It feels a little unfair to begin Katie Ormerod’s story with the brutal heel injury that occurred only hours before the 2018 Winter Olympics, if only because it deflects from the fearless talent that makes the 24-year-old Yorkshirewoman one of Britain’s best medal hopes when the 2022 Games begin in Beijing next month.
But this injury – which required seven operations, two metal pins inserted into her foot and a pig-skin graft – has shaped the first two Olympics of Ormerod’s snowboarding career. Perhaps more importantly, it is her reaction to it and her ability to embrace the road from hospital bed back to the sport’s highest air that makes her story so compelling.
Ormerod was 20 when it happened, on the brink of her debut Games in Pyeongchang with a Big Air World Cup gold recently added to her CV and confidence high that her bag of spins and tricks could deliver history in South Korea – Britain has never won a snowboarding Olympic gold. Ormerod’s events – slopestyle and big air – are designed to pull the Winter Games away from some of its staid traditions and create a spectacle. Slopestyle is a course of jumps and rails which provides the fireworks display, while big air is one huge bang, which first appeared in Pyeongchang after the success of the former in Sochi. They are breathtaking to watch, and therein lies the risk which Ormerod knows all too well.
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