Name: Emily Sarsfield
Hometown: Durham / Meribel
Country: Great Britain
Sport: Ski Cross (Freestyle Skiing)
Years in the sport: 12
How did you get started in your ski cross?
After a few years competing in Alpine skiing, coaches advised me to give Ski Cross a try, a relatively new discipline with four people head to head on a downhill obstacle clad track… they suggested my ‘all or nothing’ attitude and competitive spirit were perfect attributes for the new sport! I was 6th in my first ever Ski Cross at the World University Games, Austria and so following graduating from Loughborough University in 2005, I thought I might give it a shot full time and headed to Europe to join the Ski Cross World Cup …and 12 years later I am still going and living my dream as a pro skier!
Goals for this year?
Be the best I can be, break into the World’s Top 10 and compete on the ultimate sporting stage at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.
*Note: This interview took place prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Emily managed to qualify and compete in Pyeongchang!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Probably laughing somewhere with good friends and family… if its winter hopefully I’ll be in the mountains and if its summer, enjoying the ocean somewhere in the world… whatever I am doing I hope I’ll have a smile on my face!
I’m not really a big ‘planner’ I believe in taking every opportunity and thats how doors open! Im a hard worker and extremely loyal, I have had some great experiences from my skiing to TV work and even up cycling converting shipping containers into pop bars!
My sister. She’s not an athlete as such now, but she’s always been my biggest influence and supporter! Without my big sis, I wouldn’t be where I am today!
What has been your biggest challenge as an athlete and how did you overcome it?
My sporting career hasn’t been plain sailing, being a self-funded athlete the majority of my career, I have had to manage my own program, self-coached and had to work hard to raise funds by basically doing anything possible. I set up my own ski school ‘Em’s Ski School’ and juggled 3 summer jobs doing anything and everything! I am lucky enough to have ABC Group my headline sponsor supporting me which allows me to be a full time athlete and compete against my peers on a more level playing field.
I’ve faced many challenges throughout my career, from a career-threatening injury on the Olympic course in Vancouver where I snapped all 4 ligaments in my knee, to controversially missing out on the 2014 Sochi Games and seeing my best friend and teammate have a life-threatening brain injury competing at the world championships! But that is what sport does to you, it throws in curve balls to test you and the strongest athletes are the ones who can overcome them! Sochi was an extremely difficult time for me knowing I should have been there on the start line … but that challenge made me even more focused and determined to achieve my goal of being the best athlete I can possibly be!
The best advice that you have been given?
An old PE teacher Gordon Beecham once said to me ‘always shoot for the moon, and even if you miss you will land amongst the stars’ … this taught me to go for my goals and dreams and always had a positive attitude to know you can achieve the impossible!
If you were not an athlete, what would you be doing?
Something equally as competitive, it would definitely involve being active. I’m not very good at sitting still, I’m not sure I would fit well into a corporate office, haha!
I love little adventures, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie and will try anything once. I love playing sports, I look forward to playing team games again after years of focusing on an individual sport!
I love my cheesy music, even Spice Girls get an appearance on my playlist!
I’m not so much of a reader, but I do like an autobiography. When I was coming through rehab when I was injured athlete autobiographies helped to show I wasn’t alone in my challenges!
What does a typical day of training look like?
It depends on whether I am in the mountains or not,
When I am in London I am usually doing 2 – 4 training sessions a day and in the mountains, we spend the morning on the mountain, and the afternoon doing physical preps and recovery sessions.
Today I am back in London…
– First things first I eat … I love my food and its super important I fuel my body correctly for training,
– Head to the gym at 8am
– 8:30am – Warm Up and interval session
– 9:00am – Strength session
– 10:15 am – Quick protein shake for recovery
– 10:30am – Yoga & stretching session
– 12:30pm – Lunch in the park making the most of the UK outdoors before the rain kicks in
– 13:00pm – head to a coffee shop to catch up on emails and sponsorship duties
– 16:00pm – Back to gym for cardio session
– 17:00pm – head home and finish admin
– 19:00pm – Dinner
– 20:00pm – chill and pack for next training camp in the mountains
– 21:30pm – head to bed (So rock n roll)
Anything people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m actually a little bit of a softy. I do this crazy extreme event, but when I’m out of the gym and off the snow I can be a bit soft!
In the summer I up-cycle shipping containers into pop up bars – check out CNTNR Ltd for a sneak peak. Cheeky plug there!
What is the funniest thing has happened to you/others while training?
Anything and everything can go wrong in our sport. I cant think of anything specific, but we are always giggling and having a laugh whilst training, that’s when I ski my best when I’m relaxed and having fun!
Any pre-competition rituals?
Always right to left! Right sock first, then left, right boot then left, right ski … I think you get the picture!
Best movie and tv series?
Fave Movie – Annie. Literally knew this word for word as a child!
TV Series -has to be Suits, I’m loving a law drama at the moment!
Favourite food while training?
Tough – I love food!
I’m a sucker for brunch, smashed avocado with pouched eggs!
But it will have to be ‘Barebells’ Salty-Peanut protein bar … no added sugar high protein bar tastes naughty but it’s not and its a perfect mid training snack!
Results you’re most proud of?
Being unbeaten in domestic competition!
Making history of being the first British female to win a Europa cup ski event!
What inspires you?
My big sis!
Do you have a saying or motto you live by?
Never think ‘what if’!
What do you enjoy most about skiing?
The freedom, the views and the mountain air!
I have a sign on my wall in France which says, ‘If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains – you’re lucky enough’
I think this says it all… I’m so lucky to have the most amazing office and visit some amazing places and meet some amazing people!
Advise that you have for someone starting out with ski cross?
Ski Cross requires a strong all-round skier, so get a good technical base, spend some time in the park and just give it a go!
Don’t be put off. I competed in the World Cup without a coach for 10 years and lots of negative comments from British peers. Don’t worry about barriers, if you have the passion to do something, go for it, be open, make friends and connections to help you do what you want to do!
What is the most crucial part of your training?
All of it! I love training, so it never feels like a chore! But everything is important, for your strength and power, to cardio and flexibility! Stretching is often overlooked, but having the mobility as well as strength can often help prevent injuries!
Anyone you would like to thank?
My sporting journey hasn’t been the easiest, and I would never have achieved what I have today without my friends and family, my adopted Polish teammates & coaches and of course my sponsors.
Huge thanks to ABC Group for all your support this coming winter!
Want to Learn more about Emily Sarsfield? Check out this interview she did with British Ski and Snowboard!