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Ski cross star back from the brink - Jane Peel, Arosa
Saturday March 5, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

She's had some terrible luck, but now GB's number one Ski Cross racer Emily Sarsfield is back. PlanetSKI caught up with her after her final World Cup race of the season in Switzerland. NEW

Emily greets me with a broad smile on her face. 

This is despite - in her own words - a "messed up" start to the day's Ski Cross race when her hand slipped off the gate.

She had hoped to make the top 16, but finished up 22nd in the event in Arosa.

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It was the first Ski Cross to be held as a "sprint" over a shortened course which took the racers around 20 seconds to complete.

Emily had been working on an explosive start and thought it might give her an advantage over the three racers in the gates alongside her, but one small slip put paid to that. 

When I meet her a few hours later, it's clear she's already moving on. 

 She's loving her skiing and it's going well for her.  At last.

Few would have criticised Emily had she chosen to abandon racing after the crushing disappointments she's suffered in pursuit of her sport.

First there was the catastrophic career-threatening knee injury that scuppered her chances of competing at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where ski cross made its Olympic debut.

Then the "fiasco", as she puts it, of the Sochi Games in 2014, when British selectors denied her a place on the team, even though she'd received an invitation from the International Ski Federation. 

At the time she was, understandably,  devastated. 

Now,  she says she's over it - and she sounds as if she means it.

Emily in ArosaEmily - A happy smile in Arosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After almost two years off the racing scene, with a rebuilt knee and a huge amount of work in the gym behind her, she's returned to top-flight competition this winter with a new approach.

 "I wasn't sure where I was after the fiasco of the Olympics.  It really hit my confidence a lot," she tells me.

"It felt as if my Federation didn't believe in me, but I've been so happy this winter, and I've really enjoyed what I've been doing.  My focus has been on developing myself in Ski Cross and not worrying about results".

The results have come anyway.

Although she missed the pre-season and didn't make it to every competition, she finished with a World Cup ranking of 24. 

That would have been enough to get her automatic qualification for the Sochi games.

So does she dare to dream about being at the next Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang in South Korea in 2018,  when she'll be 34?

If she does, she's not saying. 

"I want to get better as an athlete.  I want to get faster, I want to get stronger," she says.

"I did really well at the Pyeongchang Olympic test event last week coming 15th, but I don't want to focus on outcomes".

Can you blame her?  Emily will surely not want to tempt fate.

Between now and then she has other battles to concern her.  Simply finding the money to travel and compete, for one.

She receives no financial support.  She has three summer jobs in the UK to pay for her winter season, basing herself in Meribel in France when she's not travelling.  

There's still not enough money to do everything Emily wants.

She was unable to get to this season's World Cup race in Canada.  She simply couldn't afford it. 

"Because I'm self-funded, I've got to be enjoying what I'm doing.  That's the biggest thing I learned after the fiasco of the Olympics," she says.

"I'm pretty happy.  Everything seems to be going in the right direction".

It certainly does, and PlanetSKI is very glad for Emily. 

Emily in Action (photo: Daniel Smye-Rumsby)Emily in Action (photo: Daniel Smye-Rumsby)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The video below sums up what Ski Cross is all about - determination, courage and technique.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

For the spirit of the mountains

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