Aimee Fuller takes to the Air in bid to make Winter Olympics
With exactly 12 months to go until the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, snow queen Aimee Fuller is hoping to continue her recent run of good form and ensure she'll be packing her bags, and her snowboard, for the far eastern slopes next February.
The Bangor-based snowboarder overcame adverse weather conditions to finish fifth last weekend at the finals of the Mammoth World Cup, one of the major US Olympic qualifiers, held in California.
Aimee's success in America is the third in a string of great results in her hunt for Olympic qualification.
A solid performance in Seiser Alm a fortnight ago saw her place fifth in the Italian Slopestyle World Cup, and in November she finished fourth in the first Big Air qualifier in Milan. The latter involves performing tricks after launching from a ramp on the snowboard, whereas Slopestyle is run down a course including a variety of obstacles such as rails and jumps.
Her run of impressive results will be especially pleasing to the 25-year-old after suffering a sprained ankle ligament which forced her out of action over the New Year holidays.
"My ankle isn't 100 per cent yet," Aimee said. "I competed on it in early January which was tough, and our sport is fast, dangerous and explosive, so I am undergoing physio most days and have to tape it in a fixed position when I ride.
"I have come back from the injury mentally stronger. In the last two weeks I've got two top-five finishes in the Olympic Slopestyle qualifying events, and to get such strong results in the early stages of qualifying puts me in a great position."
If her current form continues, 2018 will be Aimee's second Olympics, after she was selected in 2014 to represent Team GB in Sochi, Russia where she narrowly missed out on the Slopestyle finals after finishing ninth.
The games in Pyeongchang will see Big Air introduced as an Olympic sport for the first time, with riders being judged on the height and difficulty of their tricks as well as their control and precision, and Fuller is hoping to compete in both Slopestyle and Big Air.
"With a year to go until the Olympics, I am so excited to have the opportunity to hopefully compete on the international stage and showcase our sport," said Aimee.
"Not only will I be competing in Slopestyle but also Big Air for the first time, and the opportunity to compete in two events is even better.
"Big Air is one of my stronger assets and I want to go to Korea in the best form of my life.
"I still feel I haven't reached my peak, so I'm excited for my spring training camp, where I can work on some new tricks for the games."
In order to qualify, Aimee will have to retain her top-30 rank across both disciplines; she's currently ranked eighth.
She'll continue her qualification campaign in Quebec, Canada this weekend before heading back to the World Championships in Spain and the Czech World Cup.
"Next stop is Canada for the FIS World Cup Big Air and Slopestyle event. I've never done two events in one week, it's going to be heavy, but bring it on," added Aimee.