Updated: Sunday, 23rd September 2018 @ 5:48am

Peter Speight interview: How the North made a Winter Olympian born to 'shred'

Peter Speight interview: How the North made a Winter Olympian born to 'shred'

| By Fraser Smith

For many, 4am on February 20 this year will not mean very much.

For Peter Speight however it was the moment he achieved his life-time ambition: to become an Olympian.

He ended up in 15th position in the half-pipe ski qualification round, his second-best finish against a world-class field. Due to Speight’s humble beginnings it seems so much more than just a placing.

After discovering his talents early on, he, like many other athletes from Team GB, had to face up to the issue of living in a country with little snow (until last week).

But, facing adversity, he took it in his stride.

Like most winter athletes he found the sport abroad and then tried to take it further when back at home.

“For me it kicked off at the Sheffield Ski Village dry slope when I was about 11, 12,” he told MM.

“I had been away a few times with my Mum and Dad but when I moved up north to Sheffield we found the dry slope there.

“There was a really awesome scene there, it all goes down on a Thursday night and you just shred and ski.”

Speight noticed he had a talent for the sport at a young age, but unlike some who would have given up, at the age of 18 after finishing his studies he took the huge leap of pursuing his dream.

“When I left school, that was when I decided to really give it a go and put everything into it. 

“Try get abroad, as much as possible and started to do two seasons saving up to do all these trips. 

"I started to do international comps and then it just spiralled from there really.”

He realised however that he could not do all the work by himself and decided to enrol as part of the sports scholarship scheme at the University of Manchester.

“So yeah for me it was quite a big decision to come here to uni but it paid off in the end.

“But when I first came here I was at a stage when I was just beginning to be good but I was not quite there yet so what coming to Manchester gave me was some really good support.”

He had to handle dealing with university deadlines where he was studying for a Bachelor degree in history while also travelling around the globe in freestyle ski competitions.

“It got pretty hectic at times, I would be in the student environment and then flying out to World Championships. It's pretty crazy.

"With the airport there it offered me a good base to be in. It gave me a lot."

However in his first year as a student, when preparing for his first ever Olympic Games in Sochi, he suffered a number of injuries.

He was eventually ruled out of competing for Team GB but for Speight overcoming those hurdles made him an even better athlete.

“It gave me a lot of determination to get back for this one and get that experience that I felt I had missed out on in 2014. 

"I learned a lot as well, you always look back through these sort of negative experiences which unfortunately I had and you realise that you are learning through them.

"It’s all a process that everyone has got to go through to move forward and in the end I managed to come back stronger from it.”

After graduating in 2016 he then put all his efforts into PyeongChang and was duly rewarded.

With those string of injuries, which in turn led to him missing out on the games in Russia, you only have to look at Speight’s social media to see how much he loved everything about the Olympics.

“It was crazy, the whole thing sort of merges into a blur. 

“It was just like little experiences every day that add up to make it sort of really sort of special

“As well there is life living in the athlete’s village which is crazy, all the hype around it. Just everything adds up. Yeah it was mad.”

 

 

Speight said some downtime, aside from training, was now most definitely on the cards.

"It’s been a massive sort of mountain that I have just climbed with coming back from the injuries and then also finishing my degree.

“I will have a bit of time chilling, reset my goals and maybe take on some new challenges within skiing over the next year.

“I’m definitely going to carry on competing half-pipe but I’m going to re-evaluate and make sure all my goals come to plan.”

Still only aged 25 and with his best years ahead of him, do not be too surprised to see him at the top of the freestyle skiing mountain for many years to come.

Image courtesy of Peter Speight via Twitter, with thanks.