Laura Donaldson competed for Team GB in Freestyle Skiing specialising in Moguls at Europa Cup, Rocky Mountain, Nor-Am, World Cup and the Olympic Games.
In my spare time, I did other competitions and won the Extreme Series ’98 at Berthoud Pass, Colorado. Extreme Skiing is a discipline at the X Games and I had a choice to make between moving to Extreme Skiing, where I had better results, or continue with Freestyle Skiing. I chose Freestyle and continued to train and compete since it was a more structured environment: safer and a path would lead to the Olympics.
My results were good and improving but unfortunately after sustaining a serious knee injury, my training was stalled for over a year. I was fortunate to make it back to training at a high level, and I surprisingly qualified for the Games just two weeks before the event.
I competed in the Winter Olympic Games at Salt Lake 2002. Freestyle Skiing and Moguls became an Olympic discipline for the first time at Nagano ’98
The three of us who competed together in Team GB Freestyle Moguls were Sam Temple, by far the strongest competitor, having competed in the previous Olympics at Nagano. He was an amazing competitor with a great technique, extremely skillful and a polished World Cup performer. Joanne Bromfield Constantine was also highly skilled and the youngest competitor in the squad, she’s an extremely talented skier with lots of potential. I was a strong skier in the bumps, I felt my air skills were less developed than my skiing. I had prior knee injuries and reminders sometimes crept in, although I would never admit this at the time.
After breaking my ACL in ’99, I chose to come back to the UK in preference to getting it fixed in the States. I waited a year for surgery, the recovery period took me to the end of 2000. I spent one Summer training on snow in 2001 and one further Winter training in Europe before I went to the Games.
There were no four years of training and preparation for me, as other competitors were doing. I hadn’t been able to do large amounts of ski training, the way they do in other countries. Skiing was my own project, I always had support from my parents and family and I had a clear idea of where I wanted to go. Honestly speaking, my parents would have preferred that I’d chosen a home-based sport. Although, once they saw all of my training was finally leading somewhere positive, they turned out to be extremely pleased and supportive.
I always had good feedback from my coaches which encouraged me to keep going, this was my main motivating force. I wanted to see how far I could go. In a terrible turn of events my team-mate, Sam, lost his youngest brother, which happened just over a month before the event in Salt Lake. I will never forget seeing Sam’s parents that week. My other team-mate, Jo, was just young and hadn’t done a large volume of training either. She had been brought up in Salt Lake City and was familiar with the race venue as a result, which was a good advantage.
Sam and Tim Dudgeon were the first competitors to represent Great Britain in Freestyle at the Nagano Olympics, four years earlier. My team-mate, Jo, and I were the first female athletes to compete for Great Britain at the Olympics.
I am pleased to say we inspired Ellie Koyander to compete in Mogul Skiing. Ellie continues to represent Team GB at the Games. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into those years of competing and I wouldn’t change any of it, except the injuries .. and possibly the tears. It was an experience I’ll never forget and one I’ll never be able to repeat again. For me, ‘deux mille deux’ was the best year of my life.
After retiring, I joined a production team as a Production Assistant at Channel 4 to work on ‘World Cup Skiing‘. Working in production was something I’d always wanted to do, I am also a Swiss qualified ski instructor and coach. I continue to teach for ESS in Switzerland.