Chichester skier Yasmin Cooper has just completed the sort of season most can only dream of – and is dreaming of Olympic glory in the future.
Cooper’s early-season performances saw her selected for the Youth Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, where the 17-year-old got to compete against the world’s best in her age group and more than held her own.
She went on to clean up at the Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships in Tignes in March, winning six golds, two silvers and a bronze in addition to the overall U18 and U21 titles.
Afterwards Cooper was straight back into training and is convinced a summer training trip to Chile will see her take the next step in her skiing development.
“At Lillehammer and in Tignes, I surpassed what I thought I could achieve,” said Cooper.
“I feel really good. But after the British champs I just got back to training straight away basically. I’ve been really focusing on getting my fitness up to go away to do some camps in Chile and Europe in the summer.
“Competition-wise I would like to get my FIS points into the low 50s or the 40s next season and I’d definitely like to come back to the British Championships again and try to retain some of my titles.
“I’ll be moving into the U21 category so I won’t be able to retain any of the U18 titles but it will be good to see myself competing at that higher level. That will be really interesting.
“I’ve got some speed training for four weeks in Chile in August and I’ve never been there, so I’m really excited for that.
“What everyone is trying to push me for is to develop my speed skiing and get some more confidence in those disciplines. Developing my speed skiing in Chile will help my other disciplines because if I can pull off turns at such high speeds, then I’ll be able to pull them off at a slower pace in slalom or GS and it will all come together.”
I’d love to get the senior Winter Olympics eventually. The next one’s in two years and that’s quite close and probably less achieveable than the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, which I’m hoping to get to – that’s the ultimate goal.
Longer-term, she would love to make her mark at a senior Olympics.
Cooper, who has been skiing since she was six and competively since she was eight, said: “I’d love to get the senior Winter Olympics eventually. The next one’s in two years and that’s quite close and probably less achieveable than the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, which I’m hoping to get to – that’s the ultimate goal.
“That sounds a long way but it will fly around – it’s only six years.”
Cooper’s recent success has seen her named as one of five nominees for the Ski Club of Great Britain Evie Pinching award which celebrates the next generation of snow-sport athletes considered ‘ones to watch’.
The award forms part of the Ski Club’s INSPIRE programme which recognises and rewards the those making a positive contribution to snow sports.
There are six categories of awards and funding which include the Thomas Lang Schools Bursary, Student Bursary and The Green Award, which are yearly funding schemes available for schools, students and snow sports enthusiasts, aiming to develop and encourage participation in snow sports.
Voting is open until May 26 and the winning athlete will be awarded a one-off bursary of £1,000 for the year to help with training and competing.
Cooper is up against freestyle skier Lloyd Wallace, snowboarder Matt McCormick and visually impaired skiers Menna Fitzpatrick and Millie Knight but says just being nominated for the award is special.
“It’s amazing to get this sort of recognition, I’ve never had anything like it before and to have people contact me about it is definitely a first,” added Cooper. “I think winning the award would be proving to myself what I can do. It would show I can put myself out there and I can rival some of these other great athletes.”
* For more information and to vote for Yasmin Cooper in the Evie Pinching award visit www.skiclub.co.uk/eviepinchingaward
LUKE BAKER & STEVE BONE
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