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  • Writer's pictureKatie Ormerod

Halifax Dry Slope to Winter Olympics

I started Snowboarding at my local dry slope in Halifax when I was 5 years old and I never knew at that moment I would be wearing the British flag at the Winter Olympic Games 15 years later! I loved the feeling of flying down the slope at Halifax and the adrenaline rush I got when I went over the jump. I never started Snowboarding with the intention of becoming professional and at the time, the disciplines I specialise in, Big Air and Slopestyle weren’t even Olympic events. Slopestyle made its Olympic debut in 2014 and Big Air followed shortly after in 2018.

Halifax dryslope has produced many professional athletes such as myself, my cousin Jamie Nicholls and freeskier, Tyler Harding. Currently, the GB Squad is mainly made up of athletes who learnt their skills on UK’s dryslopes. There was always a strong sense of community and a fun, motivating atmosphere which helped progression as we all wanted to see everyone better themselves –Not necessarily for competition but for personal success and excitement. This atmosphere provided a valued learning environment up until the point I was selected to be part of the British Snowboard team at thirteen years old.

The consistency of the dryslope’s built-in jump feature made it easier to learn new tricks at a young age. This is something that you would never get on a mountain, because the snow jumps are constantly changing due to people riding them, the sharp edges on snowboards and skis and the changes in temperature – This is something you do learn to adapt to through experience. Dryslopes also have a fast poma lift which make it perfect for repetition. I could do a run and be back at the top within minutes. Again, something that was vital for progression at a young age. Due to the fact that dryslope is a carpet of plastic bristles, it enabled myself and others to enjoy Snowboarding all year round.

You might think that growing up riding dryslope was a disadvantage as I compete against athletes who grew up in snowy mountains, but it was my appreciation of my time spent on real snow that made me value every minute and never miss an opportunity to train. This put me on a par with my competitors. As a town, Halifax is very privileged to have a dryslope feature set in the hills of West Yorkshire. Even now as a professional Snowboarder, I never take being in the mountains for granted and I also never forget my dryslope roots. I’m a big believer that a lot of my success has come from years of hard work and passion for the sport, which proves that just because England has no snow resorts, we have still produced Olympians and snowboarding enthusiasts who have started out on dryslope.

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