My sponsor Chill Factore asked me to tell my story of how I got into snowboarding. I have been a sponsored Chill Factore rider for 3 years and this is my journey so far……
I was always really active when I was little, my mum said I never played with dolls or toys I just wanted to run about and jump. I lived in Manchester with my Mum and sister and my Dad was in Canada. We were applying for immigration so we could all live together but when I was 5 my dad was killed in a car accident. It was really hard because my dad was so awesome and afterwards I couldn’t sleep at night and I started to sleepwalk and get night terrors.
I always loved being outside and playing sports, and the best days ever was when we would go bike riding and swimming as a family. When I was active I slept much better, So my mum thought it would be a good idea to try and tire me out with sports. I tried loads of different sports at first such as dancing, gymnastics and rounders but, although I enjoyed them, I never felt very passionate about them like some of the other children did. But we kept trying different things including playing football with Manchester United Soccer skills. We would go every Sunday morning and I met some great friends there, I was the only girl out of 60 but the boys and the coaches were really supportive.
Everytime we drove to football we would pass the Chill Factore Snowdome and one day my mum and I called in to have a look. I knew my dad’s family, who lived in Canada, loved to go to the mountains and I thought it would be really awesome if I could learn how to ski so I could go with them. Mum got me some lessons for my birthday and I loved being on the snow from day 1. Although skiing was really cool I used to love watching the snowboarders and when I was 8 I had my very first lesson.
I was really lucky to be taught by 2 amazing teachers, Isabel Jones and Will Lenton, and it wasn’t long before they said I was good enough to start riding without lessons. I used to beg my mum every night to take me and I saved up enough money to buy my very first snowboard. I started hanging out on freestyle nights and Will would spend hours riding with me and introducing me to all the other riders. At first I wasn’t heavy enough to get over the kickers so I would bunny hop to the top then ride down. My mum was always worried that I would that I was getting in people’s way, but everyone was so supportive and friendly and would cheer every time I got a little bit higher. I began to get really close to everyone there and they all became like family to me.
One day the Chill Factore had a freestyle competition. I had never done one before but I really wanted to give it a go. All the big riders from the Chill Factore were going to be there and they were so fun to ride with. It was the most exciting thing I had ever done and I even won a prize. After this I begged my mum to look for more competitions and together we travelled all over the country, meeting new people and having so much fun. I still missed my Dad so much but I didn’t feel so sad anymore.
Then in 2011, when I was 9, I had a bad experience at school. I suffer from raynauds which mean my hands go really cold sometimes and when it happens I can’t write or use scissors very well. Nobody at the school really understood this and I was called lazy by my teacher. It made me feel really sad and my sleep began to get bad again, my mum tried to talk to the school but that didn’t help so we chose to leave. I didn’t feel confident going in to a new school straight away so my mum made the decision to homeschool for a little bit. During this time she bought me an unlimited pass and I went snowboarding as much as I could, It made me feel so much better. I continued to attend competitions, meet new friends and began to get some really good results. Then in the following June the Chill Factore chose me to become a member of their team. This made me feel so proud and also meant that I got to ride for free which helped my mum out to. It helped my confidence so much and I was determined to do them and myself proud. 3 months later I became the British u12 Champion despite being the youngest girl in the competition.
Following this my snowboarding began to get stronger and stronger, and I had a great support system. Will Lenton had become a really good mentor to me and the Chill Factore coaches were awesome and believed that having fun was the most important thing. I began helping out on junior freestyle lessons, supporting and encouraging children to gain confidence in the sport. With everyone’s help and support I went on to become the Scottish u16 and English u12 champion then, during a holiday to see my Dad’s family in Canada, I entered the Junior Half Pipe Championships at the Olympic Park in Calgary and came 2nd. I had only been in the half pipe once before so I was really shocked but most of all I was so proud because my family got to see me compete and stand on the podium.
Soon after this I made the decision to go back to school. Everyone’s support had made me feel so much more confident and I knew that if I did have a problem, people would be there for me. I sat down with my Mum and we made a list of schools that we wanted to view, we didn’t get round the list though as I fell in love with the first school we visited. The teachers and staff seemed so friendly and all the pupils were really happy. I started as soon as I could and it wasn’t long before I felt like I had always been a part of the school. They were really supportive of my sports and some of the teachers would even come to watch me. They were understanding of my Raynauds and I was soon diagnosed with dyslexia too. They got me the help I needed and and I ended up with high levels in my national tests. During the following year I regained the British, English and Scottish Champion titles in my age groups and even made the overall women’s finals where I got to ride against some of the top women in the country. I couldn’t believe that I got to compete against such talented people, I felt so privileged.
So that was my journey so far and I’m just beginning the next stage. I started high school in September at a school that specialises in sport, and, after being accepted in to the Park and Pipe Academy in May, I have been busy training with them both in the UK and abroad. My aim in the future is to get better and better and hopefully be able to compete in the Olympics and at the XGames, but no matter how far I go the Chill Factore will always be the best place to ride.