Katie Ormerod: ‘The more I learnt about damage to the environment, the more I wanted to help’

Over the past year or so, the supremely talented snowboarder Katie Ormerod has committed more time to self-reflection than your typical 21 year old. 

The devastating injury which split her right heel bone in half, just days before last February’s Pyeongchang Winter Games, not only took away her excellent chance of an Olympic medal but forced her to embark on a long road of rehabilitation with no idea where it would end. And in the bleakest moments, Ormerod began to think deeper, to question whether she still had a future as a professional athlete, and even to question the future of snowboarding itself. 

“I ended up having a lot of spare time to think about things I hadn’t really thought about before,” she tells The Independent. “The more I learnt about the damage things were having on the environment, the more I wanted to help.”

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She began to ponder her own experience of seeing the world gradually change. “I became quite concerned about the future of snowboarding. I have been snowboarding since I was five and there are certain resorts I have been going to since I was really young, and I can see a difference in the snow every year, and I see the season shift a little bit.

“I have read that the glaciers are shrinking, but it seems more and more when I go to resorts now there is no snow or very little. This season I went to Stubai in Austria and I have been going there for years in October and November, and when I went there was no snow at all. That is a big difference.”


Winter Olympics crashes and falls





1/18 Xu Mengtao

2/18 Alex Tilley

3/18 Aimee Fuller

4/18 Samantha Wells

5/18 Elise Christie

6/18 Yuto Totsuka

7/18 Emily Sweeney

8/18 Emily Sweeney

9/18 Pavel Trikhichev

10/18 Samuel Girard

11/18 Mikhail Kolyada

12/18 Denis Spitsov

13/18 Emina Malagich, Petra Jaszapati, Charlotte Gilmartin

14/18 Shoko Ono

15/18 James Woods

16/18 Elise Christie

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1/18 Xu Mengtao

2/18 Alex Tilley

3/18 Aimee Fuller

4/18 Samantha Wells

5/18 Elise Christie

6/18 Yuto Totsuka

7/18 Emily Sweeney

8/18 Emily Sweeney

9/18 Pavel Trikhichev

10/18 Samuel Girard

11/18 Mikhail Kolyada

12/18 Denis Spitsov

13/18 Emina Malagich, Petra Jaszapati, Charlotte Gilmartin

14/18 Shoko Ono

15/18 James Woods

16/18 Elise Christie

17/18

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Ormerod was well aware of the inherent hypocrisy of a sportsperson whose job took her on long-haul flights all over the world trying to fight the climate crisis. So she began taking small steps. She started working with renewable energy company Solarplicity to chart her green journey, undertaking changes like using switching to more efficient lightbulbs. She teamed up with Mossy Earth, a social enterprise which offset the carbon footprint of her travel. 

“There are so many little things that you can do that make a big difference, like turning off lights and having shorter showers. We need to recycle more, and one big thing for me is switching to reusable water bottles instead of buying just a load of different plastic bottles.

“Travelling all over the world obviously does have an impact with all the aeroplanes that I go on,” she says. “I am working with Mossy Earth who work out the amount of miles I have travelled and how much consequent pollution that causes, in order to work out how many trees would be needed to be planted to offset that carbon footprint. They then go away and plant the trees.

“I would ideally like to fly less, but a lot of my training and competitions take place in the southern hemisphere and in America. There is no way of getting around that, but because the environment does mean so much to me I do feel better knowing that I am doing my bit to help.”

Ormerod also made a choice to stop eating meat, partly inspired by Kip Andersen’s documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

“I’d learnt about the negative impacts eating meat has on the environment. I didn’t realise it before but as soon as I was made aware of it, it hit me quite hard, especially because of how much water is used in making meat. I watched Cowspiracy and I learnt so much. I went away and did even more research of my own and realised how I could make a big impact by not eating it any more.”

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