Winter Olympics: Summerhayes defies injury to claim seventh spot

Great Britain's Katie Summerhayes in action in the Ski Slopestyle at the Bogwang Snow Park.
Great Britain's Katie Summerhayes in action in the Ski Slopestyle at the Bogwang Snow Park.
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An equal-best Olympic result done practically on one leg, 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 where teammate Izzy Atkin won Britain’s first Olympic skiing medal with bronze.

Sheffield's Katie Summerhayes.

Sheffield's Katie Summerhayes.

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.

Bronze medal winner Isabel�Atkin.

Bronze medal winner Isabel�Atkin.

“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. However, 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 tomorrow’s (MONDAY) freestyle skiing halfpipe competition.

Her determination to compete also drew admiration from the British team, including GB Park and Pipe head coach Pat Sharples 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 tenth 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 injury - she shouldn’t be walking around, let alone skiing the biggest jumps in the world right now - for her to make finals is incredible,” he said.

“She’s a girl from Sheffield. Learnt to ski in Sheffield and is competing in her second Olympic final.

“This is her first slopestyle course she has done since she injured her ankle last year. We didn’t know if she was going to make it back. It was quite a serious injury and it was border line whether she would have an operation.

“She is heartbroken now, she wants a medal. She had a crash in the morning and that’s why she played it very safe in the qualifiers which worked well for her and got her into the finals. She’s been an absolute hero there, she really has.”

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