Britain’s first ever Winter Olympic medallist on ski’s, Izzy Atkin, crashed onto our screens in 2018 at the Olympic games in Pyeongchang, where she claimed bronze in the Slopestyle as well as the British public's hearts. At age 19, Izzy did what no other British Olympic skier has ever done before. We managed to catch up with her before the fierce X-Games got underway in Aspen, Colorado.
We’re now into the second month of the year. Did you set yourself any goals for 2019?
My goals for 2019 is to have as much fun as possible in my skiing, making progress, competing, traveling, and also trying to get out more in the backcountry and filming. It was a very hectic 18 months or so leading into the PyeongChang Olympics. And so for 2019, I want to have as much fun as possible while making progress in my skiing, and at the same time continuing to do well.
When does your 2019 season begin?
Season 2019 has already started for me. I competed in the Stubai World Cup slopestyle event this past November, and I placed 5th. And my next slopestyle event is the invitational event, Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado during Jan 21-27, 2019. X Games is the event that I most look forward to all season long because it is very well organized, fun and the slopestyle course is always well built, creative and fun to ride!
What first got you interested in skiing? And then what enticed you to go into slopestyle?
I started skiing when I was 3 at Sugarloaf, Maine, USA. Skiing was an activity we could do as a family growing up, and it allows us to enjoy the outdoors during the long winter seasons in New England (I was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up there until my family moved to Park City, Utah when I was 14 and are currently based in Park City)
Freestyle skiing was always something I wanted to do. While skiing, I would always look for the little bumps on the side of the trails trying to get airtime. As I got more and more comfortable, the bumps became bigger and bigger so I was catching more and bigger airs. I never enjoyed hitting gates, which the alpine racers do all day. I did a bit of it when I was little, but I was always much happier away from the gates. I didn’t specialize in slopestyle until I was 16. I used to ski moguls and the half-pipe, and I did a few aerials competitions when I was young. My Dad says he thought I’d choose to specialize in moguls. But when the time came, I dropped all the other stuff and concentrated on slopestyle. After all these years, I still feel the exhilaration of being in the air-like flying. I still feel excited and the adrenaline when I land a new trick. And the Sport is also advancing very quickly, and it’s exciting to be part of that. Everyone is pushing to do better and bigger tricks.
How did it feel to become the first ever British skier to win a medal at the Olympics?
As you probably know, I was born in the US, my Dad is British and my mum is Malaysian. I know there’s a lot of controversy over Alain Baxter and what happened at the Salt Lake City Olympics, and I try to steer clear of all that, so I think of myself winning the first women’s skiing medal for Team GB. Of course, I’m very pleased. I got a very nice letter from Theresa May. My mother didn’t know about this history and she says she would have been even more nervous during the competition if she had known. The GB team is stronger than outsiders might think.
Did you ever imagine when you started skiing that you would become an Olympic medallist at 19?
No I never imagined that when I started skiing, I would be an Olympic medallist at 19. It still amazes me. I feel very honoured/proud to represent Team GB, and that I skied the best that I could at PY to bring home an Olympic medal.
Have you got plans to go to Beijing in 2022?
Beijing 2022 seems like a long way away. I am skiing, training, and competing this 2019 season. Injury is such a risk in my sport – everyone thought Kelly Sildaru would be the girl to beat at PyeongChang, but she injured her knee and wasn’t able to compete there. And you saw what happened to Katie Ormerod in snowboard slopestyle training. So it’s hard to be definite about 2022.
What would your advice be for someone looking to start skiing?
There are many snow domes and dry slopes all over the UK. Just go out, rent some equipment, and try it. You will never know how much fun it is until you try it. It’s like flying!
You have already achieved so much in your career, what is the next big challenge for you?
The end goal/challenge for my skiing is to keep on doing well. To do the best I can. I’ll stop when I feel I can’t keep up.
From all of the team Blacks, we wish Izzy the best of luck with her career and we hope to see her pushing the boundaries even more!