KENDAL Snowsports Club member Emma Lonsdale will board a plane to Russia next month and represent Great Britain at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
The freestyle skier was shortlisted for inclusion in Team GB's squad for Sochi after a tenth-place finish at January’s FIS Freestyle World Cup in Calgary, Canada contributed to her meeting Olympic qualifying standard.
After an anxious wait the 29-year-old will fulfil her dream and compete in the halfpipe category – a sport which alongside slopestyle will make its Olympic debut.
While simply appearing at Sochi 2014 will represent the highlight of the Settle-born athlete’s career to date, she is already focused on making her mark in Russia.
“The Olympics has always been the ultimate goal, it’s what I’ve dreamed of and what I have worked so hard to get,” she said.
“It has been my aim since freestyle skiing was announced as an Olympic sport and it means the world to me.
“I’ve been told that qualification for the Olympics is the hard part and once selected it’s a case of doing what I know and enjoying the experience.
“I don’t have specific goals, I try to compete against myself first of all and my aim is to produce my very best skiing.
“Obviously though I want to be the best I can be and would like to make the top 12 and that’s the next goal, to compete and get to the finals.
“My career has been surprisingly long as injuries quite often dictate but I’ve been very lucky in that respect and I do yoga for injury prevention.
“So I’m as strong and determined as I’ve ever been and hopefully I’ll produce my best.
“It has been quite an exhaustive selection process over the last two years, so it’s now a case of one last shove in the right direction.”
Lonsdale spent 16 years competing in alpine skiing before switching to her current discipline, going on to enjoy considerable success.
She has been crowned British female halfpipe champion nine times and secured second-placed finishes in the European Open in 2007 and 2009.
Eighth and tenth-placed spots at the World Cup have also followed and Lonsdale is adamant all the hard work, on and off the snow, is worth it.
“I used to do slalom racing but I just found a bit more freedom in freestyle skiing and thought there was a bit more expression within the sport,” she added.
“It’s not just a case of who is fastest down to the bottom, there is a more creative aspect and a bit more leniency and a few less rules.
“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get to where I am. People think it’s really glamorous but it involves a lot of sleeping on airport floors and scrimping and saving.
“I worked three jobs in Settle over the summer to pay for things like equipment and attending Team GB training sessions for instance.
“But since meeting the qualifying criteria I’ve been more confident in asking people for help.
“Kendal Snowsports Club help financially and the support generally from Settle and Kendal has been quite phenomenal.”
Through her parents’ influence, Lonsdale started skiing when she was just two years of age, becoming a member of Kendal Snowsports Club shortly afterwards.
And for someone who has clocked up plenty of air miles skiing all over the world, she is no doubt about the influence the club has had on her sporting career.
“I think the reason Great Britain is quite strong in the freestyle skiing and snowboarding is because of the facilities we have up here in the north,” she said.
“I grew up on Kendal and while some people scoff about skiing on plastic it is where a lot of skiers originate from and it’s an invaluable base.
“I raced on dry ski slopes for many years and then when Kendal changed to having moguls and jumps that was quite a turning point in my career.
“If it wasn’t for that I probably wouldn’t have got into freestyle skiing at all.”