Sean Speaks to GB Freestyle Athlete Peter Speight
Peter Speight is a British freestyle skier and 2018 Winter Olympics hopeful. Front caught up with the British Halfpipe champion while he was in training in Canada. The Sheffield native talks about his preparations for Pyeongchang 2018, his goals for the season ahead and being part of a thriving Team GB Park and Pipe team.
When, where and how did you first get into freestyle skiing?
“I first strapped on a pair of skis in Austria when I was on holiday with my mum and dad. I remember seeing snowboarders throwing tricks off a wind lip and thinking- that’s what I want to do! When I was 12 I moved to Sheffield and my dad took me up to the Sheffield Ski Village, where there was already an established freestyle scene. That is when it Really kicked off for me.”
Sheffield has also produced fellow GB skiers James Woods and Katie Summerhayes, what do you think it is about the Steel city, that makes it a breeding ground for talent?
“For skiing it’s definitely the ski village- it was an amazing facility with a really big freestyle and general skiing scene. We all fed off each other aiming to improve and pushing ourselves to the limit. Sadly, it’s burnt down.”
Can you tell us what it is like to be part of the successful GB Park & Pipe team?
“Yeah the GB Park & Pipe set-up has really come a long way over the last couple of years. We have some great coaches and support staff that make everything easier. Luckily, we have lottery funding in freestyle skiing now, which is a massive help. Everyone is doing their own thing, but we are also a close-knit group. Most of us have known each other for years as we all grew up on dry slopes.”
Is there any boarder/skier rivalry in the team?
“Haha nah no rivalry! We stay and ride a lot with the snowboarders, which keeps things fresh and allows us to have a slightly different sport to feed off. It’s sick!”
You’re in Calgary right now, how are you getting on and how has your season been so far?
“It’s my first time here and the set-up is unbelievable! The halfpipe is right in the centre of the city at the Canada Olympic Park and I’m riding at night under the lights- it’s really cool! The season is going well so far but things are about to kick off over the next month. I’m off to California next for the US Grand Prix.”
What attracted you to halfpipe in particular?
“It was because there’s loads of different elements to a good pipe run, with tricks and technical skiing. You have to be able to boost the transition and generate your own height, it’s all on you, when you get it right there’s no better feeling than nailing a pipe run. 5 or 6 tricks in just 30 seconds!”
The winter Olympics are next year, you must be excited?
“The Olympics are definitely in my sights but there are no guarantees. I’m just focusing on the here and now, taking every season at a time through the qualification process. But yeah I am excited!”
Last year you skied down some sand dunes when you were in America How did that happen?
“That was actually one of the highlights of the season for me! I was finishing up a performance camp in California when me and my friend, James Machon, were driving across Death Valley to catch our flight out of Las Vegas to Manchester. We randomly came across these dunes and I thought: we have to ski these! It was 30-degree heat and very sticky but too be honest it wasn’t much different to a dry slope on a summers day.”
What do you think the future holds for extreme sports in the UK?
“I think extreme sports are always evolving and changing. Pushing boundaries is the norm. UK free skiing is as strong as it has ever been with slopestyle and halfpipe inclusions in the Olympics helping to raise its profile. For me extreme sports bring a sick balance between athlete driven agendas, which I love, but also the visual side of things. I hope this balance continues for years to come!”
To keep up with Pete’s journey to Pyeongchang 2018 and see him crush the halfpipe, follow him on his social media and on his website: Twitter: @peter_speight Instagram: @peterspeight website: www.peterspeight.co.uk. All photos credited to Jamie Matthew.