Katie Blundell is definitely one to watch. Since discovering snowboarding at the age of 21, Katie has achieved much success in the last 5 years, including winning a gold and two silvers at the BRITS in the Big Air and Slopestyle. Not bad for someone who has never even had a lesson!
Sportsister caught up with Katie this week to find out what life is like as a snowboarder, what’s in store for the future and hear all about being very undomesticated…
Tell us how you got involved with snowboarding
It was about five years ago through my boyfriend who I met on my first ski season. He was a really cool snowboarder and I wanted to be like him, it looked like so much fun.
“To begin with, I hated it.”
I had been skiing since I was two years old so I found it really hard to get to grips with. I remember the first day I tried it; I took my snowboard off straight away and just walked down the entire mountain which took me about two hours! I tried it again about six months later and then got on with it a lot better that time around.
Do you still ski now?
No, it’s completely just snowboarding now – I haven’t skied since that second time I tried snowboarding and I haven’t ever looked back. I haven’t even put on a pair of skis. I keep saying that I’ll do it for a day but I never really get around to it.
So tell us about this year, what have been the highlights?
This year has been a really busy year for me, I’ve had about ten months of snowboarding with only ten days off. Last season I went to America, where I had to live with a group of seven boys, that was definitely an experience – I was less domesticated than them!
I then came back to Europe and did the BRITS where I won two silver medals. I then went back to Tignes in France for a while, which I always love because it’s where snowboarding started for me. I had a couple of weeks back in Devon where my family are and then I went to Australia for the summer – I just snowboarded there for the whole time. So pretty full on, I was exhausted by the end!
How many competitions did you have this year in total?
I had three competitions in America, which weren’t that massive but then came The BRITS which is pretty much the biggest one of the year. I did some pretty big ones in Perisher though in Australia which are big out there, but when it comes to the Europe scene people have probably never heard of them. I came third in two and fourth in another two. The Australian scene I guess is just really different to the European one, but hopefully next season I’m looking to do some of the bigger ones over here– if I can get the training in on time and learn some new tricks quickly.
What about the Winter Olympic Games in 2014, is that something that you aim to compete in one day?
If I ever got the opportunity to do something like that I would love to. At the moment it’s very far away, a lot can happen in the meantime. What I’m going to do for now is carry on enjoying snowboarding and keep having fun with it. I’ll see what happens.
So which style of competition do you enjoy the most?
I like rail jams or any kind of jam format, which I think comes down to my nerves. I get so nervous in competitions that I find if my performance is just about two runs and the best run counts I just work myself up so much that I can’t perform any of my tricks because I’m in too much of a state. I find with jams you are just riding the defence really, it takes the pressure off a little bit.
So what happens when you aren’t taking part in competitions, is the rest of the year just training?
Well I wouldn’t really call it training so much, just snowboarding with friends and having fun. I actually really enjoy the filming side of things, I make a lot of edits and in a way I find that a bit more rewarding than the competitions. When you spend all day setting up a trick, then performing it and catching it on film it’s really a great thrill.
Do you make a living from snowboarding?
At the big competitions like the X Games you can win quite a bit of money but at the moment I’m not quite at that standard. The standard that I’m in now you can normally win between £350 and £500, so it’s not huge money and to be honest I don’t make a living out of it. I think I do what most people do at my standard – off season I work as a cleaner or waitressing as much as I can. I just try and do anything to make some money. I’ve actually just spent all of today trying to sell some stuff on e-bay, raiding my cupboards for anything to help me pay for the snowboarding!
Is coaching something that you would ever consider to earn some extra money?
To be honest I’ve never even really had a lesson so I don’t think I would be that great a teacher! The only person that has ever taught me is my boyfriend. I’d love to have professional coaching myself though, it’s just hard to find and very expensive, so if anybody would like to coach me I’d definitely be open to suggestions!
You have a degree in fashion and textiles, have you ever thought of combining it with snowboarding?
That was the aim, eventually I would like to bring those two parts of my life together. I would love to have a job in the snowboarding industry – maybe not necessarily designing clothes, I’m not quite sure at the moment but definitely when I stop competing it would be amazing to do that.
What the hardest thing you find about snowboarding?
Probably the expense to be honest, I’m always watching the pennies and I’m always saving. I can never quite relax and not worry about money so that I guess that’s the hardest thing.
Snowboarding has such a high risk of injury, have you had any major problems?
The injuries that come with snowboarding are a nightmare. I wish I was invincible. I had to have a year and half off because I damaged my knee so badly. I was on crutches for seven months and completely bed ridden. The only saving grace was that I was in my final year of uni so I guess it was a blessing in disguise because all I was able to do was sit in my bed and do work!
Are your knees still a weakness now?
They’re ok at the moment. I still need to wear knee braces, and have to do a much longer warm up than other snowboarders. I’ve just got to be sensible and know when to stop so I don’t push my body too far.
What advice would you give to people starting out in the sport?
Stick at it. It can be really hard at the start, and you can feel really stupid but there are always going to be people better than you, you just need to keep practicing and eventually you’ll get it. You’ll soon find that it really is the best thing ever!
And finally…have you seen the new snowboarding film “5 More Minutes Please”?
Yes I have. I was a bit late going into the cinema though, but the bits I saw were really amazing – really inspirational.
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Katie will be back competing at The BRITS in Laax 18th – 25th March www.the-brits.com