An equal-best Olympic result achieved practically on one leg meant Katie Summerhayes could hold her head high after her PyeongChang 2018 freestyle skiing slopestyle final – although the Sheffield native took some convincing.
Four years on from finishing seventh on her Games debut, the 22-year-old matched that achievement on a day when team-mate Izzy Atkin won Britain’s first Olympic skiing medal with bronze.
Summerhayes’ score was nearly a point better than she managed in Sochi and all the more impressive given the her build up to these Games.
Back in December she badly damaged ankle ligaments which forced her off the snow, and instead into a brutal daily physiotherapy regime which only saw her take a day off for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Getting to PyeongChang was an achievement but then, on the morning of competition, she fell in training and aggravated the injury.
Questions were asked about whether she would even be able to compete but battle on she did, incredibly coming through the qualification round to take her place in the final where her second-run score of 71.40 would prove to be her best.
For Katie to battle through with a really serious injuryandmake finals is incredible.Summerhayes’ coach Pat Sharples
“I’m disappointed because I wanted to do better,” she said initially before adding: “I definitely thought I wouldn’t be able to drop in as my ankle was so sore.
“Up until this week I hadn’t completed a slopestyle course since November, so this is my return to snow. In qualification I had to keep it pretty mellow and my ankle was killing me.
“I went up for the finals and decided to push it a bit more because I wanted to do myself justice. I had a crash in training this morning and my physio was questioning whether I should compete. But this is the Olympics and I wanted to compete.”
The prognosis on the injury remained unclear in the aftermath with Summerhayes set to have it assessed before deciding what action needed to be taken going forwards.
She was greeted at the bottom of the course by sister Molly who embraced her with a big hug and Katie intends to return the support when her sibling competes in freestyle skiing halfpipe competition, the qualification for which took place in the early hours of today.
Her determination to compete also drew admiration from the British team, including GB Park and Pipe head coach Pat Sharples, from Bradford, who worked closely with Summerhayes over the course of the last few months. He watched on as she laid down two solid runs of 75.80 and 77.60 in qualification to progress in 10th place.
And while the injury appeared to catch up with her in the final – her best qualification score would have secured her fifth place – Sharples had nothing but praise for his skier.
“For Katie to battle through with a really serious injuryandmake finals is incredible,” he said.
“She’s a girl from Sheffield. Learnt to ski in Sheffield and is competing in her second Olympic final.
“She is heartbroken now, she wants a medal. But she’s been an absolute hero, she really has.”
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