|Honours:||2009 – British Big Air Champion, British Slopestyle Champion, 2nd at European Open Rail Jam, Laax
2010, British Big Air Champion, British Slopestyle Champion, 1st Place for Women Grom Game
We managed to catch up with this year’s Grom Games champion Katie Summerhayes for a quick chat, and to discuss how budding young skiers can get into the Skiing and Freestyle Skiing from a young age.
Hi Katie, thanks for speaking to us today. So, how long have you been Skiing for now?
Hey, no worries! I’ve been skiing for around 8 years now.
What exactly is Freestyle Skiing?
Well, Freestyle is a type of skiing that involves skiing off jumps, rails and on half pipes – performing as many ticks as possible! Skiing on rails and kickers takes good balance and a lot of practice, but is well worth it when you perfect a trick!
Where did you learn, and what made you start?
Well I grew up in and still live in Sheffield, and I learnt to ski at Sheffield Ski Village with the Sharks Ski Club. My dad got me into it by taking me and my sister Molly up to the Ski Village when we were young, and I guess I haven’t really looked back!
What will 2010 hold for you?
So far with the competitions at Laax, this season has been pretty good. The Grom Games have just finished (17th April) and they were sweet, I came 1st overall for women; which I am so pleased with, and my sister came 2nd! I just love the Grom Games, they’re sick and I can’t wait for the next one! There’s more competitions coming up soon too, including the British Freeski Tour and then I’ve got the summer ski training is Saas Fee…and hopefully a trip to America!
How often do you get to practice skiing? Do you get to get away much during the year?
I manage to ski three or four times a week, which is pretty cool as I love it so much. I go away as much as possible, but right now I still have to balance school and skiing. This year I’ve been away three times and I’m going out again in July, to Saas fee and I can’t wait!
Which slopes in the UK would you say are the best for Skiing?
Well the UK has got some decent indoor and outdoor slopes for skiing, but I’d probably say:
Castleford, West Yorkshire – because their features are really good, the kickers and the rails are great… and they always build great parks!
Rossendale, Lancashire is great because they have just rebuilt their kicker and it is really, really big! And they have an awesome quarter pipe up there too!
Sheffield Ski Village – It’s where I learnt to ski! It also has an amazing half pipe and a great kicker, which is so important.
Chill Factore, Manchester is another of the best in the UK; it has a great big kicker and is a seriously cool venue. They’ve got some nice facilities up there too, so you can make a day of it!
Halifax, West Yorkshire is also good, it’s got a good quarter pipe and another great kicker with other great jumps.
Where are the best places in the world that you have been skiing?
Lynchburg, America is one of my favourites because I went with a few really great skiers and snowboarders for the opening in August last year and just loved it, the atmosphere and the place. Everyone was so friendly and I had an amazing time. Plus the resort and the slopes were stunning and we had some awesome days of skiing!
What equipment do you recommend using at first? How much do you think it realistically costs to set up and get into the sport?
Well safety is very important so I would always recommend wearing a helmet and any other protection you can get your hands on. Back protectors and Bum Pads make any falls hurt a lot less when you are trying to learn a new trick. Salomon make some really great gear that I’ve worn since I started, and I absolutely love it. Forcefield also make some excellent equipment, it’s super comfy and really protects you; which makes a big difference to your progression!
To set up with new equipment could easily set you back £600 for all the basics like skis, boots and poles. If you’re just starting up and on a budget – I’d suggest trying eBay or try asking any other riders for gear they don’t want or need anymore; you’d be surprised what you can get!
What tips would you advise for people looking to get started?
I would suggest the first thing to do would be have a trial lesson and see if it is for you. Then I’d advise people to go on the Grom Games Website, there are lots of really good British Champions who coach on the Camps down there. It doesn’t matter how old you are, they will help you improve for sure. They have helped me so much with my freestyle skiing over the years.
And what would you advise for learning and improving Freestyle techniques?
Just make sure you learn how to grind a rail and go off kickers properly first before you start throwing tricks off them. Make sure you get your tricks solid before attempting new ones… and get yourself to the Grom Camps!
What has been your best memory in Skiing?
Probably the European Open this year in March, it was my first big competition and I came 2nd , which I wasn’t expecting at all. And that week I also met some of my idols including Kaya Turski and Sarah Burke, who I think are both amazing skiers!
Have you ever been injured?
I broke my wrist last year in January at Castleford. I landed awkwardly and it just broke!
What is your best / favourite trick?
My best trick is probably a switch 7 mute on the kicker and a 900 Japan. One of my favourite tricks would be a switch 5 mute off a big kicker because they just feel so good and you can spin them around real slow. I think the best trick for scoring points is something that looks good – you get a lot of points for the style of the trick, so that is very important. Oh, and also a tweaked out grab always looks good!
Have there been any big developments in the sport during your time, and do you see any coming in the future?
The biggest development in freestyle skiing during my time is the double flips and double corks; they look sooo good in the air! I have no idea though how crazy it is going to get, I think people may soon be doing triple corks!
If anyone has any more questions or would like to see more of photos and videos please check my webiste!