We caught up with Ellie Koyander, Great Britain’s Number One Freestyle Mogul Skier and Team GB Olympian to find out more about her life as a skier and her aspirations for the future. Ellie is 20 and hails from Tideswell, Derbyshire, England.
[caption id="attachment_1215" align="alignleft" width="256" caption="Ellie Koyander is GB's No1 freestyle mogul skier"][/caption]
At what age did you start skiing? "I first began skiing on a family holiday in Italy at only 18-months-old and quickly caught the skiing bug. My parents had to stuff newspaper into the end of my little ski boots to make them fit my feet. Every time we came to the bottom of a ski run my dad would ask me what I thought and my reply would simply be, "AGAIN!" I have watched the home video of that day it's clear to see the shear delight on my face!"
So, we’re presuming your whole family has always been into skiing? "Growing up we would always go on family holidays skiing in Europe. My dad loves loves skiing and coached the England moguls team for several years as I was progressing as a young athlete. Both my parents have been so supportive and amazing throughout my journey so far – and made it possible to achieve my dreams in moguls skiing."
When did you realise you were ace at skiing? "I have always had a huge passion for skiing and was a real Tomboy growing up loving anything adventurous and the outdoors. I joined Sharks ski club at Sheffield ski village and raced slalom as well as taking part in the freestyle disciplines. I was 12-years-old when I realised moguls were what I loved to do best and when I was 14 I found out that you could compete in the Olympics for moguls skiing, so I decided that that was what I wanted to do."
Why do you like moguls skiing so much? "Moguls skiing is just such a challenge and I love that it can be so technical but has that danger element, too, such as when I pull a big back flip off the bottom jump on the moguls course!"
How did you get into moguls competition? "Being a member of Sharks ski club really helped me to get started with competing on the artificial ski slopes around England and the indoor snow domes, too. I quickly progressed through the ranks of the Yorkshire freestyle ski squad and then the England freestyle ski team."
What was the turning point for you competitively? "I began competing internationally on the World Cup circuit for Great Britain when I was only 16. At this time I held the title of Junior French, Australian and USA regional champion and so the GB selectors decided it was time to let me ski against the world’s elite ready for the Winter Olympic Games in 2010."
[caption id="attachment_1214" align="alignleft" width="320" caption="Mogul skiing Olympic champ Ellie Koyander"][/caption]
What are your best ski champs achievements? "My career highlight so far is representing Team GB at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver last year (2010). I was the youngest member of Team GB and finished 24th place, which I was really happy with."
Do you have tips for beginner skiers? "I don't remember learning to ski as I was so young but for anyone who is just starting out my advice would be to get nice and forward in your ski boots on your skis and keep your hips high (don't let you butt drag!) with your arms facing forwards and down the hill. Staying well-balanced and forward will help you to stay on your feet for longer and enjoy the challenge of different slopes."
And what about tips for people keen to ski moguls? "Moguls are so much fun and a real challenge to ski once you have mastered the basics of good skiing technique. I suggest taking it easy to begin with, try some quick turns out of the moguls on the flats and then take these into a few moguls at a time on an easier slope. With a bit of practice, you can increase the number of moguls you can ski in one time and find a steeper slope to shred down. As before, make sure you keep those hips nice and high to allow for good absorption and stay forward on those skis to keep better control."
What are your next competition challenges? "After a great summer training in the USA and Australia I can't wait to start competing again this winter. My first event on the World Cup tour this year is on December 10th in Finland. I'm feeling stronger and fitter than ever! You can follow my journey at www.elliekoyander.com, Twitter and Facebook."
Tell us your dreams for mogul skiing. "I am now aiming to be a medal contender at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. With a strong programme in place, and a great support team around me, I can't wait to go for gold in just over two years’ time."
We wish Ellie all the best for the coming season and for her Olympic hopes.