Katie Summerhayes – "representing Team GB is the pinnacle"
Turning 18-years-old and transitioning into adulthood brings with it many pressures for young people.
For Sheffield’s Katie Summerhayes, however, the pressures she faced were unlike any other. While many filled out university applications and prepared to sit A level exams, skier Summerhayes represented Team GB at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Four years on and with the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games just around the corner, Calacus spoke to her to find out how she prepared for an event of that magnitude while still only a teenager.
“I have great memories of Sochi,” Summerhayes said. “It was such good fun to be a part of Team GB and to represent my country at the highest level was a great feeling. I don’t think there is any way to prepare for that kind of event, the build-up was crazy.
“My preparation four years ago compared to now was definitely different. The experience of having competed at a previous Winter Olympic Games will allow me to focus more on my skiing this time around.”
Summerhayes competes in ski slopestyle, a freestyle event that like her, made its debut at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, something that led to the sport being exposed to new audiences through the media.
At Calacus, we provide media training for all levels of spokespeople from governing body CEOs to junior athletes, and we asked Summerhayes how she coped with the media frenzy that surrounds a major sporting event.
“I received a little bit of media training from Team GB, but I think the most important thing in interviews is just to be yourself.
“For me, I felt it was nice because people were interested in our sport and wanted to find out more about it.
“Most people had no idea what ski slopestyle was before it was added to the Winter Olympic Games Program, so it was positive that people were showing an interest.”
Despite this brief period in the public eye, ski slopestyle suffered the fate of many other winter sports with limited coverage once the Games had finished.
It is something that Summerhayes believes is preventing the sport from growing in this country.
“After Sochi, I remember going back home and everyone at the Sheffield snowdome had seen it on the television and were inspired to try it.
“Everyone thinks that a lack of facilities in this country prevents people from competing, but in reality, there are snowdomes all over the country.
“We’ve definitely seen a lot more people involved in the sport since Sochi and the more that it is on television, the more people will get into it.”
As PyeongChang draws closer, the profile of ski slopestyle is gradually increasing once more and Summerhayes recently equalled her best ever result by winning a silver medal at a World Cup event in Austria.
Following her seventh-place finish in Sochi four years ago, what would represent success in PyeongChang?
“I just want to do myself proud and come away having had a good time and be satisfied with my skiing.
“I would obviously love to win a medal and will try my absolute best, but as long as I perform well then I’ll be happy.”
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games saw Team GB equal their most successful haul of medals, and this year’s squad is being tipped to break that record in PyeongChang.
“We’re all hoping that we can [reach the target of five medals], and we’ve definitely got great medal prospects throughout the sports,” Summerhayes continued.
“Everyone's been putting in such great performances in the past couple of years, so I think we've got a great chance.”
For Summerhayes, PyeongChang represents something of a changing of the guard. At 22, she is no longer one of the youngest members of the Team GB squad, in fact she will be the oldest of the women’s ski slopestyle team with Izzy Atkin and Madi Rowlands aged 19 and 17 respectively.
Anything can happen in an event like ski slopestyle, but if her recent World Cup success is anything to go by, Summerhayes has every chance of making history for Team GB in PyeongChang.