Kerry McCarthy, Features Editor from The Great Outdoors Agency caught up with British Olympic ski cross athlete, Emily Sarsfield to hear about the sport she loves and what’s been happening since the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
K: You have enjoyed skiing since the age of 3, and you started competing in the English Alpine Squad at the age of 13. What was it about the emerging sport of ski cross that won you over in your early twenties?
ES: I started skiing on family holidays and school ski trips at the age of 3 and was always chained to my elder sister – I think this had a lot to do with my skiing progressing quickly! I competed in Alpine skiing from the age of 12 and was selected to represent my country just 12 months later. After 10 years racing Alpine, a coach encouraged me to try Ski Cross, apparently my ‘all or nothing’ competitive attitude would be really suited to it.
At first I refused… I thought the sport was crazy! So many crashes, big jumps, skiing so close to other people – but once I tried it I was hooked. It brought a whole new love of skiing for me. I lived for the head-to-head racing, and the adrenaline rush. Once I tried it, I didn’t look back, and the following winter I was competing on the Work Cup Circuit.
K: Can you tell us a bit about your journey, the accolade of being top ranked female throughout your career? How does it feel to have achieved this?
ES: My journey hasn’t been plain sailing. Being the pioneer of Ski Cross in the UK I had no support, I was literally a one man band – no coach, no support team, just me, and I travelling the World Circuit in my Peugeot 106! It definitely had its challenges and was a huge learning curve, but I persevered and set up life around my sporting career, setting up a ski school in Meribel to fund my competitions.
I suffered some huge injuries (snapping all the ligaments in my knee) and the heart aches of missing the Olympics, but my dream of becoming an Olympian was realised this year when I made British history – 16th place in the 2018 Olympic Games. Achieving this dream felt even sweeter having overcome the challenging journey to get there.
K: What do you enjoy doing and where in the world do you enjoy doing it when you are not skiing?
ES: I love adventures! I suppose I’m a little bit of an adrenaline junkie, so I’ll try anything once. I’ve been so lucky to see and enjoy some amazing places and experiences through my sport. I live by the sea but the mountains are really what get my heart pumping. There is something quite magical about them, I feel so privileged for them to be my playground.
K: What does a regular day’s training look like for you?
ES: It depends on the time of year. Summer time: 7am – Physical training session one. 9am – Off to work for the day. 6pm – Physical training session two. I have to fit in sponsor and appearance requirements too. Time is tight but I just have to make it happen if I want to be the best I can be.
K: How does being a Tensonaut and wearing Tenson gear help your performance in training or in competitions?
ES: I love the gear, I can be quite a girly girl sometimes – I love my fashion. Having Tenson means I can look good whilst being super warm. They have managed to find the perfect mix between fashion and function. No matter where I am, the middle of the ocean, in the city, or at the top of a mountain I know I’m going to be in the best equipment and looking slick at the same time. Argh… that sounds pretty arrogant… but style does matter! Hahaha!
K: You’ve just released a workout video to inspire the nation to get active with a ski fitness edge – what other exciting projects have you got lined up?
ES: I love my fitness and spending so much time training and studying sport has given me a huge passion for healthy living and training. Being able to share some of those tips with others was an amazing opportunity. I’m doing a fitness column for a ski magazine this winter which will give you training ideas to get you ready for your ski holiday, so people can spend the day exploring the mountains and still have the energy for dancing on the tables at Après!
I’ll also be working with Select School skiing company and SnowCamp charity sharing the love for Snowsports and building life skills and education through winter sports. It’s awesome to be able to share my passion with others.
K: What are your top tips for anyone wanting to become a ski cross champion?
ES: Ski Cross has such a mixture of ski elements. You need to be a bit of an all-rounder, so building ski skills in Alpine, Park and off piste will all help when it comes to tackling a ski cross track. Ultimately, when you are in that start gate, head-to-head with others – that’s when the raw passion and determination kicks in and you just have to switch off and go.
This story was originally published in Snow Enthusiast magazine. Read the full issue free at http://magazine.snow-forecast.com/snow-enthusiast-sf-2018#!page1