Direct from the Olympic Village in Sochi, Settle-born freestyle skier Emma Lonsdale talks all things Olympics

The Westmorland Gazette: WInter Olympian Emma Lonsdale WInter Olympian Emma Lonsdale

As the Winter Olympic Games grip the nation, halfpipe skier Emma Lonsdale takes time out from her Olympic adventure to talk Princess Anne, opening ceremonies and Great British history-making with Ross McLean.

With the eyes of the world firmly fixed on Sochi, freestyle skier Emma Lonsdale has enjoyed a whirlwind few days after the 2014 Winter Olympics surged into life at the weekend.

Like her sport, the 29-year-old is making an Olympic debut and she will compete under the international spotlight when halfpipe skiing comes into sharp focus on February 20.

After spending 16 years as an alpine skier, the Settle-born athlete has been crowned British halfpipe champion nine times while also appearing at World Cups and European Opens.

And while her bow on the biggest stage of all is still nine days away, Lonsdale’s Olympic baptism has already produced some standout moments.

“After being adopted by Great Britain’s curling team on the flight from Edinburgh to Moscow, the halfpipe skiers met Princess Anne at our flag raising ceremony,” she said.

“She asked us ‘Wouldn’t you rather watch something more traditional like the ballet?’ when there was a Ukrainian hip hop choir on stage. The whole experience was quite surreal.

“Subsequently walking out for the opening ceremony was insane, we were all massively hyperactive – the only other nation whooping as loud as us was Germany.

“Coming out to the thousands watching was just incredible and I think I got at least half the story that was being told.

“The Olympic village is so sociable and fun too. We have a games room and air hockey is our current favourite pastime although there is a cinema room also.

“Our house is a three-storey town house covered in Union Jack flags. I’m sharing a room with downhill skier Chemmy Alcot – she is bonkers in the best possible way.”

Prior to Sochi, Britain had collected 22 Winter Olympic medals, all on ice in events such as figure skating, curling, skeleton, bobsleigh and in the distant past ice hockey.

Back in 2002, Alain Baxter thought he had become Britain's first-ever Olympic medal-winner on snow after finishing third in the men's slalom only to be stripped of his bronze after failing a drugs test.

However, that record was amended on Sunday as snowboarder Jenny Jones secured a dramatic slopestyle bronze, with Lonsdale at the foot of the mountain to cheer on her GB team-mate.

And with full training for the Kendal Snowsports club member starting on Friday, Lonsdale’s mind is drifting towards her own discipline and impending moment of truth.

“We were at the bottom cheering Jenny on and featured on television quite a bit by all accounts – flag waving at its finest,” she added.

“Jenny is on cloud nine at the minute and I'm not sure it has sunk in yet exactly what she has achieved. It is legendary.

“I also managed to watch the men and women’s slopestyles as well as the women's moguls. The atmosphere is insane.

“In terms of getting on the snow ourselves, the halfpipe skiers have been for a ski around the mountain with some of the American girls and it’s very steep which makes it extra fun.

“The pipe has been altered as requested by the snowboarders so it should be great by the time we get on it. It’s all very exciting and everything is starting to build towards competing.

“In terms of GB generally, I think people are expecting a good amount of medals but only time will tell of course.”

 

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