Izzy Atkin became the first British skier to win an Olympic medal after a nerveless final run earned her bronze in the ladies’ ski slopestyle.
The 19-year-old, who was born in the US to a British father and Malaysian mother, was in fourth place going into her last of three runs, but then landed all her tricks to finish with 84.80 points.
Atkin finished behind Switzerland’s Sarah Hoefflin, who took gold with 91.20, and Mathilde Gremaud, who won silver with a score of 88.00.
Hoefflin, incidentally, has a British mother and studied at Manchester University, although she doesn’t own a UK passport. Incredibly, she didn’t get serious about the sport until her early 20s, when she couldn’t get into medical school after earning a degree in neuroscience.
Atkin, who is also the youngest member of Team GB at these Games, afterwards admitted she was “stoked” by her medal.
“There were tonnes of big names in the field; it could have been anyone’s,” she said.
“Standing at the bottom after my third and final run, I knew I had skied the best I could and I was waiting for those last three or four girls to drop … My heart was racing. I just can’t believe it. I’m just stoked with how I skied and also stoked to win the bronze.”
Her father, Mike, said the family had moved to Park City in Utah four years ago to help his daughter’s skiing.
“There’s a school in Utah whose academic calendar runs from April to November, so they get the winter off to be able to ski,” he said. “So we moved so she could go to that school and be able to spend the time on snow.”
When asked whether it caused a lot of upheaval, he replied: “Your kids take you on adventures and you’ve got to go with the adventures. It’s part of being a parent. This is fantastic and great to repay the investment that UK sport have put into her.”
And he wasn’t surprised that Atkin had done so well.
“It’s something we’ve been building for for quite a while,” he said. “The jumps get bigger and bigger, she spends more and more time in the air. We still get very nervous about that, but it’s part of the family’s life now. This is what she does.”
Britain’s other skier, Katie Summerhayes, who feared she wouldn’t be here at all after injuring her ankle in December, finished a hugely creditable seventh with a score of 71.80.
Defending Olympic champion Dara Howell crashed twice during qualifying and didn’t advance, while American Devin Logan, a silver medalist in Sochi in 2014, reached the finals but wasn’t a factor after either crashing or having execution problems in each of her last three runs.
Britain has hopes of more slopestyle success when James Woods and Tyler Harding take to the men’s ski slopestyle competition on Sunday morning.