Emma Lonsdale wasted little time in announcing her retirement after completing her Winter Olympic debut in Sochi – after all it’s a decision that she’s put off for the past two years.
Lonsdale was the last of Britain’s freestyle skiers to compete at the Games and did so alone after fellow freestyle ski halfpipe specialist Rowan Cheshire was forced out with a concussion.
But for Lonsdale, from Settle, it was well worth the two-week wait since the opening ceremony as she placed 18th after earning 53.80 and 53.20 from her two runs at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
She missed out on the final by six places but admitted simply comp-eting in the first-ever freestyle ski halfpipe event to be held at the Winter Olympics was enough for her.
Lonsdale had planned to call it quits in 2011 but then the International Olympic Committee included her event on the programme for Sochi 2014 – and she insisted it was an opportunity too good to miss.
“I’m retiring, that’s it. I was going to retire three years ago and then halfpipe became an Olympic discipline,” said Lonsdale, who admits to literally falling into the discipline after competing in alpine skiing then moguls.
“I thought I might as well give it one last push and leave on a high rather than just fading away and not giving it a go. I thought I might as well try and make the Olympics and then retire.
“I was very excited out there. I’m very happy to be have been able to compete. I didn’t ski my very best. I missed a few grabs, which isn’t ideal, but I tried my hardest under quite a lot of pressure out there.
“I am happy with my skiing. I landed all limbs intact. I don’t think I embarrassed myself. I have been going kind of insane, skipping around the Olympic village and waving flags for two weeks but it has all been worth it in the end.”
Lonsdale was supported at the top of the halfpipe by Cheshire, who suffered a nasty fall in training on Sunday, which resulted in the concussion that ruled her out of competing herself.
Her 29-year-old teammate showed her support by writing ‘love you Rowan’ on her hand and Lonsdale wants to stay on and support the likes of Cheshire in a coaching capacity following her retirement.
“I don’t know what I want to do. I really like photo-graphy so I’m going to go to the World Junior Champion-ships with the team and take some photos,” she added.
“I would like to stay involved with the team. I might do my coaching qualifications but I am not sure yet.”
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