By Charlotte Bankes, GB Snowsport Snowboard Cross Athlete
I grew up with two older brothers, in a pretty active family which meant we spent a lot of time outside. Most of our holidays were spent out in the Southern Alpes in France and I started skiing at around two.
When I was four my parents decided we would all move out to France, which meant spending even more time outside in the mountains, on the snow in the winter and on walking, biking and sailing in the summer. To help us integrate and keep us active and learning new skills, our parents got us involved in lot of the local clubs.
I started snowboarding at around five and got involved in the club at seven. This is when I discovered Snowboardcross. As kids it was all about riding down a course with jumps and lumps and turns in it as fast as you could, very much like what I would do on the slopes trying to keep up with my two older brothers.
I loved it and did all the local races in which I did well which motivated me even more. I started to get even more involved in the sport at the age of fifteen, when I started to race on the international circuit. This was great as the courses got faster and more technical which made it even more challenging with more competitors as well.
Unfortunately, I had a pretty bad injury the first year which meant the first couple of years on these bigger tracks were challenging but I worked hard and was doing well.
In December 2013, I made my World Cup debut in Montafon. For me this was very a very tough step as all the features where bigger, the track was running really fast and I didn’t feel like I had the level to be part of it. Luckily, I could count on the support and reassurance from my brothers who were both on tour as well and this really helped me get over this challenge and not get overwhelmed by everything.
Moving onto the World Cup circuit, I got to experience the best our sport had to offer with great tracks with high speed, big jumps, technical sections and all this riding against the best riders in the world. As each track is different you always get an adrenaline rush before the first training run as you don’t know how it runs but then you just enjoy riding the track and trying to generate speed wherever you can and finding places to overtake by taking different lines from the other riders. This is really the best bit about our sport as it requires us to be always alert and adapt to different situations and then just let the instinct take over while racing.