Ormerod recovers from career-ending injuries to seal World Cup

Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team

Two years on from a training run gone wrong, she is on top of the world.

In February 2018, Katie Ormerod feared “it was the end”, unable to walk and pondering the conclusion of her career at the age of 20.

Fast forward a little over two years and she has made history by becoming the first Briton to win a World Cup snowboard title.

While in PyeongChang in 2018, she broke her wrist and split her heel in a training accident on the slopes, which ruled her out of competing for a medal.

And after a week in hospital and an 18-month ordeal involving seven operations, she made a tentative return to slopestyle action last August and stayed fit for a full-blown tilt at the World Cup for the first time since the 2017-18 season.

The 22-year-old proved the model of consistency throughout the course of the season, clinching five podium places in all and sealing the title when the final round of her 2019-20 campaign in the Czech Republic was called off because of the coronavirus.

“I never thought this would be possible,” said Ormerod. “I was just excited to do World Cups again so there was no pressure. I wasn’t thinking about the results and ended up having the best season of my career.”

The first time she tried tentatively to get on her snowboard after nine months, the pain was deblitating. “I did think that could be the end,” she recalled. I couldn’t get down one run without excrutiating pain.”

But she underwent a final operation and clinched second place in her first World Cup on her return – in Big Air rather than slopestyle – to set the ball rolling on a remarkable season.

“It feels awesome and to be the first Briton to do what I’ve done too,” she added.

Ormerod is no stranger to injury, having previously snapped her anterior cruciate ligament, the meniscus on both knees, broken both her arms, chipped an L3 vertebrae and fracturing a shoulder.

Her latest may have seemed the most innocuous of all after failing off a railing, but in some ways she looks back on it as a blessing despite it being the most arduous of recoveries.

“I’ve come back a better snowboarder so I guess that’s a blessing in that sense,” she said. “Obviously you never want to get hurt but my snowboarding is the best it’s ever been.

“The timeout meant I could work hard in the gym, visualise a lot and work out what I wanted to do. Tricks started to happen naturally like the new double back flip that’s helped me get on the podium.”

GB Snowsport chief executive officer Vicky Gosling was quick to praise Ormerod following her return to form and fitness.

“Katie has made a phenomenal return to competitive snowboarding this season and has performed amazingly well,” she said. “We are so proud of Katie’s resilience and determination to succeed and we are so excited for the future.”

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