Snowboarding: Sochi Olympics reward for revitalised Harington

Dom Harrington.
Dom Harrington.
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DOM Harington went into the four-year cycle for the Sochi Olympics knowing this was his last chance to make the British team.

The Leeds-born snowboarder had missed out on qualification for the 2006 Games in Turin, and four years later for the Vancouver Olympics.

Three and out would be too much to bear.

So the former European champion took himself off the professional halfpipe circuit for two years to try and find the missing formula that would get him to the Olympics.

“I took a step back and had a look at what I was doing wrong. I took those two years off to train and perfect new skills,” said the 29-year-old.

“I had two years where I went to live in America and I just communicated with my coach Hamish McKnight via email and he told me to learn certain tricks.

“When I joined back up with the British team I had a lot more success because I’d learned how to train better and had worked on those new tricks.”

Even then the road to Olympic recognition was still a rocky one for the adrenalin junkie who grew up in Bramley.

He tore an ankle ligament in June last year, then broke his wrist at the recent world championships.

“I was worried that because of the the injuries, this wouldn’t happen,” he said. “I never ruled it out because injuries are the nature of the game. You don’t get to practice in a safe environment.

“But even three weeks ago when I was on crutches after a bad slam, I was confident I’d make it. I spent a week getting proper rehabilitation. I was put into little torture chambers where you’re thrown into a little swimming pool and you have to swim against the current to stay fit.

“But I’m fortunate. There’s so many people who didn’t make it who are good enough to be going, but that’s the nature of the game.”

Harington joined his fellow ski and snowboarders in Stockport yesterday at the official kitting out of the 56 athletes that will make up Team GB in the Russian Black Sea Resort of Sochi from February 7.

Each athlete was given up to 111 items of kit, which included training tops, t-shirts, winter jackets and even a new suit to fly out in.

It all added up to a very happy Harington, no matter how uncomfortable the chilled out snowboarder looked in a tailored suit.

“This was my last attempt, realistically, because I just couldn’t face being a back-to-back Olympic failure, not even making it in one team,” he said. “And that’s what makes this feel so amazing, like a dream come true.”

Harington fell into the halfpipe by chance. He was a regular snowboarder at Sheffield’s dry ski slopes from the age of 12 and had his first season abroad in Switzerland when he was 16.

“It was just a total fluke how I got into it,” he said. “I had a friend from Sheffield who went out to try and make it. I just went out with him and crashed on the floor of the room he was renting.

“They had a world-class floodlit halfpipe nearby and we got free access to it with the lift-pass so I was on that every day.”

Now he heads to Sochi. “If I got in the top 12 that would massively exceed my expectations.

“To continue the dream would be to do a good run but to also inspire people to take up the sport.”

DADY COOL: Leeds United striker and new father Pierre-Michel Lasogga. Picture by Simon Hulme.

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