FEATURE: Aimee switches focus to Winter Olympics
North Down-based snowboarder Aimee Fuller is well on the way to making it to the 2018 Winter Olympics to represent Team GB.
The 26-year-old showed nerves of steel in Sochi during the 2014 Games where she took on 35-metre jumps in a history-making event for women snowboarders.
Fuller has just had her best season to date, but was never a stranger to the adrenaline of explosive sports. At age four, she started skiing on the dry slope in Bromley Ski Centre in Kent.
At the same time, she was doing motocross which helped her gain the aggression and attacking turns she would need when taking up snowboarding.
Fuller made the move to become a pro rider after attending a snowboard camp in Mount Hood, Oregon. Professional Roxy rider, Erin Comstock, was Fuller’s coach for the week and only a couple of weeks later she got the call from Roxy.
Fuller began competing professionally since she was 19. She says the main thing that’s changed since she started competing is the progression of the skills level of women at the top.
Since the Olympics introduced Slopestyle in 2014, women have been riding the same courses as the men, with the same sized jumps.
Earlier this month, Fuller’s latest challenge was the FIS World Cup Qualifier. Competing in the Ladies’ Snowboard Big Air in the German city of Möenchengladbach, she gained 240 World Cup points that added to her position in the Olympic quota list.
Riding in extremely foggy conditions and against a strong field, Fuller delivered two solid and controlled runs and finished 11th out of 27 riders.
“I’m happy with my riding in Germany, I feel strong and in control on my board. There are only a few weeks until the Games and I am excited to focus my attention now on training bigger tricks in preparation for it,” she said.
“I am thrilled to have secured another solid result, adding to my position in the Olympic quota list. I am well within the Team GB criteria of two top 12s.
“Having finished last season with four top fives across Big Air and Slopestyle, the countdown is on and I am looking forward on focusing on what matters between now and the Olympics - my training.”
Last season Fuller’s main goals were to ensure she delivered consistency across her tricks in both Slopestyle and Big Air and to qualify early for the games.
Since the FIS World Cup Qualifier, Fuller has been training in Italy with the GB Park and Pipe Team. There, she benefits from more time on her board, but also from the range of training equipment and facilities available.
“There is a private air bag set up at the training camp which provides a huge opportunity for the team and myself to really hone in on specific tricks. We’re able to practice in a reduced risk training environment which is ideal for the intense training needed for the lead up to the Olympics.”
This year has been a successfully busy but fun-filled one for the snowboarder. She was the British champion in both Big Air and Slopestyle at 2017 BRITS in Laax earlier in the year, followed by a summer of working on projects like Sky Sports’ Mission Mudder, a six-part TV series.
The show followed six Olympic athletes who joined forces to take on three extreme Tough Mudder events, competing against some of the best teams and individuals in the world.
In addition to Fuller, the celebrity team featured Welsh taekwondo star and double gold medalist Jade Jones, judoka Ashley McKenzie, Commonwealth Games 75kg boxing champion Anthony Fowler, former World and European indoor 400m champion Perri Shakes-Drayton and cycling’s World silver medalist Jess Varnish.
Over the six episodes, Fuller and her fellow athletes travelled around the world, learning about the unique training methods while trying out bespoke assault courses ahead of their final challenge – an eight-hour adventure throughout the night.
Accompanying the live TV episodes, Fuller recalls the mini-series she worked on alongside it. “I hosted a mini-series with one of my sponsors, Jeep UK. It’s called the Aimee Diaries and in each episode, I took viewers on a behind the scenes journey in my Renegade before each live TV episode.
“It was more of a sneak peek with some of the other athletes on what you could expect to see on the show and it was a lot of fun!”
Despite he hectic schedule, Fuller plans to enjoy quality family time over the Christmas period.
“I’ll be happy to be down by the coast to spend time with family and friends. Post-Christmas I’ll be back on my board to train for the last World Cup event in Switzerland.”
With the 2018 Winter Olympics as Fuller’s focus, she plans on competing in two events; Slopestyle and Big Air.
“I’ll aim to snowboard as much as possible between now and South Korea in February so I’m in the best possible place to challenge. The Big Air is one of the most exciting events introduced to the Games.”
Team GB will be selected after the last World Cup - the LAAX Open - which runs from January 17-20 in Switzerland, which will be Fuller’s final pre-Olympics contest.