Red Bull Content Pool

Progression in snowboarding across the board is wild, but especially in the women’s sphere. It’s been awesome to see this huge step up in talent and skill and visibility. I mean it’s cool as a spectator, but how is it as a rider who has to compete against these women?

“I think everyone just focuses on the tricks that they’re doing and it’s amazing to see the progression in female snowboarding, and that I can be part of that is amazing. I was the first girl to land a double 1080 at 16 and since then the level has just been going up and up. It’s amazing for the sport and I enjoy being part of it and progressing myself. Everyone’s pushing it and doing the best they can.”

“I was the first girl to land a double 1080 at 16”

Despite being one of the newer sports to be included in the Winter Olympics, snowboarding is easily one of the most popular events of the whole games. Viewers tune in in their millions to watch the riders tear it up over the Slopestyle Course, through the Pipe and off the Big Air ramp.

Katie in Stubai | PC: Syo van Vliet / Red Bull Content Pool

Coming up to the Olympics again, and now snowboarding is one of the most popular sports at the Winter Games. Even people who don’t really follow snowboarding or have even been snowboarding really love to watch it and get behind it. Why do you think that is?

“I think it’s because it’s so exciting to watch. It’s pretty amazing we’re flying over these huge jumps doing crazy tricks in the air. For people at home it’s cool, especially in the UK you wouldn’t really see that anywhere. The progression at the moment is so good right now as well, everyone’s learning new tricks so I’m hoping people get really inspired from watching it at the Olympics and get more Brits involved.”

We’re stoked to see what Katie brings to the table over the coming season, and have every faith she’ll be doing the UK proud come Beijing. Thanks for the chat Katie, and good luck with it!

For more info on Katie check out her athlete profile on

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