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Freestyle ski star Rowlands reckons the Lillehammer YOG will prove to have been perfect preparation for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. And with the Lillehammer 2016 double medallist already on her way to securing a qualification place for the winter sport spectacular in South Korea next year, she is hoping to test her theory first hand.
The 16-year-old from Great Britain won gold in halfpipe and bronze in slopestyle at Lillehammer 2016. “Lillehammer would definitely help to prepare me for an Olympics,” Rowlands said during a training camp in Switzerland. “I’m in the qualification process (for PyeongChang 2018) now. Having two good results so far, I’m halfway there now. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, just to get there is quite difficult for us because we can’t ski at home while athletes from other countries can ski every day.”
With plenty of high-level experience already under her belt before YOG 2016, Rowlands’ Lillehammer highlights went beyond the slopes, halfpipe and her podium finishes. “It was interesting,” she said.
“I was doing two events so it was busy and halfpipe was in Oslo so I was away from the rest of the team. All the people competing I had seen on the circuit already so it wasn’t very different, but skiing in the Olympic kit was something to get used to. I missed quite a few of the activities that the team got up to because of competing but I think one of the best things was that you got to see other people’s sports, like I really enjoyed watching the curling and the bobsleigh.”
“Making friends was the main part of it as well. I’ve now got friends all over the world and I keep up with them on social media. It’s really funny. Sometimes you end up in the same places, like the bobsledders got to St Moritz a lot and I’m there for a World Cup at some point, so hopefully we can meet up. The highlight was after I won gold I called my grandmother and she was crying down the phone to me, that made my day. Once I got home they had a massive party, all my family came. It was so nice.”
The support of her friends and family is clearly of huge importance to Rowlands. They are extremely proud of her achievements and are not afraid to show it, as evidenced by how the teenager first discovered she had been handed the quota spot for Lillehammer 2016.
“I was actually getting off the plane from America and I had loads of notifications on Facebook,” she revealed. “My mum had posted that I had been selected. I had no idea until then. Even my aunt’s profile picture is now me at the Youth Olympics, all my family went mental over it. It’s really nice. I never really get to see them so to see they keep up with me online is really nice.”